Edward Stone Parker - Assistant Protector

Assistant Protector

The Colonial Office in England appointed him as assistant Protector of Aborigines, and he and his wife and six sons sailed for Sydney. He arrived in Melbourne in January 1839. Robinson appointed Parker to the northwest or Loddon District in March, but he did not start his protectorate until September 1839. The Protector's duties included to safeguard aborigines from "encroachments on their property, and from acts of cruelty, of oppression or injustice" and a longer term goal of "civilising" the natives.

Parker initially established his base at Jackson's Creek near Sunbury, which was not close enough to the aboriginal nations of his protectorate. Parker suggested to Robinson and to Governor Gipps that protectorate stations be established within each district to concentrate aboriginals in one area and provide for their needs and so reduce frontier conflict. The Governor of NSW, Sir George Gipps, agreed and stations or reserves for each protector were approved in 1840. Parker's original choice for a reserve in September 1840 was a site, known as Neereman by the Dja Dja Wurrung, on Bet Bet Creek a tributary of the Loddon River. However, the site proved unsuitable for agriculture and in January 1841 Parker selected another site on the northern side of Mount Franklin on Jim Crow Creek with permanent spring water. This became known as the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station at Franklinford, and was known to the Dja Dja Wurrung as Lalgambook.

A Homestead, church, school and several out buildings were initially constructed. Parker employed a medical officer, Dr W. Baylie, to treat the high incidence of disease, a teacher to educate Dja Dja wurrung children, and employed several free and assigned labourers.

Franklinford provided a very important focus for the Dja Dja Wurrung during the 1840s where they received a measure of protection and rations, but they continued with their traditional cultural practices and semi-nomadic lifestyle as much as they could. At times over 200 aborigines congregated at Franklinford. Initially Parker had wanted the station used by several tribes, but the Dja Dja Wurrung objected to this as the station was on their territory so mainmat or foreign people were limited to a very few.

Parker also attempted to prosecute those European settlers who had killed aborigines including Henry Monro and his employees for killings in January 1840 and William Jenkins, William Martin, John Remington, Edward Collins, Robert Morrison for the murder of Gondiurmin in February 1841. Both cases were thrown out of court due to the inadmissibility of aboriginal witness statements and evidence in Courts of Law. Aboriginals were regarded as heathens, unable to swear on the bible, and therefore unable to give evidence. This made prosecution of settlers for crimes against aborigines exceedingly difficult, while also making it very difficult for aborigines to offer legal defences when they were prosecuted for such crimes as sheep stealing.

Parker learnt the Dja Dja Wurrung language and over time became more acquainted with their culture and traditions. But his Christian proselytising met with only limited success. A few young Dja Dja Wurrung became Christian and settled into agricultural farming, but most people continued in the traditions and culture of the Dja Dja Wurrung. The protectorate ended on 31 December 1848, with about 20 or 30 Dja Dja Wurrung living at the station at that time. Parker and his family remained living at Franklinford. Six Dja Dja Wurrung men and their families settled at Franklinford, but all but one died from misadventure or respiratory disease. Tommy Farmer was the last survivor of this group who walked off the land in 1864 and joined the Coranderrk reserve.

While chiefly remembered for his work as Assistant Protector, Parker was a leading layman and preacher in the Port Philip colony's Methodist community. He also served on the Council of the University of Melbourne in 1853, was a nominated member of the Victorian Legislative Council in 1854-55 and in 1857-62 an inspector for the Denominational Schools Board.

Parker's first wife, Mary, died in 1842. Parker remarried in 1843. He died on 27 April 1865 at Franklinford, survived by his second wife Hannah, née Edwards and by ten children.

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Famous quotes containing the word protector:

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