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
16. JOHN BATMAN - MELBOURNE
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 modernguerilla 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 Phillipindigenous people.In English law, feoffmentwas 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.
John Batman by James FlettLa Trobe Picture Collection,State Library of Victoria, H29825
16. John Batman - Melbourne
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