Queen Nellie Hamilton (1842-1897)

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Queen Nellie Hamilton was probably born at Ginninderra, her second husband Bobby Hamilton was a Ngunnawal speaker and a leader of the local Indigenous community as well as a talented drover and cricketer. He was part of William Davis' Ginninderra cricket team where he was a fieldsman and wicket keeper. Bobby and Nellie had at least three children together. In late 1871 Nellie's family contracted measles and her eldest son, Eddy, died. In 1872, Bobbie died of tuberculosis.


A passage in Samuel Shumack’s book Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers reads:


The oldest surviving full-blood Aboriginal woman in the district, Nellie Hamilton, was quoted as saying:

“You come and take our land and kill our game and let us starve, and if we take a sheep or kill a calf you shoot us or put us in gaol. You bring your disease and give it to us — we had nothing like that until you came and stole our land — you give us rotten blanket and bad rum.” (Schumack 1967: 150)

Nellie Hamilton seems not to have lived in Ginninderra for long after Bobby died, spending most of her time in the greater Queanbeyan area. Nevertheless, she was a frequent visitor to her old friends at Ginninderra. In the late 1870s she appears to have resided in the Braidwood area. Her last two husbands, Parson Williams and King Billy were both from that area.

Queen Nellie Hamilton died on New Year's Day 1897 at Queanbeyan Hospital.


Photo courtesy of Hall Museum, Lyall Gillespie Collection


Flood, J., Moth Hunters of the Australian Capital territory: Aboriginal Traditional Life in the Canberra Region, Downer, 1996

Gillespie, L. L., Aborigines of the Canberra Region, Campbell, 1984

Gillespie, L. L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992

Shumack, S. An Autobiography, or, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers (ed. J. E. and S. Shumack), Canberra, 1967

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