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Eliza Batman’s house: unhomely frontiers and intimate Overstraiters in Van Diemen’s Land and Port Phillip


Edmonds, P and Berry, MA, Eliza Batman's house: unhomely frontiers and intimate Overstraiters in Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip, Intimacies of violence in the settler colony: economies of dispossession around the Pacific Rim, Palgrave Macmillan, P Edmonds and A Nettlebeck (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 115-137. ISBN 978-3-319-76230-2 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1007/978-3-319-76231-9


In 1845 in early colonial Melbourne, Port Phillip, a group of Aboriginal men dived into the treacherous rapids of the Yarra River over many hours through the night to retrieve the body of drowned John Charles Batman, the seven-year-old son of Eliza and John Batman. Young Charles was well known to the group of men, often referred to as the ‘Sydney Natives’, as many of them had lived with the Batman family for at least fourteen years in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and Port Phillip. Diving for the body of Charles was an intimate act on behalf of the Aboriginal men, who were attached to and in the service of the Batman family and associated with its fate across violent southeastern frontiers. From Melbourne distraught mother Eliza Batman penned an emotional and religious letter describing the funeral to her daughter Elizabeth, who had remained in Van Diemen’s Land. As Eliza recounted, at the funeral 150 children followed the hearse to mourn the loss of the only son born to the so-called founding father of Melbourne, John Batman. Charles Batman had seven older sisters. But Charles was not the Batmans’ only ‘son’, for along with the seven Sydney Natives, the Batmans had brought with them at least two adopted Tasmanian Aboriginal boys to Melbourne: Rolepana, known as ‘Ben Lomond’ or ‘Benny’, and another called Lurnerminner, known as ‘John Allen’ or ‘Jacky’. In Van Diemen’s Land they had also taken possession of a third small Aboriginal boy for a time, who was christened ‘John Batman’.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:imperialism, colonialism
Research Division:History and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical Studies
Research Field:Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Objective Division:Cultural Understanding
Objective Group:Understanding Past Societies
Objective Field:Understanding Europe's Past
Author:Edmonds, P (Associate Professor Penny Edmonds)
Author:Berry, MA (Ms Michelle Berry)
ID Code:126469
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2018-06-13
Last Modified:2018-08-07

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