Armytage family: a brutal history of Aboriginal dispossession and massacre

sam armytage aboriginal history genocide george armytage
Ingleby Homestead / Winchelsea Victoria

The Armytage name is very well known throughout Australia. It has been a household name for over 200 years.

In recent years the most famous ‘Armytage’ has been Samantha, who hosts Australia’s most racist morning television show, ‘Sunrise’, on channel 7. Her recent hot topics segment resulted in sustained protests outside the Sunrise studios. Almost six months have passed since the appalling segment went to air and we are yet to hear a single apology from Armytage or members of her all-white panel.

I doubt we will see an apology from Armytage as history shows that disregard for Aboriginal people has a long and bloody history in her family. Her family history provides a snapshot of how present day white privilege was generated by the lawless actions of previous generations of European settlers.

The very first of the Armytage family to arrive in Australia did so in 1815. His name was George Armytage and by 1817 he had been gifted huge areas of land in Tasmania. The time Armytage was in Tasmania coincided with one of the most bloody acts of genocide ever witnessed in Australia. The period from the early 1820’s to 1832 is known as the black war. At one point colonial soldiers, police and settlers formed huge lines stretching hundreds of kilometers at a time in an effort to completely remove Aboriginal people from existence in Tasmania. Armytage was not just a civilian at this time either, he was also a constable of the Bagdad division of police in Tasmania.

By 1847 after generating his wealth on the back of Aboriginal dispossession and genocide in Tasmania, George Armytage moved to Victoria. By this time, Armytage had already been running sheep across large areas of land in Victoria for more than a decade. Even though these grazing lands were managed from afar, it didn’t stop the same brutality that occurred in Tasmania from happening in Victoria. In fact, during the first year of his expansion into Victoria, a brutal hunting party undertook a retaliation attack after one of Armytage’s employees was killed. This attack sparked a two decade long period of brutal massacres across Victoria against the local Wathaurong people.

After continued acquisition of wealth on the back of Aboriginal dispossession and genocide, the Armytage family went on to purchase numerous homesteads and stations. Some of the most well known homesteads include the heritage listed, Hermitage, and Como homesteads. Samantha Armytage herself was raised on the 17,000 acre Bolaro station.

Where would Samantha Armytage be today if her forefathers weren’t allowed to commit the crimes they did against the Aboriginal population? Perhaps our population would be much larger than present day numbers. Perhaps we wouldn’t be seen as a tiny minority. Perhaps there would be Indigenous men and women presenting on Australian morning television shows. Armytage isn’t alone in this either, stories of privilege being passed down from one settler generation to the next is occurring right across Australia.

Welcome to Country is an independent Indigenous news/media website. We publish news and views that are often ignored by Australia’s mainstream media.

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