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One of the most shocking murder trials in Australia's legal history, and the tribulations of the man who conducted it In 1838, eleven convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the brutal murder of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek in New South Wales. The trial created an enormous amount of controversy because it was almost unknown for EuropeansOne of the most shocking murder trials in Australia's legal history, and the tribulations of the man who conducted it In 1838, eleven convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the brutal murder of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek in New South Wales. The trial created an enormous amount of controversy because it was almost unknown for Europeans to be charged with the murder of Aborigines. It would become the most serious trial of mass murder in Australia’s history. The trial’s prosecutor was the Attorney General of New South Wales, John Hubert Plunkett. It proved to be Plunkett’s greatest test, as it pitted his forensic brilliance and his belief in equality before the law against the combined forces of the free settlers, the squatters, the military, the emancipists, the newspapers, and even the convict population. From the bestselling author of Kidnapped and Eugenia, Murder at Myall Creek follows the journey of the man who who arguably achieved more for modern-day civil rights in Australia than anyone else before or since....

Title : murder at myall creek
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ISBN : 32704445
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Number of Pages : 269 Pages
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murder at myall creek Reviews

  • PattyMacDotComma
    2019-03-04 05:43

    5★“The stockmen did not need to use their precious ball and powder on their victims when they could just as easily dispose of them by sword or by crushing them. The gully was filled with the screams of the victims and the war cries of the horsemen as a thick cloud of dust kicked up by the horses became intermingled with the blood and mangled bodies of the Wirrayaraay. The stench of death was everywhere.”I had heard of this event because I lived in the region at one time, but all I knew was there was something called the Myall Creek Massacre that happened “a long time ago” (June 1838, so let’s move on, it’s in the past, nothing to do with us now, and so on. I did know it was the first time white men were tried, convicted, and hanged convicted for killing Aborigines.What I didn’t know was everything Tedeschi has laid out accurately, interestingly, and heart-wrenchingly well – that a bunch of white settlers decided to teach “the blacks” a lesson to scare them off of the land the settlers had taken over. In an extremely loose Native American American analogy, I’d say these were peaceful Hopis compared to Comanches. “ John Fleming and his ten mounted stockmen journeyed for some days, visiting many of the stations in the district, looking for any blacks to kill. The fact that the Wirrayaraay at Myall Creek could not possibly have been responsible for the depredations – because prior to taking up residence at Myall Creek they had been living peacefully for many months at McIntyre’s and Wiseman’s stations, and that they had had most harmonious relationships with the whites at each of these stations – was of no consequence to the marauding stockmen. As they approached the Myall Creek Station, they were in a murderous state of mind, intent on suppressing the Indigenous challenge to white pastoral supremacy.”They stormed onto the property, tied all the people together on a long rope (mums and babies and kiddies, too), marched them out of sight over a hill, saying they’d just fire a couple of warning shots to frighten them. True, they did fire only two shots. But then they charged the horses through them, mowing them down with swords, like something out of Braveheart or the Crusades, except these were just defenceless families being chopped to pieces. Eventually, the stockmen set fire to them, raking up and tending the fire in the following days.The stuff of nightmares. Two little boys escaped.The crime was reported, and John Hubert Plunkett, who was both the Solicitor General and Attorney General for NSW, was to prosecute the case. The government’s position was clear. Britain had abolished slavery five years earlier (more than 30 years before the American Civil War, incidentally), and a Select Committee of the House of Commons had issued a damning report on the treatment of natives generally, and Australian Aborigines specifically, saying.‘‘In the formation of these [penal] settlements, it does not appear that the territorial rights of the natives were considered, and very little care has since been taken to protect them from the violence or the contamination of the dregs of our countrymen.”The dregs, all right! But Plunkett was up against public opinion and the newspapers. How dare these men be charged with murder? It was common practice to go on a “bushwhack” as they called it, to wipe out the local native troublemakers.But they didn’t count on Plunkett’s determination and strong appetite for fighting injustice. He was an Irish Catholic who came to the colonies because it was the only place he could gain a good appointment, Britain being “pure” Anglican, courtesy of divorce-loving Henry VIII who broke from Rome and appointed his own bishops. [Sorry if I offend any Anglicans/Episcopalians. That’s how I was raised, and I was ignorant until a Catholic friend bragged about “her” bishops going back to St Peter while “mine” went back to a lecherous Tudor king. But I digress.]Plunkett persevered through two separate trials, and Tedeschi describes them in detail. Suffice to say that a major hurdle was that the eye-witness to the event was an Aborigine who hid but was not allowed to testify, nor were any Aborigines in those days.Why? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They hadn’t been enlightened and saved yet so had no concept of hell or fear of the eternal damnation of their souls if they lied under oath, so they couldn’t take an oath. White witnesses, presumably, never ever dared lie under oath for fear of the fire and brimstone that surely awaited them. But Plunkett prevailed and some of the guilty were hanged. Today this would have been considered a war crimes trial.Mind you, after the trial, the settlers resorted to poisoning water holes and distributing poison flour to continue their miserable campaign of eradication. [Lousy buggers, pardon my French.]What I also didn’t know was how much Australian society owes to John Plunkett, and this book is really a biography of him as well as a grim account of Australia’s bloody history. I will break up the following long passage to better highlight his achievements: constitution, schools, hospitals. [And what did I achieve today? Not much, lazy so-and-so.]“John Hubert Plunkett had a most illustrious career in New South Wales. Many of the reforms he introduced had a lasting effect on the colony, some of which have endured until today. - During the Australian Constitutional Conventions prior to federation in 1901, there was no question but that the new nation would be secular, with no religion of state. In fact, the federal Constitution expressly precludes the Commonwealth from passing laws to establish any religion, to impose any religious observance, or to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. - It also provides that no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office under the Commonwealth.10 It is in no small measure due to the actions of John Plunkett that this principle was accepted so early in the history of the colony. - Similarly, the existence of a vigorous state school system side-by-side with religious schools – all funded by government – was due to a policy developed and pursued by John Plunkett. - The University of Sydney and Sydney Grammar School, with their traditions of excellence in secular, liberal education, were, and still are, important community assets for which we should be grateful to those who were responsible for their establishment, including John Hubert Plunkett. Today, the University of Sydney is ranked among the best in the world,11 while Sydney Grammar School is one of the foremost secondary schools in Australia. - St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney is still one of the largest teaching hospitals in New South Wales, as it provides first-rate medical services to people of any religion without discrimination or proselytism.And I also didn’t know that Aunty Sue Blacklock AM of Tingha, NSW, and mother of well-known footballer Nathan Blacklock (friend of one of my kids), is a great-great-great granddaughter of one of the two little boys who escaped the slaughter.And I ashamed I didn’t know.This should be required reading in Aussie schools. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-16...

  • Patrick
    2019-03-21 04:51

    This book is shocking! I mean it's contents. The book is set mostly up in the area in which I live at the moment - Bingara near Inverell in NW NSW Australia. It is hard to fathom how so many indigenous people could be slaughtered and yet the community was not outraged. Tedeschi gives a great account of John Hubert Plunkett the then Attorney General and the fight he puts up to have the murderers brought to justice. But still the killings continued. I found this book was not as easy a read than his other book I have read- Kidnapped. Perhaps this is because it is set way back in the 1800s. A real eye opener and worth the read. Just a word of warning ... keep your dictionary handy as Tedeschi thinks he is still in court!

  • Elaine Searle
    2019-02-22 01:46

    An interesting account of the life of an unsung hero of Australian law and governance. John Hubert Plunkett seems to have been largely forgotten by history and Mark Tedeschi is on a mission to remedy this. The trial of the perpetrators of the Myall Creek massacre is a central part of Plunkett's career as solicitor general and attorney general of the young colony of NSW. I do think the title is misleading - perhaps a subtitle referencing Plunkett would be a good idea?

  • Peta Campbell
    2019-03-15 08:01

    A really interesting book about a terrible, hidden part of Australia's history. It is awful to realise that so many massacres of the Australian Indigenous population occurred but even more horrifying to realise how few perpetrators were bought to justice by a legal and governing system that frequently condone such murders. This book tells the story of John Hubert Plunkett who had a major impact on the legislation of Australia and the equality of all persons under law in Australia. The secular nature of Australian society was almost singularly instigated by Plunkett.

  • Michael Burge
    2019-03-08 09:49

    This is an interesting book but it should probably be re-branded as more of a biography of colonial NSW Attorney General John Plunkett and his impact on the legal system of New South Wales, and less of a broad title on the Myall Creek Massacre.What it adds to the record are insights into why Plunkett moved for an immediate second trial of some of the massacre perpetrators, and how the risk paid dividends in terms of a generally just outcome.Tedeschi makes the case for a better understanding of Plunkett's character and exactly what he added to Australian civil rights. He also argues for why Plunkett has been largely forgotten by a nation whose history he impacted so significantly.Elucidating the differences between Colonial and modern Australian legal processes is one of the key aspects to Tedeschi's work, and this focus is essential to a full understanding of the prosecutions, and several unjust outcomes of the trial.This book will become an crucial resource for whoever creates the definitive, mainstream title on this critical episode of modern Australian history.

  • Lia
    2019-02-20 03:03

    This to me is a 2.5* book. I have rounded up for three reasons. 1. I feel these stories are important to a broader understanding of Australia's not so glorious past that we do not often hear about. 2. I feel this is a technically sound book, well researched and engagingly written. 3. I grew up (and still live) very close to the area where this tragic event occurred. I know this event and the impact on the communities more than a century later. However I felt this is a book about Mr Plunkett and his impact (which is not insignificant) on the legal community of Australia rather than an account of the Murder at Myall Creek. I wanted the stories of the people involved, not just the prosecutor. He was an admirable man, however there were other voices in this narrative I wish I could have heard as well.

  • Calzean
    2019-03-18 03:44

    The murder of 28 Aboriginals at Myall Creek in 1838 covers about 100 pages. The book main focus is the NSW Attorney General John Plunkett an Irish Catholic and his contribution in establishing a non-secular governmental system, early education systems and promotion of equality for all (regardless of colour, race or religion). His actions are set within the ongoing tensions of Catholics and Anglicans, the tragedy of Aboriginals suffering from the greed of the invading settlers and the political/legal position on NSW in the mid-1800s. It's written by a lawyer and it reads like it.

  • Julie
    2019-03-19 02:44

    Although this book is about the terrible atrocity at Myall Creek it is also an account of the largely unsung hero John Plunkett. John Plunkett was a key figure in shaping many of the better things in our society.

  • Toni
    2019-03-11 07:05

    In 1838, eleven convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the terrible murder of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children. The trial was controversial as it was the first time white Europeans were charged with the murder of Aborigines. I found this book enthralling and very readable but I would say it was more a biography of John Plunkett, Attorney General and Crown Prosecutor in the Myall Creek Murder trail. But how have I never heard of this man who believed in equality before the law regardless of education, race, background, etc. and put in place foundations for the separation of church and state and our public education system. A great history lesson.

  • Megan McCormack
    2019-03-13 03:53

    The book is more about Plunkett's career, I think, as opposed to a whole book on the massacre, trial and the changes it caused or didn't cause in the early colonial period. Worth a read for history and legal buffs.

  • Kimberley Crawford
    2019-02-24 08:02

    Wow. This should be a compulsory text in History subjects across Australian school Curriculums. Brilliantly researched, developed and written.

  • Nicole
    2019-02-25 06:54

    A very good introduction to the atrocities carried out by 19th century colonialists.

  • Simona
    2019-02-25 08:04

    Harrowing

  • Celia
    2019-03-15 09:01

    Great read about John Hubert Plunkett's life and his connection to the trial of the murderers at Myall Creek

  • Di
    2019-03-15 05:06

    Interesting account of a terrible massacre of indigenous people - one of many - and one of the only ones where any of the white perpetrators were brought to any kind of justice. This was almost solely due to the efforts of then (1838) Attorney General of NSW John Hubert Plunkett. This is a very well researched and readable account by Mark Tedeschi QC and Senior Crown Prosecutor in NSW. Tedeschi focusses on the life and the many, although little recognised, achievements of Plunkett particularly in the areas of human rights and education, comparing his achievements with those of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. He concludes that "in Australia, we are short of heroes who have excelled in areas other than sport..." reflecting on our penchant to revere the military debacle of Gallipoli and a violent bushranger. "We owe much to John Hubert Plunkett for our heritage as a nation."(p276)

  • Julian Leatherdale
    2019-03-15 04:07

    Tedeschi makes a compelling case for greater public awareness of the remarkable achievements of John Hubert Plunkett, Australia's first Catholic Solicitor-General and Attorney-General, who can justifiably be described as 'a man ahead of his time'. Plunkett's fierce commitment to the principle of equality before the law, irrespective of religious belief, was inspired by the unjust trial and execution of his Irish Catholic ancestor, Archbishop Oliver Plunkett, at the hands of the English. Extending this principle to the Indigenous people of NSW, Plunkett successfully prosecuted seven men for the cold-blooded massacre of 28 unarmed Aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek in 1838. He did so in the face of near universal hostility, particularly from his peers in the landowning class who dominated the colony's legal profession and political life. The opening chapter dramatically recreates the decisive moment when, with a 'not guilty' verdict returned in an initial trial, Plunkett places his reputation on the line and calls for a second trial which he will conduct with exceptional courage, legal skill and some daring high-risk tactics! The account of the two trials - which Tedeschi compares to war-crimes trials - exposes the brutal racism of the state-sanctioned genocidal war of occupation waged against Aboriginal people. An eyewitness to the massacre could not be called for either trial because he was Aboriginal; as non-Christians, Aborigines were unable to give sworn evidence in court. Plunkett would later try to correct this anomaly as a lawmaker - without success. He would be instrumental in establishing equal funding for non-Anglican religions and for a secular school system, as well as founding St Vincent's hospital, Sydney University and Sydney Grammar School on the principle of religious non-discrimination. Tedeschi argues that Plunkett's enshrining of this principle in legislation laid important foundation stones for Australia's emergence as a liberal secular society. The book is rigorously researched with the kind of attention to detail to be expected of a sharp legal mind. Technical legal matters and important political issues of the day are explained with great concision and clarity. The account of the massacre is confronting and heart-breaking (as it should be) and the two trials are especially dramatic and gripping. All in all, this is a vivid, insightful and very readable history - highly recommended!

  • MargCal
    2019-03-11 01:53

    Finished reading … Murder at Myall Creek: the trial that defined a nation / Mark Tedeschi … 03 Feb. 2017ISBN: 9781925456264The title of this book is misleading. But then again, would anyone read it if it were titled “The Legal Career of John Hubert Plunkett in the Colony of New South Wales”? And people should definitely read it, including high school students of Australian history. I doubt many Australians would have much, if any, knowledge of the reality of Aboriginals, convicts and free settlers in colonial NSW as portrayed in this book.Plunkett's overarching belief was that all are equal before the law, a belief founded on his experience of bigotry as an Irish (and therefore Catholic) man under British (and therefore Protestant) rule. His move to Australia was the result of career progress being blocked to him in Ireland on account of such bigotry.The trials following the Myall Creek massacre (there were two, in itself controversial) was certainly a turning point, the first time anyone had been tried for murdering Aboriginals. The guilty verdict was highly unpopular and Plunkett's career suffered on account of it. This book shows how widespread the appalling treatment of Indigenous Australians was - much worse than shameful, more like ethnic cleansing in many places. Aboriginals continue to pay the price.Many other laws in the colony came about through or with the help of Plunkett's involvement. To mention only a couple that I found particularly interesting: the separation of Church and State, i.e. no established religion as in the UK, and the promotion of state education for all.Although there is a legal focus to the book, it is written for and easy to understand by those without a legal background. The facts behind the laws make it a rivetting read.Very highly recommended.Borrowed from my local library.

  • Ellen
    2019-02-20 06:06

    This is very much a book about John Hubert Plunkett, and the legal action about the Myall Creek massacre. Highlights there were quite a few other massacres, and that many people condoned them.