Indigenous Names Research – Making Connections

Front Cover of Niel Gunson’s “Australian Reminiscences and Papers of L.E. Threlkeld: Missionary to the Aborigines 1824 – 1859.” Canberra, A.C.T.: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1974.


This work is conducted in memory and respectfully honours the First Australian People,
the Aboriginal People of this land.


Indigenous Names Research – Making Connections
By Dana Silayi

UON’s Culture Collections has a rich archival collection of primary written sources containing information about Aboriginal culture. This project has established a framework to better collate information including names (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) and meaning of names, age, social status of Aboriginal people of the Hunter Region. The project has located, recorded and made accessible documents and summaries of the findings, and attempted to create a framework documenting Aboriginal content of relevant documents.

The project sets out a foundation for further study of primary written sources, and to record names and other information about Aboriginal people in the Hunter region during the 19th century. The project was co-ordinated by Gionni di Gravio and Dr Ann Hardy who had ongoing discussions with Dr Greg Blyton about the project to ensure that a culturally appropriate framework was followed. Sharing the project will increase public awareness of Aboriginal culture of the Hunter Region, and be a useful educational resource tool for further research.

The aim of this project is to research Indigenous names and find connections between native people. The project concentrates on the blanket lists from the ‘Australian Reminiscences & Papers of L.E. Threlkeld Missionary to the Aborigines 1824 -1859’ Volume II. These blanket lists are mainly divided into two parts, the first part is the Aboriginals Committed for Trial, 1824-1843; and the second part is Full Particulars from Returns Available for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 1828-1840.

The on-line search tools that used in this project are: Trove and Google Books and Library resources.

Sources used in this project are:

  • Australian Reminiscences & Papers of L.E. Threlkeld Missionary to the Aborigines 1824 -1859 Volume I and II.
  • Commissioner J.T. Bigge inspects the Newcastle penal settlement.University of Newcastle timeline 1820-1829) Commissioner J.T. Bigge inspects the Newcastle penal settlement
  • Cynthia Hunter, The 1827 Newcastle Notebook and Letters of Lieutenant William S Coke Hm 39th Regiment. Raymond Terrace NSW: Hunter House Publications, 1997.
  • Joseph Lycett, Convict Artist
  • Reid’s Mistake: The story of Lake Macquarie from its discovery until 1890 by Keith H. Clouten 1967.

The Indigenous names that I particularly looked at are:

Click on NAMES below for further information

Jack Congo Murral , Wombarty , Shingleman , Bungare , Mickey Mickey  , King Tommy Jackey Jackey , Tommy Alias , Moses , Billy Blue , Old Daddy , Dickey , Toby , Tom Jones Little Freeman Leggamy , Charley

The information below is from ‘ The Australian Reminiscences & Papers of L.E. Threlkeld Missionary to the Aborigines 1824-1859 Volume II.

  • Billy Blue- (b. c1822) of Lake Macquarie, called Wirrinde in 1828, Wirrinti in 1835-6, and Kullatara in 1840. He was given as a son of Purcell or Bo-ah-la-rah in 1828.
  • Charley- of the Upper William River, was found guilty of the murder of Alfred Simmons. See p. 371. The Charley mentioned in the earlier reports belonged to the Broken Bay Tribe.
  • Bungaree- (d. 1830), ‘King of the Blacks’ and ‘chief’ Aboriginal community. Though a somewhat pathetic and ridiculous figure, his natural powers of mimicry and his assumption of full regal honours on behalf of his people assured him considerable popularity. His likeness and that of his wife ‘Gooseberry’ were taken by such artists as Rodius, Fernyhough and Augustus Earle. He died on 24th November 1830 and was buried at Rose Bay. There were several others named Bungaree at Port Stephens and in the Hunter Region. See A.D.B.
  • Jack Congo Murrall- was acquitted of killing a drunken Aboriginal named Bill Jabinguy on the Richmond road on 21 December 1835. See under George Bummary. The Windsor returns for 30 June 1838 listed a Jack Congo- Marnell, aged 45, of the ‘Lower Branch Tribe’.
  • Mickey or Mickie- (d. 1835) of ‘the Newcastle tribe’. His likeness was taken by W.H. Fernyhough. He was not listed in the blanket returns although there was an Old Mick listed for Pambalong in 1833. He was executed for rape at Goat Island( see p. 121); the official list states that he was given a life sentence to Van Diemen’s land.
  • Moses- There were several of this name at the station; three were listed in 1828. See Returns, pp.360-70.
  • Shingleman- (b. c1820), of Lake Macquarie, was a son of Jerry ( Ko-ro-ki-bah) and Mary (Bahn-di). His Aboriginal name in 1828 was Bur-rah-bun-de but was Mirritea in 1835( Miritea, 1836) and Pirritea in 1840.

The information below was taken from the Commissioner J.T.Bigge inspection of the Newcastle penal settlement. 


Newcastle and later Port Macquarie (1821), adopt an official system of using Aborigines as guards and trackers to prevent the escape of prisoners. Commandants identify Aboriginal leaders and give gorgets as rewards for their services and as proof of their status. Around 1821, trackers, Morningal and Yarrowbee are “decorated by the commandant with a brass crescent- shaped plate” to confer on them the rank of “chief”. The work is dangerous and at least one Aboriginal King is killed apprehending convicts. “King Burrigan” is fatally knifed by John Kirby, one of two convicts who escape from Newcastle. The men are captured almost immediately by Burrigan and his people. Unfortunately, Burrigan is stabbed by Kirby the following morning when the men panic at the sight of arriving soldiers.

“The Newcastle natives, and all the coast tribes northerly, are docile, obliging, and very willing to do occasional work, if it be not hard; but Johnny M’Gill, and Jemmy Jackass, from the Newcastle settlement, are certainly a remarkable exception to the general body, as these individuals cleared ten acres of heavy wooded land for the missionary at Reid’s mistake as well and as quickly as could be done by white people.


During another inspection of agricultural development on Wallis Plains( Maitland), Governor Macquarie is entertained by ‘Chief Bungaree’ and his tribe, much as he had been by Burigon in Newcastle three years earlier. The Governor records not only the growing farming settlement, but also the mobility of Bungaree on whom Macquarie conferred the title of ‘King’ and installed him on a farm at George’s Head on Sydney Harbour during 1815: “ there being eleven separate families now settled on their lands in what District(Maitland).. we arrived at the Government Cottage, which Major Morrisset had built… on the summit of a pretty Eminence… besides the large Creek I named Wallis’s Creek, and Commanding a fine view of all the Farms on Wallis’s Plains. Here I found Bungaree, Chief of the Boan Native Tribe (Broken Bay) with all his own family, and thirty more of his tribe, waiting my arrival, having come on purpose to meet me… we had rather a late Dinner…Bungaree and his Tribe entertained us with a Karaburie after Dinner, and we did not got to bed till 11o’clock (Lucas,51).


Betty Cox’s son Tommy is born at the ‘Black town’. His father is Johnny who has adopted the surname given to his wife. Johnny’s Eastern Creek clan name is recorded as ‘Warrawarry’, ‘Wooreswoor’ and ‘Warrawandy’. In 1824, Betty and Johnny are living at the ‘black town’ with ‘Thomas’. Tommy is placed into the Black Town Native Institution in 1828 but his father promptly removes him and refuses to return his son. Johnny later guides the Quaker missionary James Backhouse while his older brother Simeon Cox guides Rev Richard Taylor. (Brook, 1st edit, 28-29)


Rev Walker’s first report on his mission for the Aborigines is grim:” I have sustained a very serious loss…Tow of the most promising native youths I have met with, are gone into the eternal world… One was the son of the renowned Ben-il-long,’ whom I baptized…The other boy was Jemmy. As soon as he fell sick, he went into the bush, and in a few weeks died. [many others fled from the Mission House in fear]…I am left with two boys, and…must go out to collect more children…” Twelve months later, the Parramatta Institution, was abandoned and moved to Blacktown. (Colwell, 177)


The impact on the local community of the removal of these must have been significant and have had a fundamental bearing on the social structure of local people. Administrative records reveal that during the 1830s, a group of young Aboriginal men were arrested and sent to Sydney for trial for mainly unstipulated offences. They recieved sentences including incarceration in Sydney gaols or deportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Whip um up, Little Dick, Charlie Muscle/Myrtle, Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong Jemmy, Toby). Some were condemned to be hanged (Monkey, Tom Jones, Mickey Mickey, Charlie Muscle/Myrtle, Hobby, Charley). Charges laid ranged from “putting in fear” to murder. 16 of the 21 people in the list below( some replication) were mentioned in the local magistrates’ registers: Jacky Jacky, Little Dick, Whip em up, Monkey, Charlie Muscle (Myrtle), Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong, Jemmy and Jack Congo Murrell (Blair, 2000, 13-14).


John M’Gill (Biraban) guides Rev L.E. Threlkeld to Reid’s Mistake and becomes his constant companion. Together with Dismal and others, Biraban helps Threlkeld clear the land for his family’s home and mission farm:” Our workmen accompanied the natives Mac’gill Dismal and another one went to fall trees to make room for the erection of our house and prepare for planting some Indian corn. The natives appear anxious for our settling out here'( Threlkeld’s account of Mission to Aborigines of NSW, 16 October 1824, in Blair, 2003, p50).


‘Long Jacky’ of the ‘Grengai Tribe’ is one of the ‘original wild blacks’ living in the Gresford area when the Boydel family first arrive in 1826. ( Maitland Mercury, 26 April 1894, courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).


Farm Camps: Homesteads of Refuge. Living within a frontier region that becomes increasingly violent, Aboriginal people take refuge and cap on homestaeds that provide them protection. These include: Merton at Denman, Invermain House at Scone, Segenhoe at Scone, Glendon at Singleton, and Cassilis Station at Merriwa. A number of these homesteads also become an important area of employment for Aboriginal people in the pastoral industry: Invermain at Scone, Segenoe at Scone, Merton at Denman, and Glendon at Singleton.


Biraban is married and has at least one child, Ye-row-wa(English name Francis) in 1828. Threlkeld reports Biraban to be very fond of his wife, Ti-pah-ma-ah ( English name Patty):” Blacks do love their wives. I [Threlkeld] have seen M’Gill, and Patty his wife, in all the playfulness of pure affection, like Abraham sporting with Sarah in the even-tide…” (Threlkeld Reminiscences 1825-26; and Return of the Black Natives belonging to Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, 21 May 1828; in Blair, 2003, 54).


The story of Chughi, Chief of the Broken Bay, Narara and Mullet, King of Wyong. Only two records have been located regarding Chughi(‘Chougley”). The earliest is a letter written on 7 May 1827 by local magistrate, Willoughby Bean, noting “Chougley” was one of forty-one Aborigines to receive ‘Slops” ( clothing and blankets) that were distributed to Aborigines living in the Brisbane Water district. He is married, the name of his wife is not listed. The others are: Males: Abraham, Bobbery, Ireland, Jack Jago, Dick, Beana, Jack Brown, Joe Craft, Sydney Joe, Freeman, Yamyam, Nambo, Jewfish, Mullet, Jerry Purcell, Dumpty’s ,Jack, Bunghino, Tom Jones, Jack Jones, Young Banghema, Hughy, Charly White, Yamma, Raeldy, Joe Craft’s Boy. Females: Sophy, Kitty, Carbonmary, Little Mary, Baghena’s Gin, Kimbo, Rose, Chougley’s gin, Nelly, Ireland’s Gin, Mullet’s Gin.

Project undertaken by Dana  Silayi
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placement (HUMA3003) for Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle Library

Related Resource

The European Naming of Aboriginal People in Western Australia 1898-1908. Honours Dissertation Curtin University, 2006. Aileen Marwung Walsh.

2 thoughts on “Indigenous Names Research – Making Connections

  1. ‘Bungaree- (d. 1830), ‘King of the Blacks’ and ‘chief’ Aboriginal community. Though a somewhat pathetic and ridiculous figure,…’ As a descendant of Bungaree I find your quite ignorant, incorrect and derogatory comment on Bungaree to be quite offensive, and would like it removed, please. A proper detailed study of this man’s life shows Bungaree was anything but ‘pathetic & ridiculous’!. Thank you.

Leave a Reply