Robert Morant

Robert Morant

Robert Laurie Morant, the only son of Robert Morant and Helen Berry Morant, was born in Hampstead, London, on 7th April 1863. His father was a designer of high-class furniture and silk fabrics. He was educated at Winchester College and New College and graduated with a first class degree in theology from the University of Oxford in 1885. (1)

In 1886 he travelled to Siam (Thailand) where he became tutor to the crown prince. Morant involved himself in the reconstruction of the Siamese educational system. He also engaged in political activity and he was seen by some as acting as if he was "the Uncrowned King of Siam". During this period Florence Nightingale commented he had great genius, but some want of will or some want of harmony". (2)

On his return Morant took up both residence and a staff appointment at the Toynbee Hall settlement in the East End of London. Founded by Samuel Augustus Barnett and Henrietta Barnett in 1884, residents ave up their weekends and evenings to do relief work. This work ranged from visiting the poor and providing free legal aid to running clubs for boys and holding University Extension lectures and debates. The volunteers included Richard Tawney, Clement Attlee, Alfred Milner and William Beveridge.

As Seth Koven has pointed out: "Settlements, as first envisioned by the Barnetts, were residential colonies of university men in the slums intended to serve both as centres of education, recreation, and community life for the local poor and as outposts for social work, social scientific investigation, and cross-class friendships between élites and their poor neighbours." (3)

Beatrice Webb and her husband, Sidney Webb, met Morant at Toynbee Hall and she later recalled: "We have known and liked Morant since he appeared as a student in the early days of the London School of Economics - an abnormally tall and loosely knit figure, handsome in feature, shy in manner, and enigmatical in expression. At that time he was a little over thirty and at a loose end, having failed to keep an official position at the court of Siam." Beatrice then added that he was "a strange mortal, not altogether sane". (4)

In August 1895, Morant joined the civil service and Michael E. Sadler appointed him as assistant director of special inquiries and reports. Sadler claimed that the main objective was to "tell the truth, disclose the strong and weak points of great educational policies, and behave with self restraint but unshakeable honesty in presenting matter to the Department of Education and in its published volumes of reports". (5)

During a period of poor health Morant was nursed by Helen Mary Cracknell, daughter of Edwin Cracknell of Wetheringsett Grange, Suffolk; they married in 1896 and had a son and a daughter. Over the next few years he produced important research studies of the French and Swiss educational systems. His reports did not always please Sadler who later said that "Morant had no use for scientific impartiality". (6)

Morant's work was appreciated by John Eldon Gorst, the Vice-President of the Committee on Education, who appointed him as his private secretary. Morant played an important role in advising Arthur Balfour, in drafting the 1902 Education Act. It was an attempt to overturn the 1870 Education Act that had been brought in by William Gladstone. It had been popular with radicals as they were elected by ratepayers in each district. This enabled nonconformists and socialists to obtain control over local schools.

The new legislation abolished all 2,568 school boards and handed over their duties to local borough or county councils. These new Local Education Authorities (LEAs) were given powers to establish new secondary and technical schools as well as developing the existing system of elementary schools. At the time more than half the elementary pupils in England and Wales. For the first time, as a result of this legislation, church schools were to receive public funds. (7)

Nonconformists and supporters of the Liberal and Labour parties campaigned against the proposed act. David Lloyd George led the campaign in the House of Commons as he resented the idea that Nonconformists contributing to the upkeep of Anglican schools. It was also argued that school boards had introduced more progressive methods of education. "The school boards are to be destroyed because they stand for enlightenment and progress." (8)

In July, 1902, a by-election at Leeds demonstrated what the education controversy was doing to party fortunes, when a Conservative Party majority of over 2,500 was turned into a Liberal majority of over 750. The following month a Baptist came near to capturing Sevenoaks from the Tories and in November, 1902, Orkney and Shetland fell to the Liberals. That month also saw a huge anti-Bill rally held in London, at Alexandra Palace. (9)

Despite the opposition the Education Act was passed in December, 1902. John Clifford, the leader of the Baptist World Alliance, wrote several pamphlets about the legislation that had a readership that ran into hundreds of thousands. Balfour accused him of being a victim of his own rhetoric: "Distortion and exaggeration are of its very essence. If he has to speak of our pending differences, acute no doubt, but not unprecedented, he must needs compare them to the great Civil War. If he has to describe a deputation of Nonconformist ministers presenting their case to the leader of the House of Commons, nothing less will serve him as a parallel than Luther's appearance before the Diet of Worms." (10)

In April 1903 Robert Morant become the permanent secretary of the Board of Education. His former boss and the man who expected the post, Michael E. Sadler, claimed: "Morant was a very able, unscrupulous arriviste with a lot of educational enthusiasm, great energy, and a tongue that could be honeyed or rasping... An Italian renaissance type I used to think then, but now I see in him an early arrival of the Fascist mentality". (11)

Morant reorganized the Board of Education into an effective central instrument for the implementation of the act, which was characterized by a balance of power between the centre and the local authorities. The board made its presence felt with a series of regulations issued in bold type in publications with differently coloured covers for each type of institution. This included Regulations for the Instruction and Training of Pupil-Teachers, Elementary School Code, Regulations for Secondary Education, Regulations for Training Colleges and Regulations for Evening Schools and Technical Institutes. (12)

Morant also took a keen interest in working-class education and was pleased when Albert Mansbridge established the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). By June 1906 the WEA had 47 branches. The autonomy of these branches was reflected in the wide variety of activities which they promoted. This included lectures and classes in the arts and social sciences, reading groups and nature-study rambles. (13)

The Conservative Party government, under the leadership of Arthur Balfour, gave its full support to this new organisation. Winston Churchill was especially pleased with this new development. He wrote that he was "in full... agreement with the objects of the association" and "it ought to be perfectly possible in this country for a man of high, if not necessarily and extraordinary, intellectual capacity to obtain with industry and perseverance the best education in the world, irrespective of his standing in life." (14)

A conference organized by the WEA was held in Oxford on 10th August 1907. It soon became clear that the delegates had different opinions about the direction of the WEA. Robert Morant argued that it would be possible to obtain financial support if the type of education provided was acceptable to the government: "In particular we believe that it is to small classes and solid earnest work that we can give increasingly of the golden stream." (15)

However, John Mactavish, a Portsmouth shipwright and a Labour Party activist, took a more militant view. He wanted a socialist rather than a liberal education. "I claim for my class all the best that Oxford has to give. I claim it as a right, wrongfully withheld". Mactavish believed that the WEA should train "missionaries... for the great task of lifting their class." For this purpose they needed new interpretations of history and economics. "You cannot expect the people to enthuse over a science which promises no more than a life of precarious toil." (16)

Philip Snowden agreed with Mactavish: "I would rather have better education given to the masses of the working classes than the best for a few. O God, make no more saints; elevate the race." (17) A WEA report published the following year made a similar point: "In obtaining a university education... it must not be necessary for working people to leave the class in which they were born... What they desire is not that men should escape from their class, but that they should remain in it and raise its whole level." (18)

During his speech on the People's Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, pointed out that Germany had a compulsory national insurance against sickness since 1884. He argued that he intended to introduce a similar system in Britain. With a reference to the arms race between Britain and Germany he commented: "We should not emulate them only in armaments." (19)

In December 1910 Lloyd George sent one of his Treasury civil servants, William J. Braithwaite, to Germany to make an up-to-date study of its State insurance system. On his return he had a meeting with Charles Masterman, Rufus Isaacs and John S. Bradbury. Braithwaite argued strongly that the scheme should be paid for by the individual, the state and the employer: "Working people ought to pay something. It gives them a feeling of self respect and what costs nothing is not valued." (20)

One of the questions that arose during this meeting was whether British national insurance should work, like the German system, on the "dividing-out" principle, or should follow the example of private insurance in accumulating a large reserve. Lloyd George favoured the first method, but Braithwaite fully supported the alternative system. (21) He argued: "If a fund divides out, it is a state club, and not an insurance. It has no continuity - no scientific basis - it lives from day to day. It is all very well when it is young and sickness is low. But as its age increases sickness increases, and the young men can go elsewhere for a cheaper insurance." Lloyd George replied: "Why accumulate a fund? The State could not manage property or invest with wisdom. It would be very bad for politics if the State owned a huge fund." (22)

The National Insurance Bill spent 29 days in committee and grew in length and complexity from 87 to 115 clauses. These amendments were the result of pressure from insurance companies, Friendly Societies, the medical profession and the trade unions, which insisted on becoming "approved" administers of the scheme. The bill was passed by the House of Commons on 6th December and received royal assent on 16th December 1911. (23)

Despite the opposition from newspapers and and the British Medical Association, the business of collecting contributions began in July 1912, and the payment of benefits on 15th January 1913. David Lloyd George appointed Robert Morant as chief executive of the health insurance system. Morant took the job because he wanted the "opportunity it gave him of working towards the unification of the nation's health services". (24)

William J. Braithwaite was made secretary to the joint committee responsible for initial implementation, but his relations with Morant were deeply strained. "Overworked and on the verge of a breakdown, he was persuaded to take a holiday, and on his return he was induced to take the post of special commissioner of income tax in 1913." (25)

Lloyd George has been criticised for not appointing Braithwaite as the chief executive of the health insurance system. John Grigg has argued that Lloyd George was fully justified in making this decision. "Since he (Braithwaite) was a fairly junior member of the official hierarchy, his appointment to such a responsible position would have been resented by many of his seniors and contemporaries at the Treasury, whose goodwill was needed by the Commission." (26)

Christopher Hollis believes that the main reason that Morant got the job was that he had the support of Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb and other senior members of the Fabian Society: "Human nature being what it is, it was perhaps natural that Braithwaite should have felt grievance at first when he did not get the job on which he had set his heart, nor do we find it difficult to believe that the job was given to Morant for reasons of political convenience - to keep quiet the Webbs". (27)

As Beatrice Webb pointed out: "Morant is the one man of genius in the Civil Service, but he excites violent dislike in some men and much suspicion in many men. He is public spirited in his ends but devious in his methods… He certainly does not want social democracy - he is an aristocrat by instinct and conviction… but in spite of his malicious tongue and somewhat tortuous ways, he has done more to improve English administration than any other man." (28)

During the First World War he was a member of the Haldane Committee on the machinery of government. When the Ministry of Health was created in June 1919, from a merger of the Local Government Board and the Insurance Commission, Morant became its first permanent secretary. (29)

Robert Morant died after an attack of pneumonia on 13th March 1920.

In November 1911 Morant resigned from the Board of Education and accepted an offer from the chancellor of the exchequer to become chairman of the National Insurance Commission for England. He had told Lloyd George that the only reason that he had taken on what the chancellor himself had described as the ‘gigantic task’ of implementing the National Insurance Act was the opportunity it gave him of working towards the unification of the nation's health services, which had been his ambition ever since Newman and he had issued their first circular on the medical inspection of schoolchildren. The most immediate task was to ensure that the administrative arrangements were in place to ensure that by the set date of 15 July 1912 there was machinery to collect the contributions of 12 million people and their employers. At first Lloyd George supported Treasury objections to more than minimal staffing of the commission, but Morant told him forcefully that the legislation would fail unless he was given a free hand to recruit the people he needed, and the chancellor gave way. Government departments were more eager to get rid of their troublemakers than their most gifted administrators; but, however random the selection, this trawl for talent was the first time that the first division of the civil service had been treated as other than a collection of departmental élites, and among the men who came to work with Morant were future stars of the higher civil service of the order of Warren Fisher, John Anderson, and Arthur Salter. The deadline for establishing the contributions machinery was met on time, but that still left another deadline, that which loomed on 15 January 1913, the date set for the introduction of the general practitioner service. The opposition of the medical profession was overcome, and this deadline was also met. Later in 1913 Morant made use of a provision in the act for the establishment of a fund for promoting medical research and the Medical Research Committee was established, which proved to be the forerunner of the Medical Research Council. Morant was the effective author of the National Insurance Act of 1913, which eliminated various flaws experienced in the working of the earlier legislation.

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(1) Geoffrey K. Fry, Robert Morant: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Bernard Meredith Allen, Sir Robert Morant: a Great Public Servant (1934) page 47

(3) Seth Koven, Henrietta Barnett: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(4) Beatrice Webb, Diaries: 1912–1924 (1952) pages 97-98

(5) Michael E. Sadler, Michael Ernest Sadler: A Memoir (1949) page 194

(6) Geoffrey K. Fry, Robert Morant: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(7) Roy Hattersley, David Lloyd George (2010) page 146

(8) The Daily News (25th March, 1902)

(9) John Grigg, The People's Champion (1978) page 37

(10) Arthur Balfour, open letter to John Clifford (December, 1902)

(11) Michael E. Sadler, Michael Ernest Sadler: A Memoir (1949) page 195

(12) Geoffrey K. Fry, Robert Morant: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(13) Bernard Jennings, The Foundation and Founder , included in Stephen K. Roberts, (editor), A Ministry of Enthusiasm (2003) page 16

(14) Winston Churchill, Co-operative News (15th October, 1904)

(15) Robert Morant, speech at WEA conference (10th August, 1907)

(16) J. M. Mactavish, speech at WEA conference (10th August, 1907)

(17) Philip Snowden, speech at WEA conference (10th August, 1907)

(18) Oxford and Working-Class Education: The Report of a Joint Committee of University and Working-Class Representatives on the Relation of the University in the Higher Education of Workpeople (1908) page 49

(19) David Lloyd George, speech in the House of Commons (29th April, 1909)

(20) William J. Braithwaite, Lloyd George's Ambulance Wagon (1957) page 121

(21) William J. Braithwaite, diary entry (3rd January, 1911)

(22) William J. Braithwaite, Lloyd George's Ambulance Wagon (1957) pages 84-88

(23) The Observer (7th May, 1911)

(24) Geoffrey K. Fry, Robert Morant: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(25) The British Medical Journal (3rd June, 1911)

(26) Emrys Hughes, Keir Hardie (1956) page 200

(27) Frank Owen, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George and his Life and Times (1954) page 207

(28) Beatrice Webb, Diaries: 1912–1924 (1952) page 98

(29) Geoffrey K. Fry, Robert Morant: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)


Morant, Sir Robert Laurie

Robert Laurie Morant — Sir Robert Laurie Morant (April 7, 1863 ndash March 13, 1920) was an English administrator and educator [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article by Geoffrey K. Fry, Morant, Sir Robert Laurie (1863–1920)… … Wikipedia

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Australia — /aw strayl yeuh/, n. 1. a continent SE of Asia, between the Indian and the Pacific oceans. 18,438,824 2,948,366 sq. mi. (7,636,270 sq. km). 2. Commonwealth of, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting of the federated states and… … Universalium

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Second Boer War — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Second Anglo Boer War partof=the Boer Wars caption=Boer guerrillas during the Second Boer War date=11 October 1899 ndash 31 May 1902 place=South Africa casus belli=The Jameson Raid, 1895 96 [Thomas Pakenham,… … Wikipedia

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Pardon me, but Breaker Morant was guilty

Craig Wilcox does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Early in the New Year, while most of us were thinking about going to the beach or when it would be okay to consign those unwanted Christmas presents to a charity bin, Commander Jim Unkles of the Royal Australian Navy had something more important on his mind.

He announced to the media that he was tired of waiting for the federal government to press Britain’s Ministry of Defence to pardon three Australian soldiers punished for murdering unarmed captives. The previous Attorney General, Robert McClelland, seemed to get behind the case, but who could tell with his successor, the more dour Nicola Roxon? She should set aside her campaign for plain cigarette packaging, Jim Unkles boldly insisted, and get behind it too. After all, two of the soldiers had been executed, and their descendants were crying for justice.

It all sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? Our government setting aside an important reform to appeal to London for a pardon for two dead men who were executed so long ago we can talk about their descendants. But then you’ve heard of Harry Morant, or at least seen the beautiful, influential but hopelessly romantic film Bruce Beresford made about him in 1979, haven’t you?

In that case you’ve already had a brush with the legend of “Breaker” Morant — the one about the Byronic boozer and balladist, the bushman and Bushveldt Carbineer shot by the British army. Beresford and others hauled him from the grave and forcibly recruited him into their cultural war of independence against Australia’s former English masters. And it worked. “Next time I go to a cricket match”, one bloke vowed after watching the film, “I’m not going to throw empty beer cans at the Poms.”

But what was the real story of Breaker Morant? And what are his chances now, given a new attorney general, for a very belated pardon?

The Bushveldt Carbineers were garrison troops, not frontline soldiers, in the Boer War of 1899-1902. One of their duties was to escort white men and boys into town to hand in any weapons and sign oaths of loyalty to the new order. It was these men and boys whom some in regiment began to disarm and kill. At first they acted at the urging of a military intelligence officer called Taylor only later did Morant take the lead. Taylor and Morant said there were orders justifying the murders but, as one soldier later said, only the “very green” believed them. If there were orders, why did another officer, Peter Handcock from Bathurst, kill a German missionary and one of his own men so word of what was happening wouldn’t get out?

But word got out anyway. Sickened by the bloodshed and worried they might take the rap, some soldiers eventually turned their officers in. Morant and the others were arrested, gaoled, hauled up before an inquiry, then court martialled. An English lieutenant was merely cashiered, and simply by denying everything Taylor escaped scot free. Morant and Handcock ended up in front of a firing squad — inside a gaol in a large town, not in the middle of nowhere as the film would have it. A third officer, George Witton from Gippsland, was gaoled.

Some Australians were uneasy that the British army had punished these men. Still, they’d belonged to a British regiment, not an Australian one, and Morant had never considered himself Australian anyway. As news came out about the murders a consensus grew — shaped by a noisy campaign by Witton’s family — that Morant and Handcock deserved their fate but Witton didn’t. He was soon out of gaol, and the affair was forgotten until that cultural war of independence.

Jim Unkles has been pointing to shortcomings in the court martial for several years now. He is hardly the first to do so. But the guilty verdicts were the consequence of real crimes that could not be denied. The arguments put by the accused — merely following orders, merely avenging enemy barbarities, merely doing what other soldiers were secretly doing — were as bogus as they were inconsistent. Just because Taylor and some others escaped punishment, how did that make Morant, Handcock and Witton any less guilty? Anyway, military justice was exemplary eleven decades ago, punishing some soldiers for the, well, let’s say edification of the rest of the army.

Still, Jim Unkles is pressing Nicola Roxon and Britain’s Ministry of Defence to focus on legal shortfalls alone. If the trial and preceding inquiry didn’t strictly follow the rule book, he argues, then Morant and the others must be pardoned, however belatedly. But with no known transcript of trial or inquiry, how can we be sure — to a legal standard — of exactly what took place and why? Anyway, what message does it send if a government ignores a war crime to promote official rehabilitation of the perpetrators?

And what signal would go out to our soldiers today? That taking out unarmed civilians isn’t so bad after all, if you can somehow pass the buck to the Brits, the Americans or whoever?

Will Nicola Roxon do as Jim Unkles asks? A politician from the left, who used to be a union organiser and associate to Justice Mary Gaudron might look somewhat askance at whitewashing war criminals. But don’t discount the lingering power of the Morant legend. Politicians are busy people, with too little time to read enough history to counter lingering lies about the past.

But they do glance at the polls, and Jim Unkles insists ordinary Australians are as impatient as he is to rehabilitate Morant. Not to mention the descendants, though there can’t be too many of them, given neither Morant nor Witton had children.

There’s another constituency to consider, even if it’s offstage at present. The real victims in the Morant affair were the thirty or more unarmed South African men and teenagers, black as well as white, killed by the Bushveldt Carbineers, whose descendants number in the hundreds.

Some are watching carefully to see how our attorney general reacts. If they can find a sympathetic television station or documentary maker, they might move to centre stage — with interesting consequences for everyone.


Eales, Robert: Morant, the expendable icon & other Boer War resources

Update 28 November 2020: Military historian Tom Richardson reviews Peter FitzSimons’ Morant book in Nine Newspapers and gives it a mixed report. ‘Still, for all its flaws, Breaker Morant might be FitzSimons’ most valuable book to date.’ FitzSimons on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams.

Update 13 June 2017: Boer War memorial unveiled in Canberra (scroll down a bit). Governor-General’s speech says nothing at all about Boer civilian deaths.

Myth-busting in relation to the Boer War has not been common in Australia. Robert Eales is originally from South Africa and has researched the war (correctly called ‘the South African War 1899-1902’) widely. This essay, here in the most recent of a number of versions, does not support the recently popular cause of pardoning Morant, Handcock and Witton. Instead, it painstakingly examines the evidence and concludes as follows:

If one takes the stories offered by Morant and his co-accused to excuse what they did and relates them to the circumstances of the time, nothing fits. If on the other hand, one presumes that the courts did their job with adequate diligence, then everything falls into place. On the basis of what we know, it would be inappropriate to pretend we can improve on the decisions of those courts that sat more than one hundred and ten years ago. Pardoning Morant and his co-accused – confessed mass murderers – would be a serious mistake.

Robert Eales has also written a book about Emily Hobhouse, British campaigner for the rights of Boer (white South African) women and children caught up in the war. On this issue and the Boer War generally, see the articles by Ian Buckley and Adam Hughes Henry and this short item. There is also Craig Wilcox’s book Australia’s Boer War from 2003 and Kit Denton’s The Breaker, fiction and the basis for the movie, Breaker Morant.

Boer War historian Craig Wilcox mentions these relevant sources. Our thanks to him (added 5 December 2015)

FM Cutlack, Breaker Morant: A Horseman Who Made History, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1962. Revived the legend as a cartoon about British brasshats.

Kit Denton, The Breaker, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1973. Transformed Morant into a romantic anti-hero.

Kenneth Ross, Breaker Morant, Edward Arnold, Melbourne, 1979. A play for the post-Vietnam generation about Morant’s trial.

Bruce Beresford (director), Breaker Morant, South Australian Film Corporation, 1979. The film that made Morant a household name clips are available.

Margaret Carnegie & Frank Shields, In Search of Breaker Morant, self-published, Melbourne, 1979. A scrupulously researched assault on the legend.

Kit Denton, Closed File, Rigby, Sydney, 1983. Denton’s retraction in light of the evidence.

Arthur Davey, Breaker Morant and the Bushveldt Carbineers, Van Riebeeck Society, Cape Town, 1987. Prints documents that point to the serial killing of unarmed civilians.

Craig Wilcox, Australia’s Boer War, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2002, ch. 14. Sees the affair as a perversion of Boer War military-cultural norms.

Nick Bleszynski, Shoot Straight, You Bastards! 2 nd edition, Random House, Sydney, 2003. A lurid restatement of the legend but with useful nuggets of research.

Vivienne Kelly, ‘Ghosts of the past: Breaker Morant and re-enactment’, History Australia, vol. 6, no. 1, April 2009. A wise account of Morant’s significance to some Australians.

Craig Wilcox, ‘Breaker Morant: the murderer as martyr’, in Craig Stockings ed., Zombie Myths of Australian Military History, New South, Sydney, 2010, ch. 2. Summarises the Bushveldt Carbineers affair and the rise of the legend.

Charles Leach, The Legend of Breaker Morant is Dead and Buried, self-published, Louis Trichardt, 2012. A South African riposte to the legend, partly based on fieldwork.

To which we can add a few more …

  • James Unkles has a blog that supports the case for pardons.
  • RK Todd did the biography of Morant for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  • Susan Gardner wrote in 1981 about Breaker Morant, the movie.

Google throws up lots of references on both side of the argument.

Meanwhile, Australia plans a Boer War memorial in Anzac Parade, Canberra.


Bibliography

Bakan, Abigail. Ideology and Class Conflict in Jamaica: The Politics of Rebellion. Montreal and Kingston, Jamaica: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.

Curtin, Philip D. Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical Colony, 1830-1865. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1955.

Heuman, Gad. The Killing Time: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994.

Heuman, Gad. "Post-Emancipation Protest in Jamaica: The Morant Bay Rebellion, 1865." In From Chattel Slaves to Wage Slaves: The Dynamics of Labour Bargaining in the Americas, edited by Mary Turner. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 1995.

Holt, Thomas C. The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.


Australians at War

Being a relative of Breaker Morant would frustrate me because of his unfair trial. I am a family member of Breaker's, I am devastating because I wasn’t contacted when his arrest was made and informed about his unfair trial. His actions may have been cruel but under orders from Lord Kitchener. Kitchener is a cruel hearted murderer himself giving orders to kill everybody even civilians. To be given a fair trial there should've been evidence that Breaker had killed them as the orders weren’t written down only given out by Kitchener’s command. He should have been trailed fairly and death was to a harsher punishment.

A Letter to the Prime Minister

069 Random Road, That City

Prime Minister of England, Robert Glascoin Cecil

I write this letter to you today asking you to drop the execution charges against Breaker Morant. I am suppling evidence to you that Lord Kitchener sent them by oral command. Every soldier must follow orders by superior officers, in this case Kitchener. No orders are written down on paper except the rules they must follow. Morant followed those orders like any loyal soldier would. Kitchener is the man ordering them and the soldiers are following. He should be the one getting the trial. Every given order is oral and no written evidence can be given. You must use your common sense to understand that only superior officers are given letters to order the soldiers around. I am aware of his crime, but he shouldn’t be killed for it. His death would be unfair that soldiers are given the orders, win at all costs. They have to follow orders and the one giving the orders needs to be the one being trialled. Mr Morant shouldn’t die. You can trial him and sentence him but death is inhuman and against his rights as a soldier.

Therefore, Prime Minister Glascoin Cecil. Breaker Morant should be given a fair trial but execution isn’t suitable under the circumstances that Morant was under.


SIR ROBERT MORANT

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Mrs Morant — who the court heard suffered from chronic back pain, depression and anxiety — was found by police in the driver's seat of her car on November 30, 2014 with the doors closed and a note saying "please don't resuscitate me".

Prosecutor Lehane said Mr Morant initially told police in his interview that he had no involvement whatsoever in his wife's suicide, but when officers questioned him about how a woman with back pain could purchase heavy equipment from a hardware store, his story changed.

"Slowly, very slowly over the course of the next hour the accused explained he did assist his wife in her suicide," he said.

Mr Lehane also told the court Mr Morant, who was a born again Christian, had intentionally taken a different car to a service the Sunday morning of her death to leave behind the car with the generator.

The court heard Mr Morant claimed he did not know the details of three life insurance policies Mrs Morant had taken out to the value of $1.4 million, which named him as the sole beneficiary and would be paid out even in the event of suicide.

"The Crown does not have to prove a motive for the accused's actions, but in this instance there were 1.4 million reasons why the accused intentionally assisted his wife," Prosecutor Lehane said.

"The Crown also says he clearly looked to conceal his involvement to police and to Jennifer's sister and her close friends."


Notes

1. Archives of Manitoba, Microfilm rolls M398 and M399.

2. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 162. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700.

3. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 162. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700.

4. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 162. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700.

5. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 194. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700. Baptized an infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Logan at Airy Mount named Nathaniel born 5 April last.

6. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 202. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700. Baptized an infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Logan of Airy Mount named Catherine born 13 March last.

7. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 216. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700. Baptized at Air Mount the infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Logan named Isabella. Sponsors Martin McEachern, Esq. and by proxy Mrs. McLeod and Mrs. Fraser.

8. Parish Register, St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, Vol. 1, p. 227. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Microfilm #1291700. Baptized at Airy Mount the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Logan named Robert, born [blank] Sponsors Lewis Cuthbert, Martin McEachern, Esq. and Mrs. Logan.

9. Slebech Papers. National Library of Wales, Reel 2, #8951.

10. Slebech Papers. National Library of Wales, Reel 2, #8952.

11. Slebech Papers. National Library of Wales, Reel 10, #9240.

12. Slebech Papers. National Library of Wales, Reel 10, #9241.

14. F. Turner, Egham, Surrey: A History of the Parish under Church and Crown. Egham: Box & Gilham, 1926, p. 143 - 144. Transcription from Barry Wintour, Curator to the S. A. Oliver Collection, University of London Library Depository at Egham, Surry, England, e-mail message to author 30 September 2005.

15. National Archives, Public Record Office, England, Catalogue Reference Prob. 11/1719.

16. National Archives, Public Record Office, England, Catalogue Reference Prob. 11/1719.

17. The use of the word &ldquonatural&rdquo suggests that Robert was born out of wedlock, which indeed his baptismal record reflects.

18. National Archives, Public Record Office, England, Catalogue Reference Prob. 11/1719.

19. Archives of Manitoba, Microfilm rolls M398, #219.

20. R. R. McIan, The Clans of the Scottish Highlands. Hong Kong: Webb & Bower (Publications) Ltd., 1980, p. 74 - 76.

21. Druimdeurfit was originally called Druim-na-clavan, but as a result of a tragic battle the name was changed. &ldquoLittle indeed is known of the Logans as a Highland clan, but that little is tragic enough - so tragic as to have brought about the change of the name Druim-naclavan, the height on which the stronghold of the chiefs was built, to Druim-an-deur, the &lsquoRidge of Tears.&rsquo&hellip It was as a result of this battle that the name of Druim-na-clavan, the seat of the chief, was changed to Druim-an-deur, the Druimdeurfait of the present day.&rdquo (George Eyre-Todd, The Highland Clans of Scotland. London: Heath Crawton, 1923, Vol. 1, p. 200 - 201. )

22. National Archives of Scotland, GD23/4/102. &ldquoDischarge by Robert Ross, collector deputy of the crown rent of Ross, to John McKenzie of Highfield of £151 7s 4d Scots as price of victuals and mails due from said John&rsquos lands of Drumderfit [Drumderfit, Knockbain pa.,co. Ross], crop 1720.&rdquo

23. Edinburgh Weekly Journal (Edinburgh, Midlothian Co., Scotland), 22 May 1805, p. 168.

24. Alexander Gillies, Monumental Inscriptions Kilmuir Burial Ground, Black Isle. Inverness: Highland Family History Society, p. 10.


Controversy

Mr Unkles says Ms Roxon needs to set aside her campaign for plain packaging for cigarettes and take up the case.

"The descendants of these men want this case finished this year. It's 110 years since Morant and Handcock were executed and George Witton sentenced to life imprisonment," he said.

"The Australian people and the descendants expect this case to be completed after a lot of controversy."

Mr Unkles says he has spoken to Ms Roxon's department and requested an interview with her.

He says he thinks that senior advisers in her department are convinced mistakes were made in the original cases of Morant, Handcock and Whitton.

"But I want to push this on now. It was an unfortunate delay with Robert McClelland's replacement," he said.

"It was disappointing and it came at the wrong time. The descendants were very disappointed."

Mr Unkles says he does not want the case to become a political issue.

"I've always tackled this case purely on legal issues. It should remain as a legal issue," he said.

"Nicola Roxon is the Commonwealth's most senior legal officer. Politics shouldn't come into it. The Government will be able to quietly sit back and say after 110 years, 'justice has finally been delivered'."

Mr Unkles says it is time the British government swallowed its pride and admitted mistakes were made.


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