Cissy McLeod

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Cissy McLeod and Mrs Mugg
Cissy McLeod receiving her medal for bravery at Palmerston Town Hall in 1913.

Cissy McLeod sometimes spelt Cissie McLeod (c.20 July 1896[a] – 6 February 1928) was the first Indigenous Australian woman to receive a bronze medal from the Royal Humane Society for her act of bravery when saving her adoptive mother in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Early life[edit]

McLeod was born in Borroloola, the daughter of Polly and Arthur McLeod.[2] She had one sister, Clara.[3] McLeod was adopted by Captain Frederick Mugg, of the Government Steamer in Darwin, and his wife Mrs Mary Mugg.[4] She attended the Convent school in Darwin.[5]

Act of bravery[edit]

On 9 January 1912, McLeod, who was 13 at the time,[6] saved her adoptive mother Mary, who, on a dark night, fell off a jetty and disappeared into the waters of Darwin Harbour. Against the strong tide, McLeod jumped in the water and brought Mugg, who was unable to swim, to a pillar where she kept her afloat until they received assistance from a steamer SS Suffolk[b] that was moored at the pier.[8][9][10][11]

The incident was brought to the attention of the Minister of External Affairs, who notified the Royal Humane Society.[12][13][14] She was then awarded a bronze medal by the for her bravery on 12 September 1913 in front of a crowd of more than 100 people.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] At the ceremony it was stated that "it was no light thing for this child without a moment's hesitation, into the darkness of the night, to leap down into a sea known to be alive with sharks and alligators, to help one she loved."[5]

McLeod worked as a teacher and organist at the Methodist Sunday School and at the Kahlin Compound,[22] before moving to Singapore with her sister Clara and the Muggs. She then visited England and France, where she contracted tuberculosis and died on 6 February 1928, aged 31. She was buried at Sutton in Surrey.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ McLeod's exact birth date is contentious. Her birth date is recorded as 20 July 1896 in South Australian records (the Northern Territory was part of South Australia at the time).[1] She was reported as being 13 years old at the time of her act of bravery in 1912 and 31 at the age of her death in 1928.
  2. ^ Other sources state the assisting vessel was the Guthrie.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "South Australian people : A collection of 755,000 people in South Australia". RootsWeb. Ancestry.com. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "MISS CISSIE McLEOD PASSES". Northern Territory Times. 13 April 1928. p. 13. Retrieved 8 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  3. ^ "TEACHING THE YOUNG IDEA". Northern Standard (86). Northern Territory. 22 September 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ "A DUSKY HEROINE". The Advertiser. LVI (17,117). Adelaide. 26 August 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ a b "THE PERFECT WOMAN". Northern Territory Times and Gazette. XXXVIII (2080). 18 September 1913. p. 7. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "NT Hero". NT News. Saturday Extra. 14 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "NEWS & NOTES". Northern Territory Times and Gazette. XXXVII (1992). 12 January 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 17 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "Women's News & Views". Port Adelaide News. 15 (18). South Australia. 16 December 1927. p. 3. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "A COLOURED GIRL". The Register. LXXVIII (20,855). Adelaide. 13 September 1913. p. 17. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "HALF-CASTE GIRL'S BRAVERY REWARDED". Geelong Advertiser (20,718). Victoria. 13 September 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  11. ^ "PLUCKY HALF-CASTE GIRL". The Maitland Weekly Mercury (1029). New South Wales. 20 September 1913. p. 14. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ "Victoria". The Chronicle. LV (2,841). Adelaide. 1 February 1913. p. 41. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  13. ^ "Child's Plucky Act". Albany Advertiser. XXIV (3122). Western Australia. 25 January 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  14. ^ "PERSONAL". The Australasian. XCV (2,474). Victoria, Australia. 30 August 1913. p. 35. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  15. ^ "INTERSTATE". The Bendigo Independent (13,310). Victoria. 13 September 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  16. ^ "Ceremony". Territory Stories. Northern Territory Library. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  17. ^ "Remembering a hero called "Neighbour"". Northern Land Council. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  18. ^ "A DUSKY HEROINE". The Chronicle. LVI (2,871). Adelaide. 30 August 1913. p. 40. Retrieved 5 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  19. ^ "AN ABORIGINAL HEROINE". Truth (1153). Sydney. 31 August 1913. p. 6. Retrieved 5 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  20. ^ "NEWS & NOTES". Northern Territory Times and Gazette. XXXVIII (2071). 17 July 1913. p. 2. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  21. ^ "DEEDS THAT WON RECOGNITION". The Advertiser. LVI (17,079). Adelaide. 12 July 1913. p. 21. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  22. ^ "RAMBLES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY". The Methodist. XXIV (51). New South Wales. 18 December 1915. p. 4. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia.