Michael Howe and Thomas Davenport

In the months before his death in October 1818, Michael was accused of murdering Mr Stanfield’s assigned servant Thomas Davenport, while the man was in the highlands hunting kangaroos. On the third day of the trip, his dogs returned home without him and a search was conducted but returned no success. During a meeting with Warburton, a man Michael received provisions from, he told him Davenport had been killed by natives, but of course this wasn’t believed, and indeed was further refuted by Wells, who stated everything Michael said for himself should be “disregarded”. Despite these two men’s inability to believe Michael, the outlaw never once wantonly murdered in his life and in fact, he himself had almost been killed by aboriginal tribesmen on a number of occasions, as referenced in his journal. Furthermore, if Michael had been the one to murder Davenport, why did he let his dogs go? Hunting dogs were invaluable to him and had been throughout his outlawry. They acted as a warning against lurking soldiers and provided Michael with a surplus of kangaroo hide and meat. What is most likely, is that he came across the dead, or dying man, while moving through the highlands, with the protruding spears a tell-tale sign of how he had been maimed. This belief is further evidenced by Dr Ross who lived in the highlands during the 1820’s, and who was also the first person to find Michael’s hut by the Shannon river. While at his house, a stockman staggered into his hut, bleeding profusely, with spears pierced through his skin. The man managed to survive, but such an incident serves as a reminder that Michael was no way to blame for Thomas Davenport’s death.

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