James White, Founder of Burrangong Station (13)
Thomas White’s, widow, Sarah, and her new husband, James Cowell, were having problems in Tasmania when in 1837 Cowell was declared bankrupt.
Because of this Cowell could not renew his wine and spirit license.
To make the situation worse for Sarah her husband was killed in 1838 in a fight at the Inn.
Sarah, now twice widowed, reopened the Twins Inn at Bagdad but as she was on a Ticket of Leave she was unable to renew the Liquor license in her name. She opened the Inn as an “eating House” with stabling for travellers.
James was now the only surviving White who had been transported to Australia.
He again offered to cover the cost of his brothers children and their mother to come to Burrangong.
But Sarah had now five children by Cowell as well as Thomas’ three children, a total of eight children. James took this in his stride, but Sarah was reluctant to move.
James White was secretive about his past and never let it be known that he and his brothers were convicts. He told Sarah and Eliza that their father was a rich London draper and because he could not ride a horse he got lost in the bush and died.
On one day when Sarah was playing with an aboriginal friend some distance from the house two bushrangers rode towards them.
Sarah and her friend ran towards the house in an attempt to warn those at the house but were overtaken. The bushrangers produced their guns and bailed up all those present.
James White and a lot of the workers were away at the time.
The two bushrangers were Scotchie and Whitton and at the time were very active throughout the southern district. Sarah and Eliza were terrified and were crying, one of the bushrangers gave them a bag of Bull’s Eyes to keep them quiet.
Whitton and Scotchie ransacked the house and took whatever they considered to be of value.
Whitton stated that he would return and shoot James White for the complaints he had been making to the authorities. The bushrangers rode onto Currawong Station where in the act of robbing the property they shot and wounded five of the occupants, two fatally.
When James White returned he joined in the search for the two bushrangers but this was unsuccessful. Eventually Scotchie Thompson was shot and killed by Oliver Fry, one of White’s neighbours, at Fish River. Thomas Whitton was wounded and captured and later hanged at Goulburn on 19 March, 1840.
Whitton had also been responsible for the murder of John Kennedy Hume, the brother of explorer Hamilton Hume. Hume and John White’s former employer, William Hovell, had been the first to discover a overland track to Port Phillip (Melbourne).
James realised he needed a woman to look after Sarah and Eliza as they became older so he renewed his offer to Thomas’ widow, Sarah, to come to Burrangong from Van Diemen’s Land at his expense. (to be continued).
Young Historical Society – Brian James.