Letter from John Bulmer 10 October 1878

Page 2 of 6

Transcription - Page 2

[left hand column]
the girl was suppose [sic] to agree to the
arrangement. Of course if she did
not and had her eye on another she
would run off with the man of her
choice. I have seen marriages
without running away.
With regard to widows the rule
was for the Husband's Brother to
take the wife this would be done
without running away. But should
she have an objection to him,
she would also run away with a
more favoured one. I have known
widows run away and very old
ones to when almost toothless.
The fact is among the Blacks there
was a legal way of getting a
wife and if the law were stuck
to there was no need of running
The ceremony at death differs in
the various tribes among the Murray
tribes they were very particular

[right hand column]
not to look upon the face of the dead. They
carried the corpse up as soon as the
breath was out of the body. But among
the Gipps Land Blacks I find they
usually kept the dead many days
even till decomposition had set in
and they would rub their bodies
with the matter which exuded
from the dead man and they would
also keep the hands as mementos
of the dead, these they would use
as a kind of divining instrument.
They would attach a string to the
wrist and twisting it round
would let it revolve until it stopped
of itself. This would sometimes
indicate some particular direction
they were to go. Some spot
where they would find something.
In burials they would be particular
as to the position they placed the
body as they had a belief that
the dead went away to some
good hunting ground at the

Page 2 of 6

Document Details

Date 10 Oct 1878
Letter From Bulmer, Reverend John
Letter To Howitt, Alfred William
Country Australia
Holding Institution Museums Victoria
Collection Name Alfred W. Howitt Collection
Registration Number XM 78
Medium Letter
Region Gippsland
Locality Lake Tyers
Summary Letter provides information on groups of the Gippsland District, regarding marriage rules and elopement, medicine, illness, and some language translations.
Physical Description Letter, handwritten, ink. Two sheets, eight pages. Condition: Fair; slight tear on main fold at bottom; centre crease fragile.