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Massacre on board the Douglas, Schooner











From our own correspondent at Cairns wo
learn that a magisterial enquiry was held thero
on February 22, before Mr. E. Morey, P.M., and
D. Spence, J.P., regarding the murder of three
men and the wounding of five others bolonging
to tho schooner Douglas.
The following is the evidence of the master of
the Bchooutir, whose statement was corroborated
by those of his crew 'and officers who wero
examined: ?
'Thomas Harris, sworn, Btated: I am a master
mariner, and am in commaud of the schoonor
Douglas ; my owners are Beaver and Co., Melbourne
; I am engaged iu the colonial trade ; wo
had a crew of cloven all told, including myself
and cabin boy j ou January 8th loft Trinity Bay
for Dunk Island to procure firewood and dunnage
; tho first morning after reaching the
island two cauoes carno off each having a native
on board ; they carno on board my Bhip voluntarily
; I gave them tobacco aud other things'; I
also gave thom to understand that they could
come with the ship for eighteen months if thoy
liked; they said " budgenie," and three days
after, just when we wero getting underway, four
natives' came off (tho two who had previously
visited tho ship, and two others ; three of thom
were allowed to como on bonni; tho other ono I
refused to take with us, on account of his treacherous
looks ; thero was a license authority sent
on board the ship nt Melbourne,.authorising mo
te recruit nativo black labor at certain islands in
the South Pacific, or from tho main land, for a
period of twelve mouths, to bo engaged in becho
dc-iner fishing, or procuring guano ; natives so
engaged were not to exceed twenty in number j
we were bound for a guano island, named
Chilcott, which, with tho Oorriuggo reef, are tho
property of Beaver and Co., my owners ; I
believe tho license under which 1 sailed was a
general license, issued by tho Governor of Victoria
in favor of Bcavor and Co.'s vessels ; when
tho natives wero engaged they were told
they' would get wages, mid plenty to eat,
and their engagemout was -entered in the
ship's log-book (book produced, and entry
read); that is correct; all it wants
my signature,
; owing to head winds did not reach Chilcott.
Island for about throo weeks ; arrived
thero, and commenced operations by erecting
hut and discharging planks and barrels; I forgot
to mention that wo found the Alexandra, brig,
also bolonging to our owners, lying at tho
island, aud about four days after our arrival it
was decided that tho brig should go to tho
Daintree to load cedar, and Mr. Beaver (tho
owner's brother), who had come with us from
Trinity Bay, took passago in hor to Cooktown,
and 1 think he must havo inadvertently taken
our license with him, as I cannot find it, and
have not seen it since thou ; the brig,
I think, left on Tuesday or yesterday
week, aud during tho day alie left outwork
went on all right; at night two of the men
(Humphrey, Coughlan, and Alexander M'Jutosh)
were left t? sleop on tho island, two of tho blacks
remaining with them ; tho men had no arms
save half-axes, which they wero cautioned to be
careful not to leavo iu tho way of the blacks ;
that night on board ship all hands turned in hr
usual; did not consider it
necessary tn keep a
watch, all hands being tired after work, only one
blackfellow ou board, and the vessel half-a-mile
from land with the boatB astern; about .midnight,
whilo tho mata and I were asleep on tho
" looters," we were awoke by a cry of Save me,
they are murdering me;" X said to the mate,
"For God's sake, got up
;" ho rushed out and 1
followed ; tho mate went by the port side, and
when I reached tho deck I met. one of
tho hands (Jumes Purcell), all ,cut and bleeding
;' I told him to go down into the
cabin; ho wont down, but seemed hiilf-atupid ;
I next saw a black following tho mate with a
raised axe ; I Hangout to him
iind lie turned
round and struck at my head, Keverely wounding
my hand, raised to guard my head ; I immediately
closed with him to take the axe, but
could not succeed, bo I tnade: for the cabin, '
where, I, found - Purcell lying-in a pool of blood
and moaning very much ; the boy was also there;
1 tried to load ii revolver, but could not on
account of: the wound' on my hand ; tho blacks
were then assailing tho skylight with pieces of
ooal and the butt-ends of oars j with tho assistance
of cabin-boy got revolver loaded and fired
several shots ; somo Bhort timo afterwards John
Shaw carno to the cabin through the lnzarette,
and said,' "Var God's ¦ eldee, let mo in;"
I assisted him in, and put him in the
mate's ,borth ; in the meantime the-blacks
had full possession, pf,,tho deck, c,uttiug; arid
hacking everything :witu the .axes they had ;
about fifteen minutes to five, o'clock a.m. heard
a blackfellow^ voice, ond immediately afterwards
tho steward tumbled down into the cabin,
unwounded; I,gavp,'him.a revolver,:and told
him to fire at the black stationed at tho skylight;
?ho ?fired, and I believe hit tho black, but did not
kill him'; ho ran up on deck arid put another
«bot into him, which killed him ;. I'followed, and
saw some of the orew forward ; ono of them
called out " Ono of the blacks ia overboard ;" I
looked through the .gangway and saw a black
swimming ; I told tho Bteward to fire at him,
which ho did, but can't say whotlier tho fugitive
was hit; I saw him land on a rock, and sent tho
boy to tho maintop to watch his movements ;
next saw a sea take him oil' tho rock; never
saw him again ; beliovo he was drowned ; on
ookiug around saw two blacks dead, and ordered
the bodies to bo thrown overboard ; also uaw the
body of Patrick Troy, greatly mutilated; on
mustering crow, found the others badly wounded,
the mate and steward only being unhurt; I sent
them away in tho boat to tho island to ueo how
matters stood there ; whon they returned, thoy
reported that the two men, Humphrey Coughlan
anti Alexander M'Intosh, hui been murdered in
the hut; the mate stated that tho bodies were
much cut about the hoad, and tliut decomposition
was fait setting in ; but before sending the
boat away again, I ordered the body of Patrick
Troy to bo wrapped up in his blankets and taken
on shore to be buried with the others ; tho
murders were no doubt perpetrated with tho
half-axeB ; those now produced are thu weapons
The other witnesses were?Daniel Deasy, sea
?/nan; Frederick Dowdall, chiof mate; aud
.Henry Fuller, cook mid steward.
Our correspondent further states that tho
Polico Magistrate had everything in his
done to alleviate the sufferings of thu wounded
Tho uso of a iorgo building erected for a
public-houBO, but not finished, wan secured to do
duty sh a temporary bospital, and the sorvicos of
duty sh a temporary bospital, and the sorvicos of
a cook aud nurse were also procured, whilo
valuable professional skill was rendered by Mr. G.
Jj. Kutherford,'chemist; butit wasdeemedadvis
able to forward tho worst oaBcs to Cooktown, aud
three of theraen were Bent away, by tho Blackbird
on Friday evening laat. Captain Harris
and another, only slightly wounded, aro progressing
Until steps aro taken....

Extracted from: The Brisbane Courier, Thursday 8 March 1877,





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