Bennelong was a member of the Wangal clan, connected with the south side of Parramatta River, having close ties with the Wallumedegal clan, on the west side of the river, and the Burramattagal clan near today's Parramatta. He had several sisters, including Warreeweer and Carangarang, who married important men from nearby clans, thereby creating political links for their brother . Bennelong had a daughter named Dilboong who died in infancy, and a son who was adopted by Rev .
Capture and life in the British settlement
Bennelong was brought to the settlement at Sydney Cove in November 1789 by order of the governor, Arthur Phillip, who was under instructions from King George III to establish relationships with the indigenous populations . At that time the Eora conscientiously avoided contact with the newcomers, and in desperation Phillip resorted to kidnap. A man named Arabanoo was captured, but he, like many other Aboriginal people near the settlement, died in a smallpox epidemic a few months later in May 1789. Bennelong (married at the time to Barangaroo) was captured with Colbee (married to Daringa) in November 1789 as part of Phillip's plan to learn the language and customs of the local people. His age, at the time of his capture, was estimated at 25, and he was described as being 'of good stature, stoutly made', with a 'bold, intrepid countenance'.