THE WILD WHITE MAN, WILLIAM
HIS DEATH IN TASMANIA.
July 12, 1835.
On this day, William Buckley, "the wild white man," came into contact with Mr. J. H. Wedge, and other members of the John Batman party, while examining the country in the vicinity of Indented Head, not far from where Queenscliff stands to-day. The remarkable career of Buckley entitles him to reference more than the inherently inglorious type of the man himself. A giant in stature, and possessed of great physical strength, Buckley had the opportunity of impart- ing civilisation to the aborigines in such measure as no man ever before had, and yet he failed.
William Buckley was born at Maccles- field in 1770, and worked as a farmer's boy, and part of his time as apprentice to a blacksmith until the age of 19 years, when he enlisted in the Fourth
Regiment. He saw service in Flanders, and, having been transferred to another regiment, also saw service at Gibraltar.
He received much notice as a private soldier, owing to his very fine physique. In 1802 Buckley became associated with a regimental intrigue, for which he was court-martialed with others, and sen- tenced to transportation. After incar-
ceration on board hulks, he was finally drafted as a prisoner to the expedition which was being despatched to found a settlement at either Port Phillip or in yan Diemen's Land. The expedition insisted of H.M.S. Calcutta, command- ed by Captain Daniel Woodriff, and a store ship named Ocean. Colllns's ex- pedition sailed from Portsmouth on Sun- day, April 24, 1803, and anchored inside Port Phillip Heads on the evening of Sundy, October 9, of the same year. During the passage Buckley's good con- flict and soldierly bearing attracted Col-
lins's attention, and he was attached as body servant to the Lieutenant-Gover- nor. The unfortunate story of Collins's attempted settlement at Port Phillip need not be mentioned here in detail, but his selection of the site for a set-
tlement (approximately where Sorento is now situated) was extremely unfor- tunate, and the sandy nature of the land caused much discontent amongst mem- bers of his establishment. It is, of course, well known that Collins left that settlement within a few months, and ultimately founded Hobart, where he arrived on the 17th February, 1804.
Whilst Collins was at Port Phillip a party of six prisoners cleared from the camp on December 27. That rollicking old divine, Robert Knopwood, in his diary of that date, says:—"At 9, six convicts endeavoured to make their es- cape; they were perceived by a lookout party, and one man shot, and very much wounded." This man was named Charles Shaw. The other men who escaped were McAllernan, George Pye, Prichard, M. Warner, William Buckley. Of these escapees two were brought back to camp, and Buckley alone appears to have sur- vived of the remainder.
He spent 31 years with the aborigines of Victoria, and there is no record that during that long period he endeavoured to transplant the idea of civilisation into the minds of his native companions. On the contrary, he appears to have ab- sorbed completely the rude methods of the aborigines. His adventures have never been recorded, and he, during the rest of his life, said little regarding this inglorious period. He surrendered, as pointed out above, to Mr. Wedge and a party on July 12, 1835, very shortly after Batman had established himself at In- dented Head. Buckley, shortly after, was granted a free pardon by Governor George Arthur, being, of course, an outlaw at the time of his surrender. Arthur's action was prompted by the hope that Buckley's services would be useful to those settlers from Tasmania who were endeavouring to establish them- selves at Port Phillip.
In the following year (1836) Buckley came to Tasmania, and on the 11th May, 1838, was appointed potter at the Dynn- yrne Nursery for female prisoners, at a salary of £45 12s. 6d. per annum. On June 27th, 1840, he was married to Julia Eager, at St. John's Church, New Town, by the Reve end T. J. Ewing, the witnesses being Messrs. A. Benson and Richard Josephs. In 1850, Buckley re- tired from the position of porter and was accorded a pension of £12 14s. 5d. per an- num. At that time, as for some years previous he lived in a house which is still standing, at the corner of Macquarie and Dump-streets. He had a family dur- ing his residence in Hobart, but nothing of importance is known concerning them. He appears to have enjoyed the comp- anionshhip of a good number of people, probably being able to interest them con- cerning his somewhat eventful life, and be- fore Christmas of 1855 was at Greenponds (now Kempton). While driving in the vicinity of that township shortly before Christmas, he fell out of his gig, and re- ceived severe injury, losing the use of his limbs. He was of course, at this time an aged man. His injuries were such that he was taken to St. Mary's Hospital (now the Public Buildings, Davey-street), where he received certain treatment. On the 18th January, 1856, his case apparently was diagnosed as hopeless, and he was removed to his home at the corner of Macquarie and Dump-streets., where his wife was then living, and where he lingered until January 31st, when he "crossed the great divide," at the advanced age of 80 years. He was buried in old St. George's Cemet-
The grave in which he was buried bears no mark to-day, but has been identified. It is alleged to also contain the remains of a well-known waterman who was drown- ed on the 18th May, 1860; also the infant daughter and step-daughter of this same
Although nothing except the glamour of an unusual romance can ever attach to the name of William Buckley, it seems al- most a pity that his last resting place is not marked. It has been suggested that his remains should be removed to Cornelian Bay and a rough stone erected over them. It would be quite sufficient, if this were done, that the stone should bear the simple inscription: "William Buckley, died January 31st, 1856."