State Library of NSW
Letter written on 1 sheet (folded to 3 pages and envelope) in cross-hatched handwriting from J. H. Bannatyne in Sydney to Other Windsor Berry Esq. at his address at Doddington Place, Kennington, Surrey, England, 17 December 1838.
After sharing news of his sister's new child and deploring Berry for not writing to him, Bannatyne proceeds to write:
'By the bye, writing of sentiment, I must not forget to tell you of a circumstance which has agitated the public mind in the Colony lately. You may perhaps see something of it in the newspapers – A quantity of stockmen in the interior having had their masters’ cattle speared by the Native Aborigines were determined on revenging themselves the first opportunity – falling in with a tribe of strange Blacks 30 in number – men, women & children, a tribe they apparently never saw before, totally innocent of the charge, for which they were slaughtered without having given the slightest provocation and unsuspecting by confiding in the protection of one of these wretches were enticed to the huts of the Stockmen, where having bound their hands and having fastened them together, took them into a remote part of the Bush, and then in cold blood murdered every soul of them , after which, they piled them in a heap and burnt their bodies – the remains were however discovered by persons attracted to the spot by seeing birds of prey hovering about in great numbers over the scene of the massacre – information was forwarded to Government – the men were brought to justice tried twice by separate juries and the second time found guilty – Some escaped but the 7 who were tried are all to be hanged on Tuesday 18 inst. ; their trial created an extraordinary sensation in the Colony and will be the subject of gossip for many a long day yet. The Greenacre Murder was nothing to this – “quite a rush light to a mould candle."'
In a postscript Bannatyne adds more to his account after having returned from witnessing the men being hanged:
'I have just returned from seeing the seven men all launched into eternity at the same moment it was an awful sight and has made me feel quite sick – I shall never forget it.'