Revisiting the ‘Faithfull Massacre’ of 1838
Through eye-witness accounts and contemporary reports, Dr Jacqui Durrant is revisiting the Faithfull Massacre; namely: what motivated the attack; what scale and level of organisation was involved; and how did the Europeans respond? Dr Durrant will answer pre-submitted questions.
Was Benalla’s Faithfull Massacre just a small random attack, or was it a key event in the ‘frontier wars’?
On 11 April 1838, eight convict and ticket-of-leave servants in the employ of William Pitt Faithfull were speared and clubbed to death by Waywurru and Taungurung men on the left bank of the ‘Winding Swamp’ (Broken River) at present-day Benalla. This unprecedented attack sent waves of terror through the district’s newly arrived and still arriving ranks of squatters.
Three main problems concerned the police investigators and newspaper correspondents at the time, in their efforts to make sense of what had taken place. These same problems continue to concern historians seeking to define the historical significance of this Massacre; namely: what motivated the attack; what scale and level of organisation was involved; and how did the Europeans respond?