Fremantle Stuff > People > Midgegooroo


Midgegooroo (various spellings) was an elder (or perhaps the leader) of the group who lived in the country called Beeliar, south of Derbal Yaragan, the Swan River, and west of the Canning River, Booragoon, to the sea. He was thought to be over 50 when he shot by the colonists 22 May 1833, following an order of acting Governor Irwin, tied to the door of Jail in Irwin Street, for 'offences' of which he had no conception. The shooters were four 'volunteers' from the 63rd Regiment of Foot: three shot him in the head, one in the body. It was only four years after colonisation that the most significant person in the indigenous community in the Fremantle area was killed by the invaders.

One of his sons was Yagan, who was shot a couple of months later, on 11 July 1833 by colonist William Keats, to gain a monetary reward offered by the government, Yagan having been declared 'outlaw'.

Execution [of Midgegooroo]

Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal 25 May 1833: 84

In the absence of a Sheriff the warrant was directed to the Magistrates of the district of Perth, the duty therefore devolved upon J. Morgan, Esq., as Government Resident, who immediately proceeded to carry the Sentence into execution.
The death warrant was read aloud to the persons assembled, by the Resident, who immediately afterwards went inside the Jail, with the Constables and the necessary attendants, to prepare the Prisoner for his fate. Midgegooroo, on seeing that preparations were making to punish him, yelled and struggled most violently to escape. These efforts availed him little, in less than five minutes he was pinioned and blindfolded, and bound to the outer door of the Jail. The Resident there reported to His Honor the Lieutenant Governer [sic] (who was on the spot accompanied by the Members of the Council), that all was prepared,—the warrant being declared final—he turned round and gave the signal to the party of the 63[r]d [which had volunteered] to advance and halt at 6 paces, —they then fired—and Midgegooroo fell.—The whole arrangement and execution after the death warrant was handed over to the Civil Authorities, did not occupy half an hour.
A great number of persons were assembled on the occasion, although the Execution was sudden, and the hour unknown. The feeling which was generally expressed was that of satisfaction at what had taken place, and in some instances of loud and vehement exultation, which the solemnity of the scene,—a fellow being—although a native— launched into eternity—ought to have suppressed.
The Boy was removed out of sight and hearing of what was to happen to his father, and has since been forwarded to the Government Schooner, Ellen, now lying under Garden Island, with particular instructions from the Magistrates to ensure to him every protection and kind treatment. PGWAJ.

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Garry Gillard | New: 10 March, 2018 | Now: 19 November, 2018