Thomas Walker Coke, also known as Dicky Bennelong, was the son of “the renowned Bennelong.” When the Reverend Mr. Walker first came to the Colony, he adopted “the poor, friendless black boy as his own son, in the benign view not only of feeding and cloathing [sic] him but also to instil into his mind the saving principles of Christianity.”
A newspaper article dated 27 September 1822 reports that he was “publicly baptized [sic]” in the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Macquarie Street, Parramatta on 8 September 1822 by the Reverend Wm. Walker, Wesleyan Missionary to the Aborigines of this Colony.” A sermon was preached on the occasion “Can man forbid water, that those should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” The report continues, noting that “The Rev. Gentleman took occasion to enlarge on the character of his young disciple; and his remarks, which were judiciously guarded, pleasingly shewed [sic] how qualified the young person was, to be initiated into the visible Church of Christ. The aboriginal displayed considerable feeling during the ceremony, and wept much. Many of his brethren were present on the occasion. The congregation was unusually large, were very attentive, and appeared highly interested.”
Apparently at his baptism he had been “honoured with the distinguished and humanizing name of the immortal Dr. Coke.” His aboriginal name, however, is not recorded in either of the articles.
A few weeks after his baptism, Thomas Coke married Maria (who would later be known as Maria Lock), “a native girl, who had been some considerable time previous maternally treated in the family of Mrs. Hassall, of Parramatta.”
However, the “young disciple,” Thomas Coke soon appeared in the St. John’s burial records. Just over four months after his baptism Coke died “after a rather short illness” at the Wesleyan Aboriginal Mission House on 31 January 1823 at the given age of 19 and was buried at St. John’s by Joseph Kenyon on 1 February 1823. The burial record notes “a Black native Christened.” Curiously, the burial record also appears to mention a convict ship named Lord Sidmouth close to his name.
“Up to the period of his death [Thomas] gave satisfactory evidence of his acceptance with his Maker, leaving his Pastor a firm hope of his eternal happiness. He ever seemed greatly interested in the present uneviable condition of his hapless race, and often fervently prayed that their case should never be allowed to droop.”
- Dicky Bennelong / Baneelon
- Thomas Walker Coke (named after Dr. Thomas Coke)
- Son of Woollarawarre Bennelong
- Adopted son of Reverend William Walker
- Spouse of Maria Lock