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Transcript: Declaration of Martial Law

Bells Falls Gorge - an interactive investigation

Transcript: Declaration of Martial Law


BY His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales and its dependencies, etc., etc., etc.

WHEREAS THE ABORIGINAL NATIVES of the Districts near Bathurst have for many Weeks past carried on a Series of indiscriminate Attacks on the Stock Station there, putting some of the Keepers to cruel Deaths, wounding others, and dispersing and plundering the Flocks and Herds; themselves not escaping sanguinary Retaliations.

AND WHEREAS the ordinary Powers of the CIVIL MAGISTRATES (although most anxiously exerted) have failed to protect the Lives of HIS MAJESTY'S Subjects; and every conciliatory Measure has been pursued in vain; and the Slaughter of Black Women and Children and Unoffending White Men, as well as of the lawless Objects of Terror, continue to threaten the before mentioned Districts;

AND WHEREAS by Experience, it hath been found that mutual Bloodshed may be stopped by the Use of Arms against the Natives beyond the ordinary Rule of Law in Time of Peace, and for this End Resort to summary Justice has become necessary:

NOW THEREFORE, by Virtue of the Authority in me vested by His Majesty's Royal Commission, I do declare, in Order to restore Tranquillity, MARTIAL LAW TO BE IN ALL THE COUNTRY WESTWARD OF MOUNT YORK;
And all Soldiers are hereby ordered to assist and obey their lawful Superiors in suppressing the Violences aforesaid; and all His Majesty's Subjects are also called upon to assist the MAGISTRATES in executing such Measures, as any one or more of the said Magistrates shall direct to be taken for the same purpose, by such Ways and Means as are expedient, so long as Martial Law shall last; being always mindful that the Shedding of Blood is only just, where all other Means of Defence or of Peace are exhausted; that Cruelty is never Lawful; and that, when personal Attacks become necessary, the helpless Women and Children are to be spared.

IN WITNESS whereof I, the Governor aforesaid, have hereunto set my Hand and caused the Seal of my Office, as Governor of the Colony of New South Wales and its Dependencies, to be affixed, this Fourteenth Day of August, in the Year of Our Lord, One Thousand eight hundred and twenty four.


By His Excellency's Command
F. Goulburn, Colonial Secretary