In one of my recent posts, I discussed Captain James Molison, an active opium trader who was married to Duncan’s first cousin. Molison and business partner Black feature again here in an interesting vignette that involves shipwreck victim Eliza Fraser.
In 1859, Sydney was rife with rumours of light-skinned children on Fraser Island in the Great Sandy Strait. Rumours swirled of the scandalous conduct of Eliza Fraser, the shipwrecked lady cared for by the local Aborigine tribe. Stories persisted that she had left children behind. Sensationalist press articles appeared, “The Fraser Island Girls” alleging the girls were offspring of a white woman cast ashore from the wreck of the Sea Belle.
The publicity forced the Government to put up a £400 reward for their rescue, and Captain Richard Arnold persuaded Molison to charter the schooner Coquette. Arnold set off for Fraser Island in Coquette, found the two girls in question at Indian Head and whisked them away from an initially bemused, then hostile Aboriginal group. Brought to Sydney and housed at Hyde Park Barracks, experts soon determined that the girls were full blooded with no white ancestry at all. Shamefully they were never returned, but the reward was paid to Molison and Black nonetheless. Arnold was given £20 for his part in the ‘rescue’ and the tribe mourned their loss for years. Find out more about this fascinating period in history in my book “Lion Rampant: Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail, in paperback and now available in Kindle at Amazon https://amzn.to/3WbKqma