Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Alexander Pearce - Confession of murder and cannibalism, 1824
A 1326

I was working with a Gang at Kelly´s Basin, under Overseer Loggins. On the 20 Septr. 1822, Rob. Greenhill, Mattw. Travers, Thos. Bodenham, James Brown, Willm. Kennelly, John Mather, Alexr. Dalton, and myself made up our minds to seize a Boat, and proceed to Hobart Town, which we did, and had to call for Greenhill, who was at the Miners Hut, he was good Navigator, as soon as he saw the Boat, he came and enquired what we were up to, and if all was right. Six of us went ashore, and one stopped in the Boat. Greenhill broke open the Miners´ Chest with an Axe and took all the provisions out, he then threw some Water over the Fire, so that the Miners would not be able to make a Signal, we left the place, and thought the fire was extinguished but when we got about ¼ Mile distant, we observed the Miners making Fires all along the Beach, we then made sure that a Boat would be dispatched after us, we proceeded a little farther, and gave up all thoughts of Keeping to the Boat; we Landed, and Consulted what was best to be done with the Boat. Greenhill and Travers proposed breaking her up, which was done, this prevented us from going to Mr. Lucas´ as we intended taking all his Provisions having learnt that he was going to the Settlement that day with Oil, this plan we had in contemplation some time before - We then proceeded into the Bush, each carrying something either provisions or Axes etc. we soon came to the large Mountain opposite the Settlement, and were afraid of being seen from it, as it appeared so very plain to us, we then stopped till the Sun was nearly down, and went to the Top of the Hill where we made a Fire and stopped all Night, at day break next morning we started and Travelled on till dark, thro´ some pretty level and barren ground, we came to a little Creek where we Kindled a Fire and passed the Night, next morning we Started early and made towards the East, keeping off Gordon´s River for fear of the Soldiers, we travelled on thro´ a very rough Country till dark when we reached the side of a large Hill where we made a Fire and stopped all Night. in the morning we set off again, and traveled thro´ a very rugged Country for eight days without any thing particular having happened till we came to the side of a large mountain, where we

Kindled a Fire and Stopped, we were all in a very weak State, our Provisions having been out four days before we arrived at this place, little Brown who returned, and died in the Hospital was the worst walker of any, he always fell behind which detained us much, we told him if he did not Keep up better, we would leave him altogether. We were all disputing this Night who should get Wood for the Fire, some brought it and made Fires for themselves. Kennelly made some Tinder this Night and put it by, as he had some intention of returning to the Settlement. Three days before this our Tinder got Wet, we were very Cold and hungry, Kennelly said he was so hungry he could eat a piece of a Man. – Next morning when we Started four of us happened to be in front of the others. Greenhill was the first who introduced the Subject, (that of Killing one of their Companions and eating him) and said that he had seen the like done before, and that it tasted very like Pork; Mather spoke out, and said that it would be Murder to do it and then perhaps they could not eat it, I´ ll warrant you said Greenhill, I will eat the first part myself, but you must all lend a hand that we may be equally Guilty of the Crime, we then consulted who should fall, Greenhill said “Dalton’, as he had Volunteered to be a Flogger, we will Kill him. When we Stopped at night, Dalton, Brown & Kennelly had a Fire by themselves and a little break Wind. About 3 oClock in the morning Dalton was asleep. Greenhill got up, took an Axe and struck him on the Head with it, which Killed him as he never spoke afterwards. Travers took a Knife, Cut his Throat with it, and bled him, we then dragged the body to a distance, Cut off his clothes, Tore his inside out, and Cut off his Head, then Mather, Travers and Greenhill put his Heart and Liver on the Fire to Broil, but took them off and eat them before they were right Hot, they asked the rest would the have any, but we would not eat any that Night. Next Morning the Body was Cut up and divided into equal parts which we took and proceeded on our journey a little after Sun rise. About this time there was a Man appointed to go in front every day, who had nothing to Carry, but was to clear the Road for the others. Kennelly & Brown said they would carry the Tin Pots and a little Tomahawk which were given them, we had not gone more than a quarter of a Mile from the Fires, till they were missing, we stopped and Cooed, but got no answer; nor could we see any thing of them, We then said among ourselves that they had turned back as they had got a sight of Gordons River, and that they would hang us all, we thought it was no use to go in pursuit of them as they would not be able to make their way back. We then proceeded for four days thro´ a very bad Country, till we came to a large River, which we thought to be Gordons River, we stopped for a day and two Nights looking for a place to Cross, we felled two Trees, but the Stream was so rapid it swept them a way instantly, at last we

came to a place where a Rock projected from the other side to the Middle of the River, two of us could not Swim, Travers & Bodenham, the rest of us Swam over and Cut a Pole 30 or 40 feet long, which we Stretched across from the Rock and drew the other two over. We kindled a Fire and Stopped all Night at this place, Mather took a Purging and begged we would remain a little longer, so we remained another Night we then got up a Hill on the opposite Side with great difficulty, it being so steep, it was Barren ground for Miles beyond this Hill. John Mather had the Tinder in his Breast this day, and by some means, it dropped down his Trowsers, and when he could not find it, Travers lifted up an Axe and said he would Kill him immediately if it was not produced but it was found soon after. We lay this night under the Cliff of a Rock and next morning we were scarcely able to move for the Cold and Wet. We then proceeded on for 4 days thro´ very barren and Scrubby Ground, till we came to a very fine plain, where we agreed to Stop all Night. We were all in a very weak State. Travers, Greenhill & Mather went aside and consulted who should be Killed now, Bodenham did not know any thing of this, they returned to the Fire and desired Mather and me to go and get some Wood while Bodenham would warm himself, Travers says you will hear it immediately (meaning Bodenham´s fate) so in about 2 Minutes I heard a blow given, & Mather said he is done for. I returned to the place, Greenhill had hit him with the Axe, and Travers Cut his Throat, they laid him out, Greenhill took his Shoes being better than his own. The heart and Liver was all that was made use of that Night. We thought as we had now plenty of provisions it would be better to take a days rest which we did. Next morning we divided the dead body and proceeded on our way thro' a marshy ground for three days, bearing to our right, we then crossed the first Western Tier we could see a great length from the Top of the Mountains, on the other side there was Marshy Ground with a large River in the Middle of it and very fine Trees growing on the Banks, we stopped there all night and proceeded up the side of the River for three days to get more to the Left, we saw plenty of Kangaroos´, Emu´s and Game of all Kinds, - Our Provisions were all out again and we said to ourselves that we would all die rather than any more should be Killed. Mather and I went on one side, and he said Pearse let us go on by ourselves, you see what Kind of a Cove Greenhill is, he would Kill his Father before he would fast one day. We went on for two or three days after this thro´ a very fine Country, where we could see 70 miles without a Bush. we then came to a little Creek of Fresh Water under a Sugar Loaf Hill, where we Boiled some Fern and drank it. Mather took his first, and it made him so sick he began to Vomit, Greenhill Started up, took an Axe and struck him on the Forehead, Mather Shouted Murder, will you see me Killed, he being stronger than Greenhill wrested the Axe from him, and threw it to me to Keep; We then went on a little farther to another Creek of Fresh Water when we took up out Lodging, that night. I went to a little distance after we stopped and on looking round saw Travers and Greenhill collaring Mather, who cried out Murder, and when he found they

were determined to have his Life, he begged they would give him half an hour to pray for himself which was Granted, and a Prayer Book given to him, which we happened to have with us, when the Time was Expired he Returned the Prayer Book to me, and laid down his Head. Greenhill immediately took up an Axe and killed him. We stopped two days in this place, and then proceeded on our journey each taking a Share of Mather´s body, we then got to the Second Tier of Mountains where we had to remain 4 or 5 days owing to M. Travers having his Foot Stung, or Bit by some Venomous Animal, his Foot having got better we proceeded over the Second Tier of the 7th day after Mathers death. after we had crossed the Tier we came to a very large River, we made a fire and stopped there two Nights and one day, Greenhill & I went up and down looking for  narrow place as Greenhill Travers could not Swim. Greenhill & I swam across, he carried the Axe and I took the Provisions that remained, we Cut a long Wattle Pole and put it across the River and pulled him over, where we stopped all night, Next morning we Started again and went on for two days thro´ a very fine Country; Travers foot began to inflame and turn Black, he said it was better for us to go on and leave him there. Greenhill and I went to get a little Wood, he says Pearse it is no use being detained any longer by Travers, and we will Serve him as the rest, I told him I would not have any hand in his Death, when we came back Travers being fatigued or worn out from the pain in his foot [next line illegible] Greenhill immediately lifted the Axe and hit him twice on the Head and then Cut his Throat. We stopped two days at this place, and then took each of us as much of the Body of Travers as we could carry, and proceeded on our journey Keeping rather to the left thro´ a very fine Country, the Weather beginning to get better, We then got over the Third Tier of Western Mountains, till we came to another large River at the foot of the third Tier, and stopped there all Night, next morning we crossed the River, we came to a most delightful part of the Country, where the Grass was very long.  – Greenhill now began to fret, and said he would never get to any part with his life. I Kept up my Spirits all along and thought we must shortly come to some inhabited part of the Country from the very great length we had travelled. I watched Greenhill for two nights as I thought he eyed me more than usual, he always Kept the Axe under his head when he laid down and carried it on his back, when walking. One Night we came to a little Creek between two Hills where we Kindled a fire, our Provisions had been out some days before this. I thought Greenhill had determined to Kill me for his looking at me and watching me so narrowly, near day break he fell asleep, I instantly seized the opportunity, took the Axe from under his head and Struck him with it and killed him, I cut off part of his Thigh and Arm which I took with me, and went on for several days till I had ate it all. I went on for two days more without any thing, I then took a piece of a Bag and

was going to hang myself, but I took another notion, and went on a little farther, and came to a Fire where I found some pieces of Kangaroo and Opossums, I eat what I could of them and carried the remainder with me. I travelled on for several days till I came to a Marsh where I saw a Duck and ten Young Ones. I leaped into the Water, the old one flew off, and the Young ones Dived, I stood in the Water up to my middle for a short time, two of the Young ones Started at my feet, and I caught them both, after this I put up at a little Creek about 2 hours before dark next morning I got on the Top of a Hill, and looking around me I saw a large Mountain, which I took to be the Table Mountain. I went on a little further and came to the Big River at the High Plains, and Travelled along it for two days till I came to a flock of Sheep which belonged to [blank] at the Falls, I drove them forward to a Scrub, and caught hold of a large one, but being very weak it carried me off, and I had to let it go I drove them to another place, caught a Lamb and eat it Raw. The Hut Keeper came forward and threatened to Shoot me if I did not stop immediately; he put some questions to me, and he knew me, having been together before, he took me to a Hut and gave me plenty to eat, I stopped there three days, he said his Master was coming up and that I could not stay any longer, he brought me down the River and took me across to Mrs. Lord´s Hut, where I stopped a Week, he got me Rum etc. and everything he thought I could take, I made to another Hut which belonged to Tom Farrell, I stopped there three Weeks sometimes in the Hut, and sometimes out. I then went to the Shannon, to Mr. Risley´s Hut 9 Miles off, the Hut Keeper was not in, I made a Fire, when in came Davis and Churlton, they had been in the Bush some time for Stealing Cassidy´s Sheep; they took me to McGuires 3½ Miles off, Paddy Farrell, D. McGuire & a little Boy were there, we stopped till Morning, and came to the Shannon Hut again & got breakfast Churlton called me out, and asked what I was going to do, he said if I would go with him he would do well for me; he brought me to a Hill where he had a Hut & 126 Sheep newly marked, he went up the Country to bring more, and I stopped 6 days with the Sheep, we then Started with the Sheep to take them to the [blank] when we came on a Corporals Guard of Soldiers, we Run off, and came to Bill Davis´ place, the Soldiers took the Sheep to Capt. Woods, we Stopped here for three days when I was provided with a Musquet, Pistol & Kangaroo Knapsack, we then went to Green Point and left a Dog at Cox´s Hut we stopped there that night and went to Stanfields Garden where each of us filled our Knapsacks with Fruit