Collection Highlight: Bully Haye's Necklace

Article | Updated 2 weeks ago

Dishonesty, bigamy, blackbirding, and murder.

There is a fascinating, and sometimes dark, story behind every object in our collections.

Caption: Necklace, 1857 - H1990.269
Credit: WA Museum 

This necklace is one of the incredible items from our History Collection. It was given by the pirate Bully Hayes to his fiancée Miss Scott, the Fremantle Harbour Master’s daughter.

The necklace appears to have been formed from two separate necklaces, one of carved ivory, the other gold. The original was possibly altered in the 1880s, influenced by the Aesthetic Movement.

Bully Hayes arrived in the Swan River colony early in 1857 as captain of the C.W. Bradley Junior, which was full of stolen cargo from Batavia.

Hayes managed to ingratiate himself with the elite in Perth and Fremantle society who were unaware of his dubious past. He was soon betrothed to Miss Scott. He converted his cargo carrying barque to a passenger ship and began transporting emigrants from Fremantle to Adelaide where he met and wooed a young widow, Amelia Littleton.

By the time of his return to Fremantle in May, news of the captain’s flight from Batavia had arrived in the colony. He managed to gain permission to transport yet another shipload of emigrants, but on berthing in Adelaide his vessel was seized, auctioned to pay debt, and Hayes forsook his Fremantle fiancé to marry Amelia.

For the next twenty years Bully Hayes followed a life of dishonesty, bigamy and blackbirding until his murder at sea by Dutch Pete aboard the Lotus on 31 March 1877.

Miss Scott’s keepsake was passed on through family generations before being gifted to the WA Museum in 1990.


You can find more incredible objects by visiting our History Department's collection highlights or by diving into our online collections.

If you are after more notorious nautical tales, check out our latest blockbuster exhibition Horrible Histories — Pirates: The Exhibiiton.

"The recruitment of Melanesians for work on cotton and sugar plantations in Fiji, Samoa and Australia. Some 60,000 Pacific Islanders came to Queensland between 1863 and 1904, most voluntarily, but many after being tricked or coerced. The questionable practices of blackbirders and the mortality rates of the Islanders led to a Royal Commission in 1885. Stricter regulations were introduced and the trade ceased in 1890. It resumed again in 1892 before finally ending in 1904."
- The Australian Oxford Dictionary

"The former name (until 1949) for Jakarta."
- The Australian Oxford Dictionary

"A literary and artistic movement which flourished in England in the 1880s, devoted to 'art for art's sake', and rejecting the notion that art should have a social or moral purpose."
- The Australian Oxford Dictionary