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The Last Tasmanian
1869, 26 June
The Lancet, No.2391, June 26, 1869, p.882.
THE LAST TASMANIAN.
The public mind of Hobart Town has been greatly disturbed by an unseemly squabble consequent on the death of "King Billy," the last aboriginal Tasmanian. It seems that none of the museums of the colony contain a complete male aboriginal skeleton; and hence King Billy's remains have been fought for in the deadhouse and in the graveyard, and have since been fought about, still more fiercely, in the columns of the local papers. Mr. Crowther, a surgeon of Hobart Town, and the recent recipient of a medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, wished to secure the precious skeleton for the museum in Lincoln's-inn-fields. The Government, on the other hand, was in favour of securing the skeleton for the museum of the (colonial) Royal Society; and Dr. Stokell, the house-surgeon to the hospital in which the death took place, received strict orders to preserve the remains from mutilation. Someone, however (and suspicion points to Mr. Crowther), succeeded in gaining access to the deadhouse, and removed the skull, sewing up within the soft parts another skull in place of it. Next, in the interests of the colonial museum, the hands and feet were removed; and, finally, the body, after a public funeral, was exhumed at night under the direction of Dr. Stokell. The skull is still missing, and Mr. Crowther, who is a member of the upper house of the Tasmanian legislature, has been suspended from his duties as surgeon to the hospital. The newspapers are full of letters of acrimonious recrimination, and the editors find in the subject a text for leaders in the largest type. We can only hope that the disjecta membra may in time be united in some fitting resting-place, and that the discreditable incidents of the contest may be speedily forgotten.