1829 Murder of John Rivett – a narrow escape by James Hicks

From Kerrie Anne Christian … updated 27.3.2017 from the original post of May 2014

I had always wondered if there had been any interactions between the Hicks family members and Aboriginal people. Then, in mid May 2014, I learned of the story of the February 1829 murder of John Rivett in the Kangaroo Valley area, from respected Illawarra historian Lorraine Neate. In some ways it was really a tragedy, with the clash of cultures – and of Aboriginal Law and Colonial European Law.

The area where John Rivett’s death occurred is around Brogers Creek – and on Sunday 26.3.2017, my husband was fossicking in the creek with members of the Illawarra Lapidary Club. Brogers Creek was quite full with all the rain in March 2017. The following photos of Brogers Creek have been kindly shared by Marie Mitchell – Stanley, wife of one of the Illawarra Lapidary Club members.

Brogers Creek – 26.3.2017 – courtesy of Marie Mitchell-Stanley

Lorraine Neate also told how the then-teenaged James Hicks, son of Richard Hicks and Margaret Howe, had narrowly escaped from also being killed at the same time, although James was apparently injured – previously I was unaware of this. Apparently  both John Rivett and his young offsider James Hicks were employed as Sawyers for Thomas Hyndes possibly around Gerringong. 

Keith Campbell has described the events of the death of John Rivett, including the escape by James Hicks, in the Australian Dictionary of Biography under Broger, the Aborigine who was tried, convicted and executed for the murder of John Rivett in the Kangaroo valley. Another Aborigine George Murphy had died while escaping from custody. The story featured in the local newspapers in 1829 – however James Hicks was not named in the newspapers. The events are recorded in the NSW Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence Records for 1830. Also below 

Broger, an Aborigine
Murder of John Rivett with a tomahawk at the Shoalhaven
20 Aug 1830 Citation13477 [T31] 30/234 Citation 2 880 [T146] 28
Date of Trial
Where Tried
Record Series
Item Number
Page Number
Bundle Number
Reel Number
Broger (Aboriginal)
Murder of John Rivett with a tomahawk at the Shoalhaven
Supreme Court
Death, Executed
Supreme Court
Informations & other papers, 1824 – 1947
See also Clerk of the Peace: Depositions [CP T146; 28] See also Supreme Court, Miscellaneous Papers [5/1161; COD 294A, Bundle 49, p272-3]

There is more than a strong suggestion that the attack was pay back for John Rivetts having tried to cheat the Aborigines and/or that Rivetts may have attacked the Aborigines and they retaliated. Some regard Broger’s execution as an example of unjust treatment of the Aboriginal people of the time. The case is also described in Macquarie University‘s  “Decisions of the Superior Court 1788 – 1899” and in Michael Organ’s 1990 monumental work “Illawarra & South Coast Aborigines 1770- 1850” p 159-161. However in terms of on-line references,  it is only in Keith Campbell’s work and those who cite it, that James Hicks seems to have been mentioned.

See also

Hicks Family Sawyer Connections

At the time of the 1829 murder of Rivetts,  James Hicks’ step father Thomas White (Whight) was also a Sawyer in the Illawarra – South Coast, prior to his death at the sinking of the Foxhound off Coalcliff later in 1829.

Later,  in the 1860’s, James Hicks’ second eldest son, William Hicks, would leave the family farm in North Bulli (Austinmer) and head down the South Coast establishing his own timber mill. Another son, George Hicks, also followed older brother William down the South Coast, before heading north to the Lismore area, to where many of their Hicks siblings had moved in the 1880’s.

Thomas Hyndes – employer of John Rivetts and James Hicks

James Hicks’ employers in 1829 were Thomas Hyndes and his wife Charlotte Green, who had both arrived as convicts, but had raised themselves up to become wealthy citizens and benefactors. They were responsible for the establishment of St Thomas Anglican Church and free School in Enfield, Sydney and Thomas was on the Sydney City Council.

It has been known in the Green family to this day, that Thomas Hyndes had wide business interests, including timber and that he also had property in the Shoalhaven around Berry.

Thomas and Charlotte Hyndes were childless, and so they sent for George Green, son Charlotte’s brother Amaziah John Green, to join them in Australia and to raise him – being their ward. George Green arrived with his uncle, James Absolom Green, another brother of Charlotte Hyndes. Later her brother Amaziah John Green & wife Mary Ann Chapel, George Green’s parents, also emigrated to Australia.

Green descendants Barbara Stark & David Christian, with Hicks descendant Kerrie Christian at grave of Thomas Hyndes & wife Charlotte Green

Green’s descendants Barbara Stark & brother David Christian, with David’s wife and James Hicks descendant Kerrie Christian – at the grave of Thomas Hyndes & wife Charlotte Green at St Thomas Anglican Church Enfield

In fact George Green, nephew of  Charlotte Hyndes nee Green, was also the great great great grandfather of my husband David Christian and 4 x great grandfather of our daughter Katrina Katrina also being also a 4 x great grand daughter of James Hicks.

About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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1 Response to 1829 Murder of John Rivett – a narrow escape by James Hicks

  1. Wayne Leslie says:

    That is really interesting stuff Kerrie 🙂 Thank you. Lester

    On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM, The Hicks Family wrote:

    > Kerrie Anne Christian posted: “In mid May 2014 I was told of the > February 1829 murder of John Rivetts in Shoalhaven by respected Illawarra > historian Lorraine Neates – James Hicks had narrowly escaped from also > being murdered – previously I was unaware of this. Apparently both John > Riv”

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