Frank Hawson

Frank Hawson was the 12 year old son of Henry Hawson who became a victim of the inevitable clash between the British invaders and the indigenous inhabitants of South Australia.

In the very early days relations between the British settlers and the local aboriginal tribe seemed smooth, but early clashes soon occurred, many quite violent.

One of the first clashes was with the Hawsons. When the British starting taking over the tribal land of the aboriginals, and pushing them away from their hunting grounds, naturally there would be trouble. Many early settlers seemed to make some arrangements to provide the local tribespeople with food, most probably as an agreement so that they would no longer hunt on what they would have still considered as their land.  That land now had domestic sheep and cattle, animals that were extremely easy to hunt, but had few kangaroos or wombats. Also, their usual foraging food, a mainstay of their diet, would have been eaten by the grazing animals. The situation would have very quickly become desperate for the local tribe.

Henry Hawson may have had such an arrangement; aboriginals would come to the shepherd huts and be given food.

On 5th October, 1840, an aboriginal group came to one of the Hawson shepherd huts looking for food. At the time only one of the younger sons, 12 year old Frank, was in attendance.  No doubt the boy was very scared.  What  happened we do not know; the aboriginal men may have tried to use the situation to pressure a young boy into allowing them to take far more food than was the agreed amount. We do not know.  Frank was speared by one of the aboriginal warriors.  He did have a gun in his hand, so we do not know when he grabbed it and how aggressive he had been.  He survived the immediate attack and did get help, a doctor was called, but he ultimately died.

There is a newspaper account of the incident written almost 100 years later which emphasizes the bravery and manliness of the boy in the face of these ‘savages.’ How accurate it is, is unknown.  This can be read via the National Library’s TROVE site.

A monument to remember him was erected in Port Lincoln and still stands today.

Frank Hawson has been mentioned in various other websites:
National Library of Australia – Picture Australia
This shows several photographs regarding the event
Has the original newspaper article
Monument Australia
Contains the public monuments and memorials which have been erected to commemorate the conflict between indigenous Australians and immigrant settlers. (WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this theme may contain images of deceased persons.)
Role play of Eyre Peninsula Aboriginal history (PDF)
This is some educational material helping to illuminate how the British “settlement” was so traumatic for aboriginal people.  Within it is mentioned the death of Frank Hawson.

About eirenehogan

This entry was posted in Family history, Hawson, History, Port Lincoln, South Australia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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