1425: Parisina Malatesta and Ugo d’Este, for incest 1498: Girolamo Savonarola, as he had once burned vanities

1833: Midgegooroo, Noongar rebel

May 22nd, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1833, an aged aboriginal Noongar (or Nyungar) was sentenced to execution and summarily shot in southwest Australia.

Midgegooroo was one of the many indigenous casualties of European settlement — Perth, in this case.

Little is documented of his life but the end and that, of course, by his enemies; he helped raise resistance to the arriving whites in 1831 after a native was killed trying to raid a potato patch. As tensions heightened over the ensuing months, he was outlawed with a £20 reward on his head. He was sentenced — possibly without any sort of formal trial — and summarily shot a few days after capture.

Midgegooroo’s son Yagan outlived his father two more months, and in that scanty condescension of destiny carved a place as one of Australia’s most illustrious native rebels. (pdf)

In the end, inevitably, Yagan’s fate was the same — not so precisely as to qualify him directly for these pages but ambush by settlers amounted to much the same as the rickety assemblage of formal semi-legalisms that thrust his father into the ground: the law of conquest without apology. It would be years yet before any white would face the law’s lethal sanction for killing Australian natives.

Yagan’s head was hewn off and packed for England as a grisly trophy-cum-souvenir-cum-“anthropological curiosity”. Not until the recent trend towards repatriating such remains was it was finally exhumed and returned to the Noongar nation — in 1997.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Australia,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Guerrillas,History,Martyrs,No Formal Charge,Notably Survived By,Occupation and Colonialism,Outlaws,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Shot,Summary Executions

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