|Died||18 January 1901 (aged 25–26)|
|Cause of death||Execution by hanging|
|Children||Sidney Golding Louis, Thelma Violet|
Jimmy Governor (1875 – 1901) was an Indigenous Australian who was proclaimed an outlaw after committing a series of murders in 1900. His actions initiated a cycle of violence in which nine people were killed (either by Governor or his accomplices). Jimmy Governor and his brother Joe were on the run from the police for 14 weeks before Jimmy was captured and Joe was shot and killed.
In July 1900 Jimmy Governor and Jack Underwood murdered four members of the Mawbrey family and a school-teacher at Breelong near Gilgandra. Underwood was captured soon afterwards, but Governor and his younger brother Joe took to the bush. During the period they were at large, ranging over a large area of north-central New South Wales, the Governor brothers committed further murders and multiple robberies. A manhunt involving hundreds of police and volunteers was initiated, with the Governors occasionally taunting their pursuers and deriding the police.
In October 1900 Jimmy Governor was wounded and, a fortnight later, captured near Wingham. Four days after his brother’s capture Joe Governor was shot and killed north of Singleton. Jimmy Governor was tried for murder and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol in January 1901.
Jimmy Governor's life and crimes formed the basis for Thomas Keneally's 1972 novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, which explored themes of Aboriginal dispossession and racism. Fred Schepisi's 1978 movie of the same name was an adaptation of Keneally's novel.
Jimmy Governor was born in about 1875 on the Talbragar River near Denison Town (in the vicinity of Dunedoo), the son of Tommy Governor (or Grosvenor) and Annie Fitzgerald. Jimmy was the eldest of eight children (five boys and three girls). The children's father, Tommy Governor, was a full-blood Aborigine from the Namoi River region. He was a hard-working and intelligent man who had arrived in the Mudgee area as a young man in the mid-1850s and found steady work engaging in bark-getting, driving stock and other bush work for a variety of employers (setting an example that would be followed by his sons). Jimmy’s mother, Annie Fitzgerald, was raised on ‘Caigan’ station north-east of Mendooran, the daughter of a white Irish stockman named Jack Fitzgerald and an Aboriginal mother named Polly, who worked as a house servant. Annie's father died before her birth and she was raised by Polly and her Aboriginal step-father named Henry. Annie was described as “a half-caste, but had all the manners and customs of the pure black”.
Tommy Governor took work wherever he could find it, and his growing family went with him. The children attended a number of different schools as they moved from place to place. In 1887, while mending a dam east of Dunedoo, Tommy Governor found “samples of metal-bearing ore” which he showed to George Stewart, manager of ‘Pine Ridge’ station. Stewart had them assayed, revealing that they contained silver, after which he took up mineral leases of 70 acres and formed a company of Mudgee businessmen to work what became known as the Mount Stewart mine. In 1888 “the original promoters of the Mount Stewart and Grosvenor leases” presented Tommy Governor, on his departure with his family to the Paterson River district, ”with a purse of sovereigns to help the old fellow on his journey”. The fact that he “received no substantial benefit” for his discovery of the “silver field” remained a source of resentment for Tommy Governor.
Tommy and Annie Governor relocated with their family to the Paterson River and Singleton districts from 1888. Tommy and his sons worked on stations along the Paterson River (west of Dungog), often receiving rations only as remuneration. Increasingly, however, the Governor family were drawn into the Aboriginal reserve system which sought to confine and control indigenous people by separating them from the white population. In January 1890 family members participated in a community event at Gresford, but by the following July they were living under canvas on the St. Clair reserve north of Singleton. In August 1890 Tommy Governor was involved in an altercation with another Aboriginal man at the Singleton "blacks' camp". During the fight Governor stabbed the man several times with a small knife. He was subsequently tried on a charge of malicious wounding in the Singleton Quarter Sessions. Tommy Governor was found guilty, “with a recommendation to mercy, prisoner believing himself justified in self-defence”. He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard labour in Maitland Gaol.
After his release from gaol Tommy Governor moved his family westwards back to the Gulgong district. The family set up camp on the Aboriginal reserve in the police paddock across the creek from Wollar township. Tommy Governor died in May 1900.
Education and work
Schooling for the eight Governor children was irregular as the family moved from place to place contingent on their father finding work. The eldest, Jimmy, attended school at Denison Town and Wollar, and possibly also at Gulgong, Coonabarabran and Allynbrook (in the Paterson River district). A former pupil of the Wollar school recalled that Jimmy, Joe and Jackie Governor attended school there “and could read and write tolerably well”. Jimmy Governor was described as a “smart, athletic and cheerful native” and his younger brother Joe as “rather sullen and morose”.
At Yass in 1883, when white parents objected to “aboriginal and half-caste” pupils attending the public school, the local school board decreed that the indigenous children were forbidden to attend. The Minister of Public Instruction, George Reid, upheld the decision of the school board after being requested to rule on the case by the teacher at the school. This precedent determined subsequent public education policy in New South Wales whereby local objections were sufficient to preclude Aboriginal children attending a specific school.
In 1890, aged fifteen, Jimmy Governor was lopping trees on properties in the Dunedoo district. Later he and his brother Joe worked along the Allyn River and in the Singleton district, doing a variety of jobs including fencing, mustering stock and breaking horses. His father’s example had given Jimmy Governor a strong sense of independence and a determination to work hard and survive in the white world. He had experienced life in Aboriginal reserves and reacted against the degrading conditions he witnessed, resolving to work for wages, not rations and handouts. At his trial in November 1900 Governor stated, “I was never a loafer like some blackfellows”, before adding: “I always worked, and paid for what I got, and I reckon I am as good as a white man”.
During this period of his life Jimmy Governor had his first significant adverse encounter with the justice system. In February 1893 he was convicted of “stealing” at Denison Town (near Dunedoo) and received a sentence of one month imprisonment. Other sources describe the offence as “horse sweating” (riding a horse without the owner’s permission), a less serious offence than the actual theft of a horse.
By the mid-1890s, with his family living on the Aboriginal reserve at Wollar, Jimmy Governor worked on stations and farms in the district. In July 1896 Governor, aged 21 years, enlisted as an tracker with the New South Wales Mounted Police and was stationed at Cassilis. His stint as a police tracker lasted seventeen months (to December 1897). A police officer claiming to know Jimmy Governor provided an explanation as to why Jimmy left the police service, stating that he had “seduced the daughter of a selector, who threatened to shoot him unless he married the girl”. Whatever the reason, soon after Governor’s departure a formal inspection of Cassilis police station by Superintendent Atkins revealed “everything in a fairly satisfactory condition except the conduct of the Senior Constable and Constable” which Atkins intended to bring “under the notice of the Inspector General of Police”.
After leaving the police Governor returned to Wollar for a while, after which he was engaged cutting wood near Gulgong by Jonathon Starr. Then he worked as a shed-hand on 'Digilbar' station north of Dunedoo, before returning to Gulgong.
While Jimmy Governor was cutting wood for Starr he met fifteen-year-old Ethel Page, who was working at Ryan’s bakery in Gulgong township. Ethel had been born in 1882 in the Macleay River district near Kempsey, the eldest daughter of Charles Page and Julia (née Moore). The Page family arrived in the Gulgong district in about 1890, and by 1898 Ethel’s parents were living north-west of Gulgong on the Dunedoo-Dubbo road.
Whenever he could get to town Jimmy Governor courted Ethel Page and in August 1898 she became pregnant. The pair married in December 1898 in the rectory of St. Luke’s Anglican church at Gulgong, with Jimmy wearing a borrowed white cricket suit for the occasion. A later report claimed that the celebrant, Rev. Haviland, had only consented to perform the ceremony “at the earnest solicitation of the girl’s mother, who, for reasons which may be understood, wished to save her daughter’s reputation”. The writer added a further comment: “One naturally wonders what manner of woman the mother was who insisted on uniting her daughter for life to a low-bred savage aboriginal”. When Ethel was later asked “if she did not think it would have been better to have remained single rather than marry an aboriginal”, she replied: “You might think so, but I was very fond of Jimmy”.
Jimmy and Ethel Governor lived in a house in the Gulgong district next to Ethel’s parents where she gave birth to a son named Sidney in early April 1899. Charlie Page didn’t approve of his daughters marriage to Governor and after the birth he relocated to Dubbo, where his wife and family later joined him. By the end of 1899, after a difficult year of opprobrium and disapproval of his marriage from Ethel’s family as well as Gulgong locals, Jimmy Governor determined to move his family away from the district.
The Breelong murders
Jimmy Governor had met John Mawbey of 'Breelong West' when he was breaking horses in the Gilgandra district. He made contact with Mawbey who offered him a fencing contract, to commence in January 1900.
John Mawbey owned a property known as ‘Old Breelong’ or ‘Breelong West’ on the Wallumburrawang Creek at its junction with the Castlereagh River, ten miles south-east of Gilgandra. The locality was once a coaching change-station on the Mendooran-Gilgandra road, and the family’s first home was in the old Breelong Inn. By 1900 Mawbey’s original selection had expanded to 1,500 acres and a new house had been built north of the old inn. By this stage John and Sarah Mawbey had nine children. Sarah Mawbey’s younger sister Elsie Clarke also lived with the family. In late January 1900 a 21-year-old teacher, Ellen Kerz, joined the household. ‘West Breelong’ had been declared a provisional school, so Miss Kerz boarded at the new house and taught the Mawbey children there (as well as others from the district). Generally the Mawbey men slept in the inn while the women and young children occupied the new house.
Jimmy and Ethel Governor arrived at Mawbey’s property in January 1900, after leaving their young baby with Ethel’s parents in Dubbo. Jimmy was contracted to construct three miles of fencing, a job that would take about a year. The Governors made their camp further up the creek, about three miles from the Mawbey home and near where Jimmy would be working. Jimmy and Ethel constructed a gunyah at the camp from bark sheets propped against a large log and laid bark and leaves on the floor for bedding. John Mawbey had agreed to supply rations of flour, meat and sugar, but any extras would be charged. The arrangement also involved Ethel working in the house several times a week as a domestic servant.
From the outset Ethel Governor was subjected to ridicule and sarcasm from the women of the household, particularly Mrs. Mawbey and her 16-year-old daughter Grace, as well as the teacher Ellen Kerz. The comments were directed at her lowly position as a household servant and the fact she was married to an Aborigine. The manner in which Ethel was treated during the day was an issue that festered and became magnified in the ensuing months. After they had settled at Breelong Jimmy and Ethel decided to fetch their baby and a subsequent incident seems indicative of the tensions that had developed. Ethel rode to Dubbo on a borrowed horse to collect her child; when she arrived back with the baby at the Mawbey homestead it had been raining. The women took the baby to warm it by the fire. While Ethel was unsaddling the horse she watched through the window as the women ridiculed and laughed at her child. Ethel then went into the house, grabbed her baby and walked the three miles to the camp seething with anger.
In late June the Governors received a visit from Jimmy’s brother Joe and a friend Jack Underwood. Underwood was aged about 38 years; he walked with a limp and was blind in one eye. The two men were on their way to the Redbank Mission near Coonamble to visit family members. They returned after nine days to help Jimmy with the fencing work, accompanied by 80-year-old Jack Porter and the Governor brothers' young nephew Peter Governor. Joe Governor and Jack Underwood set up their camp about a hundred metres from the Governors’ campsite and Porter and young Peter camped another hundred metres further away.
Bitterness towards the Mawbeys increased in Jimmy Governor's mind as the weather turned colder at Breelong. Jimmy had complained that Sarah Mawbey had overcharged him for rations when she compiled the bill and often remarked to Ethel that “Mrs. Mawbey was a swindler”. Another grievance arose in early July when John Mawbey rejected about a hundred of the posts that had been split; after negotiation he agreed to pay half-price as "they will do for a cross fence". As the grievances began to pile up and his resentment increased Jimmy Governor began to fantasise about bushranging. In a statement made after his capture Governor said that he, Ethel, Joe and Jack Underwood “were talking about bushranging at night after our work was done”, with the discussions taking the form of boastful talk and bravado between the men.
On Friday evening, 20 July 1900, Jimmy and Ethel Governor were quarrelling at their camp. Jimmy was extremely agitated, accusing Ethel and his brother Joe of being “sweet on each other”. When the conversation turned to the subject of the Mawbeys, Governor later claimed (in evidence at his trial) that Ethel had goaded him by saying: “They rub it in; they do as they like with you”, to which he replied: “You come down and I will see about it”. Then, in Jimmy Governor’s words: “So we got ready and made off – me and my wife, Joe, and Jacky Underwood”. By this stage it was late in the evening, between ten and eleven o’clock. Several of the men carried weapons: Jack Underwood had a rifle and a tomahawk and Jimmy Governor carried a boondi (a hardwood club, also called a nulla-nulla). They had no bullets or gunpowder, so taking the gun suggests that the weapons at this point were being carried for the purpose of intimidation. The group went first to the old inn where John Mawbey, his brother-in-law Fred Clarke, and the two eldest Mawbey sons were staying. Jimmy and another man (probably Underwood) approached the inn and called for Mawbey, who came outside. Jimmy asked him for a bag of flour and a bag of sugar, to which Mawbey replied that he would provide them some time the following day.
By Jimmy Governor’s account he then returned to where the others were waiting and said to his wife: “I am going to see Mrs. Mawbey about those words she has been saying, I’ll make her mind what she is talking about”. The group then walked to the Mawbey house in order for Jimmy to confront Mrs. Mawbey. According to Jimmy's swaggering version of events Mrs. Sarah Mawbey and Ellen Kerz came to the door and Governor said: “Did you tell my missus that any white woman who married a ---- blackfellow ought to be shot? Did you ask my wife about our private business? Did you ask her what sort of nature did I have – black or white?". The women (by Governor’s account) responded “with a sneering laugh” and he then “struck Mrs. Mawbey in the mouth”. Miss Kerz is then quoted as saying: “Pooh, you black rubbish, you want shooting for marrying a white woman”. Jimmy then hit Ellen Kerz on the jaw, knocking her down. In his own words he then “got out of temper and got hammering them, and lost control of myself” (after which he claimed: "I do not remember anything after that").
When Jimmy Governor starting attacking the women it set off a series of chaotic and murderous events. A panel of the front door was shattered by a tomahawk, indicating it had been closed against the assailants. Sarah Mawbey was mortally wounded by five dreadful gashes to her neck and head inflicted by Jimmy Governor. Ellen Kerz and 16-year-old Grace Mawbey retreated to an adjoining bedroom where Hilda Mawbey (aged 11) and Elsie Clarke were in bed. Three boys – 'Percy' Mawbey (aged 14), 'Bert' Mawbey (aged 9) and their cousin George (aged 13, known as 'Jack') – were sleeping in an enclosed verandah and woke to the noise. Jack hid under a bed and Percy went to confront the attackers but was “chopped down" and killed by Jack Underwood as he entered the front sitting-room where his mother lay. The door to the bedroom where the women had retreated was smashed in, but Miss Kerz and the two Mawbey girls managed to escape by climbing out a window. However 19-year-old Elsie Clarke was caught and attacked with a boondi, receiving severe wounds to her face and head. After they had climbed out the window Miss Kerz and the two girls started running towards the inn and Jimmy set off in pursuit. He caught up with Ellen Kerz and Grace Mawbey, killing the teacher with tomahawk blows to the face and mortally wounding Grace, her head and face smashed with a boondi and a cut from a tomahawk. Hilda Mawbey was ahead of the other two, but stumbled and fell down the steep bank of the creek. Jimmy caught up with her and hit her with repeated blows from his boondi, leaving her head “completely crushed in”.
Amidst the chaos and slaughter young Bert Mawbey managed to slip out of the house. The terrified boy hid in the bushes near the creek for some time before running to the old inn to tell his father the dreadful news. John Mawbey grabbed his gun and hastened to the house, closely followed by his son Reggie and Fred Clarke. They arrived barely ten minutes after the murders had begun, but the assailants had left the scene. The only family members who remained unscathed were Bert, his cousin Jack (who had hidden under the bed) and the two youngest children (who had been sleeping in a separate kitchen behind the house). Percy Mawbey, Hilda Mawbey and Ellen Kerz were dead. Grace Mawbey lingered for two days before succumbing from her wounds. The children’s mother, Sarah Mawbey, had suffered multiple tomahawk wounds and died on July 24. Elsie Clarke survived her serious injuries but was made permanently deaf from the blows she had received.
On the run
A desperate flight
Jimmy Governor and the others gathered back at their campsite before leaving as a group in “a general and desperate flight” (including Porter and the boy Peter, caught up in the panicked situation). Near sunrise Jimmy killed Jacky Porter’s dog with a boondi to stop it barking and the group stopped and made a fire. Knowing his wife “could not keep up with them” Jimmy told Ethel to make her way with the baby to Dubbo. Ethel walked through the bush until she found the Dubbo road and was intercepted soon afterwards by a group of armed men riding to Gilgandra to join the hunt for the Breelong murderers. She was taken back to the Mawbey property and locked in a room in the old inn. Jacky Porter and young Peter Governor also separated from Jimmy and the other men. They were found "cowering in the bush" on Monday July 23 in the Boyben area, 12 miles south-east of Breelong, and taken initially to the Mendooran lock-up.
A hastily convened and emotion-charged inquest was held over two days (July 23 and 24) at the Mawbey residence where the crimes had occurred. Surviving members of the Mawbey family, as well as Ethel Governor and Jacky Porter gave evidence at the hearing. Depositions from were also taken from Sarah Mawbey, who died from her wounds on the second day of the inquest. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Jimmy Governor, Joe Governor, Jack Underwood, Jacky Porter and Ethel Governor. Porter and Ethel Governor were then placed under arrest and locked up at the Gilgandra police station.
During the day following the murders the Governor brothers and Jack Underwood, travelling south-east, reached ‘Gramby’ station where they narrowly avoided discovery by a party of armed men. That evening near Mendooran they met a selector named Ison who knew Jimmy Governor. Ison had not heard of the murders and when Governor “asked for some tucker” he obliged. The next day the three fugitives were sighted by William Davidson, a sleeper-cutter, on ‘Digilah’ station (north of Dunedoo). Davidson fired several shots at the men and they escaped into the surrounding bush. A swag that was left at the scene, when unrolled, was found to contain a tomahawk and boondi, both of them bloodstained. In making their escape the Governor brothers either headed in a different direction to Jack Underwood or the older man, partially lame, had failed to keep up with the other two. In any case Jack Underwood now found himself alone.
Underwood's capture and fate
On Tuesday July 24 Jack Underwood, walking without food or blankets, called at William Shaw’s selection near Leadville. Claiming his name was ‘Charlie Brown’, Underwood said he had come from Wellington and hadn't eaten in three days. Shaw suspected his guest was one of the Breelong murderers and provided food and conversation while his wife proceeded to a neighbouring selection to seek assistance. Contact was made with a group searching for the fugitives who proceeded to Shaw’s selection and captured Underwood without resistance. He was taken to the lockup at Leadville and guarded by civilians (as no police were present at the time). Two days later Underwood, under guard, was taken by coach to the gaol at Mudgee.
Jack Underwood was initially held in custody at Mudgee with the expectation the Governor brothers would be soon apprehended and a single trial held, but when that did not eventuate legal proceedings were initiated against him. On 18 August 1900 he was taken by train to Dubbo and thence to Gilgandra “in which district the principal witnesses reside”. He appeared before the Gilgandra Police Court on August 22, charged with murdering members of the Mawbey family and Ellen Kerz at Breelong. Witnesses were examined and evidence presented and he was committed to stand trial for murder.
Jack Underwood was tried for the murder of Percy Mawbey at Dubbo on 2 October 1900 before Judge G. B. Simpson. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. Ethel Governor and Jacky Porter had been held in custody until the day before the trial, but the Attorney-General dropped the charges against them as their evidence was required for Underwood’s trial. Ethel gave evidence at the trial but Jacky Porter and the boy Peter were withdrawn as witnesses as it was decided they did not understand the concept of an oath. The cousins Jack and Bert Mawbey, who survived the massacre, each gave evidence and both stated they had not seen Underwood among the assailants. After an hour the jury returned a verdict of guilty, but advised the court that “they could not come to a decision as to who struck the fatal blows on Percy Mawbey”. Judge Simpson then passed a sentence of death on Underwood.
On the evening of Sunday July 22, after the Governor brothers had separated from Jack Underwood, they were spotted at Slapdash Creek both riding bareback on a grey horse. That night they were given food by Charlie Wade and spent the night in a hut near Wade’s house on Tallawang Creek. In the morning they headed east towards the village of Ulan (13 miles north-east of Gulgong).
In the early afternoon of July 23 Jimmy and Joe Governor arrived at the farm of Alexander McKay, at Sportsman’s Hollow two miles from Ulan. McKay, aged 70 years, was pruning a fig tree near his boundary fence when the two men approached carrying a rifle and a tomahawk. The farmer was mortally wounded by a vicious blow from the tomahawk on the top of his head. Jimmy and Joe Governor then approached the house, calling out “we are going to kill the lot of you”. McKay’s wife Mary was on the verandah and “made a rush for the door” as Jimmy Governor struck at her with a stick, fracturing her left temple. She managed to get inside, but the Governors broke several windows and eventually gained entry to the house. An 18-year-old woman, Louisa Jonson, was also residing with the McKays. The Governors took money and some clothes before leaving on a stolen horse and saddle. The two women discovered Alexander McKay by the fig tree “groaning pitifully”. They carried him to the house where he died soon afterwards.
The murder of Alexander McKay was the first instance of Jimmy Governor seeking vengeance for a perceived past grievance. He had spoken of his intentions to Ethel who later gave police a list of fifteen potential victims for Jimmy’s retribution. Now, as a notorious murderer on the run, with the initial police response in relative disarray, Jimmy systematically sought out victims to settle old scores. Alexander McKay’s wife was in no doubt “the motive of the crime was revenge”, stating that “some years ago” her husband had reproached Jimmy Governor “for obtaining food by false representations, when he was eluding arrest on a charge of horse stealing” (probably a reference to when Governor was charged with that offence in 1893).
After they left the McKay farm Jimmy and Joe Governor were sighted by two boys at Byer’s house near Ulan where they took a horse (so now both brothers had mounts). Near the junction of the roads to Wollar and Cassilis (east of Ulan) the brothers spoke to two Indian hawkers and asked them “to obtain a supply of ammunition” and leave it at a location near Wollar, adding that they intended to murder Harry Neville. That night the Governor brothers went to Neville’s ‘Crowie’ run (on the Goulburn River north of Wollar), but Neville had already left having suspected he might receive a visit. The brothers broke into the empty house and stole a saddle and a gun.
The following day, Tuesday July 24, instead of going to the proposed ammunition drop-off location (where the police were waiting) the Governor brothers headed further to the east. At mid-morning they arrived at the Michael O’Brien’s selection at Poggy, about 18 miles south-west of Merriwa. O’Brien’s wife Elizabeth, her 18-month-old son James and a nurse, Catherine Bennett, were sitting in the detached kitchen behind the house. Lizzie O’Brien was heavily pregnant and Mrs. Bennett was staying with her to assist with the birth. The Governor brothers suddenly appeared at the kitchen door; Mrs. O’Brien said “What do you want?” and Jimmy replied: “You speak civil. Surrender, or I will shoot you”. With these words Governor fired his gun at the women. Lizzie O’Brien and Catherine Bennett were shot several times and Joe Governor hit Mrs. O’Brien with his tomahawk, inflicting a fatal blow. Jimmy Governor broke the rifle stock by using it to beat the child to death. The Governors then ransacked the house, taking money, clothes and boots. On a blank cheque form they wrote: “You dog, I shoot you also”. Catherine Bennett was still alive, shot with a bullet that entered her collarbone and passed through her chest. She staggered from the kitchen after her assailants had left and found Michael O’Brien. O’Brien walked to a neighbouring selection from where a rider was sent to Merriwa to alert the police. By the time the troopers had arrived Jimmy and Joe Governor had long departed, but Mrs. Bennett had been laying for six hours in the bush suffering from exposure. The supposed motive behind the attack at the O’Brien selection was a longstanding grudge held by Jimmy. Years beforehand, during a cricket match being played at Wollar, “Jimmy made a pest of himself” and Michael O’Brien “gave him a ducking in the creek to quieten him down a bit”.
On July 25 a notification was published offering a reward of two hundred pounds “for the apprehension” of each of the offenders, Jimmy Governor and Joe Governor. The notice referred to the murders “by aboriginals” at Breelong and the subsequent inquest which returned a verdict of “wilful murder” against Jimmy Governor, Joe Governor, Jack Underwood, Jack Porter and Ethel Governor.
On Thursday July 26 the Governor brothers broke into an empty house belonging to Thomas Hughes, stealing a Winchester rifle and ammunition. Now in the vicinity of Wollar they headed to Kieran Fitzpatrick’s farm. Jimmy believed Fitzpatrick had poisoned his dogs years beforehand, so his was another score to settle. Fitzpatrick, aged 74, lived with his 23-year-old nephew Bernard. Mid-morning Bernard went to his brother’s nearby farm and the Governors then took their opportunity. Jimmy approached the house and called for Fitzpatrick, who came out with his rifle ready. Joe fired from a hiding place, hitting the old man in the shoulder. Jimmy rushed at him with an axe and struck him twice on the head. Bernard heard the shot that had been fired and returned to see the Governors still there and his uncle dead. He fired a shot at the murderers and then ran to Wollar for help.
Atmosphere of terror
A week after the murders at Breelong it was reported that “considerably over 100 police, together with twelve black trackers” were searching for Jimmy and Joe Governor. It was proposed to swear in a number of special constables, with “bushmen who knew the country well” being preferred. The Colonial Secretary stated that the Act authorising the Government to declare the murderers to be outlaws had expired, “otherwise they would have been immediately ‘outlawed’”. A broad region of New South Wales, lying between the Northern and Western railway systems “within the boundary of lines drawn between Gilgandra and Muswellbrook on the north and Mudgee and Newcastle on the south”, was now on high alert. The resources of every police station within that area were being called upon. It was reported that business “on the farms or in the shops is practically at a standstill, and those who are not engaged in the active work of search and pursuit spend their time in speculation and discussion of the tragedies and their perpetrators”. Settlers moved out of their homesteads in fear of the Governors, with women and children brought together in towns for safety while many of the men joined the pursuit.
After the murder of Kieran Fitzpatrick outside of Wollar and the fact that Jimmy and Joe Governor's mother and younger siblings were living on the Aboriginal reserve at Wollar, the township became a focus of attention by police authorities and the colonial press. A visitor in late July noted: “When we rode into the town we met men armed to the teeth, riding round looking out sharply for any sign of the blacks”. The police had brought all the local aborigines into the township in order to keep them under surveillance. At night they were locked up in a hall which had been “appropriated for their accommodation”. Such was the fear and panic in the Wollar district that “families from up and down the Wollar Creek have flocked into town, and every available place is crammed with humanity”.
A visitor to the Merriwa and Cassilis district in late July recounted that “the people are terror-stricken for miles around, and nearly every person is carrying firearms in fear of meeting the blacks”. It was stated that every hut and house in the Wollar Ranges district “has been vacated” and it was “next to impossible to obtain a bed” at any of the hotels in Merriwa or Cassilis. Outlying settlers in the Coolah district were reported to have “deserted their houses, and are stopping in the town at hotels, and private houses are packed”. It was observed that local stores had completely sold out of rifles. Jimmy Governor had frequently been in Coolah and it was feared he may "visit persons with whom he has quarrelled”.
On July 29 a Chinaman’s hut was robbed near Gulgong and the following day the Governors were seen at Two-mile Flat (12 miles from Gulgong on the Wellington road). Later the brothers were camped near the village of Yamble when a party of pursuers surprised them while they were preparing a meal. The tracks of the fugitives were lost at the Cudgegong River near Goolma, west of Gulgong, and for about a week no information of their whereabouts was obtained. By this time large numbers of police and civilian volunteers had joined the search, including six black trackers from Queensland under the charge of Sub-inspector Galbraith of Ipswich.
Over the next three months the two Governor brothers, styling themselves bushrangers, carried on a series of break-ins, robberies, and assaults. They showed great skill, ingenuity and bush craft in eluding their pursuers. The manhunt that got underway to capture them was reputedly Australia's largest, estimated to have involved over 200 police and trackers and about 2,000 armed civilian volunteers.
The reward was increased on 25 September 1900 to £1,000 each. As the brothers outwitted and even taunted the police and trackers hunting them, public pressure grew for the police to capture them. The government instituted a process on 2 October 1900 to proclaim the Governor brothers outlaws so that, when they failed to appear at a police station by the afternoon of 16 October 1900, they became outlaws, who could legally be shot and killed on sight. They were proclaimed outlaws on 23 October 1900, the last persons to be so declared in New South Wales.
On Friday October 12 Constable Richard Harris and Tracker Landsborough were occupying the hut of a selector named O’Doherty, three miles from Yarras (west of Wauchope) at the junction of the Hastings River and Lahey’s Creek. At about four o’clock in the afternoon they heard movements outside and then saw a rifle flash as Constable Harris was hit in the hip by a bullet fired through an opening between the slabs. The bullet passed through his flesh and struck the wall of the hut. Harris and the tracker rushed outside and saw Jimmy and Joe Governor running towards the creek “and dodging from tree to tree”. Shots were exchanged and Harris claimed to have hit Jimmy Governor. Harris bandaged his wound and walked to a nearby selection from where he was taken to Port Macquarie for medical treatment. Constable Harris was a member of the Sydney police force and had been stationed at Ashfield when he volunteered to go in pursuit of the Governors.
On the following day, October 13, the Governor brothers were following the Forbes River (in the Hastings River catchment north of Yarras). Three men were stationed in a house on Edward Coombe’s selection at Big Flat, placed there by the police in anticipation of a visit by the fugitives. Two of the men were Herbert Byers, a kangaroo shooter from Ulan, and Robert Wood from Mudgee, both of whom had been involved in the hunt for the Governor brothers since late-July. Mid-afternoon the Governor brothers were sighted descending the ridge from the south and onto the flat where the house was located. The brothers approached the house slowly and cautiously, moving from cover to cover, until they were within 60 yards. Wood and Byers held their fire, expecting them to come even closer. Suddenly the two fugitives became alarmed and “made a bolt”, running to the south. At about 140 yards from the house Jimmy Governor stopped and looked back and Herb Byers took a shot through a crack in the wall. Jimmy fell and rolled over; the bullet had hit his mouth and passed through his cheek, knocking out four of his teeth. Wood also fired, the shot passing through the flesh of Jimmy’s buttock. Byers and Wood ran from the house, exchanging fire with Joe Governor. Jimmy raised himself, stumbled and fell again, but eventually he and his brother escaped into the surrounding forest. Byers and Wood followed for about half a mile but discontinued the chase as the light began to fade.
With Jimmy wounded, he and Joe camped in the bush for the next three days. On the evening of Tuesday October 16 the Governors stuck up 19-year-old William Coombes who was chopping wood on his family’s selection on the Forbes River, ten miles below where Jimmy had been wounded. They took him at gunpoint to William’s uncle’s selection about a mile away and asked him to go to the house and “get some tucker”, saying they would meet him “on the opposite side of the river”. The house was being guarded by Constable Dolman and others, and the policeman “prevented young Coombes returning to the murderers with food” and also made the decision not to search for the Governors in the dark. Coombes reported that Jimmy’s condition as weak and he was not able to walk fast. His bottom lip was cut and hanging down, his tongue was swollen and his face and mouth were bandaged.
The following day, Wednesday October 17, the Governors were sighted near George Branston’s house on the Hastings River, two miles west of Yarras. Constable Young and a tracker were stationed in the house. Joe Governor was on the opposite bank and Jimmy was in the river-bed when Young and the tracker started firing at them. In the confusion and rapid responses to being fired upon, Jimmy and Joe Jimmy Governor became separated. In Jimmy’s words: “Joe ran away down the other side of the river, and that was the last I saw of my brother”. The police strategy of occupying houses and denying the outlaws opportunities for obtaining food had achieved some significant results.
Jimmy Governor's capture
After he was separated from his brother, Jimmy Governor walked across the mountains further to the south. Joe Governor was travelling in the same direction, but he kept moving whereas Jimmy remained in the district around Bobin (24 miles south of Yarras). Jimmy Governor was in a weakened state, barely able eat due to the wound in his mouth; in his own words, after being shot he had “nothing to eat for 14 days but honey and water”. He had a Winchester rifle, but only two bullets. For about a week he remained hidden near Bobin, dispirited and looking for food to scrounge.
On Friday October 27 John Wallace, postmaster at Bobin, was camped on his selection on Bobin Creek, a mile and a half from the village. He had visited a neighbour and when he returned mid-afternoon Wallace found that his tucker-bag and billy were gone. Suspecting he had been robbed by one of the Governors, Wallace caught his horse and returned to Bobin, after which he walked back through the scrub on the opposite bank of the creek and lay concealed, watching his camp-site from a distance of about 60 yards. At dusk, in Wallace’s words: ���I saw a darkey come walking leisurely along to the fire”. After ascertaining that the man intended “to make the fire his camping place for the night”, Wallace returned to the village and gathered a party of seven other men. After planning their hiding-places so none could be hit by cross-fire the men took up their positions by about three o’clock Saturday morning and waited for daybreak.
Just on daylight Jimmy Governor stood up, fifty yards higher up the creek than expected and only 20 yards from where one of the party, Tom Green, was stationed. Green called out “surrender” and Governor grabbed his rifle and started running up the creek, with Green and John Wallace in pursuit and firing at him with their breechloading shot guns. After a chase of about 200 yards, with the others in the party closing in and firing, the outlaw finally fell when Tom Green shot him in the thigh. Two members of the party were sent to Wingham to report the matter to the police. Governor laid “as if insensible” for over an hour, after which he began to move. Leaning on his elbow, he said: “I give you fellows credit for catching me. The ----- police could not run down a poddy calf”. Wallace returned to Bobin to get a spring-cart while the others carried their prisoner to the road, and Jimmy Governor was taken by cart to Wingham. Governor’s captors had fired at him with slugs and shot so his wounds on this occasion were mainly superficial. In all forty pellets were extracted from his body.
On Tuesday October 30 Jimmy Governor was brought before the Police Magistrate at Wingham and charged with the murder of Ellen Kerz at Breelong on July 20. Evidence at the hearing was mainly concerned with formal identification of the prisoner and accounts of admissions by Governor of having committed the crimes at Breelong. When asked if he wished to question the witnesses, “Jimmy replied in the negative by quietly shaking his head”. The police superintendent then formally applied for the remand of the prisoner to Sydney, which was granted. On November 2 Jimmy Governor was conveyed to Sydney aboard the steamer Electra. During the voyage he “occupied the time in playing cards with his custodians”. The steamer arrived in Sydney on the evening of the following day and Governor was taken in leg-irons and handcuffs to Darlinghurst Gaol.
Joe Governor's death
On Tuesday October 30 John Wilkinson of ‘Glenrock’ on Talbrook Creek (about 20 miles north of Singleton) was walking across his paddock after dark towards his brother George’s place when he noticed a fire burning in a nearby gully. Later that night Wilkinson and his brother, with just one rifle between them, went to investigate. The country near the fire was “very rough and precipitous, although not heavily timbered”. When they got near, they could see a man asleep beside the fire. While his brother withdrew to the top of a hill to keep watch, John Wilkinson, with the rifle, worked his way forward taking advantage of available cover as day began to break. Finding himself only about fifteen yards away he decided that “hesitating might mean disaster” and so he ran towards the sleeper calling out “surrender���. Joe Governor jumped up and Wilkinson fired, but “the cartridge hung fire” and the bullet missed. Joe grabbed for his rifle but was unable to reach it as Wilkinson charged forward, “so the fugitive darted away for dear life”. Wilkinson chased Governor through the hills and ravines, firing several times but missing on each occasion. Eventually, with Joe about 120 yards distant, Wilkinson stopped and went down on one knee, took careful aim and fired. With that shot Joe Governor fell dead over the bank of the creek.
Trial and execution
Jimmy Governor was arraigned before Judge Owen at the Sydney Central Criminal Court in Darlinghurst on 22 November 1900, charged with the murder of Ellen Kerz at Breelong in July 1900. Governor was defended by Francis S. Boyce, who immediately moved for the acquittal of the prisoner based on the fact that he was a declared outlaw and hence “the accused is not able to plead and defend himself against the indictment” (in effect, already guilty in the eyes of the law). The judge disagreed, holding that the object of the declaration of outlawry was to bring about the person’s capture “for the purpose of putting him on trial”. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the judge’s direction, and was discharged. Another jury was then empanelled to try the case based on the evidence.
Testimony for the prosecution on the first day of the trial was given by John Mawbey, followed by Mawbey’s nephew George and son Albert (who had been in the house during the murders). Ethel Governor also gave evidence, together with a number of other witnesses. The case for the defence on the following day consisted of a written statement that Boyce requested be read on behalf of the accused as he “cannot read well”. The prosecutor objected to this and the judge ruled that the statement “must be given orally” by the prisoner. Governor then read his statement to the court. After both counsels’ closing addresses and a summing up by Judge Owen, the jury retired and returned after just ten minutes to return a verdict of guilty on the charge of murder. The prisoner was then asked if he had anything to say as to why the Court should not pass a sentence of death upon him. Governor “grasped the iron railings of the dock as he stood and shook his head”; after drinking water from a pannikin handed to him by an attendant constable, he “said in a weak voice, ‘No, nothing’”. Judge Owen then sentenced the prisoner to be hanged.
After almost three and a half months in his cell at Dubbo Gaol Jack Underwood was hanged on 14 January 1901. After the execution the hangman, Robert ('Nosey Bob') Howard, travelled back to Sydney to supervise the hanging of Underwood’s partner in the Breelong murders. Jimmy Governor was hanged on the morning of 18 January 1901 at Darlinghurst Gaol.
A little more than a month after Jimmy Governor’s execution wax figures of “Joe and Jimmy Governor and their victims” were exhibited at The Waxworks at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
After she was released from gaol prior to Jack Underwood’s trial in October 1900, Ethel Governor and her child were admitted to a charitable institution in Sydney. She visited her husband in prison on a number of occasions prior to his execution. Ethel was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in April 1901 at Wollongong. In November that year she married a part-Aboriginal man, Frank Brown, prompting racist comments in the press. One article declared: “The second marriage is just as repulsive as the first, for the bride groom is a half-caste, and in spite of all her faults the woman is white”; the article concluded that the “inevitable consequence” of the marriage “will be the completion of the damnation of her soul, and addition to the piebald of ‘A White Australia’”. Ethel and Frank Brown had eleven children. Ethel Brown outlived her second husband; she died in October 1945 and was buried in Rookwood cemetery.
- Sarah Mawbey, wife of John Mawbey (Breelong, 24 July)
- Ellen Kerz, schoolteacher (Breelong, 20 July)
- Grace Mawbey, 16-year-old daughter of John and Sarah (Breelong, 22 July)
- Percival Mawbey, 14-year-old son of John and Sarah (Breelong, 20 July)
- Hilda Mawbey, 11-year-old daughter of John and Sarah (Breelong, 20 July)
- Alexander McKay, property-owner (near Ulan, 23 July)
- Elizabeth O'Brien (near Merriwa, 24 July)
- James O'Brien, baby son of Elizabeth O'Brien (near Merriwa, 24 July)
- Keiran Fitzpatrick, property-owner (near Wollar, 26 July)
The founding headmaster of The Southport School, the Rev (later Rt Rev) Horace Dixon, was nicknamed 'Jimmy' by the schoolboys in 1903 after Jimmy Governor, and was known as 'Jimmy' for the rest of his life.
- Moore & Williams, page 152.
- G. P. Walsh. "Governor, Jimmy (1875-1901)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Moore & Williams, page 3.
- Tommy Governor, (portrait, woodblock print), Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 27 August 1892, page 481; Mining in New South Wales: Leadville and Mount Stewart, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 27 August 1892, page 502.
- Governor Tribe, The Sun (Sydney), 4 June 1923, page 10.
- Mudgee, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 23 June 1888, page 1358.
- Gresford, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advertiser, 11 January 1890, page 3.
- Singleton Police Court: Tuesday, July 20th, Singleton Argus, 30 July 1890, page 3.
- Moore & Williams, pages 4-5.
- Singleton Police Court: Tuesday, August 12th, Singleton Argus, 13 August 1890, page 2.
- Singleton, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advertiser, 16 September 1890, page 5.
- Moore & Williams, pages 6-7.
- A Disappearing People, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 1 June 1900, page 7.
- Moore & Williams, page 9.
- The Breelong Tragedy, Western Mail (Perth), 17 November 1938, page 10.
- No title, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June 1883, page 7.
- Setting It Straight, Lynda Burney, Tharunka (Kensington), 7 June 1983, page 4.
- Moore & Williams, pages 12-13.
- Trial of Jimmy Governor, Maitland Weekly Mercury, 1 December 1900, page 12.
- Darlinghurst Gaol Photograph Description Book, Jimmy Governor, No. 8194, 4 November 1900.
- The Governors, Dungog Chronicle: Durham and Gloucester Advertiser, 31 July 1900, page 2; the source also states “Jimmy was sent to the training ship Vernon”, a claim that seems unlikely given the short sentence and the distance between Dunedoo and Sydney, and not least because the Vernon reformatory training ship moored at Cockatoo Island was decommissioned in 1892 (replaced by another ship, the Sobraon) – refer to [Mark Dunn (2008). "Vernon nautical training ship". The Dictionary of Sydney. City of Sydney; State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 14 May 2021.]
- Moore & Williams, pages 14-18.
- The Aboriginal Murderers, Clarence River Advocate, 14 September 1900, page 4.
- Interview With Jimmy Governor, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 1900, page 7.
- Moore & Williams, pages 17-20.
- The Mysterious White Woman, Singleton Argus, 26 July 1900, page 2.
- Jimmy Governor’s Wife, Walcha Witness and Vernon County Record, 11 August 1900, page 3; reprinted from the Gilgandra Telegraph.
- Jimmy’s Statement, Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 31 October 1900, page 3.
- Moore & Williams, 'Breelong', pages 21-32.
- Details of Ethel Governor’s interactions with the women of the Mawbey household are based on an account of the lead-up to the murders by Sam Ellis, a hawker from Mudgee who often camped with the Governors. Extracts from Ellis’ account are quoted in: Laurie Moore; Stephan Williams (2001). "Breelong". The True Story of Jimmy Governor. Crows Nest NSW: Allen & Unwin. pp. 21–32. ISBN 1 86508 481 6.
- Further Sensational Murders: The Gilgandra Tragedy, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 1900, page 8.
- Dubbo Circuit Court, Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 3 October 1900, page 3.
- Jimmy Governor Admits Everything – How They Went Bushranging, Sunday Times (Sydney), 4 November 1900, page 8.
- The Father’s Evidence, Sunday Times (Sydney), 29 July 1900, page 8.
- Statement by Jimmy Governor, Wellington Times, 26 November 1900, page 3. The number of people who left the camp that night prior to the murders has been the subject of speculation due to contradictory statements and evidence from various parties (some of which probably had the intention of mitigating guilt). See also: "The Breelong Horror". Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. 25 July 1900. p. 2.; in describing Ethel Governor’s supposed second-hand account of the Breelong murders, the writer comments that the “details given by her are so minute and tally so closely with some of the ascertained facts that they almost seem to have been gathered by one who was an actual eye-witness of the deeds”. Before she died Sarah Mawbey said she only saw Jimmy Governor and Underwood, but added that "I could hear more outside; I could hear all of them" ["Fearful Murders at Breelong". Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent. 25 July 1900. p. 2.]. Mrs. Mawbey also "positively stated that she heard a woman’s voice outside while the men were striking the victims" ["Further Sensational Murders: The Gilgandra Tragedy". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 July 1900. p. 8.].
- The Gilgandra Tragedy: The Inquest Concluded, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 26 July 1900, page 4.
- Moore & Williams, 'The Breelong Murders', pages 33-47.
- Trial of Jimmy Governor, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 26 November 1900, page 2.
- The Breelong Tragedy: Trial of Jimmy Governor, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1900, page 11.
- The Breelong Horror, Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 25 July 1900, page 2.
- Fearful Murders at Breelong, Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent, 25 July 1900, page 2.
- Latest From Gilgandra: Inquest Opened, Evening News (Sydney), 24 July 1900, page 3.
- The Massacre of the Mawbeys, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 26 July 1900, page 7.
- The Inquest, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 25 July 1900, page 9.
- The Breelong Tragedy: Trial of Jacky Underwood, Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 6 October 1900, page 3.
- Capture of One Man, Leader (Melbourne), 28 July 1900, page 23.
- Jacky Underwood Captured and Identified, Maitland Weekly Mercury, 28 July 1900, page 7.
- The Capture of Underwood, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 30 July 1900, page 4.
- Capture of Underwood: How It Was Effected, Evening News (Sydney), 27 July 1900, page 4.
- Jackey Underwood, Evening News (Sydney), 18 August 1900, page 4.
- Jacky Underwood Before the Court at Gilgandra, Maitland Weekly Mercury, 25 August 1900, page 7.
- The Breelong Tragedy: Execution of Jacky Underwood, Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 16 January 1901, page 4.
- Cassilis to Gulgong, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 1900, page 8.
- The Ulan Inquest, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 23 July 1900, page 1.
- Moore & Williams, page 49.
- Jimmy Governor’s Story, Singleton Argus, 30 October 1900, page 2.
- The Merriwa Murders, Singleton Argus, 28 July 1900, page 4.
- The Merriwa Tragedy, Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 4 August 1900, page 15.
- Moore & Williams, 'Avengers', pages 48-61.
- Motives for Governor Crimes, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 24 May 1923, page 9; written by E. J. Gamgee, a former editor of the Mudgee Guardian, this article seeks to detail the motives behind the murders perpetrated by the Governor brothers in the days after the Breelong murders.
- Murder. - £400 Reward, New South Wales Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime, 25 July 1900 (Issue No. 30), page 271.
- Black Horror: The Wollar Murder, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 30 July 1900, page 3.
- The Breelong Tragedy, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 28 July 1900, page 4.
- The Murders By the Blacks: The Gilgandra Tragedy, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 1900, page 12.
- A Panic-stricken District, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 30 July 1900, page 7.
- A Visit to Merriwa and Cassilis: The People Panic-Stricken, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 1 August 1900, page 5.
- A Panic at Coolah, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 30 July 1900, page 4.
- Murders By Blacks, Walcha Witness and Vernon County Record, 4 August 1900, page 3.
- The Breelongs Blacks: Their Wanderings for Fourteen Weeks, Murrurundi Times and Liverpool Plains Gazette, 10 November 1900, page 6.
- The Breelong murderers: Trackers From Queensland, The Queenslander (Brisbane), 4 August 1900, page 230.
- Map showing the wanderings of the Breelong murderers up to the capture of Jimmy Governor at Bobin Creek, Evening News (Sydney), 30 October 1900, page 3; this map details the route taken by the fugitives Jimmy and Joe Governor, as well as recording significant events during the period.
- Moore & Williams, page 96.
- Murder. - £2,000 Reward, New South Wales Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime, 10 October 1900 (Issue No. 41), page 367.
- Jimmy Governor and Joe Governor Summoned to Surrender, New South Wales Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime, 10 October 1900 (Issue No. 41), page 367.
- The Fugitive Blacks: Action Before Mr. Justice Stephen: Summoned to Surrender, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 1900, page 7.
- Proclamation, New South Wales Government Gazette, 23 October 1900 (Issue No. 1001 Supplement), page 8347.
- The Breelong Blacks, Tenterfield Intercolonial Courier and Fairfield and Wallangarra Advocate, 16 October 1900, page 2.
- Black Outlaws: The Forbes River Encounter, Evening News (Sydney), 16 October 1900, page 6; The Black Outlaws: The Forbes River Encounter by E. Richards M.L.A., Evening News (Sydney), 17 October 1900, page 6.
- Full Confession: Jimmy’s Wanderings, Evening News (Sydney), 29 October 1900, page 5.
- The Breelong Blacks: Jimmy Governor’s Wound, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 19 October 1900, page 5.
- The Breelong Blacks, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 19 October 1900, page 5.
- The News at Headquarters, Evening News (Sydney), 19 October 1900, page 6.
- The Black Horror: Jimmy Before the Court, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 1 November 1900, page 14.
- Moore & Williams, pages 114-115.
- Jimmy Governor’s Capture, Evening News (Sydney), 30 October 1900, page 3.
- Jimmy Governor’s Capture, Queanbeyan Age, 31 October 1900, page 2.
- The Aboriginal Murderers: Jimmy Governor’s Capture, Clarence River Advocate, 2 November 1900, page 5.
- Jimmy Governor, Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey), 8 November 1900, page 6.
- Jimmy Governor in Sydney, Singleton Argus, 6 November 1900, page 1.
- How Joe Governor Was Shot, How Joe Was Shot, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 1 November 1900, page 14.
- The Breelong Tragedy: Trial of the Aboriginal Jimmy Governor, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1900, page 7.
- The Evidence, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1900, page 7.
- The Breelong Tragedy: Trial of Jimmy Governor, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1900, page 11.
- Moore & Williams, pages 145-147.
- Rachel Franks (2021). "Robert 'Nosey Bob' Howard". Dictionary of Sydney. City of Sydney & State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
- Execution of Jimmy Governor, Australian Town and Country Journal, 26 January 1901, page 7.
- The Waxworks, The Sun (Kalgoorlie), 7 April 1901, page 4.
- Moore & Williams, page 152.
- “A White Australia”: Marriage of Mrs. James Governor, Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 5 December 1901, page 10.
- New South Wales Births, Deaths & Marriages records.
- Murray, Les (2002). Collected Poems, The Ballad of Jimmy Governor. ISBN 1876631511.
- "Australian Dictionary of Biography: Horace Henry Dixon". Retrieved 1 August 2021.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Jimmy Governor
- National Museum of Australia – "Outlawed" Exhibition
- Post-mortem photo of Joe Governor
- Home of the Old Dubbo Gaol
- Manning Valley Historical Society