A Very Fine Child

Meet Warrulan, the boy from South Australia who met Queen Victoria.

During the mid-1800s, Edward Eyre operated as a missionary and ‘Protector of the Aborigines’ at Moorundie in South Australia. Eyre understood his role to be the “civilisation and improvement” of Australia’s indigenous peoples and in 1844 returned to England with two young Aboriginal boys, Warrulan and Kour.

Upon arrival in London, the boys were introduced to Eyre’s religious and scientific colleagues and on 26 January 1846 they visited Buckingham Palace. After meeting Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Colonial Secretary William Gladstone, Warrulan and Kour were said to be disappointed by the lack of pomp and ceremony on display.

During 1847 Warrulan came under the patronage of philanthropist and anthropologist Thomas Hodgkin. He was sent to agricultural college in Sibford, Oxfordshire, and was their first ever black student. After a three year apprenticeship in Banbury, Edward (as he was now known) joined J. Middlemore, a leather firm in Birmingham.

Following a summer holiday in 1855, Edward became ill and developed pneumonia. Tragically he died in Birmingham on 23 October and was buried in an unmarked public grave in Section F of Warstone Lane Cemetery. He was just 19 years of age.