Rogues, Rapists, Cheats, Thieves and Murderers: The Batmans

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old Parramattans & Rogues

WARNING: This essay discusses sexual abuse of minors. Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are further advised that this essay discusses frontier violence and includes artistic impressions of people who are deceased, accompanied by words and descriptive terms that may be offensive to First Peoples. Those sources are presented as part of the record of the past; contemporary users should interpret the work within that context. Reader discretion is advised.

Parramatta Lanes

In recent years, Parramatta Lanes festivalgoers have packed into a narrow laneway bearing the sign ‘Batman Walk’ off Macquarie Street, Parramatta, to feast on flavoursome street food whilst feasting their eyes on quirky art installations.[1] Perhaps one or two attentive types made a jocular comment about the caped crusader, little realising that this particular laneway actually owed its name to an old Parramatta family that resided here, in a humble cottage that predated and once shared the same allotment as the architect James Houison’s two-storey sandstone Georgian townhouse at 64 Macquarie Street.[2]

The present day redevelopment of Parramatta being what it is, even since the festival, the laneway has been widened as part of the city’s new Civic Link: ‘a green, pedestrianised public space and cultural spine’ physically ‘connect[ing] public life from the heart of Parramatta CBD to the River.’[3] Yet, due to its former occupants ‘the Batmans,’ a small vertebra of that ‘cultural spine’ also invisibly connects to Parramatta’s historic St. John’s Cemetery, and even more broadly, connects the City of Parramatta to Lutruwita (Tasmania) and Narrm, the City of Melbourne in historically significant ways. However, for reasons this essay makes plain, that very history is precisely why the Batman name and image has already proven highly controversial in Victoria. So what does this mean for how the City of Parramatta, as the birthplace of John Batman, remembers the Batmans, and the ‘narrative’ it offers its residents and visitors to ‘read’ in its revised urban plan of our streets and laneways?

London Lanes

In 1795, William Batman or ‘Bateman’ as he was then known, a thirty-year-old cutler and grinder by trade, was living and working at No. 2 Long Alley, Moorfields, London, with his wife Mary (née Mobbs) and their toddler, Maria.[4] Despite being a skilled tradesman, it seems William was either struggling financially with his growing family, or so committed to his role of ‘provider’ that he, along with a couple of other small business owners, grasped at an opportunity for a lucrative sideline that would help him live more comfortably, even if it meant breaking the law. The criminal activity in which he was embroiled would alter his family’s future beyond recognition, so it is rather apt that the crime itself was quite a family affair.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. “Long Alley, Moorfields,” where the Batmans lived and worked, can be seen at the centre of this segment of a map, just above “Moor Fields.” Detail from John Rocque and John Pine, A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, (1746). View the interactive 1746 map and modern GoogleMap via Locating London’s Past (www.locatinglondon.org, version 1.0), accessed 12 April 2021. Courtesy of MOLA/MOTCO.

Mary’s brother William Mobbs, a labouring man, was servant to a Mr. Edmund Hill at the time, and was tasked with ‘digging gravel on the Hanwarth Road [sic: Hanworth],’ Hounslow, ‘within a quarter of a mile’ of his master’s powder mills,’ at Hounslow Heath, ‘where saltpetre was prepared in calcined cakes, which were used to make gunpowder for his Majesty King George III’s magazine.[5] ‘[N]obody in the whole kingdom, but those who ma[d]e gunpowder for government, ha[d] it calcined in that way,’ and each cake was marked with its weight.[6] Working in such close proximity to the valuable commodity proved too much of a temptation for William Mobbs. When his working day was done, Mobbs regularly made his way to his master’s mill, trespassed via a hole ‘where … some boards’ had been ‘taken away … at the back side of the coal house,’ and helped himself to some of the saltpetre.[7] Stealing was one thing, though; storing and moving the hot property was another, and this was where Mobbs’s brother-in-law William Batman proved useful.

Mobbs transported the stolen saltpetre by horse and cart to Batman’s London premises, with the help of anyone Mobbs persuaded to ‘assist’ him in the task for a guinea, including one James Medwin who eventually turned King’s evidence to save his own skin.[8] From there, the saltpetre was transferred ‘full half a mile off’ from Batman’s dwelling to a shed in what was then known as “Essex Passage” or “Essex Street” (previously Catherine Wheel Alley, part of present day southern Commercial Street). The shed belonged to a William Gabriel, who kept a chandler’s and cheesemonger’s shop in Love Lane by Billingsgate.[9] Still more people were implicated in the criminal activity, as Gabriel then approached John Moore, a fallow-chandler and oilman of Wentworth Street, asking if he would lend them his copper for melting saltpetre, which he obliged without pausing to ponder why Gabriel, a chandler and cheesemonger, (or indeed Batman as a cutler and grinder), would have such a large store of saltpetre.[10] Batman then arranged for a grocer and cheesemonger by the name of Charles Dickins to ‘dispose of … between four and five hundred weight’ of the saltpetre for him.[11] Dickins promptly ‘offered it for sale,’ and soon found an interested buyer.[12] By then, though, it seems the mill manager had finally noticed how much saltpetre was missing whilst making up his accounts: all in all, between mid-April and mid-December 1795, ‘large quantities’ were stolen with 2300 weight being removed in the last two months of the illicit saltpetre operation alone.[13] He alerted the authorities, and the whole operation was blown wide open shortly thereafter.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. This segment of a 1746 map shows a couple of key locations mentioned in the criminal proceedings: (1) Wentworth Street where John Moore had his shop, and (2) Essex Passage or Essex Street is also depicted, however at the time this map was produced, the street was called “Catherine Wheel Alley.” This passage way can be seen in the very middle of this map segment, connecting Whitechapel High Street and Wentworth Street. According to Survey of London (surveyoflondon.org), “The name Essex Street began to be used for Catherine Wheel Alley from the 1790s, exclusively so by c.1805.” Present-day Commercial Street roughly follows the line of Catherine Wheel Alley. Detail from John Rocque and John Pine, A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, (1746). View the interactive 1746 map and modern GoogleMap via Locating London’s Past (www.locatinglondon.org, version 1.0), accessed 12 July 2019. Courtesy of MOLA/MOTCO.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Dickins were the first ones to go down. Officers discovered a barrel of saltpetre in Moore’s shed, with ‘some of it still in the boiler and more sprinkled about the shed.’[14] The officers also apprehended Dickins on suspicion of peddling the stolen saltpetre while Batman was actually inside Dickins’s shop, watching it all transpire.[15] Batman himself was apparently not yet suspected, but assured Dickins ‘he would bring Gabriel forward, whom [the saltpetre] belonged to, and … he would own it.’[16] Batman never delivered Gabriel to the authorities as promised, but Dickins and Moore, being heavily implicated, were only too happy to deliver Batman to the authorities instead. Having obtained permission to apprehend Batman, Dickins and Moore were released and caught up with him ‘just by his own house.’[17] Dickins called out, ‘You are the man I was looking for; you must go with me!’ to which Batman rather casually responded, ‘Very well; let me go peaceably.’[18] When they had ‘got a few yards,’ however, ‘he offered to run away; [Dickins] ran after him, … caught him again,’ and ‘kept him’ at his own ‘house till the officer came in the morning about eight o’clock.’[19] Dickins ultimately also turned King’s evidence, stating that Batman and Gabriel were both equally involved, and that he had seen Batman and Mobbs in Gabriel’s shed in Essex Passage ‘leaving saltpetre there … every other week almost.’[20] Gabriel, it seems was another small business owner with a sideline, because according to Dickins, in addition to being a chandler and cheesemonger, Gabriel ‘dealt in gun-stocks,’ hence the interest in saltpetre, which was a major ingredient of gunpowder.[21] Moore corroborated the presence of both Batman and Gabriel, stating he had seen them in his shed ‘three or four times while the saltpetre was melting’ in his copper.[22] A quantity of saltpetre was also recovered from Gabriel’s shed, yet he was never tried; only Batman and his brother-in-law Mobbs were tried at Justice Hall, the Old Bailey, London, before Mr. Justice Lawrence for stealing and receiving six hundred pounds weight of saltpetre, value £48.[23]

Mobbs called six witnesses who gave him a good character.[24] One of these witnesses went further and discredited Medwin, stating he had been his apprentice for two years and vowing he would not believe him on his oath, whereas he had known Mobbs for four or five years and had ‘never heard of any misdemeanour of him in my life.’[25] Batman, too, was able to produce nine witnesses who unanimously gave him glowing character references.[26] Collectively, the quantity and quality of these referees’ reports may suggest that Mobbs and Batman had been framed, in which case Medwin, Dickins and Moore would have had to conspire to get their stories straight and pin it all on the brothers-in-law. It is possible: Medwin had as much opportunity as Mobbs to access the saltpetre supply, as he had been working alongside Mobbs at the gravel pit close to the mill. Yet, if they were framed, it poses the question why this was not an argument advanced by the defence. Both men were found guilty as charged with Mobbs sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing and Batman sentenced to fourteen years transportation for receiving.[27]

‘An Ignominious Banishment’

At the time of Batman’s conviction in January 1796, his wife Mary was already expecting their second child, Robert, who arrived in March.[28] With both her brother and her husband sentenced to transportation, the mother of two infants was set to lose a significant portion of her support network, so it is highly probable that she showed little hesitation when it came to deciding that she and her babes would become voluntary passengers to the penal colony of New South Wales, despite being among the minority who did so in this early period of the colony, which was then a mere eight years old. Whatever fears she undoubtedly had as her husband awaited his transportation in Newgate Prison, there was just as much to fear if she remained at home in England, with two children to raise on her own and little or no hope of her husband’s return.[29] It may be that she consoled and fortified herself with the belief that her husband’s skills as a tradesman would be valued in the infant colony. Whatever it was she told herself, it was enough to summon her courage and embark with two children on the same ship that was transporting her convict husband.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. View of the inside of Newgate, (Liverpool: Nuttall, Fisher & Co, 1809), 1880,1113.4261, (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Mary’s courageous act did not go unnoticed or unrewarded. On 15 October 1796, the Ganges (1797) reached Portsmouth, where it was fitted up, and inspected by the Home Department’s Surgeon General Sir James Fitzpatrick.[30] Fitzpatrick’s aim was to ensure the ship would have ‘the perpetual admission of as much pure air as possible’ for its passengers, including the 190 male convicts on board, to which end, he installed ‘ventilators and water-purifiers, also vitriol and nitre for fumigation, and such medicines as were required by Mr. [James] Mileham,’ assistant-surgeon on the ship.[31] But Fitzpatrick was not solely concerned with the basic medical welfare of those on board: his attentions turned to ‘the poor women,’ that is, the free wives of the Ganges’s miserable convicts including, of course, Mary Batman.[32] Without Fitzpatrick’s sensitivity to their plight, we could only guess at the experience of such women and the potential dangers they faced, as they left even less of a trace in the historical record than their convict husbands. Fitzpatrick was one of the few to notice them and, having done so, he wrote of them with admiration, albeit couched in traditional notions of womanhood: ‘their merit in a conjugal sense’ was ‘nearly unparrelled [sic: unparalleled],’ for, he acknowledged, these women had ‘sacrific[ed] their all, and subject[ed] themselves to an ignominious banishment, thereby fulfilling the great and essential obligation of their marriage vow.’ This conduct, Fitzpatrick felt, deserved to be rewarded, if only by ‘placing them under the protection of their husbands,’ thus ensuring they would not suffer further insult or injury on top of their already immense sacrifice:

I railed off a part of the vessel where the convicts were confined and allotted it to the married men, their partners, and innocent orphans. By this alteration the poor women, in place of being subject (as they were before) to the insult of the ship’s crew and the military guard, are now protected, and the space which they inhabited is now converted into an hospital apartment, well aired.[33]

Fitzpatrick does not disclose exactly how many free women had voluntarily gone into exile with their convict husbands on this particular voyage but, given the intensity of his reaction and the lengths he went to for them, it is likely Mary Batman was one of only a few.

The Ganges sailed from Portsmouth on 10 December 1796. Fitzpatrick’s efforts to ensure a safe and healthy passage were apparently effective, because in spite of the risks involved in a long sea voyage, all four members of the Batman family arrived at Warrane (Sydney Cove), Cadigal Country on 2 June 1797, although scorbutus (scurvy) proved problematic for many of these new arrivals. Another eleven months would pass before Mary and William Batman were reunited with Mary’s brother, William Mobbs, as he did not set sail per Barwell (1798) until 7 November that year, and only arrived in the colony on 18 May the following year.[34]

Burramattagal Country

Soon after reaching the colony, William Batman was sent to Parramatta, Burramattagal Country, to work as a convict, and Mary and the children trailed after him there, too. From the earliest years of the European settlement of the town, convicts like Batman occupied modest huts along its main thoroughfare, then known as ‘High Street,’ later renamed George Street. By the time the Batmans had arrived, dwellings were also found on ‘Back Row’ or ‘South Street,’ later renamed Macquarie Street, which runs parallel to George Street. One of those early dwellings, a brick cottage, became home to the Batmans, and was still standing in situ as recently as the 1940s.[35] It was here, on 24 January 1801, three and a half years after their arrival, that William and Mary’s first colonial born son or ‘Currency Lad’ was born: they called him John.[36]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The Batmans’ residence, Macquarie St., Parramatta, possibly photographed by Frank Walker, past President and Fellow of the Royal Australian Historical Society, William Batman’s Residence, Macquarie St., Parramatta, N.S.W., (c. 1934), 1805675 / nc001232, State Library Victoria and Sydney Suburbs, (c. 1855–1924), DL PX 165 / FL9865878, State Library of New South Wales.

Despite having another mouth to feed and still very much a convict, William was reportedly ‘off the government stores’ when his son John was just six months old, which is indicative that the Batmans were doing better than many others, if not most.[37] The continued growth of the family in the same period may provide further evidence that the Batmans had adjusted well to their new environment. Another son, Henry, was born 9 March 1803, followed by William junior on 15 March 1806.[38] The same year, ten years into his fourteen-year sentence, William senior earned his ticket of leave,[39] so he had clearly been a model convict, although it must be said, he had an advantage over many of his fellow male convicts: he had a supportive wife in a colony with a severe gender imbalance; moreover, his wife had never been divested of her freedom. We cannot know Mary’s activities or the social network she built up during her first decade in the town, as such details about a convict’s wife were not deemed worthy of record then, but with such a small population and an even smaller element of free people within it, we may venture to say that Mary’s status lent her convict husband a certain amount of respectability—so long as he played his part and did nothing to degrade her. What little remains of William’s activities suggests his peers likely viewed him as industrious, because while we do not find evidence of him utilising his previously reported trade as a cutler and grinder in the colony, in 1806 he was paid for washing and shearing sheep belonging to the Female Orphan School fund, when that institution was still based in Cadi (Sydney).[40] Two years later, on 19 June 1808, the Batmans welcomed their final child, Charles, and upon the expiration of their father’s convict sentence, all four colonial-born sons were baptised by Reverend Samuel Marsden at St. John’s Church, Parramatta, on 10 June 1810, in chronological order according to their birth.[41] William and Mary’s English rose, Maria, was married to William White in the same church on 14 December 1812, with Marsden officiating and her father signing his name as the first witness.[42]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Detail showing the Batman and, later Houison, allotment on Macquarie Street, Parramatta. Note, too, that there are more town allotments close by bearing the name Batman/Bateman, from Plan of the Town of Parramatta and the Adjacent Properties, as surveyed by W. Meadows Brownrigg (1844), M M4 811.1301/1844/1 / FL3690457, State Library of New South Wales.

In late 1814, the Batmans were still living comfortably ‘off stores,’[43] and if their patriarch’s respectability was hitherto somewhat tainted by his convict status, then it was now apparently beyond doubt. William, now ‘a Dealer’ or ‘merchant of Parramatta,’ was called upon to serve as a juror in the coronial inquests of Owen Dalton, Michael Wallis and John Williams at Parramatta in November, and gave evidence in 1819 following the apparent suicide of one Thomas Gorman.[44] In the 1820s, too, the former convict was upright enough to be able to ‘recommend’ that another convict named Daniel Jackson be given ‘favourable consideration’ in his petition for a ticket of leave.[45] William also received land with the endorsement of Samuel Marsden who described him as ‘a very honest, sober and industrious Character,’[46] worked diligently in the timber-yard business he had established at Parramatta, Burramattagal Country, with cedar procured from the Illawarra district, and was even assigned convict servants of his own in this period.[47]

Yet, just as William Batman had a ‘rogue element,’ insofar as he had seemingly led an honest life and made a decent living only to tear it asunder by getting mixed up in an illegal operation, arguably two of his sons turned out to be ‘rogues’ in the worst, most despicably ‘corrupt’ sense of the word, too.

Orphan Girls

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Eleanor Batman (née Turner) in later life. Sourced from a private collection.

The Batmans’ eldest son, London-born Robert, twenty-two, had married Eleanor Turner, also twenty-two, on 15 February 1819 at St. John’s Church, in the presence of upstanding Parramattans, Rowland Hassall and Mary Cover Hassall.[48] Eleanor was raised in the Female Orphan School and had completed her apprenticeship, so upon her marriage, ‘agreeably to the rules’ of the institution, she received a fine cow from the Orphan School Fund as a dowry.[49] By the end of 1822, Eleanor and Robert were assigned an Orphan School girl named Mary Murphy as their domestic servant, yet just three months later, despite her own firsthand experience of having to adjust to such a role whilst still a child, Eleanor requested that Murphy be exchanged for another pupil named Mary Harrison.[50] The Orphan School Committee neglected to record Eleanor’s justification for having done so, but ‘indulged’ her irregular request because she had ‘been bred in the Institution.’[51] The entire matter could have been completely innocent, and probably would not raise any suspicions whatsoever were it not for later recorded incidents involving the Batmans and vulnerable young girls, which cast a dark shadow over this early event.

In May 1827, Robert Batman, now aged thirty, stood accused of ‘assault[ing] with intent to commit a rape on the person of one Bridget Fogarty, a child under the protection of the Rev. Samuel Marsden.’[52] The Sydney Gazette reported on the case and solemnly stated that Batman was ‘an inhabitant of Parramatta, and we are sorry to say an Australian by birth’[53]—the implication being that he was not a convict, who might be expected to commit such a disgraceful crime, and that he had degraded the overall reputation of free-born Australians. Indeed, Robert had been perceived as an upstanding Parramattan; he was a man of considerable property; like his father, had been a juror on inquests, including for the gruesome murder of Mary Martin; and had even served as a District Constable of Parramatta no less.[54] Yet, from the outset, the overall tone of the report indicates the columnist’s readiness to accept that Batman was guilty as charged; for instance, The Sydney Gazette notes, with all the additional disgust the mere mention of it implied, that he was ‘a married man, [with] a wife and several children.’[55] On the other hand, the newspaper refrains from divulging the very pertinent information that Robert’s wife Eleanor was actually heavily pregnant with their fifth child and third daughter, Euphemia Maria, at the time of the alleged attack—his wife’s condition perhaps a reason he turned his lecherous attentions to a vulnerable young girl, if indeed he did do so.[56] ‘Bridget Fogarty’ is nowhere to be found in the records and was apparently a reporting error, because when the case was tried at the Liverpool Quarter Sessions and covered by The Australian two months later, the victim was named as ‘Judith Fogharty.’[57] Judith was probably the free Irish immigrant of that name who turns up in the surgeon’s journal for the Thames (1826) immigrant ship, which arrived at Warrane (Sydney Cove) about a year earlier, on 10 April 1826.[58] As previously implied, the alleged attempted rape of Fogharty compels one to review the earlier unusual orphan exchange Mrs. Eleanor Batman facilitated in 1821: perhaps nothing so serious as child rape had transpired then, but maybe only because Robert never got the chance. The slightest glance or flirtation between her husband and their new orphan servant Mary Murphy would not have escaped the newlywed Eleanor in 1821, but by 1827, with three children under six dividing her attention, and another child on the way, Robert likely had much freer rein. Be that as it may, while the trial of Robert Batman ‘occupied some length of time,’ it ended in his acquittal.[59] He might have truly been innocent, or the court’s ruling might simply have resulted from there being insufficient evidence to convict. Once again, it is the accumulation of incidents surrounding the young Batman men and the disadvantaged girls who entered their orbit that leaves one with a strong feeling there could have been a terrible miscarriage of justice in the Fogharty case.

Six years before Robert stood trial for attempted child rape, a young Female Orphan School apprentice named Elizabeth Richardson turned up pregnant, naming Robert’s younger brother John Batman as the baby’s father—a claim John denied.[60] Elizabeth’s age is unknown, but orphan apprentices could have been anywhere between twelve and seventeen, while John was a young man of twenty, living in a colony still suffering from an extreme gender imbalance with men outnumbering women, and those of convict status still in the majority over the free let alone the even smaller minority of those who were Australian born. It is hard to believe, then, that John Batman would not have found the prospect of a vulnerable yet unsullied, free, youthful ‘Currency Lass’ attractive, or at least someone he would have deemed highly exploitable, if only in the short term. After all, John Batman’s other option, convict women, had suffered hardships that made them more likely to carry venereal diseases, as he would learn the hard way in time.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Augustus Earle, Female Orphan School, Paramatta [sic: Parramatta], N.S. Wales, (c. 1825), PIC Solander Box A32 #T68 NK12/30, nla.obj-134497737, National Library of Australia via Trove.

We know Elizabeth had been apprenticed to the merchant Mr. Charles Hook of Parramatta, and ‘had eloped from her Master …, she being pregnant by a Man John Bateman,’ so it seems she was actively seduced away from an otherwise advantageous situation.[61] Two Magistrates, Robert Lowe and William Howe, Esqs, ordered John Batman ‘to enter into … a Bond … for the payment of Twenty Pounds per Annum for the support of the Child.’[62] The bond did not change the fact that Elizabeth was single, pregnant and friendless, so she was fortunate that a kindly Constable Blackman of the District of Minto was prepared to take her in ‘until after her confinement.’[63] Blackman’s kindness, however, had its limits: he petitioned the Orphan School Committee to reimburse him for all expenses incurred.[64] This put the Orphan School Committee in what they saw as an exceedingly awkward position, as they considered it ‘very desirable to avoid taking any part in the support of Girls who may behave so shamefully, lest the evil example be injurious to the School.’[65] The Committee agreed ‘it would be better that [Elizabeth Richardson] be supported out of the Police Fund, if the same meet the approbation of His Excellency the Governor, — unless she can be sent to the Factory.’[66] Thankfully, a stint in the Parramatta Female Factory was soon out of consideration when Governor Thomas Brisbane reviewed the case of Elizabeth Richardson and was ‘pleased to approve of the Resolution of the Committee on the subject and that the necessary expences [sic] attending the Girl, should in the mean time be paid out of the Police Fund.’[67] Nevertheless, it was John Batman’s alleged reckless actions that had ruined her, and it remained in his power still to prevent that ruin, as the Orphan School Committee acknowledged.[68] The Committee therefore met with John Batman in May, proposing that he take Elizabeth as his wife—he flatly refused and ‘denied her deposition.’[69] A letter from the well-respected Mr. Samuel Otoo Hassall as well as a deposition from Elizabeth’s former master Mr. Charles Hook, however, left no doubt that Batman was indeed the father.[70] While the Committee had since discovered that the bond John Batman had entered into was unenforceable in the colony, they ‘Resolved … [to] forego the prosecution of John Bateman for seduction, on condition of his paying the sum of £50, to the Institution for expenses.’[71] Interestingly, John’s father William Batman subsequently entered the fray, ever the businessman, managing to successfully negotiate with the Orphan School Committee to have the sum reduced by half.[72] £25 apparently absolved John Batman of all his responsibilities and by the end of the year he and his younger brother Henry departed for ‘Van Diemen’s Land,’ Lutruwita (Tasmania).[73]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. John Batman, by Charles Nuttall (c. 1912), 1666122 / is000456, State Library Victoria.

The one who had been so choosy when it came to the young, free girl who was carrying his child in Parramatta proved less discerning with the convict women he met whilst reportedly whoring his way through the brothels of Van Diemen’s Land.[74] Yet, just as surely as the discarded Elizabeth Richardson had paid for her reckless liaison with John, he would eventually pay for these liaisons, not only in the pecuniary sense but ultimately, with his nose, and his life.

At some point, John Batman apparently contracted syphilis, and was formally diagnosed in 1835. In those pre-penicillin days, syphilis was completely incurable and had a horrifying progression; primary syphilis involved weeping sores around the genitals and a full body rash; secondary syphilis, the most contagious phase, was flu-like with lesions that looked like warts covering the mouth and genitals before the disease began inwardly attacking the bones, heart, nerves and brain; in the tertiary stage, painful ulcers appeared on the face and head, eating away at flesh and bone, most characteristically destroying ‘the bony frame work of the nose’ leaving a gaping hole, with blindness, paralysis, seizures, dementia and madness accompanying the sufferer to his or her death.[75] But even then, the potential devastation of this disease continued. Children born to syphilitic people could be born with congenital syphilis, which involved serious conditions including deformities, seizures, blindness and deafness, and could be fatal. Batman did have eight children with his convict wife Eliza Thompson alias Callaghan between 1824 and 1836, and seven of them were daughters. His only son, John Charles, did die in 1845, aged only nine, but his premature demise was the result of accidental drowning in the Birrarung (Yarra River), as this letter written by his mother explains, rather than anything relating to congenital syphilis.

Elizabeth Batman’s Doll, [c. 1820–ca. 1830], 1676091 / ra000483-013, State Library Victoria. Video by Michaela Ann Cameron (2021).

Fittingly, the man who callously abandoned the adolescent Elizabeth Richardson with no thought for her condition or her reputation was himself abandoned by his wife, right when he began to suffer from the disfiguring symptoms of tertiary nasal syphilis.[76]

If only all this was the worst that could be said of John Batman.

‘…Much Slaughter to Account For…’

Truth be told, ‘rogue’ does not even begin to cover what John Batman was, as Batman’s Vandemonian neighbour, the colonial artist John Glover, evidently agreed: he called him a ‘rogue, thief, cheat, liar, a murderer of blacks and the vilest man I have ever known.’[77] Indeed, as is now widely acknowledged, despite negotiating with Wurundjeri elders for the purchase of land around Port Phillip in 1835, thus founding Melbourne and giving Australia the closest thing to a ‘treaty’ with traditional owners in our history, John Batman had also led a surprise attack on a band of approximately 60 to 70 sleeping Aboriginal People during ‘The Black War’[78] in ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ Lutruwita (Tasmania), a violent conflict involving guerrilla warfare between British newcomers and First Peoples from 1824 to 1831, which ‘all but wiped out’[79] Lutruwita’s First Peoples.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. John Batman, The Batman Deed [Melbourne] 1835 June 6, (1835), 1639725 / pp0007-001-0, State Library Victoria; “Grant to John Batman by Native Chiefs … 1835,” and “Governor Davey’s [sic: Governor Arthur] Proclamation to the Aborigines, 1816 [sic: c.1828–30],” which relates to “The Black War” and espouses equality and peaceful relations, in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong Views with Portraits and Manuscript Extracts, 1770–1886 (chiefly photographic copies of original works), DL PXX 71 / FL13383188, FL13383190, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales.

According to John Batman’s own dispassionate report of September 1829:

“The natives arose from the ground and were in the act of running away into a thick scrub when I ordered the men to fire upon them, which was done, and a rush by the party immediately followed. We only captured that Night one woman and a male child about Two years old. The party was in search of them the remainder of the Night, but without success, the next morning we found one man very badly wounded in his ankle and knee, shortly after we found another 10 buckshot had entered his Body, he was alive but very bad, there was a great number of traces of blood in various directions and learned from those we took that 10 men were wounded in the Body which they gave us to understand were dead or would die, and Two women in the same state had crawled away, besides a number that was shot in the legs… on Friday morning we left the place for my Farm with the two men, woman and child, but found it quite impossible that the Two former could walk, and after trying them by every means in my power, for some time, found I could not get them on. I was obliged therefore to shoot them.”[80]

Upon reading this passage, Governor Sir George Arthur noted that Batman had ‘much slaughter to account for.’[81]

The same could be said of the family patriarch William Batman, since all of this ruination, be it the ruin of young, vulnerable women in the colony, or the bloodshed of numerous Aboriginal People at the hands of his son John Batman, leads back to his dodgy dealings in late eighteenth-century London. That is, after all, what brought them all to this place; none of this could have happened had he not had at least a fraction of his son’s self-interest and despairingly cold, lack of consideration for those affected by his offences—for even the theft of saltpetre from a successful mill owner was not a victimless crime. It could also be said that William Batman was an enabler: he nurtured John Batman’s selfish, destructive, heartless streak by minimising the consequences of his actions, which ultimately allowed John to shirk his responsibilities altogether, and undoubtedly taught him to dissociate from the even more heinous, destructive actions he went on to commit against Aboriginal People. We do not know what became of John’s early victim, young Elizabeth Richardson, or even whether her baby survived, but while John Batman’s bad and lonely end from syphilis in 1839 rather poetically avenged her, what of the Aboriginal People he poured 304 buckshot into as they slumbered?

William Batman probably heard all about John’s murder victims directly from the cold and matter of fact John himself, but William would not live to see his son become the ‘founding father’ of Melbourne. The Batman patriarch died ‘by the visitation of God’ on 30 December 1833, with a recorded age of 68, and on 1 January 1834 was ‘decently buried in the Burying Place or ground of Parramatta’ (St. John’s Cemetery), according to his wishes, as stated in his Last Will and Testament.[82] Whilst still ‘in perfect mind and memory,’ just three months before his passing, he thought it ‘proper to give and bequeath’ to his devoted wife Mary his dwelling-house and all the ground, all the outhouses, and all other offices appertaining thereto, with all [his] goods and chattels, [his] horses and all [his] horned cattle, and all bonds together with every other kind of property whatsoever appertaining to [him],’ with the exception of one shilling, which he left to his son, the accused child rapist, Robert.[83] In 1839, William’s brother-in-law and partner-in-crime, William Mobbs, was also laid to rest at St. John’s, having lived to age 76.[84] Mary Batman, wife of William Batman, sister of William Mobbs, and mother of John Batman, would be buried in the same grave as her husband in April 1840, by which time, all of her children with the exception of Robert had predeceased her: Charles in 1818, William junior in 1834, Maria in 1835, and John and Henry in 1839.[85]

Revisionism

“I hear[d] tales of this remarkable man [John Batman]…They told me stories of bloodthirsty natives brought in by the bold hunter, and retained by his spirit of kindness. They spoke of wondrous feats of horseback—bush tracking—endurance of hunger, thirst, and fatigue—and a successful capture of dreadful armed outlaws. I learned that this man of iron nerve, of powerful frame, and daring courage, had the manners of a gentleman, the simplicity of a child, the tenderness of a woman…”

—James Bonwick, John Batman: The Founder of Victoria, (Melbourne: Ferguson and Moore, 1868), p. 2

Image: Artistic impression of John Batman (c. 1950), 1805667 / nc001226, State Library of Victoria.

For a while, John Batman was remembered as the heroic founder of Melbourne, and even as one who was ahead of his time for the ‘humanitarianism’ that was supposed to underpin ‘Batman’s Treaty’ and a few sympathetic comments he made about the plight of First Peoples.[86] The unveiling of a monument commemorating him as Melbourne’s ‘founding father’ at his burial site in 1882 was a momentous event at the time, prompting photographs and even sketches of the unveiling as it occurred. The same scenes were repeated when, following the exhumation of his body in the 1920s and transfer to Fawkner Cemetery, a second memorial was unveiled. In 1943, Herbert Bourke celebrated and romanticised him whilst repeatedly denigrating First Peoples in highly offensive verse (see slide show below), and in the 1970s a statue of John Batman was erected on the corner of Collins and William streets, Narrm (Melbourne):

By 1992, however, the 1881 monument’s erroneous and insulting claim that Batman had established the settlement on land ‘then unoccupied’ was rectified with the inclusion of a plaque, which was also subsequently revised and replaced with a new plaque containing stronger wording in 2004.[87] In 2018 a campaign by the Darebin Council supported by the Greens led to the Electoral Commission ‘unanimously’ agreeing to rename Victoria’s federal seat of Batman, citing John Batman’s participation in the massacre of Aboriginal People in Lutruwita (Tasmania) during the Black War, prior to founding Melbourne.[88] The replacement name ‘Cooper’ honours Yorta Yorta man William Cooper instead, who was an Indigenous rights campaigner and also led a march in 1938 to Melbourne’s German Consulate to protest against the Nazi persecution of Jewish people. In 2017, artist Ben Quilty called for the permanent removal of the Batman statue at Collins and William streets, or at least the addition of the words “mass murderer” to, as Quilty said, ‘appease my sense of justice.’[89]

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE. A selection of artistic impressions of John Batman’s interactions with First Peoples.

In John Batman’s birthplace, on Macquarie Street, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country, the presence of the Batman name in the cityscape is not a relic of the distant past, nor is it being erased. In fact, the grand scale ‘revision’ of the City of Parramatta in this period of major urban redevelopment has seen plans for ‘the western portion of Macquarie Lane’ to be renamed ‘Batman Lane,’ further embedding the name in Parramatta’s new ‘civic spine.’[90]

Isaac Selby, John Batman’s skull, exhumed 1922, in [Miscellaneous views including Sydney suburbs, Blue Mountains, churches, cemeteries, residences and animals], DL PX 168 / FL10440171, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales.

One might be tempted to find this culturally insensitive, or automatically jump to conclusions that it must have been included out of ignorance of the Batmans’ full history or the recent controversies over the use of the Batman name and image in Victoria. But such notions are thrown into doubt, because not far from the Batman site we also find that ‘Dirrabarri Lane’ has been included following consultation with a member of the Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Committee.[91] Dirrabarri is the Dharug word for ‘ironbark,’ in tribute to the type of eucalyptus trees that once towered above pre-contact Parramatta and were used by the Burramattagal to make shields, coolamons and other tools, until the newcomers cut them all down, sent them to the Parramatta timber yards (like the one William Batman established and in which his sons worked) to be turned into logs, which then went into the town’s buildings.[92] Nevertheless, uncertainty about the ‘narrative’ the City of Parramatta is constructing lingers and has been noted previously. Writing for Architecture Australia, for example, Adrian Lahoud asserts that the Civic Link provides ‘one reading of the city’s past,’ and goes on to note that its key sites, namely ‘a church place [St. John’s Anglican Church], a garden place, a market place, a civic place and finally a water place…present an unproblematic narrative of the site’s colonial history, celebrating the importance of the church, farming and fresh water in the foundation of the city.’[93]

It remains to be seen whether the city’s planned Batman references will adhere to an 1880s view, ‘unproblematically’ celebrating the Batmans; if so, then there will undoubtedly be new calls to erase the Batman name in the spirit of Reconciliation, as we have already seen in Victoria. In that case, it is worth pre-empting this scenario and considering what might be lost by a complete erasure: after all, the Batmans are historically significant, even though they should not be venerated as heroes, and erasing them might also lead us to forget their victims; a policy of addition rather than subtraction, therefore, may be the best resolution. Retaining the Batman name along with Aboriginal Language in other nearby lanes like Dirrabarri, and somehow acknowledging their victims, including the Aboriginal People massacred by John but also the Batmans’ earliest victims, Elizabeth Richardson and Judith Fogharty, provides an opportunity to tell a more nuanced, multilayered narrative. Such a narrative could be fully realised via, for example, permanent historical interpretation within Batman Walk and/or the proposed Batman Lane for everyday pedestrians and even future festivalgoers to absorb as they utilise a space with historic links to London laneways, Lutruwita (Tasmania) and Narrm (Melbourne), not to mention local heritage sites including the Orphan School and St. John’s Cemetery. For while the Batman family history does make for difficult, traumatic reading—especially regarding the frontier violence against First Peoples—even the present essay’s admittedly brief ‘syphilitic lesions and all’ view of this Parramatta family demonstrates that explicitly acknowledging the Batmans as they really were, rather than outright erasing them from our consciousness, ensures their problematic narrative can go on teaching us important lessons about our collective dark colonial past.

CITE THIS

Michaela Ann Cameron, “The Batmans,” St. John’s Online, (2021), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/the-batmans, accessed [insert current date]

References

Primary Sources and Online Databases

Secondary Sources

NOTES

[1] The ‘Parramatta Lanes’ festival has been part of a long-term plan to activate tired, small laneways that are packed with potential as quiet, atmospheric, pedestrian-only spaces that can ‘improve … street level vitality in Parramatta city.’ See Urban Design Unit, Parramatta City Centre Lanes Strategy, (Parramatta: City of Parramatta, July 2010), p. 31 https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/11647629/lanes-strategyindd-parramatta-city-council, accessed 12 April 2021. See also City of Parramatta, Parramatta Lanes, (Parramatta: City of Parramatta, 2020), https://www.parramattalanes.com.au/, accessed 12 April 2021.

[2] For more on Houison’s House, see Michaela Ann Cameron, “Houison’s He-Creature,Female Factory Online, (2019), https://femalefactoryonline.org/2019/02/14/houisons-he-creature/, accessed 12 April 2021 and Terry Kass, Carol Liston, and John McClymont, Parramatta: A Past Revealed, (Parramatta: Parramatta City Council, 1996), pp. 94, 100, 158.

[3] City of Parramatta, Civic Link Framework Plan: A vibrant green heart for Australia’s next great city, (Parramatta: City of Parramatta, Endorsed in-principle by Council on 10 July 2017), p. 4, http://cityofparra.prod.acquia-sites.com/sites/default/files/2017-09/Civic%20Link%20Framework%20Plan%202017%20Full%20Report.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[4] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021. Maria Batman or Bateman’s birth and baptism are found in “Baptism of MARIA BATMAN, 24 July 1794, St. Botolph Bishopsgate, Dau. of WILLIAM & MARY BATMAN, born 23 June [1794],” in London Metropolitan Archives, Church of England Parish Registers, 1538–1812, Reference Number: P69/BOT4/A/004/MS04518/001, (London, England: London Metropolitan Archives).

[5] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021. For more on the history of the old powder mill at this location, see J. Markiel, “The River Crane and Gunpowder Mills,” Old Industry (oldindustry.org, 2006), http://www.oldindustry.org/ShotTowers/local_history_river_crane.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[6] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[7] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[8] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[9] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.. Regarding the location of Essex Passage or Essex Street being the street previously labelled “Catherine Wheel Alley” on early maps, see Survey of London, “Before Commercial Street: Essex Street and Catherine Wheel Alley up to the 1830s,” Survey of London (surveyoflondon.org), (2018), https://surveyoflondon.org/map/feature/374/detail/, accessed 12 April 2021. Essex Street / Catherine Wheel Alley was “demolished sometime in the mid-1840s for the construction of [present day] Commercial Street.” See “Catherine Wheel, 3 Essex street, Whitechapel E1,” PubWiki (pubwiki.co.uk), (2020), https://pubwiki.co.uk/LondonPubs/Whitechapel/CatherineWheel.shtml, accessed 12 April 2021.

[10] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[11] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[12] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[13] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[14] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[15] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[16] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[17] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[18] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[19] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[20] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[21] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[22] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[23] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[24] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[25] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[26] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[27] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0), 17 February 1796, trial of WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN (t17960217-51), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?div=t17960217-51, accessed 12 April 2021.

[28] There is some debate among family researchers as to whether this is the baptism of Robert Batman. The variant spelling of the surname as ‘Bateman’ is not so much the issue, since his father was tried under that name anyway; what is more of a concern is the fact that the mother’s name was recorded as ‘Maria Anne’ rather than Mary. However, the Batmans’ eldest child was called Maria, so perhaps there was some confusion when the mother’s name was recorded. In any case, I am acknowledging that I am no closer to a firm conclusion about this than anyone else, but felt this baptism record was the most likely and constructed my timeline of events in the narrative as such: “Baptism of ROBERT BATEMAN, 5 June 1796, Saint Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London, son of WILLIAM BATEMAN and MARIA ANNE, born 1 March 1796,” England, Births and Christenings, 1538–1975, (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013).

[29] See Caitlin Adams, “Lives Left Behind: The Forsaken Families of First Fleeters,” St. John’s Online, (2019), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/james-ogden, accessed 12 April 2021.

[30] James Fitzpatrick, “Surgeon Fitzpatrick to Under Secretary King, Portsmouth, 23rd October, 1796,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III.—Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1895), p. 161.

[31] James Fitzpatrick, “Surgeon Fitzpatrick to Under Secretary King, Portsmouth, 23rd October, 1796,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III.—Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1895), p. 161.

[32] James Fitzpatrick, “Surgeon Fitzpatrick to Under Secretary King, Portsmouth, 23rd October, 1796,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III.—Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1895), p. 162.

[33] James Fitzpatrick, “Surgeon Fitzpatrick to Under Secretary King, Portsmouth, 23rd October, 1796,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III.—Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1895), p. 162.

[34] “Willm Mobbs; Vessel: Barwell,” in New South Wales Government, Bound Manuscript Indents, 1788–1842, Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4003]; Microfiche: 616, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). Note the wrong trial date is recorded in that source. The correct trial date of 17 February 1796 is listed in “William Mobbs; Age: 25; Ship: Barwell; County: Middlesex; Date of Trial: 17 February 1796; Sentence: 7 years,” New South Wales Government, Convict Indents (Digitised) Index 1788–1801, Number: INX-77-17629; Index Number: 77, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia), https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/INDEX1972446, accessed 12 April 2021.

[35] For a 1946 source that claims the Batman house was authenticated and still standing at Parramatta “recently” at the time, see Frank Walker, “Letter to Sir William, 33 Hunter Street, Sydney, 27 September 1946,” Sydney Suburbs, (c. 1855–1924), DL PX 165 / FL9865879, State Library of New South Wales.

[36] “Baptism of John Batman, of William Batman & Mary his wife, was born 21st January 1801 and christened 10th June 1810, Registered same day by me Samuel Marsden,” Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[37] New South Wales Settlers’ Muster Book, 1801, in “Biographical Report for William Bateman,” Biographical Database of Australia (BDA), (Person ID: B#10011641301), https://www.bda-online.org.au/, accessed 12 April 2021.

[38] Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[39] For a primary source reference to William Batman’s ticket of leave, see the New South Wales General Muster 1806 in Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania, Class: HO 10; Piece: 37, (The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England).

[40] Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia. Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), p. 172.

[41] Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[42] Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[43] New South Wales Government, Secretary to the Governor, Population Musters, New South Wales Mainland [1811–1819], Series:NRS 1260; [4/1224–25, 4/1227], (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[44] New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312; Pages: 145, 238, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[45] New South Wales Government, Petitions to the Governor from Convicts for Mitigation of Sentences, 1810–25, Series: NRS 900; Fiche: 3163–3253; Page: 61b, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[46] New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: NRS 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 36; Page: 173, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); New South Wales Government, Copies of Deeds to Land Grants and Leases, Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/487; Reel: 2704, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[47] Regarding cedar timber procured from Illawarra see New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent Within the Colony, Series: NRS 937; Reels: 6004–6016; Page: 649, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

For evidence of a convict being assigned to William Batman see New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312; Page: 111, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[48] Parish Marriage Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia; Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 206, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[49] Female Orphan School Minutes, 14 April 1819, p. 27 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[50] Female Orphan School Minutes, 13 November 1822, p. 93 and Female Orphan School Minutes, 12 February 1823, p. 95, in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[51] Female Orphan School Minutes, 12 February 1823, p. 95, in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[52]No title,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Monday 7 May 1827, p. 2.

[53]No title,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Monday 7 May 1827, p. 2.

[54] F. Goulburn, “Government and General Orders, Colonial Secretary’s Office, 20th October, 1821, Civil Department,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 20 October 1821, p. 1; “Robert Batman, Deputy to the Chief Constable, Parramatta, 4 December 1821,” in New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent Within the Colony, Series: NRS 937; Reels: 6004–6016; Page: 117, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); and his resignation the following year “Government and General Orders, Colonial Secretary’s Office, 20th June, 1822, Civil Department,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Friday 21 June 1822, p. 1.

[55]No title,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Monday 7 May 1827, p. 2.

[56] Euphemia Maria Norris Batman was born on 24 June 1827 and baptised at St. John’s, Parramatta on 9 December 1827. See Parish Baptism Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Robert and Eleanor had lost their first child, a daughter named Margaret Susannah, at three months old. She was buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Section 3, Row B, No. 12. See Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 152.

[57]Liverpool Quarter Sessions,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Friday 6 July 1827, p. 3; “BATMAN, Robert, Liverpool, 1827,” in New South Wales Government, Quarter Sessions Cases 1824–1837, Series: NRS 845; Item: 4/8400; Reel: 2404; Entry: 13; Page: 157, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[58] “Shipping Intelligence,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 12 April 1826, p. 2; Charles Linton, Journal of the Transport Ship Thames, Chas. Linton Surgeon and Superintendent, between the 20th September 1825 and 15 April 1826, pp. 22–23, Admiralty and Predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and Predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and Related Bodies, (The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England).

[59]Liverpool Quarter Sessions,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Friday 6 July 1827, p. 3.

[60] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[61] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[62] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[63] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[64] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[65] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[66] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 February 1821, pp. 58–59 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[67] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 21 March 1821, p. 60 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[68] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 9 May 1821, p. 69 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[69] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 9 May 1821, p. 69 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[70] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 9 May 1821, p. 69 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[71] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 9 May 1821, p. 69 in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), pp. 207–208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[72] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 November 1821, p. 79, in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474.

[73] Female Orphan School Committee Minutes, 14 November 1821, p. 79, in New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Beryl M. Bubacz, [PhD Diss.], “The Female and Male Orphan Schools in New South Wales, 1801–1850,” (Sydney: University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 2007), p. 208, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/2474; for the newspaper notice that John Batman and his younger brother Henry were leaving the colony see “Claims and Demands,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 10 November 1821, p. 2.

[74] P. L. Brown, “Batman, John (1801–1839),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/batman-john-1752/text1947, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 12 April 2021.

[75] L. J. Charleston, “The Shocking Photos of Syphilis Victims Before Penicillin,” News.com.au, (6 July 2019), https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/the-shocking-photos-of-syphilis-victims-before-penicillin/news-story/d490d2fc9d50e311feeea1f253a135e3, accessed 12 April 2021.

[76] P. L. Brown, “Batman, John (1801–1839),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/batman-john-1752/text1947, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 12 April 2021.

[77] John Glover cited in James Boyce, 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia, (Collingwood, Vic: Black Incorporated, 2011), p. 69.

[78] For more on this see Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, (St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2014) and Nicholas Clements, [PhD Diss.], “Frontier Conflict in Van Diemen’s Land,” (Tasmania: University of Tasmania, 2013), https://eprints.utas.edu.au/17070/2/Whole-Clements-thesis.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[79] Nicholas Clements, [PhD Diss.], “Frontier Conflict in Van Diemen’s Land,” (Tasmania: University of Tasmania, 2013), p. iv, https://eprints.utas.edu.au/17070/2/Whole-Clements-thesis.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[80] James Erskine Calder, Some Account of the Wars, Extirpation, Habits, &c., of the Native Tribes of Tasmania, (Hobart Town, Tasmania: Henn and Co, Printers, 1875), p. 18.

[81] Nicholas Clements, [PhD Diss.], “Frontier Conflict in Van Diemen’s Land,” (Tasmania: University of Tasmania, 2013), p. 136, https://eprints.utas.edu.au/17070/2/Whole-Clements-thesis.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[82] Regarding cause of death as “died by the visitation of God” see “WILLM BATMAN; Inquest Date: December 1834; Inquest Place: Parramatta,” in New South Wales Government, Registers of Coroners’ Inquests and Magisterial Inquiries, 1834–1942, Series: NRS 2921; Item: 4/6611; Roll: 343, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New south Wales, Australia; “William Batman’s Will,” The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), Saturday 7 January 1922, p. 8; William and Mary Batman are buried in Section 3, Row B, No. 10, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta: see Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 152. Their youngest child, Charles, died aged 9, and is buried next to his parents in Section 3, Row B, No. 11.

[83]William Batman’s Will,” The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), Saturday 7 January 1922, p. 8.

[84] Parish Burial Registers, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia; Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 149.

[85] Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 152. Both Maria and Charles were buried at St. John’s. Maria is buried under her married name “Maria White” in the same vault as First Fleeter Isaac Knight, among others.

[86] Nicholas Clements, “The Truth About John Batman, Melbourne’s Founder and Murderer of the Blacks,” (12 May 2011), https://theconversation.com/the-truth-about-john-batman-melbournes-founder-and-murderer-of-the-blacks-1025, accessed 12 April 2021.

[87]John Batman,” Monument Australia, (2010), www.monumentaustralia.org.au, accessed 12 April 2021.

[88] Nakari Thorpe, “Federal Seat of Batman to be Renamed after Indigenous Rights Leader William Cooper,” NITV, (20 June 2018, updated 21 June 2018), https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2018/06/20/federal-seat-batman-be-renamed-after-indigenous-rights-leader-william-cooper, accessed 12 April 2021. See also Calla Wahlquist and Paul Karp, “Melbourne Electorate of Batman Renamed after Indigenous Activist,” The Guardian, (20 June 2018), https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/20/melbourne-electorate-of-batman-renamed-after-indigenous-activist, accessed 12 April 2021.

[89] Nakari Thorpe, “Federal Seat of Batman to be Renamed after Indigenous Rights Leader William Cooper,” NITV, (20 June 2018, updated 21 June 2018), https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2018/06/20/federal-seat-batman-be-renamed-after-indigenous-rights-leader-william-cooper, accessed 12 April 2021; Joe Hinchliffe, “Call to Remove Statue of John Batman, ‘Founder of Melbourne,'” The Age, (26 August 2017), https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/call-to-remove-statue-of-john-batman-founder-of-melbourne-over-role-in-indigenous-killings-20170826-gy4snc.html, accessed 12 April 2021.

[90] City of Parramatta, Civic Link Framework Plan: A vibrant green heart for Australia’s next great city, (Parramatta: City of Parramatta, Endorsed in-principle by Council on 10 July 2017), p. 57, http://cityofparra.prod.acquia-sites.com/sites/default/files/2017-09/Civic%20Link%20Framework%20Plan%202017%20Full%20Report.pdf, accessed 12 April 2021.

[91] Anne Tsang and Neera Sahni, “Parramatta – Origin of Street Names,” Parramatta History and Heritage, (Parramatta: Parramatta Heritage Centre, City of Parramatta, 2021), https://historyandheritage.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/research-topics/streets/parramatta-origin-of-street-names-0, accessed 12 April 2021.

[92] Anne Tsang and Neera Sahni, “Parramatta – Origin of Street Names,” Parramatta History and Heritage, (Parramatta: Parramatta Heritage Centre, City of Parramatta, 2021), https://historyandheritage.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/research-topics/streets/parramatta-origin-of-street-names-0, accessed 12 April 2021.

[93] Adrian Lahoud, “Diversity and the West,” Architecture Australia, (1 January 2003), https://architectureau.com/articles/urbanity-9/, accessed 12 April 2021.

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