Sarah (Medley) Harpur
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Jerimin (Medley) Harpur (abt. 1819 - 1892)

Jerimin (Sarah) [uncertain] "Sally and Sarah" Harpur formerly Medley aka Dowd, Coutts
Born about in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australiamap
Daughter of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Killongbutta Station, via Bathurst NSWmap
Profile last modified | Created 1 Feb 2020
This page has been accessed 197 times.

Biography

Sarah (Medley) Harpur is an Indigenous Australian.

Jeremin (aka Sarah Medley ) was born about 1819. She passed away in 1892. Jeremin was an Aboriginal Woman of the Wiradjuri Nation. Her first partner was Thomas Harpur who is also recorded as being of Aboriginal Descent. At the time of her death she was reported to be the last of the Aboriginal Clan of the Bathurst District.

There is no real evidence of who fathered Jeremin's son, John Rowland Harpur, nor any conclusive evidence as to how either of them was given their “european” names.

John's baptism record provides the following information: "John Rowland Harpur, aboriginal boy, son of Sarah Medley of Sydney. Aged about 19? years.b Baptised 15.12.1854 Wesleyan Sydney North Circuit (56/2513) (Ref list 1)

It appears that John was more like 15 years old when he was baptised, as a parish record registers his birth as John R Medley, son of Sarah Medley, born Bathurst, 1840 (V18392513 56/1839) i.e. his mother was, at most, 14 years old.

Blanket Lists for Bathurst records indicate Sarah Medley was issued blankets on a number occasions.

Originally the Wiradjuri people wore possum skin cloaks to keep them warm in the cold winters on the western plains of NSW. In 1814, Governor Macquarie began the annual distribution of blankets to Aboriginal people to “encourage civilised habits and cooperation with the settlers”. Blankets were distributed annually on the King/Queen’s birthday, on or around 1st May. Aboriginal people came to depend on the provision of blankets and rations from the government, as their traditional lands and hunting grounds were progressively taken over by white settlers. Blanket lists were established to account for expenditure on Aborigines and they provide what is for most people researching their aboriginal ancestry, the end of the line in written evidence. (AITSIS)

Returns of the Aboriginal Natives to whom blankets were distributed by the Bench of Magistrates at Bathurst have the following entries where Sarah Medley received blankets: 1833 – Sally Medley – Child aged 7; Description of Tribe – Warwick, District of Usual Resort – Warwick. 1834 – Sarah Medley – an Orphan Child aged 8, Designation of Tribe -Bathurst 30 May 1867 – Sarah Medly (Jerimin), Kellenbulla. 27 May 1868 – Sarah Medley, Killenbulla 31 May 1870 – Sally Medley, At Andersons. 26 May 1871 - Sally Medley, Killenbutta 20 September 1872 - Sarah Medley. 6 June 1873 – Sarah Medley 14 October 1874 – Sarah Medley, Killenbulla 2 April 1875 – Dorah Medley, Killenbulla

The first entry estimates Sarah’s age as 7 years, and it would ppear, an orphan. Thus we have a rough estimate of her birth year as 1826. Wiradjuri warrier Windradyne nicknamed “Saturday” led reprisals against settlers, resulting in the declaration by Governor Brisbane, of martial law in 1824. Over the next couple of years Wiradjuri people were driven off their land and history records massacres of men, women and children, the most notorious of these being the documented Clear Creek massacre, just out of Bathurst on the Sofala Road.

Sarah’s birth was two years after the “Bathurst Wars” so both her parents had survived that terror. However in 1830, a smallpox epidemic devastated the remaining aboriginal population on the Western Plains. It proved more likely to be fatal for babies and adults, than for children. Aged around 4 years at the time, Sarah survived this epidemic, but perhaps her parents did not. The first entry also gives Sarah’s tribe as that of Warwick. Warwick was a settlement on the Lachlan River about 18 kilometres from Cowra, on the Parkes Road.

There is no indication of how Sarah came to Bathurst from Warwick, nor how she received her surname Medley. Often such names were adopted to identify the stations and families with whom there was association. The only Medley living west of the Blue Mountains in the 1831 census was Joseph Medley, who lived with his wife Mary at Crooked Corner. Joseph was blacksmith to Colonel Stewart who had taken up the land known as Mount Pleasant, in 1825. This appears to be the most likely contender for a namesake. Crooked Corner/Mt Pleasant in where the highway turns off to the Killingbutta property.

The Blanket Lists provide us with the evidence that Sarah/Sally/Dorah/Jerimin had an ongoing association with the Killongbutta property in the Bathurst area between 1867 and 1875. The variations in name can probably be accounted for in that the police officers providing the blankets were completing the returns, with varying levels of diligence and spelling ability. Killongbutta was variously spelled, Killenbulla and Killongbulla and it was held initially by the Piper family, then by the Anderson family. `

There is though, a large gap in the records of when Sarah received her blankets, with nothing recorded for the 33 years between 1834 and 1867. A handful of records give us an idea of what she was doing in this time. The birth of her son, John Medley, was recorded at Bathurst in 1840, so she probably remained in Bathurst for at least another 6 years.

A newspaper record of 10 July 1847 potentially puts her in Sydney, aged about 27 years: "James Reid, residing on the North Shore, left his home about 10 0’clock on Wednesday morning and on returning in the evening at dusk, had the mortification to find that his box had been broken open, and eight or nine one pound notes carried off by Sarah Medley, his servant woman, who had absconded previous to his return".

There is nothing to say that this Sarah is aboriginal and there is no record of her capture, nor any trial records relating to this event that I have been able to locate.

The record of John’s baptism in Sydney in 1854, indicates when and where his name was changed from Medley to Harpur. Records show that he was baptised in the same ceremony as the Harpur grandchildren of the Reverend William Walker. The record also states that he was the son of Sarah Medley of Sydney. So in 1854, presumably, Sarah was in Sydney and had sufficient contact with her son, or with the Harpurs, for her location to be recorded.

Sarah returned to the Bathurst district before 1867, because on 30 May she was recorded as having received a blanket at Killongbutta. Then on 19 June 1867, the NSW Police Gazette, reports the theft of a horse from Sally Medley of Winburndale Creek. Winburndale Creek flows through the Suttor property, Brucedale, which was something of a sanctuary for the Wiradjuri people. Windradyne, warrier leader, is buried on Brucedale, which is where he died. It is likely that at this time, Sarah is living around the gold diggings on the creek. Blanket lists have her receiving blankets at Killongbutta until 1875, when the last distribution of blankets occurred.

There is only one further record of Sarah’s existence, that of her death. Forbes and Parkes Gazette - 29 April 1892 (p.2)

Last week word was brought to the police that a black gin named "Sally Medley" had died at Killongbutta. Until about twelve months ago "Sally" who was upwards of 70 years of age, was living with a man named Coutts, who was engaged in mining near Killonbutta. Coutts had died about twelve months ago and as the old woman was left alone the Anderson family took compassion on her, and had her taken to the homestead at Killonbutta, where she has since been cared for. Latterley she has been suffering from bronchitis, and early last week she died. The coroner did not deem it necessary to hold an enquiry, as the doctor's certificate was procured, aned (sic) the police went to Killongbutta, and saw the body interred. "Sally" is said to be the last of the Aboriginal tribe connected with the Bathurst District.

The Coutts mentioned would appear to be James Coutts.

National Advocate Bathurst – 19 Feb 1891.

The Old Digger’s Death: In accordance with instructions from the District Coroner, Senior Constable McDonald proceeded to “The Forge” on Monday, for the purpose of enquiring into the death of the old miner, James Coutts. Satisfied that the old gentleman had died from a general breaking up of his system, Senior-Constable McDonald, with the assistance of some neighbours, had a coffin made, and the remains of one who could tell a good story of the early days was buried in a romantic cemetery on a picturesque slope, not far from the Macquarie River.

Reading these two articles together, it appears that the Anderson family took Sarah to live at Killongbutta homestead for the last year or so of her life. Although some descendants believe that Sarah and Coutts lived behind the old forge at Killongbutta, these articles indicate that they were camped at “the Forge” which is the name of a section of the Macquarie River, near to Killongbutta. There is no marker for Sarah’s grave but records indicate that her burial was at Killongbutta on the bank of the Macquarie River.

After much searching of the existing records beginning with the baptism record of 'aboriginal boy' John Rowland Harpur, Sarah Medley, John’s mother, was located in the Blanket Lists for Bathurst. Blanket lists: Originally the Wiradjuri people wore possum skin cloaks to keep them warm in the cold winters on the western plains of NSW. In 1814, Governor Macquarie began the annual distribution of blankets to Aboriginal people to “encourage civilised habits and cooperation with the settlers”. Blankets were distributed annually on the King/Queen’s birthday, on or around 1st May. Aboriginal people came to depend on the provision of blankets and rations from the government, as their traditional lands and hunting grounds were progressively taken over by white settlers. Blanket lists were established to account for expenditure on Aborigines and they provide what is for most people researching their aboriginal ancestry, the end of the line in written evidence. (AITSIS) Returns of the Aboriginal Natives to whom blankets were distributed by the Bench of Magistrates at Bathurst have the following entries where Sarah Medley received blankets: 1833 – Sally Medley – Child aged 7; Description of Tribe – Warwick, District of Usual Resort – Warwick. 1834 – Sarah Medley – an Orphan Child aged 8, Designation of Tribe -Bathurst 30 May 1867 – Sarah Medly (Jerimin), Kellenbulla. 27 May 1868 – Sarah Medley, Killenbulla 31 May 1870 – Sally Medley, At Andersons. 26 May 1871 - Sally Medley, Killenbutta 20 September 1872 - Sarah Medley. 6 June 1873 – Sarah Medley 14 October 1874 – Sarah Medley, Killenbulla 2 April 1875 – Dorah Medley, Killenbulla The first entry estimates Sarah’s age as 7 years, thus we have a rough estimate of her birth year as 1826. Wiradjuri warrier Windradyne nicknamed “Saturday” led reprisals against settlers, resulting in the declaration by Governor Brisbane, of martial law in 1824. Over the next couple of years Wiradjuri people were driven off their land and history records massacres of men, women and children, the most notorious of these being the documented Clear Creek massacre, just out of Bathurst on the Sofala Road. Sarah’s birth was two years after the “Bathurst Wars” so both her parents had survived that terror. However in 1830, a smallpox epidemic devastated the remaining aboriginal population on the Western Plains. It proved more likely to be fatal for babies and adults, than for children. Aged around 4 years at the time, Sarah survived this epidemic, but perhaps her parents did not. The first entry also gives Sarah’s tribe as that of Warwick. Warwick was a settlement on the Lachlan River about 18 kilometres from Cowra, on the Parkes Road. There is no indication of how Sarah came to Bathurst from Warwick, nor how she received her surname Medley. Often such names were adopted to identify the stations and families with whom there was association. The only Medley living west of the Blue Mountains in the 1831 census was Joseph Medley, who lived with his wife Mary at Crooked Corner. Joseph was blacksmith to Colonel Stewart who had taken up the land known as Mount Pleasant, in 1825. This appears to be the most likely contender for a namesake. Crooked Corner/Mt Pleasant in where the highway turns off to the Killingbutta property. The Blanket Lists provide us with the evidence that Sarah/Sally/Dorah/Jerimin had an ongoing association with the Killongbutta property in the Bathurst area between 1867 and 1875. The variations in name can probably be accounted for in that the police officers providing the blankets were completing the returns, with varying levels of diligence and spelling ability. Killongbutta was variously spelled, Killenbulla and Killongbulla and it was held initially by the Piper family, then by the Anderson family. ` There is though, a large gap in the records of when Sarah received her blankets, with nothing recorded for the 33 years between 1834 and 1867. A handful of records give us an idea of what she was doing in this time. The birth of her son, John Medley, was recorded at Bathurst in 1840, so she probably remained in Bathurst for at least another 6 years. A newspaper record of 10 July 1847 potentially puts her in Sydney, aged about 27 years: James Reid, residing on the North Shore, left his home about 10 0’clock on Wednesday morning and on returning in the evening at dusk, had the mortification to find that his box had been broken open, and eight or nine one pound notes carried off by Sarah Medley, his servant woman, who had absconded previous to his return. There is nothing to say that this Sarah is aboriginal and there is no record of her capture, nor any trial records relating to this event that I have been able to locate. I have not been able to locate another Sarah Medley, living in Sydney at this time. Moreover, the record of John’s baptism in Sydney in 1854, where his name was changed from Medley to Harpur and he was baptised in the same ceremony as the Harpur grandchildren of the Reverend William Walker, says that he was the son of Sarah Medley of Sydney. So in 1854, presumably, she was in Sydney and had sufficient contact with her son, or with the Harpurs, for her location to be recorded. Sarah returned to the Bathurst district before 1867, because on 30 May she was recorded as having received a blanket at Killongbutta. Then on 19 June 1867, the NSW Police Gazette, reports the theft of a horse from Sally Medley of Winburndale Creek. Winburndale Creek flows through the Suttor property, Brucedale, which was something of a sanctuary for the Wiradjuri people. Windradyne, warrier leader, is buried on Brucedale, which is where he died. It is likely that at this time, Sarah is living around the gold diggings on the creek. Blanket lists have her receiving blankets at Killongbutta until 1875, when the last distribution of blankets occurred. There is only one further record of Sarah’s existence, that of her death. Forbes and Parkes Gazette - 29 April 1892 (p.2) Last week word was brought to the police that a black gin named "Sally Medley" had died at Killongbutta. Until about twelve months ago "Sally" who was upwards of 70 years of age, was living with a man named Coutts, who was engaged in mining near Killonbutta. Coutts had died about twelve months ago and as the old woman was left alone the Anderson family took compassion on her, and had her taken to the homestead at Killonbutta, where she has since been cared for. Latterley she has been suffering from bronchitis, and early last week she died. The coroner did not deem it necessary to hold an enquiry, as the doctor's certificate was procured, aned (sic) the police went to Killongbutta, and saw the body interred. "Sally" is said to be the last of the Aboriginal tribe connected with the Bathurst District.

The Coutts mentioned would appear to be James Coutts.

National Advocate Bathurst – 19 Feb 1891.

The Old Digger’s Death: In accordance with instructions from the District Coroner, Senior Constable McDonald proceeded to “The Forge” on Monday, for the purpose of enquiring into the death of the old miner, James Coutts. Satisfied that the old gentleman had died from a general breaking up of his system, Senior-Constable McDonald, with the assistance of some neighbours, had a coffin made, and the remains of one who could tell a good story of the early days was buried in a romantic cemetery on a picturesque slope, not far from the Macquarie River.

Reading these two articles together, it appears that the Anderson family took Sarah to live at Killongbutta homestead for the last year or so of her life. Although some descendants believe that Sarah and Coutts lived behind the old forge at Killongbutta, these articles indicate that they were camped at “the Forge” which is the name of a section of the Macquarie River, near to Killongbutta. There is no marker for Sarah’s grave but records indicate that her burial was at Killongbutta on the bank of the Macquarie River.

Sources


Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW -1851-1904) Page 2 - Local and General

ntscorp. Orange Aboriginal Heritage - Prepared for Orange City Council.February 2012.pp.28,63

NSW BDM Death Certificate 1892/01050

  • Sources to be listed and uploaded May 16 2020


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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Sarah by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Sarah:

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