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

Edmonds, P ORCID: 0000-0002-2272-446X and Berry, MA ORCID: 0000-0003-1938-6110 2018 , 'Eliza Batman’s house: unhomely frontiers and intimate Overstraiters in Van Diemen’s Land and Port Phillip', in P Edmonds and A Nettlebeck (eds.), Intimacies of violence in the settler colony: economies of dispossession around the Pacific Rim , Palgrave Macmillan, United Kingdom, pp. 115-137.

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In 1845 in early colonial Melbourne, Port Phillip, a group of Aboriginalmen dived into the treacherous rapids of the Yarra River over many hoursthrough the night to retrieve the body of drowned John Charles Batman,the seven-year-old son of Eliza and John Batman. Young Charles was wellknown to the group of men, often referred to as the ‘Sydney Natives’, asmany of them had lived with the Batman family for at least fourteen yearsin Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and Port Phillip. Diving for thebody of Charles was an intimate act on behalf of the Aboriginal men, whowere attached to and in the service of the Batman family and associatedwith its fate across violent southeastern frontiers. From Melbourne distraughtmother Eliza Batman penned an emotional and religiousletterdescribing the funeral to her daughter Elizabeth, who had remainedin Van Diemen’s Land. As Eliza recounted, at the funeral 150 childrenfollowed the hearse to mourn the loss of the only son born to the so-called founding father of Melbourne, John Batman. Charles Batman had sevenolder sisters. But Charles was not the Batmans’ only ‘son’, for along withthe seven Sydney Natives, the Batmans had brought with them at least twoadopted 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 possessionof a third small Aboriginal boy for a time, who was christened‘John Batman’.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Edmonds, P and Berry, MA
Keywords: imperialism, colonialism
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Copyright 2018 The Authors

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