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Cameron, Bessy (c. 1851 - 1895)

Born
c. 1851
Nyungar country, Western Australia, Australia
Died
12 January 1895
Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Aboriginal teacher

Summary

Bessy Cameron was educated at a 'native institution' (later known as Annesfield) at Albany, opened in 1852 by Anne Camfield, a teacher and governess. Bessy took her certificate of Proficiency with honours, and was sent to Sydney to attend a 'model school', where she became an accomplished pianist. In 1866 she returned to Albany to help Mrs Camfield in the school and was employed as church organist. In 1867 Bessy was sent to the Moravian Ramahyuck mission as a teacher. Not being able to marry a European man of her choice, she was transferred to Lake Tyers, were she married Donald Cameron, a Jupagilwournditch man from Ebenezer in 1868. Bessy lost her initiative and enthusiasm, which was reflected in a marked deterioration in her status. Her married years were spent moving from Ramahyuck to Lake Tyers and back, in a struggle to support her four surviving children. Her marriage deteriorated, and in 1887 Bessy fell seriously ill following another miscarriage. The rest of her life was spent battling to prevent the forceful removal of her children and grandchildren.

Sources used to compile this entry: Radi, Heather, 'Bessy Cameron', in Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian women : a Redress anthology, Women's Redress Press, Broadway, N.S.W., [1988], pp. 58-59; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.

Leonarda Kovacic

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