Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

The Fate of an Aboriginal Cricketer: When and Where Did Dick-a-Dick Die?

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

The Fate of an Aboriginal Cricketer: When and Where Did Dick-a-Dick Die?

Article excerpt

In his history of the first cricket team from Australia to tour England--the Aboriginal team of 1868--Mulvaney recorded that one of the members of the team, known as Dick-a-Dick, was still alive in 1884. In the chapter `After Stumps', where he sought to trace the lives of the players after the tour, he wrote:

   Manly and cheerful Dick-a-Dick deserved a better record for posterity.
   However, he vanished back into his tribal bushland, the area in which he
   located the lost Duff children in 1864. McKenzie, an historian of the
   Kaniva district, recorded that Dick-a-Dick was seen for the last time at a
   race meeting on Mt. Elgin station in 1884. (Mulvaney 1967:73)

McKenzie's book was published in 1937. Mulvaney's reference to McKenzie is quoted in The Country of Lost Children by Peter Pierce (1999:22). However, according to Moravian mission records, Dick-a-Dick died at Ebenezer Mission in 1870.

The Moravians

Ebenezer Mission was established on the banks of the Wimmera River by Moravian missionaries in 1859. The Moravian Church traces its heritage back to the pre-Reformation protest movement initiated by Jan Hus in Prague. A peasant's son, Hus became rector of the University of Prague in 1402. Ordained as a priest in 1402, he chose to preach in the Bethlehem Chapel, established in Prague in 1391 as a place for preaching in the Czech language. Hus protested about the selling of indulgences. He was burnt at the stake at Constance in 1415 but his followers continued to meet in the fields. The Moravian Church was established in 1457, taking its name from one of the two provinces of the present Czech Republic. In legal documents it was referred to by the Latin title: Unitas Fratrum--Unity of Brethren. The movement survived over the following two centuries through alternating periods of severe persecution and tolerance. In 1722, during a period of persecution, a young man, Christian David, led a small group of two families across the border into Saxony to seek refuge on the estate of a German Pietist, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf.

Pietism was a movement within the Lutheran Church. The leaders of the movement, Philipp Spener and August Francke, advocated a simple religion of the heart. Francke taught at the University of Halle and developed a system of thought known as the Halle school. He initiated foreign mission work through the Danish-Halle Mission, founded in 1705. Zinzendorf was educated at Halle and after meeting mission converts from the West Indies he supported missions. He allowed the Moravians to establish a village, Herrnhut, near his castle at Berthelsdorf. Zinzendorf moulded together the traditions of Moravian zeal, simplicity and practical service, the devotion and scholarship of German Pietism and his own commitment to worldwide mission. Although he saw the movement as a fellowship to renew existing churches, the Moravian Church was recognised as a separate church in 1742. Moravian churches were established in other parts of Europe, including England and Ireland, and in 1742 a Moravian community was formed at Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, where there is now a Moravian College and Archive. Moravian missionaries went out to North, Central and South America, South Africa, East Africa, the Gold Coast, Tibet and Jerusalem. They were widely respected throughout the Christian world. They had a special concern, according to the mission historian Stephen Neill (1964:237), `to go to the most remote, unfavourable, and neglected parts of the surface of the earth'. The Australian Aborigines were seen to meet these criteria.

Following the failure of early missions to the Aborigines, colonists who were concerned about the disastrous effects of settlement on the Aboriginal populations turned to the Moravians in the hope of a more successful mission enterprise. Negotiations to commence work in the Port Phillip District were facilitated by the fact that the Moravian agent in London, Peter La Trobe, was a brother of Charles La Trobe, the superintendent of the district. …

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