Fremantle Stuff > people > Robert Lyon Milne
Robert Menli Lyon (1789–1874) was a pioneering Western Australian settler who became one of the earliest outspoken advocates for Indigenous Australian rights and welfare in the colony. He published the first information on the Aboriginal language of the Perth area.
Robert Menli Lyon was born Robert Milne in Inverness, Scotland. He is thought to have had a career in the army in his youth and probably attained the military rank of captain. In 1829, at the age of about forty, Milne immigrated to what was then the British colony of Western Australia. During his time in Western Australia, Milne made no claim to military rank, initially preferring to be known simply as Robert Milne. Shortly after his arrival, he adopted the name Robert Menli Lyon, Menli being an anagram of Milne.
Lyon travelled widely in the colony and had friendly contact with the local aborigines. He saw the mistrust, hostility and sometimes violence with which the frontier settlers treated the aborigines and became an outspoken defender of their rights. He spoke in their defense at a number of public meetings, arguing against proposed punitive expeditions and other violent measures and instead proposing policies of negotiation and conciliation. His stance alienated him from many settlers and he became a target of hostility himself. Wikipedia.
Robert Lyon Milne was known in the colony by the pseudonym Robert Menli Lyon, under which name he published invaluable articles about the Nyoongar language and placenames. Professor Bob Reece has written a long article about him which was available online, but seems to have been taken down.
Lyon, Robert Menli [Robert Lyon Milne] 1833, ‘A glance at the manners and language of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia with a short vocabulary’, Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 30 March 1833: 52. The second part [of four?] of the article was published in Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 20 April 1833: 63-4. Many of the first people's names for places come from this source. The author's real name was Robert Lyon MILNE.
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