William Lanne(y)


William Lanne with Truganini and Bessy Clarke, 1860 (AOT, PH30/1/3645)

William Lanne(y) (1835?69), Tasmanian Aborigine, was one of John Lanne and Nabrunga's six children. Displaced from their traditional lands, the family migrated into the north-west only to be captured in 1842.1 and taken to Wybalenna. Both parents died and William was sent to the Orphan School in Hobart, then apprenticed to whaling ships. He formed a close relationship with Truganini and took an active interest in the Aborigines at Oyster Cove, complaining to the Colonial Secretary about their inadequate rations.2 On leave from his ship Runneymede in 1869, William became ill in Hobart and died. He was reputed to be the last full blood male Tasmanian Aborigine, and his body became the focus of an unseemly battle between the Royal Society and Dr WL Crowther, leading to an unauthorised exhumation of the body and the theft of remains.3

Ian McFarlane

1. Letter from Gibson to Colonial Secretary, 8 December 1842, AOT VDLC Microfilm Reel 20 Local Letters.
2. L Ryan, The Aboriginal Tasmanians (2nd ed), St Leonards, 1996, p 214.
3. C Turnbull, Black War, Melbourne, 1965, p 235.