First Aboriginal Land Grants.
The significant event which inevitably led to the name Blacktown is one of
momentous importance in the history of Australia: the first land grant ever
given on this island continent to an Aborigine, or Aboriginal group. At the
heart of the Black Town story stand Nurragingy and Colebee, two Aborigines
highly regarded by both the Aboriginal and European communities. Their motives
were clearly to bring a just and peaceful resolution to the years of conflict
that marred the progress of white settlement along the Hawkesbury, the Nepean,
the Colo, and the South Creek. It was in recognition of such service that Governor
Macquarie wrote in his diary on 25th May, 1816:
' On this occasion I invested Nurragingy,alias Creek Jemmy with my Order of Merit by presenting him with a handsome Brass Gorset or Breast Plate, having his name inscribed thereon in full - as chief of the South Creek Tribe - I also promised him and his friend Colebee a Grant of 30 acres of land on the South Creek between them as an additional Reward for their fidelity to Government and their recent good conduct.'
Promising this land to the two Aborigines, Governor Macquarie heralded the birth of Black Town a few years later. Nurragingy was the second Aborigine to become one of Macquarie's 'chiefs ' ; Bungaree, of the Broken Bay tribe had been the first in 1815. Nurragingy and Colebee may well have settled on this land in 1816, as possession by promise in the Macquarie era was considered 'as good as parchment and the seal of the colony.' The grant was officially registered on 31st August, 1819. Odly, the Deed of Grant at the Registrar General's Office, Sydney, is in Colebee's name only. It states:
'30 acres, Unto Colebee (a Black Native) His Heirs and Assigns to Have and to Hold for Ever, Thirty Acres of Land lying and situtate in the District of Bathurst .Bounded on the North by Vitrio's farm bearing East twenty degrees North, on the East by a South twenty Degrees East line of seven chains: On the South by a line West twenty-six Degrees South to the Richmond Road; and on the West by that Road: Conditioned not to Sell or alienate the same for space of Five Years of that date hereof, and to cultivate Ten Acres within the said Period, and reserving to Government the right of making a Public Road through the same, and also, reserving for the use of the Crown such Timber as may be deemed fit for Naval Purposes;
Quit Rent One Shilling :-
In Testimony this 31st day of August 1819.
(Signed) L. Macquarie (L. S.)
Witness by H.C. Antill John Riley'
The original document, held at NSW Archives, has three words added, in pencil, beneath the words ' Colebee (a Black Native)'; they read otherwise Creek Jemmy'. The owners of the land today proudly display a sign bearing the name 'Colebee'.