“Yellow Billy”s petition

“Yellow Billy”s petition. Between 1863 and 1927 around 50 Aboriginal people from the Hunter River region settle on government land on the Page River near Gundy. It becomes known as “Yellow Billy’s farm”. Billy Murphy is the purported “last king of the Hunter Aboriginal people”. Of mixed descent, Billy grows up at Segenhoe, receives a land grant and is recognised with a brass king plate inscribed “Yellow Billy”. King Billy is a well-known identity throughout the Upper Hunter”. His wife Anne (“Annie” and “Nannie”) is also highly respected. In 1872 Billy is given permission to occupy some allotments near Gundy in response to his own petition to the Lands Department requesting a grant of 200 acres. His petition includes the following:

“That I have sat down, and taken possession of the land of my ancestors, my birthright, on east side Pages River joining Belvue, and village reserve, to support my family, and others of my tribe…”.

The following year, Billy and Annie thank “Her Majesty’s Government for granting us land” and request tools, seed, bullocks and horses to “start us”. Billy’s two requests are written in the frail hand of John McLeod who writes at the bottom of each page “God Bless Queen Victoria”. The last Hunter River camp however is near Singleton, “whither all the Dartbrook and Page” River Aborigines migrate during the second half of the nineteenth century. They live at St Clair on the property of Dr Rev James White. Billy Murphy dies in 1899, probably at Gundy or possibly at St Clair. (SRNSW10/18739, in Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 226-235; Lucas 37).