This necklace of king maireener shells on two-stranded linen thread was probably given to James Peppiatt, the proprietor of the Old Brisbane Hotel in Launceston, by its maker Lucy Beeton. She was the daughter of Thomas (John) Beeton and Emmerenna (Tralwoolway Clan)

Necklace & caption from The First Tasmanians: Our story gallery at the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery.

From “Visit To The Islands In Bass Straits, With An Account Of What I Saw And Heard”:

BADGER ISLAND. This island is distant from Clarke’s Island about twenty miles. We had a strong south-east breeze which sent us down in a few hours. Soon as we reached the boat harbour a dingy came off and landed the passengers two at a time. I was not slow in paying my respects to the half- caste lady Miss Lucy Beeton–“The Queen of the Isles,” as this lady is styled, and the present owner of the island. Miss Beeton received me with many expressions of welcome. After resting a while and partaking of some refreshments, our party were introduced to the overseer Mr. John Summers, who kindly showed us round the homestead.

The cottage which is built of wood and closely thatched with grass, which is said to be far before shingle roofs, as it is warmer in winter and cooler in summer stands some little distance from the beach, in a sort of avenue of she-oak trees, whose foliage was very striking. A neat flower garden, of which Miss Beeton was very proud, was stocked with a variety of plants, such as nasturtiums, sun flowers, geraniums, cauliflowers, shalots, fuchsias, carrots, cabbages silver beet, etc, while strawberries, gooseberries, and apples had not been omitted.

Shearing operations were in full swing, and a party of neighbours had arrived to assist Mr. Summers in the work. The fleeces when removed were folded and packed in bales with the assistance of a spade, care being taken to turn the sides well under with the foot. This process of pressing wool was general at all the settlements in the Straits. Badger Island is pretty well grassed, and has plenty of she-oak and scrub upon it, but good water is scarce. Pigface grows luxuriantly all over the place, also sarsaparilla, which might be turned to good account. The island contains somewhere about 1800 acres, 101 acres of which Miss Lucy Beeton has purchased; she pays £25 a year for the balance. It is centrally situated, and is altogether a very pleasant place. It derives its name from a vessel wrecked there many years ago. Good shooting, in the shape of quail, wild pigeon, ducks, and wallaby, is plentiful enough. Some of the half-caste youngsters often knock over a quail with a stone aimed at it. Snakes “reside” here, but are considered harmless enough if not molested. Mutton-birds do not build here, although only distant a mile or so from Chappell Island, the chief mutton-bird island of the Straits. It is said that mutton-birds avoid as much as possible all wooded places, and where scrubby they make their nests as much as pos ible in the open or cleared ground.

On my return to the cottage Miss Beeton introduced me to her relatives and friends, and gave orders to prepare a “make haste” dinner for self and fellow passengers ; so while the dinner was getting ready, and to while away the time, I played some sacred tunes upon a well-toned harmonium, and accompanied some ladies while they sang “Gathering shells upon the seashore” and other hymns. One might almost fancy himself sitting listening to a well-trained choir on the main, instead of in a lonely part of the Straits with only half-castes as singers. After the music, I introduced a few simple sleight of hand tricks which I learnt from Harry Seymour, such as passing half-a crown from the back of the hand into the centre of a potato, and astonished the natives beyond everything when I made believe to bring limpets, alive oh ; out of their wooly heads. I don’t believe one of them ever saw anything so wonderful in all their lives before.
Launceston Examiner, 31 March 1883

The Mercury, 12 July 1886

Elsewhere on the web:
Meet the Queen Of The Isles (ABC Radio)
Australian Dictionary of Biography
Australian Women’s Register
Lucy Beeton Aboriginal Teacher Scholarship (University of Tasmania)

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