Nellie had taken the name of Hamilton from white landowner Hamilton-Hume. Hamilton-Hume’s wife was childless and Nellie bore him a daughter, later known as 'Queen Lucy'. Whilst this may not have been acknowledged at the time by the Hamilton-Hume family, Jenny McDougal-Hume, the niece of Hamilton Hume, acknowledges this fact in her book about her family called Beyond the Boarders.
A story about Queen Nellie and her daughter Lucy
My story begins when white settlement came to Ngunawal traditional ground. A story about a young Ngunawal girl who was born to be Queen of the whole Ngunawal clan in years to come. She grew up in her traditional way of life, a shy girl with a big smile and full of kindness for anyone that touched her found she brought happiness to them all.
Queen Lucy and King Ned of North Yass
Times were changing for the Aboriginals as more and more white people came and took the land from them, moving them from their camping grounds, killing off the kangaroos and possums and scaring away the wild bush animals that they fed on for hundreds of years.
About this time, there was a young white gentleman who was the first man to see the waters of Lake Ngungara. The white man renamed it Lake George. He was so amazed at the bush craft of the Aboriginals so he joined them for weeks and weeks learning their bush skills, living like they did off the land.
In that period of time the girl that had a kind smile for anyone and laughter that made the birds sing, fell in love and they were joined together in a Ngunawal traditional ceremony. Some of the elders didn’t like it and spoke their mind, but the count of hands went in their favour, and in the end, they were spiritually married. He could not take her home with him, for white man couldn’t have a black gin for a wife.
A year passed, or one spawning of the fish, he would visit her and make her happy as she always made him feel the same.
Months went by and the changing of the leaves and the blossoms started to show their colours. The girl was laying in her gunya under a blanket of animal skins feeling her round, fat belly wondering what it was, a boy of a girl. All the old women in the clan said it was a girl.
She didn’t care what it was, male or female, for they, her white gentleman and herself would love it no matter what.
Two days later she felt the pains of womanhood and the elder women of the clan delivered a beautiful girl. Her hair was a reddy black, her skin was brown in between black and white. In fact, in her seventies, an old newspaper clipping I found stated by a Sydney reporter saying that if she didn’t tell you that she was Aboriginal you wouldn’t tell the difference. It also said that her eyes were emerald green.
The clans people hadn’t seen anything like the baby before. Her colouring was different from the black dusty look of the other children about the camp. The elders called a meeting to decide what could be done to change the colour of her skin. Late into the night the elders sat and argued about what could be done and finally came to a decision that the baby had to be smoked over a fire with no heat and a lot of smoke. Ngunawal people done that in the wet and cold months to their possum and kangaroo skins to dry them.
The decision was told to the girl and she was shocked in grief, for she knew what would happen after the smoking and she asked the spirits to help her by sending the white man to her and saving their baby.
Next day the smoking was to take place and the women got a lot of tree branches which were heavy in leaves to give a lot of smoke and low in heat. The women worked preparing the site just away from the main camp. When finished they told the elders.
The baby was taken from the mother’s breast and placed on the frame that was made for it crying its pretty head off. At last the baby stopped crying and was coughing with tears running from its eyes from the smoke. Her tiny body was turned over and over, then at last given back to the mother. Two more times that went on but she didn’t change colour.
The camp dogs started to bark and growl as the white man rode up to the camp, and going to his wife and child she told him what was going on. Walking to his horse he got his stock whip and cracked it in anger over the heads of the clans men. In terror they fled away into the bush.
Her father took her to his property at Gunning and gave her to an old couple of Aboriginals that roamed the station. She was born at the head of the fish river and died at Oak Hill, north Yass.