HIS WORDS EXPRESS A VERY PERSONAL AND AUTHENTIC ABORIGINAL VOICE
National Archives at Kew show that Bennelong and Yemmerrawanne regularly took lessons from a ‘‘ Writing Master’’ and a ‘‘ Reading Master’’. After meeting Phillip in Piccadilly in October 1794, Anna Maria Larpent wrote in her diary that Bennelong was ‘‘ quick & clever, he is learning to read’’.
The National Library copy includes a footnote pointing to ‘‘ muzzy doings’’ with the explanation ‘‘ meaning bad’’. It should probably be ‘‘ murry’’, meaning ‘‘ big’’ or ‘‘ very’’ in the Sydney language.
Another note refers to the statement ‘‘ his name is now Carroway’’, with the clarification ‘‘ they frequently change their names’’. Carraway or Caruey (White Cockatoo) was a young uninitiated Cadigal who appropriated Bennelong’s wife Kurubarabula (Two Firesticks) when he left for England.
There is no trace of a steward of Lord Sydney named Mr Phillips. It is possible that Bennelong intended his letter for Governor Phillip. At the age of 56, Phillip, living in Bath, met a widow named Isabella Whitehead. They were married on May 8, 1794. This was 10 days before the death of Yemmerrawanne, who was buried at Eltham in Kent. ‘‘ His companion pines much for his loss,’’ the London newspapers reported.
There is an 11-week period in which the second Mrs Phillip might have nursed Bennelong, who was ill before and after boarding HMS Reliance on July 30, 1794, for the long voyage home. In a letter dated October 24, 1795, one month after Bennelong’s return, Captain Henry Waterhouse of HMS Reliance told Phillip, ‘‘ Bennelong desires me to send his best wishes to yourself & Mrs Phillip’’.
Bennelong died on January 3, 1813, and was buried in the orchard of brewer James Squire, in Wallumedegal territory on the north side of the Parramatta River at Kissing Point (now Putney).