A bitter epitath

Alexander McKay, who was brutally murdered by the blacks 23 July 1900

Alex McKay was one of nine people murdered by the Jimmy Governor gang, touted as Australia’s last outlaws.

McKay’s gravestone stands proudly in the Gulgong Cemetery, New South Wales, slightly apart from other graves.

It declares he was “brutally murdered by the blacks.”

The Governor story is well studied in Australian history, with its overtones of racial tension. Governor was ¾ Aboriginal and had married a 16-year-old white Australian girl.

The first murders are said to have been sparked by his bosses’ wife, Mrs Mawbey, taunting Jimmy’s wife over their mixed marriage.

Three days later Alex McKay became the next victim.

Mr McKay, 70, was outside pruning a fruit tree at his property at Sportsman’s Hollow, 12 miles from Gulgong,  when Jimmy Governor and another man, smashed in his skull.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald tells the story. Please note the use of the word “blacks” is true to the newspapers reportage and was accepted terminology of the time.

Mrs McKay was inside  when their adopted daughter came running saying  “Two blacks are coming here; one has a rifle.”

While Mrs McKay was gashed with a tomahawk as she swung around to shut the door, and both the women were hit by stones being used to smash windows, the women were otherwise unhurt.

However, the intruders threatened them with their lives.

The blacks said, ‘If you don’t open the door we will kill the lot of you: if you do we won’t.”
Mrs. McKay said to the girl,

“We might as well be killed outside as inside,”

and opened the door and walked outside with the child in her arms.

The blacks ordered them to stand on the verandah, searched the place all over, took some food and left.

The women found Mr McKay lying on his back with his head split open.

They carried him inside and laid him on the bed, and then the gang returned, demanding money.

Having gained a pound, in addition to eight pounds they had found in the old man’s pockets, they took Mr Mackay’s saddle and horse and left.

Governor and his brother Joe were on the run for three months, covering 3000 kilometres  while dodging  a huge manhunt.

Jimmy was caught on October 27, 1900 and hung for his offences.

Alex McKay’s headstone stands as a bitter epitath to the times.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 25 July 1900

Gulgong, NSW

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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