Lest We Forget - Tunnerminnerwait & Maulboyheenner

Commemorate the 169th Anniversary of the Executive of the two Freedom Fighters

Tunnerminnerwait & Maulboyheenner

Executed 20th January 1842 at the site then execution took place
Join Us on the Corner Bowen and Franklin Streets, Melbourne
12:00noon to 1:00pm - Thursday 20th January 2011

After the commemoration join us as we silently walk from the execution site to their last resting place at the eastern end of the northern wall that divides Melbourne's Queen Victoria Markets, to acknowledge their just struggle (Please bring Flowers)

The Commemoration will be broadcast on Community Radio 3CR 855AM and streaming live on www.3cr.org

The microphone will be opened to the people attending the commemoration to air their views - following the Guest speakers.

'The first execution' Painted in 1875 by WFE Liardet. La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Public Records Office photo caption for above painting:
"This painting shows two Van Diemen's Land Aborigines in a cart on their way to be hanged. Part of a group of Aboriginal people from Tasmania that followed Chief Protector George Augustus Robinson to the mainland via Flinders Island, these two men were the first people to be hanged in Melbourne, in 1842. Some of the troopers in Dana's Native Police took part in their pursuit and capture the previous year, 1841."

Online Reproduction Source: Public Records Office, Victoria

Unjust Trial - Disgraceful Hanging

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were not allowed to give evidence in their own defence, or to call Aboriginal witnesses, they were found guilty by a settler jury. Their execution was a major public event with a crowd of approximately 5000, nearly the whole population of the Melbourne township (approximately 6000).

They followed the prisoners as they were led to the gallows. A bizarre carnival atmosphere prevailed with well-dressed women, countless children and young bushmen jostling for position, some even jumped upon the coffins to get a better view. Half-hidden in nearby gum trees, local Aborigines watched the grim proceedings.


Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner - Part 3

Jo Toscano Anarchist Age Weekly Review 26th February, 2010
Dressed in white, Figara was handcuffed, placed on a cart and led to the spot Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner had been executed just eight months previously. The Melbourne crowd, having developed a taste for public executions after the public execution of Aboriginal freedom fighters Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner on the 20th January 1842 and the public execution of three white bushrangers Charles Ellis, Daniel Jepps and Martin Fogarty on the 28th June 1842, jostled for a vantage point to view Figara’s hanging.

On the 5th September 1842 Figara Alkepurata was despatched for the murder of Patrick Codd although Figara protested until the trapdoor was opened he had murdered no one. The Port Phillip Gazette openly question Figara’s execution; “We regret most deeply, the existence of a law that subjects the Aborigines to the same mode and measure of justice as the white man”.

“This man is suddenly brought into contact with others, who have been countenanced by their Government for trespassing on the hereditary lands of his brethren… he attacks the object of his hatred… is arraigned at the bar of a civilised court, is tried by a jury and sentenced by a judge to be hanged… and is strangled like a dog”.

The only problem with Figara’s hanging is that there was never any real evidence to connect Figara with the murder and credible eyewitnesses who put him hundreds of miles from the murder scene when Codd was killed. It seems as far as the court was concerned any Aborigine who had the misfortune of being arrested must be guilty of Codd’s murder.

Six months later Lord Stanley from the foreign office in London privately rapped Governor Gipps on the knuckles suggesting the New South Wales Executive Council should have overturned the death sentence. Figara Alkepurata was the last man to be publicly executed in Victoria. Five days before the Eureka Rebellion was drowned in a sea of blood on the 3rd December 1854, public executions were stopped in Victoria. The hundred or so executions that took place after 1854 occurred behind closed doors in the Old Melbourne Goal. The bodies of those executed were buried in the jail until executions were transferred to Melbourne’s Pentridge prison – the prison is now prime residential real estate.

During the 1930’s depression blue stone was removed from the Old Melbourne Gaol and incorporated into retaining walls built at Black Rock beach and Ricketts Point in Melbourne. Bluestones with the names of those executed at the Old Melbourne Gaol were incorporated in these retaining walls. It is not unusual walking along the beach near Ricketts Point to see the names of some of the men and women executed in the Old Melbourne Gaol written on the bluestone bricks in the retaining walls that 80 years later keep Melbourne’s beaches from being washed away.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner - Part 2

Jo Toscano Anarchist Age Weekly Review 14th February, 2010
In mid April 1842 a dozen Border Police led by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Foster Fyans, set out to arrest Figara Alkepurata (Roger the Russian) the Aboriginal man who had been "identified" by James Brock, one of the survivors of the assault at Cox's station in 1840, as the murderer. Figara was in 1842 living at the Aboriginal refuge established by Charles Sievwright the Assistant Aboriginal Protector responsible for Aboriginal welfare in the Western Districts of Victoria.

Sievwright refused the Commissioner permission to arrest Figara on the Aboriginal refuge. Figara was eventually arrested while driving a cart outside the Aboriginal refuge. He was initially taken to Port Fairy. A few days later Figara and two other Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Melbourne via Launceston in Tasmania.

Sievwright, the Assistant Director, was convinced Figara was not implicated in the murder. It was common knowledge he had been sick and was living elsewhere when Codd was killed. On the 16th July 1842 a preliminary hearing on Figara's capacity to stand trial found he could stand trial although Figara had no understanding of the court proceedings and nobody in the court spoke his language.

Judge Willis, of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner fame, found that "the prisoner was of sufficient mental capacity to enable him to take his trial". Three days later a Supreme Court jury was sworn in to hear the case of the Queen v Figara Alkepurata. Redmond Barry, the same Redmond Barry who defended the five Tasmanian Aborigines in December 1841, who sent Ned Kelly to the gallows in 1880, defended Figara. The two men who had survived the attack on Codd Patrick Rooney and James Brock swore black and blue that Figara was the culprit. The jury took all of ten minutes to convict Figara of Codd's murder. Judge Willis, always keen to play to the crowd, took three hours to sentence Figara to death noting there were "no mitigatory circumstances".

'Marvellous Melbourne' has a little secret - Part 1b

Where In Melbourne are Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener buried?

Burials south of the wall that currently divides the Queen Victoria Markets that was built in 1878 continued until 1917. Between 1917-1920 around 900 bodies for which records existed were exhumed south of the dividing wall. Thousands more burials for which no records existed were paved over and the southern part of the Old Melbourne Cemetery was turned over to the Queen Victoria Markets in 1920. The bodies that were exhumed were buried in the Pioneers section of Fawkner Memorial Park. Bits and pieces of bodies are still encountered when anybody digs more than 1.5 metres under the Queen Victoria Markets. It is estimated over 9,000 bodies still remain buried under one of Melbourne’s more popular tourist sites, the Queen Victoria Markets.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener were hanged in Melbourne on the 20th January 1842 at the corner of Franklin and Bowen Street, their bodies were taken down from the gallows after the regulation hour. The bodies of the two indigenous freedom fighters were stripped of their clothes (an executioner’s perk), placed in simple wooden coffins on a cart and were taken to be buried less than 700 metres from where they were executed. Condemned men and women were not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground in the 1840’s. Their bodies were taken to the eastern end of the fence that separated the cemetery in 1842. They were buried on un-consecrated ground outside the fence.

Six months later on the 28th June 1842 they were joined by three European bushrangers, Daniel Jepps, Martin Fogarty and Charles Ellis, who were publicly executed at the same spot the two men had been hung. Shortly after on the 5th September 1842 “Roger”, an aboriginal man from Port Fairy, also joined them. Concerned about public displays of emotion, public executions caused in Melbourne when the Old Melbourne Gaol was completed in late 1842. Nearly a hundred men and women were executed and buried within the Old Melbourne Gaol. Later executions took place at Coburg’s Pentridge Prison and those executed were buried in the prison grounds.

The area where the three Aboriginal men and the three European men were buried soon became the local Aboriginal and Quaker cemetery. Although it is understood some of the bodies in this section of the cemetery were later exhumed it is highly likely the remains of the six men publicly executed could still lie on the northern side at the eastern end of the cream and brown brick wall built in 1878 to replace the fence that separated consecrated and un-consecrated burials in the Old Melbourne Cemetery. The current site of Melbourne's famous Victoria Markets.

Jo Toscano Anarchist Age Weekly Review 25th December, 2010

'Marvellous Melbourne' has a little secret - Part 1a

When Melbourne was illegally established in 1835 by colonists from Tasmania looking for new land to exploit, the first burials occurred at Flagstaff Gardens. The local council set aside eight acres bounded by Franklin, Queen, Peel and Fulton St to act as the new cemetery in 1838. In 1878, faced with the problem of a cemetery in a rapidly expanding Melbourne taking up prime real estate, the Melbourne City Council gave traders permission to use the Northern end of the cemetery to set up a market. Concerned about public reaction the fence that separated the cemetery was replaced with a four arched cream brick wall which still exist today. Forty five bodies that had been buried under headstones were exhumed and reburied in the newly created Carlton cemetery. Following the out of sight out of mind principle, hundreds of bodies that had been buried at the Northern end of the markets were left where they were buried. Faced with increased pressures to expand the markets the rest of the cemetery was turned over to the markets in 1920.

Over nine hundred bodies buried under headstones were reburied in the Pioneers section of the Fawkner cemetery, the thousands of bodies not buried under headstones were left where they were buried. Over nine thousand bodies still remain buried in Melbourne’s famous Queen Victoria markets. Every time excavations go beyond one and half metres in one of Melbourne's premium tourist destinations human remains have been found. The 1878 arched wall that runs east to west through the markets separates consecrated from un-consecrated ground. Its presence gives us an opportunity to locate the area where the bodies of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, the aboriginal freedom fighters that were publicly executed on the 20th January 1842 as well as the other four men who were publicly executed soon after them are still buried under the Queens Victoria Markets.

Jo Toscano Anarchist Age Weekly Review 18th December, 2010

Comment viewing options

Enter the characters shown in the image.
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.