Breaker Morant

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Breaker Morant : biography

9 December 1864 – 27 February 1902

The results of enquiries made in 1902 by both The Northern Miner and The Bulletin newspapers identified him as Edwin Henry Murrant who had arrived at Townsville in Queensland on the SS Waroonga in 1883.Carnegie, Margaret; Shields, Frank. In Search of Breaker Morant – Balladist and Bushveldt Carbineer 1979 ISBN 0-9596365-2-8 Murrant was born at Bridgwater in Somerset, England in December 1864, the son of Edwin Murrant and Catherine (née Riely).Online records show that the birth of an Edwin Henry Murrant was registered in Bridgwater in January–March 1865, the family could have delayed registration by a few weeks. No male birth with the surname Morant was registered anywhere in south-west England (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset) in 1860-69. Edwin and Catherine were Master and Matron of the Union Workhouse at Bridgewater and after Edwin died in August 1864, four months before the birth of his son, Catherine continued her employment as Matron until her retirement in 1882.The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, 16 February 1882, page 6 She died in 1899 when Morant was in Adelaide, South Australia, preparing to leave for South Africa.

Morant settled in outback Queensland, and over the next 15 years, working in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, the charismatic roustabout made a name for himself as a hard-drinking, womanising bush poet and gained renown as a fearless and expert horseman. Harry Breaker Morant was one of the few horsemen who managed to ride the notorious buckjumper, Dargin’s Grey, in a battle that became a roughriding legend.

Morant worked in a variety of occupations; he reportedly traded in horses in Charters Towers, then worked for a time on a newspaper at Hughenden in 1884, but there are suggestions that he left both towns as a result of debts. He then drifted around for some time until he found work as a bookkeeper and storeman on the Esmaralda cattle station.

On 13 March 1884, Morant married Daisy May O’Dwyer, who later became famous in Australia as the anthropologist Daisy Bates, but the couple separated soon after and never formally divorced; Daisy reportedly threw him out after he failed to pay for the wedding and then stole some pigs and a saddle. He then worked for several years as an itinerant drover and horse-breaker, as well as writing his popular bush ballads, becoming friendly with famed Australian poets Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and William Ogilvie.

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