Site NameMt Cottrell, Werribee
Aboriginal Place Name
Language GroupWathawurrung
Present State/TerritoryVIC
Colony/State/Territory at the timePPD
Police DistrictMelbourne
Date16 Jul 1836
Attack TimeDay
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim DescriptionsAboriginal
Victims Killed10
Victims Killed NotesKilled: M W C 10 of the whole clan of 50 -100 F; Possible: M F; Wounded: M F
Attacker DescriptionsAboriginal, Settler(s)
Attackers Killed2
Attackers Killed NotesKilled: M 2 - Charles Franks and Thomas Flinders (Killed 09/07/1836) Multilated bodies found.
Weapons UsedFirearm(s), Musket(s)
NarrativeOn July 9 1836, following the discovery of the mutilated bodies of Mr Charles Franks, a settler from VDL and his shepherd, Thomas Haines, a party of seventeen men armed with muskets, comprising eight male colonists, four Sydney Aborigines and five 'domesticated' Aborigines from the Port Phillip District (now Victoria), "proceeded in search of the natives whom they supposed to be the murderers of Mr Franks and his shepherd." (Montagu cited in Cannon & McFarlane, 1982, p 42) The eight colonists were Henry Batman, John Wood, David Pitcairn, Mr Guy, Alexander Thomson, William Winberry, George Hollins and Michael Leonard; the four 'Sydney Aborigines' included Bullett, Stewart and Joe the Marine and the four Port Phillip Aborigines included Benbow, Derrymock, Ballayann and Baitlainge. John Montagu, the Colonial Secretary in Van Diemen's Land, wrote about the incident to his counterpart in New South Wales on 18 August 1836: "They came up with a tribe, consisting of men, women and children, to the number of about fifty to one hundred, and perceiving upon the persons of some of them articles which were recognised as having belonged to Mr Franks, a rencontre followed. It is not stated however what resistance the natives made, but none of the opposing party were injured, although it is feared that there can be little doubt that ten of the tribe of Port Phillip natives were killed."(Cited in Cannon & McFarlane 1982, p 42) William Lonsdale, magistrate at Port Phillip from late September 1836, was instructed by the Colonial Secretary in Sydney, to investigate the incident. However none of the perpetrators he interviewed would acknowledge the 'rencontre' although it was clear that each of them had something to hide. Those interviewed by Lonsdale were: Henry Batman; John Wood; Michael Leonard; and William Winberry. Winberry acknowledged that a party went after the blacks and that they were found and 'several shots were fired', and that a child was found 'belonging to the fugitives', but he did 'not see that any of the blacks were killed or hurt'. (Winberry cited in Cannon & McFarlane 1982, p 48) Leonard said that the murderers of Franks and Flinders were Aboriginal men, 'Callen and Dundom'. Leonard heard that in relation to the reprisal, 'some were wounded' but he paid 'no attention to it'. (Leonard cited in Cannon & McFarlane, p 49) Was Charles Franks entirely blameless? C.E. Sayers, the editor of T.F. Bride's 'Letters from Victorian Pioneers', notes that settler Robert William von Stieglitz reported that: "On my way [to the Werribee] I met with a Mr Franks and got some lead from him to make what he called blue pills for the natives, who were very fierce," (Bride 1983, p 88).
SourcesCannon & McFarlane 1982, p 41-52; Cornwall Chronicle July 30, 1836, p 2; Sayers, 1983, p.88; Boyce 2011, p 105-9; Rogers,, 2016, p 89-90 & 92-4. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***