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SWORD AND WORD BOTH ARE MIGHTY – GOVERNOR ARTHUR PHILLIP’S MILITARY CAMPAIGN FOR KING AND COUNTRY

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Headquarters:‘ Put to death ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring in two prisoners…I am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’. Governor Phillip, General Orders to Captain Tench, cited, Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1961

The reason Phillip gave for his ‘indiscriminate and disproportionate’ directive, putting no limit on barbarity, was the spearing of convict John M’Entyre by the warrior Pemulwuy that took place at Botany Bay in the early hours of 10 December 1790.

‘The cultural arrogance of the British was evident even before the First Fleet sailed. There was no recognition that the Aborigines had their own notion of right, that from their point of view they were entitled to defend themselves from invasion’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

Ostensibly Phillip’s orders of 13 December centred on Pemulwuy’s spearing of John M’Entire. But Phillip’s knowledge of M’Entire, his own game-keeper, makes nonsense of his claim they were unprovoked’.

‘On the 9th of the month, a serjeant of marines, with three [3] convicts, among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Baneelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred) went out on a shooting party’. Tench. ibid.

‘But in this business of M’Entire I [Phillip] am fully persuaded that they [Aborigines] were unprovoked’. The ‘but’ refers to Phillip’s ‘own spearing’ by Wileemarrin on Manly Beach three (3) months previously – September 1790. See: Manly, Location Location Location

A year earlier, December 1789, on Governor Phillip’s orders Bennalong had been kidnapped. He was held captive within British lines until escaping in May of 1790. Bennalong was the source of Phillip’s intelligence ‘dread and hatred’. See: Kidnapped – Manly What’s In A Name

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