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Foreword

The Kaurna
   Skillogolee Creek
   Before Settlement
   Tribal Organisation
   Population
   Nantowarra
   Sexual Relations
   European Views
   Footnotes

Kudnarto
   Warrawarra
   Birth Date
   Names
   Footnotes

Early Years
   Daily Life
   Child Rearing
   Food
   Food Gathering
   Shelter
   Gatherings
   Education
   Cooking
   Fire
   Tanning
   Games
   Schools
   Footnotes

Marriage
   Puberty
   Ceremony
   Sexual Relations
   Footnotes

Settlement
   John Hill
   Horrocks
   Rape
   Surveying
   Stanley County
   Skillogolee Creek
   Auburn
   Watervale
   Penwortham
   Emu Plains
   Clare
   Bundaleer
   Footnotes

Land Grants
   The Protector
   The Reality
   Early Days
   Land Selection
   Land Holdings
   Land Usage
   Racial Theories
   Footnotes

Shepherds
   Tensions
   Killing
   Double Standards
   More Killing
   Harem Life
   Prostitution
   Ferguson's Place
   Deserting Husbands
   Rape
   Sex and Sheep
   Footnotes

Adams
   Problems
   Adams' Birth
   Humberstone
   The Adams Family
   Ann Mason
   Edward Adams
   Conditions
   Labourer's Life
   Footnotes

Literacy
   Was he literate?
   Writing Skills
   Graphology
   Hale
   Evidence
   School
   Other People
   Adams' Letters
   Footnotes

Childhood
   A Carpenter?
   Birth Information
   Van Dieman's Land
   South Australia
   Port Adelaide
   Emigration Agents
   Sheep
   Labourer's Lot
   Crystal Brook
   Footnotes

Engagement
   Notice
   Reasons
   Feelings
   Minor
   Engagement
   Drinking Problems
   Footnotes

Wedding
   Registry Office
   Established View
   Kudnarto's Dress
   High Fashion
   Wedding Ceremony
   Footnotes

Land
   Land Please
   Lodgement
   I have a dream
   Opposition
   Processing
   Approval
   The Licence
   Notification
   Scams
   Footnotes

Farming
   The House
   Who Gains
   Farming Capital
   Reality sets in
   Tom
   Murray
   Inheritance
   Footnotes

Copper
   Port Henry
   Bullock Drays
   Watering Holes
   Gold
   Skilly Creek
   Footnotes

Murder

The Trial

Skilly Creek
   Money Problems
   Leasing
   Tim
   Eviction
   Problems
   Separation
   Sharefarming
   Footnotes

Death
   Single Life
   Kudnarto's Death
   Loss of Land
   Poonindie
   Footnotes

Land Claim
   Unresolved Issues
   Terra Nullius
   Land Conflict
   Subtext
   Licence
   Promises
   The Facts
   Footnotes

Epilogue
   Significance
   At One

Biographies
   People
   Hotels

Letters
   Adams' Letters
   Replies

Handwriting
   Dissection
   Tabulation
   Analysis

Police Court

Trial Report

The Civilising
   1840
   White Women
   Contact
   Missionary activity
   Footnotes
   Bibliography

1860 Report
   1860
   Report Origins
   Attitudes
   Infanticide
   Sterility
   Promiscuity
   Health
   Gender Imbalance
   Blame the victims
   British Law
   Land Loss
   Social Alienation
   Tokenism
   Conclusions
   Footnotes
   Bibliography

Tom & Tim
   Introduction
   Poonindie
   Footnotes

Bibliography
   Primary Sources
   Secondary Sources

Kudnarto

Chapter 11 ~ Announcing the Engagement

Notice    Reasons    Feelings    Minor    Engagement    Drinking Problems    Footnotes   

Notice

On 17 June 1847 Adams decided to announce his love for Kudnarto within white society in the most public manner possible. He gave notice to the Deputy Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages that he intended to marry Kudnarto and make her his lawfully wedded wife under British law. This announcement was aimed the legalisation of a domestic relationship that already existed only in terms of white law. It had little meaning in Kaurna law.

Viewed from Kudnarto's eyes, their lifestyle indicated that they already shared a married life. As Moorhouse observed after questioning Kudnarto:

"She replies that she has lived with him a long time (18 months) that he is her husband ...." [1]

Kudnarto considered that under Kaurna law, their marriage had occurred and been consummated at the time when Adams negotiated with her husband for exclusive rights to her. Only to please Adams' sensibilities did Kudnarto consent to marry him.

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Reasons

Undoubtedly, Adams felt the pressure of white society. In polite society, Adams' relationship, and subsequent cohabitation with Kudnarto, never received the appropriate social sanction. Society declined the approval until the conventions of lawful wedlock, (white, that is) became complied with by both people. Until such time of lawful and officially sanctioned matrimony, Adams remained a social pariah.

There is another reason for Adams' strong desire to marry Kudnarto. By this time, Adams had learned from Moorhouse that Kudnarto was entitled to land for cultivation should she apply for it. By his announcement of the engagement, Adams had already foreshadowed his intention to obtain a farm. [2] A man in his station, the only land he could obtain to farm would be by way of gift. Since land was specifically set aside for the Aborigines by the government, Adams appears to have found out the details of this grant. The thought of becoming a man of substance would have greatly appealed to Adams. Kudnarto was the vehicle to obtain this land.

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Feelings

This is not to suggest that Adams did not have genuine feelings for Kudnarto. Quite the contrary. Adams expressed great joy about his future wife. She was everything he desired. Kudnarto was very attractive. Behind Kudnarto's beauty lay an intelligence that in other circumstances would have remained undiscovered and ignored had she not come to his attention. Consequently other men recognised her intelligence and made similar comments. Coupled with a sharp mind, she was a very amiable woman who made friends with ease. The South Australian Register said:

"The future bride is rather personable than otherwise, and her betrothed has been heard to declare that her fidelity, amiability of disposition, and attitude to learn, are very remarkable, if not unprecedented." [3]

In another article half a year later, The South Australian Register further commented with the following observation:

"She is remarkably good looking, and has a pleasing expression of countenance .... she is a good tempered and very hard working girl." [4]

Kudnarto put all these characteristics together in one package and as such presented herself as a hard working woman with a plethora of talent.

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Minor

Even though Kudnarto was a minor, the Deputy Registrar indicated to Adams that there appeared no legal impediments to consecrating the nuptials provided that 21 days' notice be given and that they lodge the appropriate notice. Her status as a minor was no obstacle to his ability to perform the marriage rites and request assent to the vows. Adams duly did give the appropriate notice.

Kudnarto's minority status placed her in another legal difficulty. Under Act No 12 of 1844 designed "to provide for the Protection, Maintenance and Upbringing of Orphans and other Destitute Children of the Aborigines", [5] Moorhouse as Protector of Aborigines became designated as her legal guardian, even without the consent or knowledge of her parents. [6] This situation prevailed despite Kudnarto having relatives who approved of the marriage. [7] The South Australian Register said:

"The sable parents and relations of Mrs Mary Ann Adams (that is to be) are consenting to the match;"

At no stage does Moorhouse acknowledge the existence of Kudnarto's family or relatives. Despite the legal impediment of Kudnarto's minor status, Moorhouse approved of the marriage. This was just one instance where the rights of Aborigines as British Subjects were prescribed in a manner not applied to the whites of the colony during this time.

Governor Grey received the notification from Moorhouse the next day. He read the letter and sent the following encouraging reply:

"I can see no reason for the interposition of the Protector in the case unless the girls are that tender age which should forbid their contracting marriage but which does not appear to be the case in this instance. On the contrary I think that every encouragement should be given if the man be respectable." [8]

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Engagement

Between the period of announcing their intention to marry and the solemnisation of the contract, some six months elapsed. During this time, Kudnarto attended the Native School in Adelaide. Adams wanted Kudnarto to learn the methods of good, European household management techniques. During this time, Kudnarto learned 'the arts of domestic life and household duties'. [9] She learned dress making and the art of European cleanliness. Along with her domestic tuition, she received lessons in English. Her oral English was of good standard at the end of her training [10] but at that moment she was still functionally illiterate. The evidence of this assertion is her signature placed upon the Marriage Certificate. Instead of signing she placed a cross signifying that she was unable to write or sign her name in English but indicating that she was capable of giving full assent. [11] However, she felt ready for her marriage to Adams under white law. [12]

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Drinking Problems

During this time period, it appears that Adams' drinking habits must have come to the notice of Moorhouse . From subsequent information it seems as though the drinking of alcohol was unrestrained. There is evidence that Moorhouse counselled Adams about his drinking. In one letter to Moorhouse , Adams writes on 6 February 1848, some ten days after his wedding the following statement:

"you Need Not Thing that i shall drink Aney more for i have seen My folly in that And it is all over." [13]

These words tend to indicate that prior to this date, Adams was unable to control his drinking habit. Furthermore, his drinking habit seems to have resulted from his relatively low status accorded to him by white society. It appears that he was relatively unpopular with people around him. In the same letter he reveals his perceived acceptability when he candidly states:

"if dount get wot wos promesed i Must Leve The cunterey for i Thing pepel shuns Me" [14]

During this time period, Moorhouse speaks very poorly of Adams. Because of Moorhouse 's relatively puritanical streak, especially where shepherds are concerned, he tries his hardest to avoid speaking about Adams. However, in his two representations to the Governor on behalf of Kudnarto, he uses the same formula of words: "about Adams I have noting to say." [15] During this period of acquaintance, Moorhouse tolerated Adams but no more than that situation existed between the two men.

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Footnotes

1. Letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 52/7/1, p. 196.  Return to text

2. The South Australian Register , 23 June 1847. Adams made a resolution to buy a "good outfit with his savings".  Return to text

3. The South Australian Register , 23 June 1847.  Return to text

4. The South Australian Register , 28 January 1848.  Return to text

5. Act No. 12, 7o & 8o Victoria, Long Title.  Return to text

6. Act No. 12, 7o & 8o Victoria, Section I.  Return to text

7. The South Australian Register , 23 June 1847.  Return to text

8. Note attached to letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 24/6, A (1847) 679.  Return to text

9. The South Australian Register , 23 June 1847.  Return to text

10. The South Australian Register , 28 January 1848.  Return to text

11. Marriage Certificate, Certificate Number 333, issued on 27 January 1848.  Return to text

12. Letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 52/7/1, p. 196.  Return to text

13. Letter dated 6 February 1848, GRG 24/6 A (1848) 196.  Return to text

14. Letter dated 6 February 1848, GRG 24/6 A (1848) 196.  Return to text

15. Letter dated 17 June 1847, GRG 52/7/1, p. 196.  Return to text

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Material

Section 346
Skillogolee Creek
The house that Thomas Adams built
Skillogolee Creek
The first letter of Thomas Adams from
Skillogolee Creek