In his long life Thomas Massey associated with many interesting people. One who was worthy of a chapter to himself was his neighbour John Batman.

 Example Text Extract - John Batman

From Convict to Chief Constable
The story of Thomas Massey, by Rutherford J Browne
Thomas Massey biography - front cover image


Most   Australians   have   heard   of   John Batman      and      his      role      in      the establishment    of    Melbourne.    Most believe   he   took   advantage   of   a   naive people   and   purchased   valuable   land for   a   few   tools   and   trinkets.   Nothing is    further    from    the    truth.    Batman was    a    complex    character    and    on balance   tried   to   deal   fairly   with   his fellow     man.     He     understood     the indigenous   peoples   concept   that   land itself   could   not   be   sold,   but   that   the right    to    share    in    its    usage    was    a valuable   commodity   in   the   hands   of those who controlled it. The    district    Elders     (Chiefs)    knew exactly    what    they    were    doing    and they   drove   a   fair,   but   hard,   bargain. A   white   man,   William   Buckley,   had been    living    in    their    midst    for    32 years.     Buckley     was     trusted     and respected   by   the   local   tribes   and   in some   ways   this   eased   Batman’s   task. Batman   actually   paid   for   an   option to   graze   cattle   and   sheep   on   a   pre- agreed    area    of    land    for    a    pre- agreed   annual   lease   payment.   In   the   process   he   put   the   Colonial Government in a very difficult legal position.

Batman and Massey

Thomas   Massey   and   John   Batman   were   very   well   acquainted.   Ellerslie was    in    effect    the    gateway    to    Batman’s    property.    The    name    given    to Batman’s   combined   grants   was   Kingston.   They   lay   some   10km   (6   miles) up    the    track    that    followed    the    Ben    Lomond    Rivulet,    from    Ellerslie, upstream   to   its   source   in   fairly   rugged   country.   Kingston   comprised three   allotments:   two,   totalling   1240   acres   were   nestled   in   a   beautiful fertile   valley   surrounded   by   hills.   The   third,   of   1000   acres,   was   a   more rugged   block,   better   suited   to   sheep,   situated   some   3km   downstream,   on the   track   to   Ellerslie.   In   managing   the   inheritance   of   Charles   Fletcher Howard,   Thomas   managed   one   of   the   two   properties   between   Batman’s holdings.   The   other,   700   acres   belonging   to   Jos.   Clark,   was   purchased   by Thomas    in    1838,    about    the    time    Batman    sold    Kingston.    [See    map: Landholdings of Massey, Batman, Howard. Appendix 3] Every   time   Batman   went   to   Launceston   he   would   pass   within   500 metres   of   Ellerslie   homestead   and   he   would   often   drop   in   for   a   chat   and share the news. With Ellerslie lying on the track, to what became the Nile
road,   letters   and   parcels   would   be   left   at   Ellerslie   for   Batman.   It   would have been rare that he passed without calling. John   Batman   was   of   colonial   birth;   born   on   21   January   1801   in   New South   Wales.   His   father   William   Bat(e)man   was   a   convict,   a   Middlesex cutler    and    grinder    from    Yorkshire,    transported    for    receiving    stolen saltpetre.   His   mother   Mary,   paid   her   fare,   brought   with   her   their   two children, and followed her husband. John   Batman   settled   in   the   Ben   Lomond   district   at   much   the   same time    as    Thomas    Massey    and    they    likely    ran    a    parallel    course    in developing    their    properties.    Batman    was    just    six    years    older    than Thomas’   own   son   (Thomas   William),   but   there   the   resemblance   ended. Young   Thomas   was   attracted   to   town   life   and   John   Batman   was   at   home in the bush.  Brown   (1966)    gives   a   backbone   of   Batman’s   life   in   his   biographical notes    and    describes    him    as,    “sufficiently    literate    for    any    practical purpose,    sociable,    of    fine    physique;    a    promising    bushman”.    Thomas would   have   told   you,   he   was   a   trained   blacksmith   and   farrier,   and   that over   the   time   he   knew   him,   he   had   developed   into   a   very   competent bushman   and   a   highly   skilled   tracker,   with   a   sharp   intuition   such   that he   could   often   anticipate   his   quarries   movements.   Both   Thomas   and Batman    had    supplemented    their    income    with    rewards    from    bounty hunting and each appreciated the others talents. Batman’s   more   famous   escapades   have   been   related   earlier   in   this book.   The   capture   of   the   bushranger   Brady   and   his   activities   in   Governor Arthur’s   native   round-up.   Disparaging   comments   on   Batman’s   behaviour and   morality   are   sometimes   quoted   and   re-quoted,   often   out   of   context and without an understanding of the circumstances. The    artist    John    Glover,    who    claimed    to    be    his    neighbour    at    Ben Lomond,   has   been   quoted   as   saying   Batman   was,   “a   rogue,   thief,   cheat and   liar,   a   murderer   of   blacks   and   the   vilest   man   I   have   ever   known”. Glover   did   not   arrive   in   the   district   until   1832   when   he   was   allocated   a grant   at   Mills   Plains,   near   Deddington   on   the   northern   slope   of   Ben Lomond.   He   built   his   house   on   the   Nile   River.   This   was   close   to   a   three hour ride from Batman’s Kingston  property, so not close neighbours! George   Augustus   Robinson   wrote   in   his   diary   that   Batman   was   “a   bad and   dangerous   character.   He   married   a   prison   woman.   He   has   recently lost   part   of   his   nose   from   the   bad   disease.   Recently   turned   his   wife   out   of doors    because    the    prisoner    servants    said    they    saw    the    cook    in    the bedroom with his wife”. Batman   did   marry   a   convict   lass   in   1828,   Eliza   Thompson,   convicted at   17   as   Elizabeth   Callaghan   and   a   fairly   wild   lady   by   all   accounts.   He was diagnosed in 1833 with syphilis. He did die of syphilis in 1839. This   stated,   it   is   obvious   that   Batman,   Glover   and   Robinson   did   not mix   in   the   same   circles.   Glover   was   a   Johnny   come   lately.   He   had   been   in the   district   less   than   3   years   when   Batman   sailed   to   Victoria   to   negotiate with   the   local   tribes.   Glover   was   68   years   old,   newly   arrived   and   very English   in   his   outlook.   Robinson   had   a   missionary   mindset   and   seems   to have   been   most   concerned   about   Batman’s   morality.   He   may   also   have considered Batman in the enemy camp. In all, Thomas Massey would
have   understood   Batman   better   than   most,   and   would   likely   have   been less judgemental. Thomas   Massey   and   John   Batman   were   both   pragmatic   individuals. They   lived   in   the   same   place,   at   the   same   time,   and,   I   suspect,   responded to the same threats to their existence in the same way. The   commonly   quoted   evidence   against   Batman   as   a   murderer    of blacks”     [Glover]    stems    primarily    from    Batman’s    own    journal.    This evidence   needs   to   be   read   in   the   context   of   the   day.   It   is   worth   reviewing the   opening   pages   of   Chapter   12   of   this   book   to   get   a   background   picture of   the   position   that   both   Batman   and   Massey   were   in   at   the   time.   There was   a   war   on.   A   one   sided   war,   when   viewed   from   the   21st   Century,   but at   the   time   a   very   real   threat.   Viewed   from   both   sides,   it   was   a   war   about territory   and   a   war   of   survival.   The   most   belligerent   native   protagonists were    fighting    a    modern     guerilla    war    from    the    very    rugged    country surrounding   Ben   Lomond   and   both   Massey   and   Batman   were   in   the front line. Batman   was   the   head   of   the   local   roving   party”    established   under George   Arthur’s   martial   Law,   which   patrolled   the   territory   between   his property   near   Ben   Lomond   and   Oyster   Bay.   Arthur’s   instructions   were   to capture   or   drive   away   from   the   settled   districts   all   aggressive   native elements .      [ Proclamation      by      Arthur,      1      November      1828,      British Parliamentary Papers, Colonies, Australia, 4, pp 183–4 ] Batman   described   in   his   journal   the   events   which   took   place   in   1829, in the ranges behind Kingston at the foot of Ben Lomond: “…   in   pursuit   of   the Aborigines   who   have   been   committing   so   many   outrages   in   this district    on    Wednesday,    I    fell    in    with    their    tracks    and    followed    them    with    the assistance   of   the   Sydney   Native   Blacks.   We   proceeded   in   the   same   direction   until   we saw some smoke at a distance. I   immediately   ordered   the   men   to   lay   down.   We   could   hear   the   Natives   conversing distinctly.   We   then   crept   into   a   thick   scrub   and   remained   there   until   after   sunset.   We made   towards   them   with   the   greatest   caution   and   at   about   11   o'clock   P.M.   we   arrived within 21 paces of them. The men were drawn up on the right by my orders ………………..
…………………..   Extract from the signed document: “To   the   Intent   that   the   said   John   Batman   his   heirs   and   assigns   may   occupy   and possess   the   said   tract   of   Land   and   place   thereon   Sheep   and   Cattle   Yielding   and delivering   to   us   and   our   heirs   or   successors   the   yearly   Rent   or   Tribute   of   One Hundred   Pair   of   Blankets,   One   Hundred   Knives,   One   Hundred   Tomahawks, Fifty   Suits   of   Clothing   Fifty   Looking   glasses,   Fifty   Pair   Scissors   and   Five   Tons Flour.” The   Batman   Deed   was   NOT   a   freehold   purchase   document   as   we understand   it   today.    The   basis   of   the   transaction   was   the   word   Enfeoff . (see   transcript   Appendix   7)   this   was   a   concept   in   law   that   had   a   basis   in both    the    European    feudal    system    and    the    law    of    the    Port    Phillip   indigenous people. In   English   law,   feoffment    was   a   transfer   of   land   or   property   that   gave the   new   holder   the   right   to   sell   it,   as   well   as   the   right   to   pass   it   on   to   his heirs   as   an   inheritance.   What   was   being   transferred   was   an   ownership   of rights   over   land,   rather   than   ownership   of   the   land   itself.   In   return   the recipient   pledged   the   delivery   of   some   service   or   ‘value’,   in   this   case   an agreed annual delivery of specified goods. On   Batman’s   return,   the   Port   Phillip   Association   took   formal   shape and   immediately   moved   into   action.   The   concept   of   continuous   tribute   to the   Aboriginals,   for   the   right   to   graze   sheep   and   cattle   seemed   to   its foundation   partners   a   fair   beginning.   “Commercial   ambition   moved   them, but   they   planned   an   exemplary   invasion,   and   hoped   for   swift   government control,    and    in    the    last    resort,    offered    £30,000    for    the    Crown's conveyance of Batman's putative purchase.” [Brown (1966)]

John Batman and Thomas Massey part ways

Batman’s   preparation   and   journey   to   the   mainland   coincided   almost exactly   with   Young   Thomas   William   Massey’s   decent   into   bankruptcy.   By the    time    Batman    returned    to    Kingston    young    Thomas    was    in    the Launceston   Debtor’s   Prison.   The   Massey   family   affairs   were   in   disarray; and Batman’s epic achievement just passed-by in the background. The   Government   of   the   day   tried   to   move   into   damage   control.   The spread   of   settlement   to   the   southern   mainland   did   not   conform   with London   policy.   The   land   involved   was   nominally   part   of   the   Colony   of New   South   Wales.   The   Governor   of   New   South   Wales,   Richard   Bourke, declared   Batman’s   deed   void.   However   the   damage   was   done.   Batman’s     agreement   with   the   resident   tribes   was   the   talk   of   the   entire   Colony,   The ‘floodgates were opened’   and the flood of settlement unstoppable. Within   the   year   Batman   had   sold   Kingston   (on   terms)   for   £10,000   and moved   his   “all”   to   the   new   settlement.   It   is   part   of   the   Massey   family mythology   that   Batman’s   party   on   leaving   Kingston   for   the   last   time spent   the   night   at   Ellerslie   before   departing   on   their   move   to   Port   Phillip. It was said John Batman was carrying a large amount of money. Shortly    after    the    move    Batman’s    health    deteriorated    rapidly.    John Batman died on 6 May 1839. Just   45   years   after   the   Batman   agreement   was   negotiated,   in   the year   1880,   Melbourne   became   famous   as   the   richest   city   in   the world.
© Rutherford J Browne 2018  This site and book are protected by copyright. All or parts of it may not be copied or disseminated in any way without the permission of the copyright owner. You may copy, reference or quote small sections of the work as long as due acknowledgement is made.
John Batman by artist James Flett
John Batman by James Flett La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H29825
16. John Batman - Melbourne
An artist's impression of Batman's negotiations with Port Phillip, Australia aborigines in 1835, for the grazing rights to 600,000 acres of land. Origionally    published    in    Picturesque    Atlas    of    Australasia,    A.    Garren    (ed),    2    vols, Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, Sydney, 1886. Vol 1 p161
On 6 June 1835, Batman recorded in his journal that he had signed a deed with the local Aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri to purchase the grazing rights to 500,000 acres of land around the Yarra River and another 100,000 around Geelong, on Corio Bay to the south-west. The eight "chiefs", whose marks he acquired, negotiated an OPTION to purchase, that if exercised would attract an annual usage fee. See full text and acknowledgement at Appendix 7.
John Batman’s agreement with Port Phillip native people