The Weekend Australian - Review - - Feature - Keith Vin­cent Smith

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).

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