The Pinjarra Massacre
Relations between Pinjarra's Indigenous people and white settlers were fraught from the outset. Soon after Thomas Peel was 'granted' this land, its Pinjarup owners asserted their rights – spearing stock and destroying crops. An uneasy truce was eventually reached, with the Pinjarup given regular rations of flour, which they possibly viewed as a kind of rent.
In 1834, following the cutting of flour rations, Pinjarup leader Calyute staged a raid on a flour mill. Four of his men were arrested in Mandurah and taken to Perth, where they were publicly flogged. Retribution was taken on a 19-year-old British servant, who under Noongar law was considered a member of the offending party's tribe. The servant was killed and then ritually mutilated, causing an uproar among the settlers, with Peel strongly urging Governor Stirling to take action.
Stirling led a party of soldiers and settlers, including Peel, to Pinjarra, where they surprised Calyute's people and opened fire on their encampment. What happened then is contested. Stirling's official report put the death toll at 15 men, while the Perth Gazette reported 25 to 30 dead. The Pinjarup claim that the camp consisted mainly of women and children and that the death toll was far higher. There was one British casualty – Captain Theophilus Tighe Ellis, who was concussed then died two weeks later. A folk ballad called The Jackets of Green honouring Ellis was published a few days after he died, with sheet music sold in pubs around Perth and Guildford. Emboldened by such populist bullishness, Stirling threatened the Pinjarup survivors: 'if any other person should be killed by them, not one [of their people] would be allowed to remain alive on this side of the mountain'. This seemed to have the desired effect and curtailed any further resistance.