Old MoppyGiven Name:
Moppe, Moppy the chiefDate of Birth
Late 1790sPlace of Birth
Indigenous AustralianDate of Death
‘Old Moppy’ was also known as Moppé, ‘Moppy the chief’. Some sources confuse or blend Old Moppy with his son, who was also called Moppy but better known as Multuggerah. The nickname applied to the hair of both individuals (more information on Multuggerah can be found in the 'Biographies' section of this website).
Old Moppy was born in the late 1790s. He probably emerged as a leader in the early 1830s. In 1837, he led an inter-tribal fight against coastal groups at Taringa. With his allies from the Scenic Rim, he mustered over 700 warriors for the battle. At that time, he was around 40 years old, over seven foot tall and heavily muscled.
In winter of 1840, Old Moppy visited Ltnt Owen Gorman in Brisbane and was given a breastplate naming him ‘King of Upper Brisbane’. He later had this returned. Soon after, Ltnt Gorman visited Old Moppy at his main camp near Gatton during an exploratory expedition. The assistance of Old Moppy and his sons enabled Gorman to conduct the earliest exploration of the region between Ipswich and Toowoomba, and locate a suitable pass over the Great Divide to the Darling Downs (namely Gorman’s Gap).
Earlier, Gorman had promised to help find and punish the whites who had shot at Old Moppy’s people. When Gorman failed to honour his promise by punishing the offenders, Old Moppy led some 300 to 500 warriors in attacking the runs of Upper Brisbane, effectively retaking the settled land and displacing the settlers.
Soon after, on account of the destruction of the main camp at Grantham in his people’s absence (all hut sheets were stolen, dogs killed etc), Old Moppy began holding runs in Tent Hill and Grantham under siege. He also organised stone pens in which his warriors tried to muster sheep. All flocks of sheep had to be temporarily removed from the valley due to Moppy’s raids.
In retribution, some 14 Europeans under James ‘Cocky’ Rogers – the supervisor – undertook a dawn raid on the Grantham camp. In this affray, two of the Europeans were severely wounded and Wooinambi - who is thought to have been Old Moppy’s son - was killed.
The incident resulted in Ltnt Gorman leading an inquiry, including an expedition during which ‘Cocky’ Rogers was temporarily arrested. The arrest infuriated Rogers, who later threatened Gorman for his action. Rogers also then conducted a surprise attack on Old Moppy at Blackfellows Creek (Tent Hill) whilst Old Moppy was fishing. This seems to have been late in 1841. According to George Thorn (the first Ipswich settler), ‘Blackfellows Creek’ was in fact named by locals after the death of Old Moppy at this location. The action was widely decried in later reports as a cowardly act. Lands Commissioner Dr Simpson noted that “Moppy’s sons” were incited to step up their attacks on account of his death.
If you have further information on the life of this person please contact the Harry Gentle Resource Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Prepared by Dr Ray Kerkhove and Amanda Spinks
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24 May 1850 p. 4
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26 Jan 1860 p. 2
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Papers and pamphlets
Wild White Men in Queensland
Cilento, R & Clem L Lack
Paper Read to the Royal Historical Society of Queensland
Indigenous Historical Context of Toowomba Bypass: Lockyer Valley & Helidon with special attention to events surrounding the ‘Battle of One Tree Hill’ - A Report for Jagera Daran