Bye Bye Blackbirder: the death of Ross Lewin
Hunt, Douglas, and Kennedy, K.H. (2006) Bye Bye Blackbirder: the death of Ross Lewin. Journal of The Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 19 (5). pp. 805-823.
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The name Ross Lewin epitomises the brutal reputation of the South West Pacific labour trade of the nineteenth century. He brought the first Pacific Island labourers to Queensland on Robert Towns' schooner, Don Juan, in 1863, and continued recruiting activities until the early 1870s. Missionaries reviled him as a slave trader; Royal Navy captains pursued "the greatest man-stealer of them all" unsuccessfully. When Lewin was killed on Tanna, Vanuatu in April 1874 many felt he had received his just desserts. Subsequently his reputation has been variously embellished, accepted, and perpetuated by both popular accounts and academic histories. Yet he remains a mystery. This paper takes the death of Lewin as the starting point for an examination of the man behind the myth. We pose the question, "Who was Ross Lewin?" but find the answer elusive. The search uncovers a mix of conflicting evidence and assertion which, when juxtaposed against the Islander oral tradition of "blackbirding", demonstrates the challenges ahead of us to complete our planned life and times of Ross Lewin.
|Item Type:||Article (Refereed Research - C1)|
|Keywords:||Queensland history; labor trade; Pacific Islands|
|FoR Codes:||21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 50%|
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210313 Pacific History (excl New Zealand and Maori) @ 50%
|SEO Codes:||95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 51%|
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified @ 49%
|Deposited On:||19 Nov 2009 09:43|
|Last Modified:||02 Sep 2011 09:14|
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