Woman Noble, Angelina (c. 1879 - 1964)

c. 1879
Queensland, Australia
Yarrabah, Queensland, Australia

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Angelina Noble was born in a Queensland Indigenous community around 1879. Abducted as a child she was disguised as a boy and working for a horse dealer when she was noticed by Queensland police and taken to Yarrabah mission outside Cairns. She thrived at the mission school and by 1904 had married Indigenous lay reader James Noble.

Although Angelina's subsequent career tends to be subsumed by that of her husband, her considerable skills were evident in the supporting role she played as he helped the Rev Ernest Gribble to establish a series of missions across Northern Australia. In 1904 the couple travelled together to choose a site for the Mitchell River mission, and from 1908 to 1910 pioneered a mission on the Roper River. In 1914 they were sent to revive the Forrest River mission where they remained until 1932. For the first three years Angelina was the only female missionary on the station. She treated the sick, taught in the mission school, acted as both baker and cook and on occasions overlanded cattle. The Aboriginal women on the mission knew her as 'Mamma'. At the commission of inquiry established in 1927 to investigate the Forrest River massacre, Angelina, fluent in at least five Aboriginal languages, acted as interpreter.

The Nobles returned to Yarrabah in 1932. Apart from a short period at Palm Island, they were to remain there for the rest of their life. Angelina died in 1964, having been a widow for 23 years. The couple's six children survived them.

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