WE have recently become aware of an article, Violence, Terror And Depredations: It's Time To Face Our Grim Past, published in your newspaper January 21 and 22, 2020.
This column, written by Stuart Pearson, caused much dismay and distress to us.
[The column, an examination of the "Bathurst War" of the 1820s, detailed a number of incidents, including James Morisset ordering that the heads from Wiradyuri killed by settlers and soldiers be removed and brought into the settlement of Bathurst and some of them be placed on poles outside the police barracks. It also said he had heads shipped to England.]
This letter has been produced on behalf of our family and the many descendants of James Thomas Morisset.
The paragraphs referring to Morisset were outrageous and a complete fabrication.
No facts are supported for the false allegations against a man who diligently served this country until the day of his death.
There has never been any proof or any evidence of such abhorrent aspersions on a man's character and one who served the Bathurst community for many years.
Many of his children were born and married in Bathurst or surrounding districts.
In regard to the scant references in the article by Mr Pearson, we would like to ask where there is noted any allegations against Major Morisset in Bathurst.
Firstly, the book [cited in the column] written by Richard Gott, Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt, is riddled with inaccuracies and incorrect allegations and none of the events mentioned ever occurred at the time stated in the book.
There is no mention of Major Morisset in the book. The fabricated incident referred to was dated when Major Morisset was not in the country.
Gott refers to letters between Saxe Bannister and the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld. It is interesting to note that both these men were in the colony during the Bathurst conflict and the ceclaration of martial law by Governor Brisbane.
Neither have mentioned such an incident occurring in Bathurst nor have they named Major James Thomas Morisset.
There are continual errors in dates of events. A claim by Threlkeld in relation to the Aboriginal lands of the Wiradyuri people as being part of the Hunter Valley. It is known that their huge land area is not in the Hunter Valley.
Saxe Bannister at the time had been appointed as Attorney General in Sydney, a man with liberal views. Yet in his position at this time he never refers to Bathurst or Morisset.
Bannister was more involved in causing much angst amongst the judicial fraternity and Governor Darling who had replaced Brisbane.
Darling had little respect for Bannister's judgment and resented his unsolicited advice.
Bannister was deplored for his temper, conduct and tendency to megalomania. Governor's Brisbane and Darling had thought that Bannister was mentally unbalanced. Bannister left the country in 1826.
Refer to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bannister, Saxe by C.H. Currey.
The Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld is well documented for his dedication in transcribing Aboriginal language in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales but he was also very patronising towards the Aboriginal people.
Threlkeld arrived in Australia in 1824 and at no time does he mention in his various writings of an incident involving Major Morisset.
The trials of Threlkeld are well known and he was an unpopular man amongst his peers and anyone in authority.
Threlkeld did write to his Church in England with many stories of abuse and neglect of the Aboriginal population but his main aim was to garnish funds to keep him employed in Australia.
He was never able to convert any Aboriginal to his church.
Refer to the Australian Dictionary of Biography by Niel Gunson.
It has to be said that the vast majority of stories about Morisset were based on hearsay or blatant untruths and copied from one bad publication to another without anyone really delving into the whole story or the historical records that reveal a different view.
The Bathurst Wiradyuri elders in their values want the true story of colonisation to be told, heard and acknowledged.
Surely this has been happening, especially for the Wiradyuri people.
History cannot be hidden or destroyed. We cannot rip the pages out of history as it is necessary so all are aware of good and bad history.
We are well aware of atrocities against Aboriginal peoples with deaths and their heads cut off.
Their skulls taken back to England and many other countries around the world.
We acknowledge this abhorrent act. It was not done by our forebear James Morisset.
A particular incident happened in Appin, New South Wales in 1816. Again, Morisset was not in the country at this time.
The officer in charge was Captain James Wallis. He was under orders and some records say this is where heads were to be removed and hung on trees or poles.
This was not James Morisset.
Aboriginal people cannot rest until they are brought home to their country.
We understand this situation. Our government is committed to the unconditional repatriation of indigenous remains from all overseas countries.
It is believed that the acts of taking remains overseas was an abhorrent act by mainly unknown individuals, scientists and academics - people who did not live or remain in Australia.
This is truly a sad and sorry story.
It is all of Australia's history to be told and acknowledged but this does not mean that individual people can have their name and character destroyed by vicious, untrue allegations.
It appears that the old adage of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story still stands within your newspaper.
James Thomas Morisset worked tirelessly until the day of his death and for the good of all the people of Bathurst.
It is not our intention to try to rewrite history or whitewash the character of our ancestor only that the true historical facts are written and acknowledged.
From all accounts the Wiradyuri are being honoured with a Cultural Hub at the Charles Sturt University Campus in Bathurst.
Language and history are being taught and acknowledged.
This is a very positive step in assisting with the education of all people.
Stuart Pearson writes: "The Wiradyuri have a word called Yindyamarra. It means five things: be respectful, do slowly, be polite, be honourable and be humble about your achievements. In 2024, we should all embrace this way-of-life as a way to move forward, together."
Yes, let us move forward together with some compassion and kindness.