Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Life on the diggins (mainly trials)

(A) Miscellaneous(B) Grog(C) Gambling(D) Racial Tensions(E) The Postal Service

A. Miscellaneous;

Victoria Colonist 11 August 1851, 2/2-3:

CLUNES GOLD DIGGINGS.

To the great consternation of the diggers, Capt. Dana took yesterday a census of all persons on the field.... Some difficulty was experienced in this return, as the people supposed that it was done with the view of issuing licenses and imposing a toll. I can however state on an undoubted authority, that it is not the intention of the Government to adopt any such measure, at any rate for the present. Mr. Wright and Captain Dana have sent a joint report to head-quarters, in which they state that the diggers would not be able, under existing circumstances, to pay any tax; indeed the amount would be so trivial as scarcely to be worth collecting.

Geelong Advertiser 26 August 1851, 2/3: [from Geelong Advertiser correspondent A.C. at Buninyong]:

Geelong is going out of town—and coming to Buninyong, bricks and mortar are deserted for tarpaulins, comfort for inconvenience, ease for hardhip, ordinary travail for hard labour, and all is set at naught and succumbs to the desire for gold, gold that is to be rent from the bowels of the earth. Neither rain, or storm, overpowers the desire, the cry is still ‘they come, they come.’ First a party of stragglers trudge through the slough with untiring energy, some few still with ‘swag at back,’ others shouldering guns and forming the advance party, a sort of picquet to the baggage coming on, anon a solitary horseman rides through the township and asks ‘how far is the diggings’ and so all wend to the Caravansery at the foot of ‘Hiscock’s diggings’ and swell the gipsy looking encampment formed there; some sanguine, others desponding according to temperament, but all hastening to the same point, with the same desire and object in view. It is evening, the cradle rests, the dippers and the tin dishes are thrown aside for the night, the horses are turned adrift, and the busy workers have retired to their tents, the line of which may be seen and traced by blazing fires. Tea, beef, biscuit, and damper, all, or some of which forms the evening’s refection, are then partaken of, pipes follow, and a deep slumber ends the eventful day ...."

Argus 20 September 1851, 2/5:

THE BALLARAT DIGGINGS.
(From a Correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser.)

As there are many intending gold diggers it may be advisable to state the requisites imperatively demanded to prosecute such business successfully. First of all, they must be made of gutta percha, impervious to wet, and have the stomach of an ostrich to digest any aliment, or be content with none for an indefinite time; they must have an elastic constitution, adaptive to all circumstances, except comfortable ones—these may be left out of the category for the present. A gold digger must be a Jack of all-trades; he must be able to strip bark, fall [sic] a tree, and saw it, dig sods, make embankments, put up a hut, mend your clothes, draw firewood after chopping it, bake boil and roast, use a pick, and spade, delve, dig, and quarry, load, and unload, draw a sledge, and drive a barrow, cut paths, make roadways, puddle in mud, and splash ankle deep in water, with occasional slushings from head to foot, bear sleet and rain without flinching during the day, and sleep in damp blankets during the night, thankful that they are not entirely saturated—if ye can do all this, and have spirit enough to attempt it, and endurance enough to carry it on for three months, why there is gold and rheumatism in store for you. If you have a strong constitution, it will make you hardy, but many will be spoiled in the experiment. Such are the scenes, that I have witnessed, and endured, and call on others to prepare themselves for the like. Perhaps it would be advisable to get a coating of gutta percha, which was recommended by a philanthropist at home to the starving peasantry of Ireland, in the supposition that waterproofing the external skin would prevent perspiration, and thus preventing the exudation of the animal juices, would supersede the necessity of applying them which would cause a great saving of potatoes—a grand triumph of science during a famine.

The weather is dismally wet and cold. Yesterday closed with a heavy fall of sleet, accompanied with thunder and lightning. The roads [at the diggings] are as bad as though the Town Surveyor [of Geelong] had been effecting improvements here. Were he up at the diggings, I would show him a road that my brother commissioner and self made from our allotment to our water hole, (for we have secured a water privilege from "our hut,") which is as passable as Malop street [in Geelong], and not quite so mountainous as Moorabool-street [also in Geelong]. We commence operations on Friday, and intend to employ the interregnum in finishing our hut, and studying Isaac "Barrow’s" works, and Bogatzki’s Golden Treasury.

It is an axiom that "you must go abroad to get news of what is happening at home," which both Argus and Herald verify. The assault mentioned in the former paper, is incorrect, exaggerated, and mischievous, and the news from the gold field via Bacchus’ Marsh, in the latter, may be catalogued ditto. As to the assault the man was not a gold digger, nor connected with gold diggers, his eye is not cut, or injured in any way, nor has he been robbed of any gold at all. The whole fact is, the man was struck in the poll with a stone, by a small man, who ran away after the mischief was done, so much for that. Secondly.—On the mutton question, it is a gross libel to state that Mr Yuille’s sheep have been stolen. Gold diggers have not time to steal, and no inclination, even if they had time—and, finally, no sheep have been stolen—"Revenons a nos moutons, mon ami." Thirdly.—With regard to the "sad doings" in Buninyong. The statement is a mere chimera—Buninyong is happy and chirping, its peace only disturbed by the influx of "diggers" to weigh their gold, and procure requisite necessaries. Fourthly, and lastly—The speculations on the probable fate of the constable stationed at the diggings, in case of a row, is entirely gratuitous, inasmuch as there is no officer there at all.

Geelong Advertiser 14 October 1851, 2/2-3:

THE DIGGINGS.

We can now speak of the Diggings in the vicinity of Buninyong, from personal inspection; but after the day’s ride down do not feel inclined to be prolix.

The population of male adults is immense, and if there were the usual proportion of women and children, Ballarat would be as populous as the metropolis was when the census was taken. There are, we should say, about a thousand cradles at work, within a mile of the Golden Point, at Ballarat. There are about fifty near the Black Hill, about a mile and a half distant, and at the Brown Bill Diggings there are about three or four hundred more; to say nothing of hundreds on the ground not yet set at work. Allowing five for each cradle, the population within a radius of five miles must be a population of about seven thousand men.

The number of licenses taken out is comparatively small, except at Golden Point. No one thinks of taking out a license, unless his claim is very promising, and he is afraid of interlopers.

The yields of some claims continue to be great. The majority of those who are steadily at work are satisfied with their gains or their prospects, as the case may be. Great numbers go to work with too much eagerness, throwing aside stuff that would well pay for washing. They dig deeply in search of the rich vein, and when they get down fifteen or twenty feet without reaching it, get disgusted, and rush to another spot to enact the same piece of folly.

The conduct of the authorities is very bad—very arbitrary. The government is without system. There are no published regulations. The law of the Commissioner and his subordinates is neither more nor less than Lynch-law, and the miners are advised to resort to the same in their dealing with each other.

There have been, considering the mode of operations, few accidents as yet. One man was killed by the falling in of a bank he was undermining. Another was seriously injured by the falling of a tree. One death from apoplexy occurred. But in such a population so employed deaths must be frequent in future, and a graveyard will be required.

The miners have no confidence in the government escort, and as it is only a day’s journey to Geelong, they prefer carrying the gold themselves. In the New South Wales diggings the case is different, and therefore no correct comparison can be drawn between the reports of the quantities brought by escort.

arrivals from the diggings. Numerous parties arrived in town, from Ballarat yesterday, and the accounts given by persons, some of them of much respectability in the town, in some points are of a conflicting nature, but they all agree in saying that gold is only to be obtained after an immense quantity of labour of so laborious a kind that those unaccustomed to out-door work could not stand it for a period of time—that gold is plentiful enough in places, and that some are lucky, and others very unfortunate,—that those who labour hardest are not always sure to get the prizes, as some who are lucky rather than the hard worker fall in for the gold. We are sorry to add that the report circulated respecting accidents to three persons at the mines is correct—one poor man was killed, and another severely injured by the earth falling on them, another dropped dead, and one was nearly killed by a tree falling on him. We hope, in future, to hear of more caution being exercised by those who dig for gold near trees, to prevent accidents which may occur by their falling on neighbouring diggers.

Back to Top

Geelong Advertiser 11 November 1851, 2/5-7:

MR. TIMOTHY BROWN’S EXPEDITION
TO THE DIGGINGS.
BY GEO. WRIGHT.

OH , Ballarat! oh, Buninyong!
These household words of fair Geelong,
The mention of whose magic names
Have banish’d far more aches and pains,
Hush’d more complaints, and cur’d more ills,
Than all our doctors’ draughts and pills;
For nuggets make old hoary men
Feel themselves hale and young again:
Gout flies in terror from the joint,
At the bare thought of Golden Point.
Inspired afresh they start and stare,
Rush from the cushion’d easy chair;
Not that they care a straw for wealth,
But somehow they believe their health—
(The thing has lately been discover’d)—
Their health can never be recover’d,
Unless they go
A month or so
For change of scene and change of air;
And digging is a thing so rare,
Of every exercise the best,
For op’ning a contracted chest,
Giving the patient’s lungs more room to play,—
In short, it does one good in every way;
So off they go (these invalids) and toil,
Like frighten’d wombats grubbing in the soil.
But I’ve a tale, founded, of course, on facts,
Of "moving accidents" and sad mishaps,
Told in rough couplets of disjointed rhyme;
I would improve it, but I have not time;
The escorts’ list of treasure drives one crazy,
And the hot weather makes me awful lazy.
I wrote it at the diggings, as ’twas told,
And whence I brought rheumatics and a cold,
A dislocated knee, and empty purse,
A thankful heart that matters were no worse.


In Geelong town, that place of renown,
Lived a draper youth named Timothy Brown,
A spruce young buck, and rather tall,
Who won the smiles of the ladies all,
E’en starchy prudes would sometimes stare
At Tim’s white hands and curly hair;
And there was not a knight of the yard in town
But envied the charms of Timothy Brown;
But he heard the tale so often told
Of Ballarat and the sands of gold,
So leaving awhile the ladies’ loves,
Abandoning laces, tapes and gloves,
Threw down his scissors, threw down his stick,
Purchas’d a cradle, a spade and pick,
Rigg’d himself in a shirt of blue,
A leather belt, and pistols too,
And in gear of a digger about the town
Sported his figure did Timothy Brown.
Next slowly along the miry way
Started the team and loaded dray,
’Twas piled with cradles, kettles and pans,
Flour, tea, sugar, biscuit and hams,
Spades, bedding, tubs, crow-bars, and bundles of gear,
Too num’rous and varied for mentioning here.
Now Timothy and his party (four,)
March’d nimbly on to arrive before
At the golden hills, and on the way
Talk’d much of nuggets, quartz and clay,
Of ounces avoirdupois and troy,
And forward gazed with shouts of joy,
When o’er the forest calm and still
Loom’d Buninyong’s round wooded hill.
Hurrah! cried Tim, for Buninyong!
Let’s make straight for it, we can’t be wrong;
And they left the road, so eager were they
To reach the mines by the shortest way:
They travell’d the Bush twelve miles or more;
Poor Timothy limp’d, his feet were sore;
He split his boots to ease his pain,
And often wished he was home again.
He lagg’d behind, and the distance still
Increas’d between them at ev’ry hill;
Yet he rallied to keep his friends in sight,
But among some gullies he lost them quit.
He shouted and coo-ed, but all in vain,
Only laughing echoes replied again,
Evening drew on her dusky veil,
And darkness fell on hill and dale;
From pool to pool, from stone to stone,
Crept hapless Timothy all alone,
Scrambling through scrubs all dark and wild,
Through swamps and rocky ravines toil’d,
Mid shrieking night birds and croaking frogs,
A storm came on him among the bogs.
He heard around dry branches break,
And fearing to get a shattered pate,
Worn with toil and scared with fright
In a hollow burnt stump he passed the night.
Deep moan’d the wind among the trees,
Poor {J}im assailed by ants and fleas,
Curs’d gold with a curse (not loud but deep)
He feared to walk and he could not sleep,
And at dawn of day in a dreary fog
He crawled like a lizard out of the log.
Hungry and cold he travel’d away,
O’er ranges, through gullies, the live long day;
As evening came he reach’d again,
A beaten track upon the plain.
Some lights a-head, his heart grew light,
He hoped at the diggings to sleep that night;
But alas at the end of half an hour
{J}im found himself at O’Meara’s door,
Eleven short miles from Geelong town,
Oh! a dismal figure was Timothy Brown,
His boots and tights were a total wreck,
The rim of his hat hung round his neck.
O’Meara surveyed his form and phiz,
And said a heart more hard than his
Would be softened to pity and melted down,
To sympathy’s oil for poor Timothy Brown,
So the worthy Boniface said {c‘}ome in,
Tho’ minus gold t’would be a sin
To withold [sic] a bed or deny a feed,
To fellow creature in time of need.’
He spread his table with homely fare,
And by the fire side drew a chair,
With a rib of beef when left alone
Make awful havoc did Timothy Brown.
The sun had mounted well the skies,
Ere Tim from slumber open’d his eyes,
Debating the question in his brain,
Whether he’d best go home again,
But resolved once more to start away,
And try to overtake the dray.
But first he sat him down to think
And begging paper, pens and ink,
He scribbled many a tender line
On love and gold, and all in rhyme,
So pat, so quick, words jingling came,
Hearts followed darts—flame followed flame,
Loves and doves, and breeze and trees
Ne’er poet wrote with greater ease—
And then he told how Jones and Snooks,
And that low knave (his rival) Brooks,
Had started with him yesterday,
And in the bush had run away;
Then told how he, in forests wild,
The dreary hours of night beguiled,
By singing to the howling wind
The charms of her he left behind—
He told how and he was at starting
How deep his anguish at the parting,
"But oh! sweet Kate, when next we meet,
I’ll lay my nuggets at thy feet,
And win thy confidence and trust
With glittering gifts of yellow dust."
First rate, thought Tim, that’s nicely done,
I hardly think the rhyme’s my own
He read it thrice down line by line,
And liked it better every time—
This billet he addressed, when done,
(Hope-street, Ashby,) Kate M’l’hun.
So after breakfast he thanked the host,
And gave him the letter to send to post,
And promised moreover the bill to pay
When next he came along that way.
Said O’Meara, "Take no short cuts, d’ye, [sic] hear,
They rarely turn out half so near;
There lies the road, depend upon it;
You’re never safe unless you’re on it.
I’ve taken you in, for I have a doubt
Your mother scarcely knows you’re out.
Look well to your friends, or, perhaps, you may
Be taken in in a different way."
So once again on the way from town
Started our luckless Timothy Brown.
Footsore and sad he hobbled along
The rugged track to Buninyong,
And sturdy trampers askant [sic] did eye
And quiz poor Tim as they trudg’d by.
In Corduroy Creek he found the dray,
Bog’d to the axles, the bullocks astray,
By a burning log to sleep lay down,
Wet, cold and weary, poor Timothy Brown.
Next morning he swallow’d a pot of tea,
And a lump of damper and beef had he,
For the driver came, the team was found,
And the load once more reach’d solid ground.
But, alas! poor Tom got his ancle sprain’d,
And arrived at the Diggings so badly lam’d,
That his friends agreed to give him ease,
Tim should be cook as long as he’d please.
But the dray had not come, so begging they went
Among their friends, from tent to tent.
Three weary days thus passed away,
And on the fourth in came the dray;
The tent was rigged, the bunks were spread,
And Timothy’s maiden damper made,
But his mates at dinner time hungry came,
And each in turn the cook did blame.
Cried one—"This tea is bitter as gall,
The fool has boiled old leaves and all[.]"
Roared another—"To rags this mutton’s boiled;
This damper’s burnt, and the doughboy’s spoiled,"
In brief all matters to rehearse,
Affairs each day grew worse and worse,
Tim had some desperate efforts made,
At wheeling a barrow, and using a spade:
Now plying the pick, now rocking the fradle,
Stirring the puddling, or working the ladle,
But above or below, at work or at play,
Tim found himself always in somebody’s way;
He rue’d [sic] leaving Geelong, and mused how to act,
Most safely and quickly to take himself back,
For fourteen feet below the ground,
Our jolly diggers, no gold had found,
Tim voted the gold fields a perfect hoax,
And tried in vain his friends to coax,
To pay him back a half his share
Of cash advanc’d, to bring them there;
But they would not agree, we would have been glad
Said they, but the hole has turn’d out bad;
So if you don’t like it, of course you may,
Cut the concern, and go your way.
But we shall tarry and try it on,
At least till all the rations are gone.
Well, it don’t suit me, said Tim, I’m sure,
That curs’d crow-bar makes my hands too sore,
And miserably soak’d, all day I’ve stood;
Rocking the fradle, knee deep in mud,
Now mucking at cooking, and slushing all day;
Now delving thro’ dirty rocks and clay;
Besides, I’ve an impression strong—
On principle the thing is wrong.
I’ll do no more such work as that,
For all the gold in Ballarat.
If I can borrow, one pound five,
To-morrow, sure as I’m alive,
I’ll cut my stick, for sweet Geelong,
And on this dirty Buninyong,
It’s [sic] black grim tiers and swampy plain
I trust no more to look again.
Gold digging—bah! Its [sic] all my eye,
And that you’ll say lads, by and bye.
What have we for our fortnight’s toil?
We’ve turn’d up tons on tons of soil,
Gone down thro’ gravel, clay and quartz,
And rocks and earth of other sorts,
And the reward of all our pains,
Is in that pill-box, just five grains,
They own’d Tim’s statement was too true,
The nuggets were but small and few;
But added, since we’ve rations here,
We’ll try again, and persevere;
But as you do not like the job,
We’ll lend you five-and-twenty bob,
Which paid at Jamieson’s will cover,
A passage down, in the Red Rover,
Bravo, says Tim that’s very fair,
Once in Geelong adieu to care;
And when it rains and blows my hearties
I’ll think of your poor digging parties,
Who, shivering under wretched roof
Of canvas semi waterproof,
Are braving tempest cold and wet,
In hopes of gold you’ll never get.
While I at Bray’s or Towle’s or Turpin’s,
Shall have a billet snug I’m certain.
Hear as I fasten up the shutters,
The water rushing thro’ the gutters,
Then tea and toast in parlour warm,
I’ll taste, and never heed the storm,
You’re welcome to your golden joys,
Your Duffs, and Jonny cakes, and Dough Boys,
Your vile Lob Scouse, and milkless teas,
Your endless bacon fry and cheese.
Your dreary nights and weary days,
Your barb’rous semi-savage ways;
Farewell to all your toil and strife,
And welcome quiet cleanly life.
Now, Tim his homeward trip begun,
Just two full hours before the sun,
Had night’s dark drap’ry upward roll’d
And tip’d the hills with radiant gold.
Once more upon the road to town,
Oh! A happier man was Timothy Brown.
But gloomy vagrant thoughts would run,
Toward the cot of Kate McPhun,
Fears his reception might be cold—
Without his promised gifts of gold!
But now arrived again in town
He sought employment up and down,
In vain, and on the second day,
Tim o’er the gully, took his way,
Sweet Katy’s constancy to prove,
And soothe his worrows with her looks of love,
But strange to say tho’ he at Katy’s door
Knocked till he made his knuckles really sore;
Yet no one answer’d tho’ he knew he’d seen
Kate at the door as he came o’er the green.
The postman as he sadly strolled along
Gave him a letter just from Buninyong;
T’was [sic] from Bill Jones commencing thus, Dear Tim,
I’m glad to say the hole that we were in—
When you left here, has just turn’d out first-rate;
As you’ll admit, when here the fact I state;
That speaking within reasonable bounds,
We dug out the next day about twelve pounds,
Or ounces just one hundred forty-four—
And in the hole there’s heaven knows how much more.
Postscript, by Jingo, Tim, I fear your done;
Ned Brooks, is gone to capture Kate McPhun,
I know she loves you, but it may be told,
Your charms, are not so strong as Brook’s [sic] Gold.
Tim thrust his hands into his pockets deep;
And sought a lonely spot to walk and weep,
He rued he’d been to Ballarat at all,
But, that he’d left so soon, was worst of all.

... ... ... ... ...

Oh, ye gold hunter’s [sic] who may see or hear,
Poor Tim’s sad tale as ’tis .......ied here,
Leave not a half dug hole least you refret it,
Nor promise any dust until you get it.
This Tim resolves, and you’ll agree the plan
Proves him a wiser if a sadder man.

Back to Top

Geelong Advertiser 1 December 1851, 2/5-6:

FOREST CREEK DIGGINGS, MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(From the Correspondent of the "Argus.")

November 27th.

There have two children died on the Creek since my last, from dysentery, and boards are so scarce that boxes are bought to make coffins of.

Geelong Advertiser 5 December 1851, 2/2:

BALLARAT DIGGINGS.— A serious outrage occurred on Saturday last at Ballarat. A tent occupied by Mr Patterson of Geelong was entered about eleven o,clock at night by three men, whose faces were disguised by being blackened from the chin upwards to the nostrils. The inmates of the hut were in bed at the time the robbers entered. Patterson was seized by the throat by one of the gang who presented a pistol at him, whilst another searched him. Patterson had sixteen ounces concealed inside his Guernsey, which during the scuffle that ensued he seized a favorable opportunity to slip from him, into a cask containing sugar and some other articles. The thieves decamped taking with them one ounce of gold, a five pound note, an order for one pound, and a brace of pistols. One of the scoundrels finding that he was baulked of his prey, threw a large stone at Patterson as he was sitting on the side of his bed, which he narrowly evaded by stooping down.— Another outrage attended with serious consequences occurred since. Three men who had been boasting of their gains, were waylaid near the swamp, and maltreated to such a degree, that the life of one of them is despaired of, and the other lies grievously wounded.

Geelong Advertiser 18 February 1852, 2/3-4: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent, A.C.]:

FRIAR’S CREEK.

Two meetings have been held in the Golden Gully to devise the best means for protecting the holes at night, which has resulted in the appointment of night watchmen armed, who are drafted from the respective parties in the locality for that service. The diggers are now convinced that to themselves they must look for protection, and without such precaution as above stated, there is no safety for property at all against the hordes of thieves infesting the diggings, who have and still do set law, order, and decency at defiance. For the protection of the honest man there is not the shadow of authority; he is driven back to first principles, and is obliged to repel brute attack by brute force. Society ere long will be resolved into its primitive elements, and thieves and honest men be warring like hostile tribes. Men are becoming accustomed to acts of violence, that but a few months ago they would have shuddered to contemplate. Pistols and guns are now familiar weapons, handled with the greatest nonchalance, charged and placed conveniently for use within arm’s reach of the sleeping man to be used as emergency may require, and as many guns are discharged preparatory to reloading every nightfall, as would provide arms for a small army. Use is everything, and hence a pistol is as common as an extinguisher was wont to be, and like an extinguisher is the last thing handled before turning in. Not a night passes without disturbance and robberies. Grog shops vomit out their besotted occupants brimful of blasphemies and obscenity, the staggering drunkard is watched, waylaid, robbed and maltreated; the proceeds ill-gotten are ill-spent, gambling precedes thieving, tossing up coppers for pound notes leads to fighting, and that to robbing again, and so the round of vice circles continually. Thieves are linked together in strong concert for evil; honest men are disunited and become their prey[;] and the government stands by listless as a disinterested spectator, having no community of feeling with either party and reckless whether vice or virtue gained the predominancy. True, when urged by some extraordinary outrage, if any outrage can be extraordinary where the whole gamut of crime has been run down, the government officers will burn down a tent and destroy the spirits, but a remedy to the present state of affairs must not be sought in a bonfire or the destruction of a gallon or two of rum[:] the disease is too dangerous, and deeply rooted to be eradicated by sacking a tent or firing a case of gin.

The government has deserted its people. It may be asked in excuse for its lethargy what can it do in the present juncture of affairs? Can you point out any remedy, any mode of action that it can follow,—if not, why grumble? To these queries it may be replied with justice, that a government which cannot provide for an emergency, but is only equal to the common jog-trot pace of every day circumstances, is a government only in name, and fails in the very essential requisite of its constitution, wanting which it is worthless—a mere mumbo jumbo of shreds and patches, and no more. What avail excuses when life and property is unsafe? The doctrine of I can’t help it, never saved an individual, nor will it serve a government. "Laisser aller" is the motto of a sluggard; a regime of this kind might suit a nation of Sloths; but where enterprise is rife and crime culminating, the reins of government may be snatched from a sleepy "Rip Van Winkle" of a driver, and assumed by some one more capable of managing the restive teams. If the government sleep much longer—but that cannot be except the gold has mesmerised them, and if I mistake not Dr Elliotson believes it to possess that power, and if so there will be a second edition of the "Seven Sleepers of Christendom," and there is "no help in them."

On Thursday, another seizure of spirits was made on Friar’s Creek, four men were taken and handcuffed, two were afterwards released, one was detained on a previous charge of rescuing a prisoner, and the fourth man seeing the police busily occupied, very coolly walked away towards some tents at the base of a high range, up which he started with the handcuffs still upon him, and made his escape without being observed by the vigilant officers. The same evening a party of police paid a visit to another tent suspected of being a sly-grog selling establishment, which was searched, but nothing was found to implicate the parties residing there. A crowd had collected, the police were jeered at for their ill success; one of the police asked for some water, which the occupant of the tent refused to give him, some wrangling ensued, the crowd increased, and amongst others was a young man named George Stratford.

Argus 16 March 1852, 2/3: [EDITORIAL: on the purported prevalence of lynch law at the diggings]:

THE DIGGINGS.

For the last few weeks there have been endless discussions, reports, and counter-reports, as to the real state of affairs at Mount Alexander. Rumours of the most frightful outrages have been met by statements that there is less crime at the gold fields than there is in the towns. One day furnishes a report of the diggers having been at last irritated by the want of legal protection, into acts of Lynch-law, such as have never yet disgraced a British Colony. The next day supplies a contradiction from some source or other, by which the offence against the law is proved to have been impossible.

It is useless to enlarge upon the importance of gaining really accurate impressions as to what the social condition of the diggings actually is. That it is very different to what it ought to be, or to what, under proper management, it would be, there can, alas, be no doubt whatever. So well informed are we kept by constant contact with such as have just returned, that we feel convinced that our estimate of the tendency to lawlessness and outrage has not been far from a correct one. It is far from our wish to make things worse than they really are. We are quite aware of the injury which the acquisition of a bad name would inflict upon any country, and we yield to no one in the sincere wish to avert that or any other evil from the "model colony." But we do not consider ourselves justified in concealing the truth. We will be no parties to covering down the smouldering fire, and saying, all is safe! It shall not be through our agency that they can say elsewhere, that things are so bad in Victoria that they dare not publish them in the newspapers. To know an evil is one step towards curing it; and whatever ills, misfortune, or bad Government bring upon us, will best be met and rectified by looking them full in the face, by taking the bull boldly by the horns, than by shrinking from their contemplation, and attempting to deny their existence.

Thanks to the mismanagement, the vacillation, the niggardliness, the down-right imbecillity of the Executive, the diggings have long been, and now are, in a very critical state. Thanks to that Executive, Lynch Law has been introduced; hitherto indeed we would hope, and as far as we know, in some of its milder forms, but still Lynch law in all its hasty anger, in all its wild ferocity. The reports of lives having actually been taken by hanging and drowning, we believe to have been exaggerated; but short of the destruction of human life, we have it from eye-witnesses of the first respectability, that in the endeavour of the diggers to check outrage amongst them, the ordinary forms of law have been set aside.

How far, how often, to what extent, will never be thoroughly known. Amidst a varied population, scattered over a vast extent of country, without coroner, with few and inefficient police, much crime may be perpetrated which never sees the light of day. A pick, a spade, a night walk of a mile into the bush, and the only evidence of a deed of blood may be hid for ever! whilst the occupant of the very next tent may snore out the night contentedly, and point to the crimes of Melbourne and Geelong with perfect horror.

To do something to clear up the doubts that exist upon the subject, and to afford to this public, and any other public that may feel any interest in the real condition of the richest gold mine in the world, we have despatched a gentleman to Mount Alexander as a special commissioner for this journal, with instructions to make a complete tour of the various places where the search for gold is carried on; to inform himself accurately of everything of interest at each; and to furnish full and authentic reports of what he sees and hears. Our emissary is a gentleman long known to us, and as a man of intelligence and integrity, we can pledge ourselves to the truthfulness of his statements.

Argus 30 April 1852, 2/4:

GEELONG.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT .)

Wednesday, 28th April.

I have heard to-day that the body of one of the unfortunate Chinamen who lately arrived here in the Amazon, and who, along with several others was started up the country about a fortnight since, has been found on the plains not far from the Wardy Yallock. The poor fellow is supposed to have died from exhaustion, but it shows a most scandalous want of feeling on the part of whoever was in charge of the party to allow the dead body to be devoured by birds of prey or dogs. These unfortunate creatures [i.e. the Chinese], after being enticed to leave their native country, should not be treated here by men who make a boast of their own civilization, as though they were not better than dogs. These poor ignorant people have not by any means the same power of defending themselves from bad treatment that our own country men have, and the man would be a monster who would impose upon them, or neglect to supply their natural wants. I hope, therefore, that the neglected case referred to may be found to have been exaggerated, or if correct, that the man in whose charge the party were, may meet with the disgrace and punishment he deserves.

Geelong Advertiser 10 September 1852, 2/1-2: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent, A.C.]:

EUREKA. In the main[,] society is as good here, as could be anticipated from a promiscuous assemblage from everywhere. Crime is not frequent but occasional—"fossicking" is more prevalent than agreeable, and attended sometimes with unpleasant results, and if persevered in, may end one of these days fatally to the nocturnal despoilers of honest men’s property. A curious incident occurred on Friday night[:] two men happened on a rich hole, and resolved to "tiger it"—so they set-to with the intent of working all night. About half-past twelve o’clock, one of them was working at the windlass, and had just unhooked the bucket, from the rope, and was turning round to empty it, when he found a double-barrelled fowling piece presented at his head.

"Good God!" said the digger.

"If you open your mouth again, I’ll riddle you," politely intimated the ‘fossicker.’

"Don’t!" said the digger.

"Get into the bucket," said the ‘fossicker,’ quietly, "we don’t want your hole—come, in yere go, and I’ll lower you down to your mate."

"Well! but, how shall I get up again," naturally enquired the digger, as he found himself gently disappearing into the bowels of the earth.

"All right!" said the ‘fossicker[.]’ "I’ll haul ye up, when we’ve done."

And down went the digger bump to the bottom, and in about an hour, true to his word, the "fossicker" returned, and wound up the poor bewildered digger to the upper world, and then left him, with a caution not to open his mouth too wide until breakfast time.

An affair of a more serious nature occurred last night. A store on the diggings belonging to Mr. Scott, was rushed at a late hour, by armed men. A scene of great confusion ensued during which a pistol loaded with ball was fired, the discharge from which grazed the face of one of the inmates of the store. The alarm frightened the depredators, who made off into the darkness, frustrated in their object.

A rumour which I have not heard verified was current this week, that a German had been found in the ranges, with his throat cut[;] so many strange stories are told of Germans everywhere, that the very mention of them is enough to throw discredit on any statement. The story had reached the Commissioner; but true, or false, it remains as it began, a story spoken of, but not believed.

The eraly [early] part of the week was very stormy and cold; fine weather has followed, and by present appearances likely to last awhile, if so, water will soon be very scarce in the ranges, and "stuff" must be carried to the Leigh; drays and carts will then be in requisition, and if numbers pour in, as certainly they will, there will be a scene at Eureka, that will require another communication to do justice to.
A.C.

N.B.—Paul Gooch’s Store was entered on Friday night. The depredators stole 42 ozs. of gold, several sides of pork, and took away other property to the amount of two hundred and fifty pounds.

Back to Top

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/1-2:

EUREKA DIGGINGS. The active chief constable, Mr. Smith accompanied by serjeant Simpson, and five mounted troopers scoured the diggings on Monday last, and succeeded in apprehending two men, who are believed to be the parties who made the murderous attack on Scott’s store, to which I referred in my last letter. A more diabolical outrage was never perpetrated. The men went into the store under the pretence of looking at some boots, when one of them drew a pistol, and deliberately fired it at young Scott, grazing his cheek whilst the other rushed the elder Mr. Scott, passed the counter, and but for the noise would have effected their object.


THIS IS TO CERTIFY , That I, J. S[cott], on Saturday evening, September 4, 1852, whilst serving at the counter, three men came into the shop, and asked to look at some boots; whilst showing the boots, one of the men pulled out a pistol, and fired it at my head; they all jumped over the counter at the same time, and on the scuffle knocked me down, I got up and found one of the men engaged with my father, and I took a pistol from him, and they got away from me.

(Signed) J.S.

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/2:

THIS IS TO CERTIFY , that I P.S., on Friday evening, September 3, 1852, whilst working at my hole, four men came up to me at the hole, and went into the next hole to me, when I informed my mate that there were men going into the next hole, and I told him that I would go and inform the party that belonged to the hole. When I attempted to go I was stopped by a man with a gun, and was told that if I moved, or stepped one foot he would blow my brains out; and forced me back to the hole, and pulled up the rope so that I could not get up until they had removed the stuff that they had stolen out of the hole.

(Signed) P.S.

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/2:

Appended is a price current, furnished by the chief store-keeper on the ground.

Flour. ..................... £7 and £8 per bag
Sugar,........................ 9d per lb
" ............................... 8d by the bag
Tea, .......................... 2s 6d and 3s per lb
Tobacco, .................. 8s per lb
Salt, .......................... 6d; fine, 1s
Blue shirts, ............... 8s each
Bacon,....................... 2s 6d per lb
Ham, ......................... 3s
Manila rope, ............. 2s 6d per lb
Shovels and spades ... 10s 6d to 12s 6d
Cheese, ...................... 2s 6d per lb

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/2:

EUREKA DIGGINGS. A melancholy occurrence took place on Thursday last, a poor little child, about three years of age wandered from its parent’s tent, and was missing for some hours, when it was discovered in a well-hole, dead. The shrieks of the mother at the loss of her offspring were appalling.

Geelong Advertiser 24 September 1852, 2/1-2:

EUREKA.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)

A cold blooded murder was committed sometime during last night (Sunday.) A man was found in his bed, shot through the head. Some parties with whom the deceased had a serious quarrel the preceding day are suspected of the crime. It is reported that the man kept a sly grog shop, if so, drink was probably the origin of the quarrel. When taken to excess, it then "prompts deeds, eternity cannot annul." What a farce it is for us to pay for police protection, when the few allotted to us live some miles from the populous diggings, and cannot therefore be at once sent after any murderer or robber.

I am told by a highly respectable party just come up, that a large gang of the most notorious characters are on the way hither. They are principally men, who figured strongly a few months ago on Murderer’s Flat, Friar’s Creek. An increase of crime and lawlessness may now be anticipated, unless the authorities at once take vigorous measures to prevent it.

Provisions continue plentiful at same rates as last stated. Digging utensils are very scarce.

Geelong Advertiser 24 September 1852, 2/2:


DIED.

At Mount Alexander, on the 16th instant, of Dysentery, CHARLES WILLIAMS ,
formerly of Hardwick-street, in the City of Dublin, Wine Merchant.


Geelong Advertiser 2 October 1852, 2/2: [from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent at the Eureka diggings, A.C.]:

A decision was given by Mr. Commissioner Cockburn, on Saturday, in a case of undermining, which has met with general approbation, and is likely to put a check to a most unjust practice very prevalent on the diggings, and very serious in effect where the sinking is deep. In the case referred to a man had gone down and undermined to a great extent by running a shaft, and then working off from it at right angles beyond his boundary. Another man contiguous had sunk some thirty feet, and was just on the point of bottoming it, when the bottom fell out, and he found what he had looked forward to as the reward of his labor had been clandestinely removed. He went to the Commissioner, who, after investigating the affair, fined the underminer ten pounds, and after ordering him to leave a stack of earth excavated, further forbid the guilty party going down into his hole again.

Geelong Advertiser 2 October 1852, 2/2:

SUPREME COURT.
Thursday, September 30, 1852.

BEFORE THE FULL COURT SITTING IN BANCO.

In the case of "Cummings v. Branton," who were partners in digging for gold at Bendigo, it appeared that on the 21st of June Cummings{,} left for Geelong with the horse, dray, and 21 ounces of gold, to buy provisions. The party waited the prescribed time for him and during it obtained some four pounds weight of gold. After remaining seven weeks, from Cummings’ departure, at the diggings, the party broke up, having obtained nine pounds of gold, and returned to town; this gold was disposed of to the benefit of the respondent (Branton) who refused to share any of it with the complainant. The latter accordingly obtained a conditional rule calling on the respondent to show cause why an account, &c., should not be had.

The Chief Justice delivered the judgment of the Court, to the effect that the conditional rule obtained be discharged with costs.

The force of this judgment is, that Branton is free from any claim of Cummings on the gold obtained by him from the time of Cummings[’] departure for Geelong.

Argus 2 October 1852, 4/1-2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.

Forest Creek, 27th. September, 1852.

The long-noted gang of night-fossickers, at Fryers’ Creek, have removed their quarters to Moonlight Flat, and scarcely had their tent pitched on Friday night last before they commenced operations on some of the good holes. On Saturday last two lads, working in Moonlight Flat, missed their washing stuff from the hole, and upon enquiry were informed that some parties were seen to carry it away on the previous night, and deposit it in a tent of night fossickers. The tent being pointed out to them, they informed the police, and upon a search being made, it was discovered in one corner covered over with blankets. The police immediately took one man in charge, who said he was cook to the party, and knew nothing of the affair. The other inmates of the tent, seven in number, escaped. Subsequently to the capture of this man, on Saturday night, the two lads, who sustained the loss, and were the cause of the apprehension of this man, were threatened by his accomplices that they would shoot them. The diggers in the neighbourhood are becoming alarmed for the safety of their property and lives, and knowing it is utterly useless to trust to the protection of the very inefficient police we have here, I hear are about calling a public meeting this day, to take steps towards forming protection societies. However alarming this step may appear, I do not see any other course they can pursue. They cannot trust to the police, who occasionally pass their way searching for unlicensed diggers or sly grog shops, once or twice a week. They [the diggers] are openly told by these rascals [the stuff stealers] that they will shoot them; and they are not safe in the possession of their claims. They must do something for themselves, and they are at length determined so to do. It might be said, why do they not catch the robbers and hand them over to the police. Are they to risk their lives first, in endeavouring to capture these vagabonds? And secondly, in keeping them till opportunities offer for handing-them over to the police, who are few in number and reside a distance of some miles off; and in the meantime run the risk of being beset by the accomplices of these vagabonds, who are, by the way, some thirty or forty in number? Taking into consideration the insecure state of life and property both here and on the roads, it is no wonder the diggers turn their attention to protecting themselves.

The mail has not arrived, I believe in consequence of heavy rains on the roads on Thursday and Friday last. The weather again changed here on Saturday last, and we had a heavy fall of rain for a few hours, again clearing up on Saturday night, continuing fine up to this date.

A young lad, working in a deep hole, by some means fell from the top and broke his leg on Saturday last.

There is a report of a man being found murdered in his tent at White Horse Gully, Bendigo, having his throat cut. Not having heard particulars I cannot state it as a fact.

Geelong Advertiser 8 October 1852, Supplement 1/1:

EUREKA.
(Per favour of the Geelong Advertiser.)

SIR , Within the last fortnight great numbers have flocked to these diggings from all quarters, especially from Geelong and Bendigo, which no doubt will result in some new diggings being discovered, as at present a few are doing remarkably well, whilst the majority are blanks. At one time forty feet was considered too deep by parties sinking—but now seventy feet is not too deep.

Another matter of far deeper importance, and to which I would call the especial attention of the Ministers of the Gospel of all denominations, is, that week after week passes over our heads without our having the privilege of hearing "The glad tidings of salvation." Whether this sad deficiency is generally known to the ministers in Geelong and Melbourne, I cannot presume to say; but certain it is that a Christian man has always claimed a large and attentive audience, and I believe always will, should we ever live to see the day when the ministers will again see it their duty as well as their privilege to provide a spiritual teacher, or teachers, for the digging population.

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
W.M.H.

Geelong Advertiser 8 October 1852, Supplement, 1/2:

A simple act of justice was done by the Commissioner, on Wednesday last; a covetous digger had driven on a neighbour’s ground, and took out valuable stuff therefrom; the Commissioner was called upon to prevent his further encroachment, and not only did so, but fined him £10, and ordered him to return the stuff to the owner of it. Parties are said to be getting considerable quantities of gold by washing the tailings of the cradles of other people; as much as six ounces per day have been got. This easy way of doing business is either practised by parties too lazy to work, or discouraged from sinking further holes by previous want of success. The greater number of cradles lose a little gold, and consequently they are not so much in use now as formerly. As quick a process, and more sure, is by puddling the stuff to reduce it to about two dishfuls, and then wash it from the tub into the dish.

The gang of marauders alluded to in a former letter, have already commenced their depredations. Last night two men went to a tent, one cut open the back of the tent and seized one of the inmates by the hair of the head, and tried to cover his mouth while the other went in by the front and attempted to rob him. The man, however, managed to cry out, which aroused some of the neighbours, and frightened the robbers away; although every exertion was made in search of them, no one could be seen. The man who was seized, had on his person about seventy pounds weight, it must therefore have been some one living near the tent, who were aware of the fact of the man having such a quantity of gold in his possession.

Geelong Advertiser 29 October 1852, 2/3:

ROBBERY.

A party of miners belonging to Geelong, of the names of Webber, Roberts, and Durant, realized at the Little Bendigo between Ballarat and Creswick’s Creek, 30 lbs. weight in gold and £240 in cash. Of this property Webber became the treasurer, and decamped last Monday, taking with him the whole proceeds. His victims followed him into town, but arrived a day too late to do any good, as the bird had flown.

Argus 15 December 1852, 4/6:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 13th December, 1852.

A most shameful case of being worried by dogs occurred here on Saturday night. A digger was going to a store on that night, with the intention of buying some potatoes, when he was attacked by two dogs (mastiffs) and literally torn to pieces, being bitten in a most shameful manner. The dogs got the poor fellow on the ground, and in a helpless state to defend the attacks of both of them. He succeeded in cramming one fist down the throat of one of the dogs, which partially defeated his attacks, but at the sacrifice of his hand. When assistance arrived, he was found in a pitiable condition, and perfectly helpless. He is now lying in a precarious state. Several of the stores and tents on these diggings have dogs which are very dangerous to be allowed at large. Not many days ago, I apprehended serious consequences from the attacks of a dog, not a hundred miles from this office.

Back to Top

Argus 28 January 1853, 4/5:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.

Forest Creek, 24th January, 1853.

Two villainous looking scoundrels in handcuffs, and in charge of the police, passed down the Creek yesterday. I have not as yet heard the nature of their offence.

Another detachment of the 40th Regiment passed the Argus office this forenoon: their uniforms and accoutrements shone brightly in the sun, and presented quite a gay and novel appearance in this part of the world.

As Mr. Thomas went to his claim early this morning he discovered that the night fossickers had been playing their usual pranks by taking away a quantity of stuff. After taking the stuff, the rascals "made tracks" as the Yankees have it. Fortunately for Thomas they also left tracks, which being followed, by the assistance of the police, led to their apprehension. They had taken three pounds-weight of gold, which was returned to the owner, Thomas.

DANIEL BUNCE .

Argus 28 January 1853, 4/5:

SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Spring Creek, Jan. 25, 1853.

A matter most particularly affecting the interests of the diggers is now exciting considerable attention on the Ovens gold fields. Several of the neighbouring squatters have taken it upon themselves to say that diggers shall not be allowed to turn out their horses to graze in the neighbourhood of the diggings, without paying them certain fees for so doing. Now it has always, since diggings commenced in the Colony, been tacitly understood that diggers paying for licenses were permitted to turn out their horses to graze, without craving the permission of the so-called "lords of the soil," and that in the vicinity of the diggings the Impounding Act was virtually suspended. In this neighbourhood, however, certain squatting gentlemen have thought fit to collect the horses grazing in the bush, and to drive them away in mobs to their home-stations, when they herd them out during the day, and place them in paddocks at night—refusing to give them up to their owners till certain fees more or less exorbitant are paid to them. Some parties in ignorance of the law in this case made and provided, have been induced to pay these fees, but others have consulted the Impounding Act, which clearly declares it illegal to detain stray cattle in a private paddock beyond three days. I am acquainted with a case myself in which the owner of a horse last week demanded his horse from the paddock of a neighbouring squatter (who is also a territorial magistrate). The stockman in charge refused, in his master’s absence, to allow the horse to be removed: the owner of the horse is, however, determined to have his horse given up to him without paying the charges demanded, and will, if another application is not attended to, bring the matter before the Police Bench. It is also proposed among the diggers to petition the Lieutenant-Governor to enquire into the proceedings of the squatters in this neighbourhood, and either to suspend the Impounding Act within certain limits, or to set apart a reserve for the diggings, as promised in a late official communication to the diggers at Mount Alexander.

Argus 7 February 1853, 5/1-2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 3rd Feb. 1853.

The principle items of news this week consist of bloodshed and robberies. On Sunday night last, Sergeant Whiteley, of the Sawpit Gully police, proceeded to Kyneton to apprehend a man named James Stewart, late clerk to Mr. Walter Smith, auctioneer, on a charge of embezzlement; and on his return, when near the Back Creek, he was pounced upon by two armed men from behind two trees, who, after using him very violently, robbed him of a few pounds in money, a revolver, a Government pistol, and his horse, leaving him on the road nearly dead. On the intelligence reaching the Sawpit Gully police-station, a party set out to bring him home; and he now lies in a deplorable situation. This case is the more provoking, from the fact of Sergeant Whiteley having received some rough handling some weeks ago. The horse has since been recovered. The robbers are known to the police, and will doubtless ere long be in custody.

On Monday last a man was shot by his mate. The circumstances are these:—It appears that three men, James Smart, John Carter, and another, were mates digging together, and residing in a tent on Montgomery Hill, Forest Creek; and on that day, Smart and Carter being in the tent about eleven o’clock, a quarrel ensued, and Carter fired a shot out of a double-barrelled gun at the former, after which he walked out of the tent, leaving his victim for dead. The contents of the gun took effect in Smart’s right cheek, and passed out at the left, shattering the jaws, and in fact the whole of his face, tearing the mouth for about an inch and a half on each side. The distance Carter stood from Smart at the time he fired the shot could not have been more than a yard or a yard and a half. Nothing more was heard of the unfortunate victim until six o’clock that afternoon, when a man named Keith met Carter, and some conversation ensued in which Carter detailed his account of the affair. Keith, on hearing what Carter said, immediately repaired to the tent of Smart, and there he found him lying on the ground, weltering in his blood. Keith then ran over to Dr. Weston’s residence, and requested his attendance on Smart, which he (Dr. W.) complied with. On his way to the tent, Dr. Weston met Mr. Shadforth, the Police Magistrate, whom he{,} informed of the circumstance, at the same time requesting him to take a look at the unfortunate man in order to take his evidence in case it should be necessary. When these gentlemen reached the tent, an unparalleled sight met their view. Smart was lying on the floor insensible, with his face shattered to pieces, and the wounds covered with maggots from the blow-flies. Smart had been in this position from eleven o’clock, a.m., to six o’clock p.m. Carter, in the meantime, was enjoying himself with liquor. When taken into custody, he stated that Smart having robbed him, he shot him. On being questioned by Mr. Shadforth, Smart stated that he gave Carter no cause whatever for what he had done, nor had he robbed him; in fact, he had no money or gold whatever. Carter and the other mate having been taken into custody,, and Smart having no money or friends, Dr. Weston was obliged to obtain the services of a man to attend him that night. Next morning two constables were sent from Castlemaine to attend him. Dr. Weston has continued his attendance, and is of opinion no hopes can be entertained of recovery. It would appear a very hard case that Dr. Weston, a gentleman of the most extensive practice on these diggings, should be called upon to undertake Smart’s case, when there is a Government Doctor within a mile of the spot. Of what use is a Government Doctor, with a large salary, when a private gentleman is called upon to take a case in hand, with no hopes of being remunerated for his services; more especially, a gentleman of Dr. Weston’s standing, who in reality can boast of having no time to spare from his extensive practice. I do not mean to say that Dr. Weston, or any other gentleman, in case of emergency and from a feeling of humanity, would refuse a visit or two for the benefit of a fellow creature, but when it assumes the character of a patient requiring his attendance perhaps every half hour with no remuneration for his services, how is it possible such can be the case when there is a gentleman on the spot receiving a salary from the public monies? For what? for not giving his attendance in such cases as Smart’s. I have this day heard from Dr. Weston that Smart is worse, and his recovery still more hopeless.

I have just heard of another case of bloodshed in an affair of honor, but in consequence of the lateness of the hour (six o’clock), and the distance to the spot, I can only give you what I have so far learned. It appears that four men, a party of diggers, were conversing together in their tent, at Fryer’s Creek, yesterday (Wednesday), when a quarrel ensued between two of them, and it was decided upon between them, that they should fight a duel, with pistols in the tent. Neither of them being backward, two shots from each being fired, the result was that one was shot dead on the spot. An inquest was held this morning, the verdict I shall endeavour to furnish in my next. The two other mates, although present, did not interfere in the arrangements.

The following is the calendar to be gone through at the next Criminal Court sittings, which takes place at Castlemaine on Wednesday next, the 9th inst. :—

List of prisoners, awaiting their trial in Castlemaine Gaol, and to appear for trial, at the Circuit Court, to commence Wednesday, 9th February, 1853:

1. Joseph Orange, assault and robbery.
2. William Dixon, felony.
3. George Robinson, stealing money, &c.
4. James Pearse, stealing money.
5. James Green, horse stealing.
6. Joseph Taffe, stealing gold dust, &c.
7. Patrick Murphy, stealing gold dust, &c.
8. Joseph Darwin, stealing gold dust, &c.
9. Abraham Gunn, stealing money.
10. John Smith, presenting a pistol, with intent to shoot.
11. William Clayton, entering a dwelling, with intent to rob.
12. James Sawyer, rescuing a prisoner.
13. Henry Tingey, stealing gold.
14. John Farrell, felony.
15. Daniel Sams, felony.
16. Frederick Bowman, shooting with intent.
17. George Adams, alias Jos. Thompson, felony.
18. Charles Hamilton, felony.
19. Robert Henry, assault.
20. Edward Edwards, assault.
21. Patrick White, attempt to steal a horse.
22. William Reeves, shooting with intent.
23. William Jordan, horse stealing.
24. John Thomas, stealing, with firearms.
25. James Wilson Wallace, shooting with firearms.
26. Edward Goldsmith, shooting with firearms.
27. William Marrs, resisting the police.
28. Thomas Prior, harbouring a bushranger.
29. Abraham Hands, felony.
30. John Byrnes, assault with firearms.
31. Daniel Duffy, assault and robbery.
32. Edward Sturt, horse stealing.
33. Thomas Young, assault and robbery.
34. John McQuaed, stealing gold.
35. Charles Lewis Davies, obtaining money under false pretences.
36. Charles Fitzroy, felony.
37. Andrew Johnson, felony.
38. James McGlashen, felony.
39. John Shannon, rescuing a prisoner.
40. Matthew Moran, rescuing a prisoner.
41. Francis Martin, felony.
42. John Ryan, felony.
43. William Silvester, felony.
44. William Maxwell, uttering a forged ten pound bank note.
45. Francis Clarke, assault and robbery.
46. William Jones, assault and robbery.
47. John Greenhall, assault and robbery.
48. William Eldridge, assault and robbery.
49. J.K. Langdale, stealing gold dust, &c.
50. David Grogan, stealing gold dust, &c.

Back to Top

Argus 2 April 1853, 3/1:

MISSING FRIENDS.

John, Robert, and James Sprowle, supposed to be at the Mount Alexander diggings, are hereby informed that their father John Sprowle, died at Stone-Quarry, on the 7th December, on his return home from Sydney. A communication from their widowed mother to this effect has reached Dr. A.R. Macdonald of Knockand, who takes this, the only method in his power, of conveying to them the melancholy intelligence.

Argus 4 April 1853, 2/7:

MISSING FRIENDS

EDMUND FREEMAN , you are most earnestly requested to come to your Wife and two little girls, who are just arrived on the Bendigo, from Adelaide; apply to Dr. Ladbury, Bendigo Dispensary, near the Commissioner’s Tent.

Argus 4 April 1853, 3/1:

MISSING FRIENDS

ALGOA BAY .—E. Chowles is wintered in German Gully, Fryer’s Creek; any friends will find him in a round tent, with a red and yellow flag.

Argus 14 April 1853, 4/6-7:

BALLARAT CORRESPONDENT. I am sorry to say that there are on these diggings several bad characters denominated by the colonial phrase "flash mobs," but what in England would be better known by the name of "area sneaks," who nightly prowl about in search of plunder to the annoyance of every respectable person, though the individuals alluded to are perfectly harmless in all other respects. I wonder the diggers do not do as the Californians did,—drive them off the diggings. It is almost impossible for the police to interfere, as, if they were taken before the Commissioner, no specific charge could be produced against them,—a thing much to be lamented.

Argus 20 April 1853, 4/3:

THE GOLD SWINDLERS.

After having so incessantly warned the more ignorant, or more careless of the diggers, of the gross frauds perpetrated upon them by many of the gold purchasers now swarming our streets, it is with considerable pleasure that we notice that one at least of the herd has met with his deserts, and is now fairly sentenced to five years upon the roads.

The man who has been the means of thus bringing one of these rascals to justice, deserves the thanks of the community; and if amongst the thousands of fraudulent transactions which have taken place, any other gold-seller can sheet home a similar charge against any of these swindlers, we hope that the success of the present experiment will encourage him to proceed. The mal-practices of this sort have long been a disgrace to the colony; and some of the evil-doers would be justly served by being sent to keep company with their old associated.

Argus 20 April 1853, 4/7:

SUPREME COURT.
APRIL CRIMINAL SITTINGS

Tuesday, April 12th, 1853.

(Before His Honor, Mr. Justice Williams.)

The adjourned sessions were resumed this morning, at ten o’clock, when His Honor took his seat on the bench. The Attorney-General conducted the prosecution for the Crown.

Before the following jury:—William Stewart Fyfe (foreman), Peter Gay, Patrick Garraty, John Gummer, James Goodwin, Michael Geraghty, James Graham, Clark Freshnay, Gregory Gorman, Robert Gallagher, William Garfield, William Fulton.

GOLD SWINDLING.

Aaron Gainsboro was charged with stealing a quantity of gold, the property of John Conlon, and pleaded Not Guilty. The prisoner was defended by Mr. Wrixon and Dr. McKay, (the former the learned Judge of North County Court, and the latter Crown Prosecutor for the same district). The facts of the case have already come before the public through our columns. Conlon, a most respectable young man, who has been a storekeeper at Bendigo and Forest Creek, lately arrived in Melbourne, and went to the Private Escort Company to obtain the gold he had deposited at the branch office Bendigo. Returning through Elizabeth-street, and close to the Escort Office, he was met by a person who invited him into the prisoner’s shop to sell his gold. He consented, and immediately after his entrance the door was closed, and Conlon saw four or five persons in the shop. He was offered 6d. per ounce over the market price. The gold being weighed, was found less than what Conlon expected by 8 dwts., and he insisted on having his proper weight. Prisoner then emptied the gold from the scales into a scoop, and then placing his thumb on one corner of the gold-scoop, in a peculiar manner, known to the trade, kept back about half-an-ounce. Conlon became enraged at this, and using some violent language, the prisoner thrust the scoop under the counter, and drew forth an empty one. Whilst Conlon was endeavoring to obtain the first scoop, the prisoner spilt the contents of it on the floor, and told him to pick it up. The prosecutor refused to do so, and going to Mr. Ritter, the well known gold purchaser, the gold was found deficient by 18 dwts.

Mr. Wrixon cross-examined the prosecutor and elicited that he had not weighed the gold since he had put it in his bag at Bendigo; that the escort weighed bag and all, without attention to great minuteness; that gold was at the time £3 16s. 9d. per oz., and that the prisoner had offered him £3 17s. 3d., as he was very much in want of gold.

Mr. Wrixon, in an able speech, addressed the jury for the defence, and commented on the testimony of the prosecutor, his evident vindictiveness in the transaction, his violent conduct, the unstained character of the prisoner, the largeness of his money transactions, and the absurdity of thinking that a man like the prisoner would, for so small an amount as a few pennyweights of gold, risk his liberty and character. He called the following witnesses:—

David Austin, a lad, who described himself as a general dealer, was present on the occasion, and thought the transaction a bona fide one.

Reuben Marks, an assistant of the prisoner, was likewise present, and took notice of the violent conduct of the prosecutor. Did not see any gold spilled on the ground. The prisoner had offered several times to pay for 36 oz. 8 dwts. The prisoner did not cover any gold with his thumb.

This witness was cross-examined by the Attorney-General, and described himself as a helper of the prisoner. He could not recollect what he had said to the detective, Stapleton, when the latter asked him, "Who had weighed the gold?" Cannot swear he did not tell Stapleton it was a young man who had weighed the gold. Cannot swear the contrary either.

David Charteris McArthur is the manager of the Australasian Bank. Does not know the prisoner. Never heard his name to his knowledge (bank-book handed in).

The Attorney-General objected. Because a man may have £20,000 to his credit, it does not follow that he cannot rob persons. Evidence jected.

David Cashmore had known the prisoner for fourteen years; that is, he had rented a house from witness for three months, and paid his rent honorably. Had known prisoner ten years ago in Sydney.

James Levi, who styled himself a gold-digger, had been in the shop of the prisoner before Conlon came in. Had sold gold a few minutes before to the prisoner, and was sitting down putting the money he had received for it in his pocket. He had seen what had occurred between the prisoner and the prosecutor.

This was the case for the prisoner.

The Attorney-General replied, and His Honor having summed up, the jury deliberated in the box for a short time, and then found the prisoner Guilty.

His Honor, in sentencing the prisoner, said, it was of the greatest consequence that parties convicted of any fraud tending to injure the gold-producing community of the country should be punished with the utmost rigor of the law. The sentence of the Court is, that the prisoner be kept to hard labor on the roads of the colony for a period of five years.

Before the following jury:—George Gallpin, (foreman), James Graham, Patrick Garraty, Richard Guthridge, Alexander Goergeson, Richard Grice, Michael Geraghty, James Fulton, James Girvin, Thomas Fulton, Patrick Geraghty, Peter Gay.

MALICIOUSLY CUTTING AND WOUNDING.

William Maloney, Daniel Noonan, James Maddigan, and John Maloney, were placed at the bar, charged with having, on the 14th day of March, wounded and cut one Edward Connor. The prisoners respectively pleaded Not Guilty, and were defended, Maddigan and W. Maloney by Mr. Wrixon and Mr. Stephen. Mr. Ireland appeared for the prisoner John Maloney.

This was what is generally called an Irish row. On the day in question, a Sunday, the prisoners were drinking in a tent in Madman’s Gully, Bendigo. Some quarrel having arisen touching nationalities, the prisoners rushed from their tent, and with true Irish excitement, accompanied, however, in the present instance with an Irish brutality, beat every one in their way, shouting as they advanced on their way, "Hurrah for Tipperary!" Chance brought a poor fellow named Connor in the path of the madmen, and on him they all fell with fiendish fury. One of them beat him on the head with a spade-handle; another struck him with an axe-handle; a third, not having any weapon in his hand, danced upon his body in ancient Hibernian style. The man was left for dead, and is still unable to leave the diggings from the effect on his health.

Mr. Ireland made quite the speech of the day in defence of his client, John Maloney. He trusted that the jury would remember, if they expected to see Irishmen free from the influence of passion, excitement, and whiskey, they should find a verdict that would denationalise the nation. Mr. Ireland concluded a powerful speech, though brief, in which he trusted the jury would not content itself with a bare recommendation to mercy, but acquit the prisoner altogether.

Mr. Wrixon addressed the jury in defence of his two clients.

Mr. Stephen addressed the Court on a point of law.

His Honor having summed up, the jury returned the verdict of Guilty against all the prisoners. They were severally sentenced to be kept to hard labor on the roads for a period of two years.

Argus 26 April 1853, 4/4-5:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.

Forest Creek 21st April, 1853.

Unless fresh localities are opened and the present rush from this place ceases, to use an Irishism, "nothing will be heard but silence" at Forest Creek. To the lovers of botany, however, I beg to state for their guidance that many new and interesting species may now be collected; the hills are becoming gay with a variety of shrubby and herbaceous plants. Among the first and gayest are to be enumerated the genus accacia or wattle, as it is colonially termed; one specimen with cicacious [?] foliage and an abundant display of pale lemon-colored and richly-scented blossoms, has been common and in full blow for the last six weeks. Two species of Leucopogon, the red and white epacris (alba and coccinea)[,] Eriostemon, Boronia, Ca[indeciperable] pubescens, or wine-glass, (a parasite which is clinging to and distroying [sic] the vitality of every plant to which it clings for support, and for which it has most deservedly, or undeservedly, earned for itself the term "emblem of ingratitude,") accacia latifolia, golden wattle, Galium[,] Pterostylus, and three others of the Orchidaceæ, Levanthis, a mistletoe peculiar to the Eucalypti, with rich long crimson tubular epacridaceous blossoms. The never-failing and generally- dispersed Gnaphalium, with its yellow, harsh, and everlasting blossoms. This will, I feel assured, prove a sufficient botanical dose to those who care more for nuggets than plants, for one sitting. The sure precursors of winter have already set in in the shape of white frosts and biting cold mornings, particularly unpleasant to those who are not provided with warm tents and a good supply of blankets. From a late visit to Melbourne, I have been enabled to pay a visit to what is called Canvass Town, on the south bank of the Yarra; and as the result of my visit, I beg to assure those parties who have a particular desire to see what the diggings are like, and for no other purpose, that by a walk through the centre of the tented street, and imagining the land on either side to be turned up into a series of holes, they will have a fac-simile of Forest Creek, without the trouble of a journey thither.

On Tuesday evening tea and bread-and-butter was dispensed to the children at the school when they were examined, on which occasion they acquitted themselves much to the credit of their master, Mr. Leete. The neat manner in which they were dressed, and their good and orderly conduct, were equally creditable to their parents. A very able and pleasing address was made to them by Mr. Smedley, one of the vice-patrons of the board.

MOUNT ALEXANDER PRICES CURRENT. —Flour, £8 per bag; bread, 1s. 6d. a loaf; butter, 3s. 6d. per lb.; bacon, 2s. 6d. do.; ham, 3s. do.; cheese, 3s. do.; sugars, 6d. to 10d. do.; tea and coffee, 2s. 6d. do.; soap, 1s. do.; salt, 1s. do.; tobacco, 7s. do.; candles, 1s. 6d. do.; onions, 1s. 4d. do.; potatoes, 8d. do.; raisins, 1s. 6d. do.; currants, 2s. 6d. do.; herrings, 6d. each; preserved fruit, 3s. 6d. per bottle.
D. BUNCE.

Back to Top

Argus 26 April 1853, 4/5-6:

SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Spring Creek, April 23rd, 1853.

The subject of the right of the digger to turn out his cattle to graze near his tent, without incurring the liability of their being impounded by the squatter, still excites public interest here. The following is a copy of the letter received in reply to the memorial referred to in my last communication:—

Police Office, May Day Hills, Ovens,

18th April, 1853.

To John D. Owens and other Memorialists, Licensed Occupiers of Mineral Crown Lands in the District of May-Day III 1a.
Gentlemen,—We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a memorial signed by you, soliciting the attention of this Bench to its statements, and suggesting that, until certain intentions of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor have been carried out, and the miners’ rights of depasturing are fully defined, it is not expedient to establish a public pound on the Oven’s gold-field.

In reply, we beg to request that, in substantiation of the allegations of the memorial, you will endeavor to have brought before us distinct and specific information in writing of —

1. Horses having been detained by occupiers of pastoral Crown lands in their paddocks for periods exceeding the terms of the Impounding Act.

2. Owners of horses having been compelled to pay illegal fees before receiving their property.

3. Fees having been exacted by occupiers of Crown lands from the owners of cattle and sheep brought on to the gold-fields for food and depasturage in its immediate vicinity.

We make this request in the belief that such cases, if proved and represented by us to His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor will expedite the satisfactory adjustment of the variances alluded to in the memorial.

With reference to the expediency of establishing a public pound on this gold-field, the Bench of Magistrates considered that in cases where the holders of depasturing licenses exercised their legal right of impounding stock in this vicinity, it would cause less inconvenience to the owners, who would probably be resident here, that they should be impounded on this spot rather than at Wangaratta, the nearest pound.

The Bench have, however, adjourned the Court of Petty Sessions convened for the consideration of the question, to Monday, the 2nd day of May next, with the view of receiving any further information or suggestions bearing on the subject.

We have the honor to be, Gentlemen,
Your obedient servants,

G.M. HARPER, P.M.,
J.M. CLOW, J.P.,
JOHN K. JACOMB HOOD, J.P.,
FREDERICK HALE PUCKLE, J.P.

The style of the above communication is such as to lead us to believe that the Bench are desirous to secure for the digger his rights; their Worships appear, as far as this letter goes, to be disposed to act in the matter in hand in a business like manner, and not to attempt the system of empty promises, couched in terms of hollow flummery, with which Mr. Chief Commissioner Wright tried of late with such signal want of success to silence the just complaints of the diggers. In one paragraph of their letter, the Bench appear to have inadvertently fallen into an error, as to the "legal right of holders of depasturing licenses of impounding stock [.]" This paragraph would infer, that the said holders of depasturing licenses have not the legal right of impounding cattle grazing among the tents of diggers; but, as explained by the police magistrate at the late Court of Petty Sessions, they have the power, under the existing Impounding Act, of impounding cattle, wherever found on their run. Though the digger’s right to turn out his cattle to graze has always been tacitly understood, it has never yet been secured to him by the legislature or by any distinct order of the Executive. To obtain some official order on this subject was one of the principal objects of the Diggers’ Petition of February last, and in the instructions given to Mr. Chief Commissioner Wright, when he was sent up here, the Lieutenant-Governor especially directs him to enquire into the above matter. In the Colonial Secretary’s letter of 23rd March it is stated

That any unnecessary and improper interference on the part of the adjoining settlers with the supplies necessary for the population of the gold-fields, however plausibly vindicated, would be promptly met.

During Mr. Wright’s sojourn at May Day Hills, a butcher brought a complaint to him to the effect, that a settler had made a demand on him for fees for grazing certain cattle, brought by him, as a butcher, to the diggings, and which he was about to kill for food, and that the demand was backed by a threat of impounding the cattle, in case the fees were not paid. After in vain dancing attendance at the Commissioner’s tent, and hearing a variety of fine speeches, backed by assurances that the matter should be attended to, the butcher received no definite reply, and was obliged, in order to prevent his cattle being driven to the pound, to pay the sum of Ten Pounds to the settler. Now if Mr. Chief Commissioner had done his duty, surely the matter ought to have been instantly reported to the Lieutenant-Governor, who, as the above extract states, is prepared for prompt action in such cases.

Under such circumstances it is gratifying to find the Bench of Magistrates offering to make representations to His Excellency on the variances alluded to. The memorialists will, I believe, be fully prepared with a rejoinder to the Magistrates’ letter.

THE CORONERSHIP .—Since the death of the late Dr. Green there has been no coroner for this district. Surely the matter ought to have been attended to long ago. The new Assistant Colonial Surgeon, Dr. Crawford, has been given to understand that he is not to hold the two offices. Why, then, is not some other party vested with the appointment of coroner? The circumstances attendant on Guest’s death, at Reid’s Creek, and the shameful bungling, to say the least of it, which took place regarding the inquest held on his body, and which up to the present moment has not been enquired into, though charges of suppression of evidence have been publicly made, should surely have shown our rulers the necessity of having a resident coroner on the gold-fields.

STORES .—There is still a great demand for horse food of all descriptions, but no supply. Serious apprehensions are expressed that the stock of flour will run far short of the demand during the winter; and it is said that Melbourne agents are declining to despatch further supplies of any description of stores here on account of the high rate of carriage.

Geelong Advertiser 27 April 1853, 2/2:

DARING ROBBERY.

Arthur Burrow and William Garroway were indicted for robbing William Harry Mitchell, at the Ballarat Diggings, Pennyweight Flat.

Mitchell being sworn, deposed, that he, in company with another person, called at the prisoner’s tent, to ask their way to their own encampment, on the night of the 10th of April. instant; five men were in the tent, and they all cried out to witness and his companion to "shout for something to drink:" not complying with their request, and retiring from the tent, one of those men, Garroway, seized the handle of a pickaxe, and struck witness over the back, whilst the other seized hold of a revolver, and fired at him, but missed his aim, as witness knocked the revolver, before it exploded, away from the direction of his person; witness then knocked the fellow down, when the short man, Barrow, caught hold of him by the throat, whilst two other of his companions rifled his pockets, and took away all the money that was upon him.

By Burrow.—It was about 8 o’clock at night, witness came into your tent with his companion; you were one of the men that held him down at the door of the tent, whilst the rest robbed him; recognised you by the light of the fire, which was burning alongside the tent.

By Garroway.—You were the man who struck witness with the pick axe handle.

By the Judge.—Has not the slightest doubt touching the identity of the prisoners.

Alex. McLean, being sworn, deposed—That being at Pennyweight Flat, near Ballarat, on the night of the 10th April, on his road home with the last witness, from Canadian Gully, they called at a tent to ask their way; there were four or five men in the tent, and they asked for liquor, which was refused; one of the prisoners, now before the Court, then ordered witness and his companions to leave the tent, and Burrow took up a heavy piece of wood, and struck his companion first, and afterwards struck witness; a revolver was then presented and fired at them, and their money demanded; after a considerable scuffle the last witness and himself escaped, and gave information to the police.

Burrow stated that he knew nothing about the affair, as he was the worse for drink at the time. The other prisoner made much the same sort of defence.

His Honor addressed the jury by observing that there could be very little doubt that both the prisoners were present at the tent when the violence and robbery was committed; and although some variation appears in the evidence of the two witnesses, one stating that Garroway used the pickaxe handle, and the other affirming that Burrow inflicted the blows with that instrument; still there could be little doubt but that both the prisoners were taking an active part on this occasion. As to the supposition that the two men were trespassing in the tent, it could not be reconciled with justice, should that even be the case, to subject them to such violence. It appeared to him to be another of those unfortunate instances where dram drinking had produced its baneful consequences.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty against both prisoners, and

His Honor, after severely commenting upon the enormity of the offence, sentenced each of the prisoners to 10 years’ hard labour on the roads of the colony, the first of which to be worked in irons.

Argus 5 May 1853, 4/6:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 2nd May, 1853.

A case of sheep-stealing was heard at the Police Court, Castlemaine, on Friday last, which resulted in the committal of the delinquent. The most amusing part of the affair was the detection and capture of the thief. It appears that the thief, Jospeh Flanders, went to the shop of a butcher in the neighborhood, and abstracted therefrom the whole carcass of a sheep hanging there for sale, which he carried away on his back. The night being very dark, the thief lost his way home, and found himself at the police station, at the rear of this office; and, on seeing the light, called out for assistance, upon which the sergeant at the station came out and questioned him, and finding his answers were anything but satisfactory, took him into custody. A constable was then sent off to the butchers’ shops in the neighborhood, and at length the one from whence the meat was taken was found. From the answers given by the thief to the questions of the sergeant, it was gleaned, that upon taking the carcass, Flanders intended making his way with his load to his tent at Adelaide Flat; but the night being very dark, he took an opposite direction, until he reached the police station, and, supposing it to be his tent, was calling out for his mate, when he was taken into custody.

Argus 5 May 1853, 4/6:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 2nd May, 1853.

The want of some law to suppress the illegal practising of unqualified medical practitioners ought to be remedied without delay, as the evil is felt here to a great extent. At this present day we can boast of the presence of some dozen or two of these gentlemen. Numbers of cases have come under my notice lately of death having resulted from treatment by these persons. It is all very well for the digger to shun the tents of these gentlemen when they have occasion for a medical man, if they knew of such a person being unqualified; but it often happens that the word "Doctor" or "Surgeon" is a sufficient guarantee that So-and-so is a legally qualified medical practitioner, and the mistake is often found out perhaps when too late, and thus is sacrificed the health and sometimes life of the unsuspecting. I should suggest that the names of all the medical men as gazetted be published in the local journals, which would indeed confer a benefit upon the digging community, at least, if not on the colony in general.

Back to Top

Argus 5 May 1853, 4/6:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 2nd May, 1853.

The Castlemaine Hospital is in progress, and will shortly be completed in a temporary way for the admission of patients. Between £300 and £400 has been subscribed on the diggings, and I was informed yesterday that His Excellency has signified his intention of giving £500 from the general revenue. His Excellency has also instructed Mr. Shadforth, the Police Magistrate here, to pay over all fines, &c., which had formerly been paid over in Melbourne, towards the Castlemaine Hospital. These fines, &c., are estimated at about £500 per annum. The completion of the Hospital will be hailed with pleasure by numbers of individuals suffering from diseases; and now that the winter has set in, canvas and calico tents are very injurious to health, more especially to those already afflicted with disease. The liberality of the celestials at Castlemaine was shown in its true light a few days ago in behalf of a young man suffering from fever (who has since died), living in a calico tent, lying on the wet ground with no other attendance than a sickly brother, and both without the wherewith to purchase the necessaries of life, much more to procure the luxuries and medicines requisite for a sick man. Dr. G.J. Jones being called in to see this young man, and hearing of his distressed circumstances, wrote a note to the Resident Commissioner at Castlemaine, requesting the assistance of the Government. This note was conveyed by the sick man’s brother, who on arriving at the Camp was shown our worthy Resident in conversation with three others. The note being handed to that gentleman, he did not condescend to reply to it, but handed it to his brothers in office, the result of which was the sum of eighteen shillings, being subscribed and folded carefully in Dr. Jones’s note, which was handed to the brother to take back.

Argus 11 May 1853, 3/3-4:

GEELONG.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Tuesday, 10th May, 1853.

The following letter has bee forwarded me for the purpose of exposing the tyranny of some officials at Balaarat. I know little of Canning, beyond that he bears a good character as an honest, industrious, and intelligent storekeeper, and that he is not a man likely to state a wilful falsehood.

The conduct of Mr. Green [the Assistant Gold Commissioner]—if Mr. Canning’s statement be true—is certainly suspicious and reprehensible in the highest degree: and Mr. Fenwick [?the Gold Commissioner] appears to have supported and encouraged him, by refusing any assistance to Mr. Canning; which in so simple a case could have been very easily done:—

SIR ,—I have been requested to lay the following circumstances before you, in order to expose the conduct of some of our men in authority up here, and to prove to the Government the total unfitness of such men for any situation of trust or responsibility. Such gross misconduct and carelessness on the part of its officers must bring any government into contempt.

About three weeks ago I sent my brother with two bags of gold to the Commissioner’s tent, to be forwarded by escort. One of the bags weighed 22 ounces 17 dwts., and the weight was marked on either. On my brother’s return with the receipts, I found that the amount on one of them was fully three ounces short. I returned to Mr. Green, the Assistant Commissioner, and apprised him of the error. He behaved with much incivility to me, and on my requesting him as civilly as a man could do to re-weigh the gold, he positively refused, and remarked that I was very impudent. I then told him I should report him. I was told I might go to the —. On apprising Mr. Fenwick of the circumstance, he went with me to Mr. Green. When the latter charged me with impertinence, and made that an excuse for refusing to weigh the gold a second time, I denied the statement of Mr. Green to his face, and begged of Mr. Fenwick himself to see the gold re-weighed. This higher official, however, peremptorily ordered me out of the tent, saying it would be a lesson for me to behave with civility. I have, therefore, no alternative but to submit in the meantime, and I wrote to my agents in Geelong to be particularly careful as to receiving and seeing the bag of gold alluded to weighed.

In a week after my interview with Mr. Fenwick, I returned to Mr. Green with a bag containing 43 ounces of gold, also to be forwarded per escort. While writing out the receipt for this, I remarked in a half-familiar tone, "See you don’t make the same mistake with this lot that you did with one of my last two." He looked at me, and asked if I was so-and-so. I told him I was, and he desired me again not to be impudent. On handing me the receipt I found 33 ounces instead of 43 entered on it. I immediately said, "Why you are determined to cheat me if you can." Mr. Green replied, "It’s all your fault, you should not have bothered me while I was writing it." He then snatched it from my hand, and tore it up, before I could prevent him, and wrote me out another. I then told him, that through the first error I should be compelled to go to town at considerable expense, and that if the gold was short, as represented on the receipt, I should sift the affair to the uttermost, and sue him for all my expenses. On coming to town, I find that the amount of gold entered on the parchment attached to the bag is 23 ounces—not the correct weight I sent at first, 22 ozs. 17 dwts.; and what is still more singular, I find the full weight twenty-three ounces contained in the bag. I have been put to enormous expense, all through the conduct of Messrs. Fenwick and Green; have been compelled to leave my business at the diggings; have lost a horse I was compelled to borrow on the occasion, for which I must pay £60; and all this through the reckless ignorance and haughty folly of thesee apologies for Government officers.

If such men be not immediately removed from office, everything up here will run into confusion and disorder. The diggers and traders will, to a man, despise and distrust them; and the Government will share in the general obloquy.

I am, Sir, Yours obediently,
J. CANNING,
White Flag, Balaarat Flat.
Buninyong, 6th May, 1853.

Argus 11 May 1853, 3/4-5:

MOUNT ALEXANDER
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, May 9th, 1853.

Robberies are becoming very frequent. On Monday last two men went into the tent of a woman and robbed her of 17 ounces of gold during the absence of her husband. The brutes, not satisfied with their spoil, proceeded to violate her person. They are committed for trial.

Tent robberies are occurring every night, and it is becoming quite fashionable for the thieves to gain admittance into tents by representing themselves as police, from the fact of the police being in the habit of searching for sly-grog at any hour of the night. On Friday night, a young man, living in a tent at Golden Point, and being the only occupant, was surprised to see three strangers enter his tent, and after commanding silence, telling him they were police, and were going to search his premises. They then asked him for his trousers, which he handed to them, and from which they took £30. On seeing this, he said, "Oh, is that the sort of police you are! I see." The reply was, pointing three revolvers at his unfortunate head, "Yes, and if you don’t keep quiet, you will see." After which they decamped. Three other tents were robbed on the same night, in the same locality. On Saturday night a tent belonging to a man named Rollason was attempted; but owing to a similar attempt on the previous night, Mr. Rollason had barricaded the door, and on the present occasion the noise awoke him, and jumping out of bed, he rushed to the door, pointing two revolvers, demanded who was there, which was answered by the word "police." Mr. Rollason having warned them not to enter, or he would fire, called out for assistance, which brought some of the neighbors. On the arrival of assistance, the robbers were asked what they wanted, to which they replied, "Hold your tongue, or we will put the handcuffs on you. We are plice." But upon being requested to produce their handcuffs, to guarantee their being such, they decamped. In all there were seven in number—two standing at the door, and the remaining five some distance off.

A melancholy suicide occurred here on Monday last. A young man named Henry E. Este went into the tent of a Mr. Baptist, trussmaker, Castlemaine, and during the temporary absence of Mr. Baptist, cut his throat in a frightful manner with a knife which he had been sharpening a few minutes previously. On the return of Mr. Baptist he found Este dead. The deceased was a very respectable young man, a creole by birth, and had been a Baptist preacher. No reason can be assigned for his conduct, and it is confidently asserted that he was not laboring under a fit of insanity.

Argus 12 May 1853, 3/3:

MISSING FRIENDS

EDWIN STANLEY will find his mother Lois Stanley, late of Hope Valley, Adelaide, at Eagle Hawk Gully, Bendigo, who wishes him to come immediately, as his Father is dead.

Geelong Advertiser 18 May 1853, Supplement 1/1-2.

I have to report a most serious disturbance that has completely shaken the equilibrium of the gold fields during the last few days. For some time past it has been the custom, upon any sly grog seizure being made, to pull down the delinquent’s tent about his ears; and as the seizures always occur during the night, great inconvenience has been experienced (as in the case of Mr. Henry, lately reported) ro any lodgers who may happen to be sleeping in the suspected habitation. On Saturday night, the 7th inst., it appears that information was given to the camp by one Mangon, of his having purchased grog from one McMahon, an old resident at Castlemaine, and landlord of the "Mount Alexander Coffee Rooms." Mr. Christian, inspector of the police, immediately posted down with a body of mounted troopers, and ere half an hour elapsed, the work of demolition commenced. Four of the largest and best furnished tents on the Forest Creek diggings were pulled down in quick succession, and families turned out of their homes during one of the most inclement nights yet felt this season. No respect for person or sex was shown: one of our most respected ministers being abused by the constabulary in a most disgusting manner, for his efforts to afford respectable females the comforts of a fireside. M{c}Mahon’s trial came on the following Monday; I subjoin a short account. During Sunday the excitement was most painful; so determined were the diggers to oppose these tyrranical proceedings that volunteer bodies of men were being drilled, in something like order, in various districts of the diggings.

Argus 26 May 1853, 5/1-2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 21st May, 1853.

A tea-meeting and concert in commemoration of the opening of the Castlemaine Free Hospital, was held in the building on Tuesday night last. The place was crowded to excess, a great number of the visitors having come from a distance. The singing and addresses from the different speakers gave every satisfaction. The building for the present purpose is erected with weatherboard, with patent felt roof, and in size 40 feet by 20, with detached kitchen, surgery, surgeon’s room, &c. It is intended, as soon as necessary, to erect additional buildings for the accommodation of a greater number of patients.

An instance of the cautiousness required by parties burning charcoal fires in the tents occurred here on Friday night last, and through the want of which, the Rev. Mr. Cheyne, of Castlemaine, had a very narrow escape from suffocation. Mr. Cheyne had a charcoal fire made on the lid of a camp-oven, the door of the tent closed, and had commenced writing, when Mrs. Cheyne and children went out. On the return of Mrs. Cheyne she found the Rev. gentleman lying on the floor in a state of insensibility, being almost suffocated. Dr. Souther, who was sent for, promptly attended, and Mr. Cheyne recovered. Had Mrs. Cheyne’s entrance been delayed for five minutes longer, no hope whatever could have been entertained of saving Mr. Cheyne’s life.

Mr. Chief Commissioner Wright arrived here on Thursday last; the Government no doubt thinking that during the present disturbed state of the diggings the presence of the Chief Commissioner of Gold Fields will have a salutary effect.

A man named George Lewis was shot at Mount M’Ivor on Saturday last in an attempt to escape from the custody of a mob. It appears that Lewis and his two mates were identified by some diggers as three men who had robbed them a short time previous, and on making the discovery, some of the diggers went to the police, while others, armed with double-barrelled guns, went to apprehend the robbers. In the meantime Lewis’s mates made their escape, and on the arrival of the diggers, they only found Lewis in the tent and brought him out. On turning to go into the tent for some bedding, he was shot through the body and left arm. He expired a few hours after. An inquest was held on the body. Another man was shot accidentally by one of the police, the ball grazing the man’s forehead, with only a slight wound. The diggers, thinking the shot was fired intentionally, were about hanging the constable, until they were made satisfied that it was only accidental.

Argus 26 May 1853, 5/1-2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 21st May, 1853.

Provisions and other stores I found not so exorbitant, being almost on the same scale as charged at Bendigo, with a downward tendency. The following is the price current:—

Flour, £12 10s. the bag, or 1s. 3d. per lb.; tea, 3s.; coffee, 3s.; sugar, 1s. 3d.; salt, 1s. 6d.; soap, 1s. 6d.; butter, 5s. 6d.; oatmeal, 1s. 6d.; cheese, 3s. 6d.; ham and bacon, 3s. 6d.; raisins, 2s.; currants, 3s.; sperm candles, 4s.; hops, 4s.; jams, 3s. per lb.; pickles, 3s. 6d. per bottle; bread, 3s. the two pound load; dishes, 12s.; buckets, tin, 14s.; shovels, 15s.; picks, from 14s. to 18s.; blankets, from 20s. to 80s. per pair; trousers, woollen cord, 35s.; molesking, 14s.; coats, 50s.; shirts, 4s. 6d. to 6s.; boots, from 30s. to £5; mutton, hind quarter, 5s. 6d.; fore quarter, 4s. 6d.; gold, £3 12s. to £3 12s. [the ounce].

Argus 26 May 1853, 5/2-3:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, May 12th, 1853.

Mr. Kane, the acting Inspector of the National Schools, paid us a visit again on Sunday last, having on the road a large tent capable of holding 100 children, which it was his intention to have placed at Golden Point.

At a meeting held at the National School tent, at Forest Creek: present Messrs. Smedley (in the chair), Thornhill, Bunce, and Kane, it was considered desirable from the very small number of people at present residing at Golden Point, and from the large and densely populated gold-fields at Bendigo, to forward the tent to the latter place.

It was also resolved that as the school-tent at Forest Creek was only capable of holding 60 pupils, and as the new tent would hold 100, Mr. and Mrs. Leete be removed to Bendigo, where there was a larger call for their services, and Mr. Francis take charge of the school at Forest Creek. It is but justice to Mr. and Mrs. Leete to state that when they were informed of the new arrangement, a well merited and handsome compliment was paid them by the local patrons, for their efficient conduct of the school at Forest Creek.

It is gratifying to find that the broad and liberal system of national education is obtaining a very liberal degree of encouragement, as compared to what is awarded to the more narrow and prejudiced system called denominational. An instance of this occurred at Burnbank, where, although an appeal had been made to the residents by the Rev. Mr. Cheyne for assistance towards the erection of a school upon the denominational system, £20 was the extent of the donation for that purpose, ten guineas of which were furnished by one gentleman. Mr. Kane, however, subsequently had no sooner made an appeal to the good people at that neat little township for assistance on the national system, than he met with a response as sudden as it was creditable to the donors, in the shape of a sum not less than in the round hundreds.

Argus 10 June 1853, 4/5-6:

THE DIGGINGS
(FROM OUR SPECIAL COMMISSIONER)

Creswick’s Creek

The Wardy Yallock diggings attracted, as you are aware, nearly a thousand persons about a fortnight since to that locality: nine-tenths of these returned disheartened after prosecuting a brief research; but the remainder, more persevering and energetic, continue at their work, and are meeting with tolerable success. As the diggings there, however, will not justify the employment of a Commissioner in their present infantile state, Mr. Sherrard, J.P[.], one of the Commissioners at Balaarat, proceeds thither to-day to issue licenses, and hear and adjudicate upon complaints{,} It is to be hoped that this recognition of the place as a source of revenue, will be followed up by making it an out-station of police in dependence on the camp at Balaarat. Of the necessity of such a measure I saw ample grounds during my peeps here and there last week among the disjointed members of the Mount Franklyn diggings. To the well-disposed these gathering spots are either a winter haven of comfort and content, or a hell, to enter which is to "leave hope behind".

The lull in crime of every species which became sufficiently manifest during the past six weeks, now that winter is setting in, has been broken by the commission of a countless number of robberies of every description. At this place, from its central position, I gain the earliest tidings of all events of any importance occurring in the sweep of country forty miles round. I am therefore in a position to communicate many little facts and incidents of which your local correspondents within that charmed circle will remain in entire ignorance. The gangs of bushrangers ferreted out of Fryer’s Creek by the vigilance of the police, have during the past fortnight or three weeks taken refuge in an eyrie on the gully fastnesses of the Mount Franklyn ranges. For some days, and until their plan of operations was matured, they limited themselves to the perpetration of petty thefts. One of the gang, a scoundrel with the stamp of hell engraven in ineffaceable characters on his visage, opened the campaign by bailing up an unfortunate digger, whom he all but murdered, and robbing him of £40. He was taken and brought before the nearest Magistrate, but succeeded by threats or the bribe of a return of the plunder, to silence the only witness that could be adduced to impeach him, and from want of evidence the case was dismissed. In the course of my wanderings among what are called the dry diggings, situate about two and a half miles from Mr. Parker’s s{‘}ation, I lighted upon the gang in the very vicinity of their haunts. Perceiving that my presence occasioned them considerable disquietude, (they evidently conjectured that I was either a Commissioner or Sub-Inspector of Police,) I ventured so far as to take a peep up the narrow gully running at right angles to the one I had just descended, and my search was rewarded by the discovery of six tents, of which I was informed these miscreants were the occupants. The people in the neighborhood assured me that they had never been known to dig or follow any honorable employment, and that they were supposed to have made the selection of their encampment, not alone from motives of concealment, but also with the view of telegraphing the movements of parties visiting or traversing the vicinity. I took good care to put Mr. Wigmore in possession of these rumors when I met him on the following day, and I have every reason to believe that ere this letter reaches you these scoundrels will have fallen into the hands of justice. I cannot vouch for its correctness, but on leaving the vicinity of the Commissioners, en route for Wombat, a rumor reached me of a murder supposed to have been committed by the same gang in that immediate neighborhood. A part of the confederacy has been largely concerned in horse-stealing. Horses have been removed from paddocks, and on hobble or tether in the bush, planted in some out of the way gully, and as soon as a mob has been collected, driven in either to Mount Alexander, or Balaarat, and there disposed of. One of the gang, Wilmington by name, has been hunted during the past week, after sticking up several persons whom he encountered on the roads; but from his thorough knowledge of the bush, succeeded in evading his pursuers, though on one occasion he was brought within range of pistol-shot. A party of police called here yesterday, in passing to the Mount Franklyn and Fryer’s Creek diggings, at one of which he is supposed to be concealed. Since writing this, they have returned unsuccessful, and report the robbery of a store, and other outrages, at the Mount Franklyn diggings.

Store-lifting has of late become frequent at Balaarat. Fraser’s store, in the rear of the Commissioner’s camp, was attempted some days ago, but an alarm being given by the frightened inmates, the police from the camp hurried to the spot, when the guilty parties took to their heels. Two cases of bailing up stores, one on the Eureka Hill, another on the Flat, have occurred since at Balaarat; in one instance the whole of the persons concerned (four in number) were taken; in the other, one only.

A man was found dead in his tent at Balaarat, under very suspicious circumstances, some four or five days ago. Another was found drowned in a water-hole, it is supposed by slipping into it while in a state of intoxication; and a woman committed suicide by taking a dose of poison.

Back to Top

Argus 10 June 1853, 5/4:

NORTHERN COURT OF GENERAL QUARTER SESSIONS

Castlemaine, Thursday, 2nd June, 1853.

STEALING FROM A DWELLING

James Kelly pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with having stolen four shirts, one pair trousers, one double-barrelled gun, one gun, two razors, and one shaving-case, the property of Andrew Gordon Simpson and others, on the 29th April, 1853, at Bendigo.

The prosecutor and three other men are mates, gold-digging, and residing at Bendigo. On the 29th April they were working near their tent, when their attention was drawn to the flapping of the door; and upon two of them going up, they found the tent disordered, and boxes broken. They then saw the prisoner, with a bundle on his back, and a double-barrelled gun in his hand. They then apprehended the prisoner, and punished him severely, with the intention of making him confess what had become of some money which they missed from the tent, together with the articles in question.

The Chairman having summed up with a little advice as to the liability of people taking the law into their own hands,

The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of Guilty, with a recommendation to mercy, in consequence of the severe punishment which prisoner had already been subjected to.

Sentence—Two years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony.

Argus 13 June 1853, 5/4:

BALAARAT.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

June 4, 1853.

The weather during the last few days has been unusually severe: sleet, snow, and rain have fallen almost uninterruptedly, the roads are in the most disgraceful condition, and the effort to reach the post office and the [government] camp is a task to be overcome with difficulty, and only to be accomplished by wading through several running streams, and plunging into bogs innumerable. Happy is he who possesses a pair of long sea-boots, as without them there is no safety!

Geelong Advertiser 15 June 1853, Supplement 1/1

LITTLE BENDIGO, FORREST CREEK.
(From a Correspondent.)

I forgot to tell you that mice are awfully numerous on the diggings, and bid fair to eat the diggers out. This is not much to be wondered at, there is such a recklessness in the care of provisions, and generally such want of tidiness in tent-keeping. If the thrifty digger will but take four empty bottles, which, dear knows, are easily procured on the diggings, and in some convenient place in the tent make four holes in the floor, in which the necks of the bottles are to be placed as far as the shoulder,—the bottles will then be turned upside down,—put a strong piece of bark or board on the top, the platform will then represent a stool with four legs; this completes a safe stand for the flour-bag, bread, &c. The outside of the bottles should be well cleaned, up which it will be found impossible for those little destructive [check original] tormenters to make their way.

Argus 30 July 1853, 2/5:

MISSING FRIENDS.

EDMUND CHARLES GERALD FITZGERALD , supposed to be at the Ovens diggings, is earnestly requested to return immediately to Sydney. Any person knowing anything of him, will extremely oblige by sending information to Mrs. Fitzgerald, No. 2, Wynyard-square, Sydney.

Argus 30 July 1853, 2/5:

MISSING FRIENDS.

GOLDEN GULLY , Fryers Creek.—Should this meet the eye of the mate, or any person acquainted with Daniel Goldsmid or Goldsmith, who was supposed to have met with his death by accidentally falling into a hole at Golden Gully, some time in last May, any information relative thereto will be thankfully received by E. Karney, Lonsdale Cottage, 46, Great Lonsdale-street, west.

Argus 3 August 1853, 2/5:

MISSING FRIENDS

ADAM CARTER . —The relatives of this young gentleman are very anxious to ascertain where he is. He was lst heard of at Bendigo Diggings, in the company of a Mr. Frederick Turniss. Any information respecting Adam Carter will be most thankfully received, and may be forwarded either to Frederick Fenton, Esq., at Gibson’s Station, near Bendigo; or to Messrs. Smith and Willan, Solicitors, 38, Collins-street, Melbourne.

Argus 15 August 1853, 5/3-5:

NORTHERN CIRCUIT COURT.

CRIMINAL SITTINGS.

(Before His Honor Mr. Acting Chief Justice Barry.)

LARCENY.

Before the following jury:—R.H. Evans (foreman), Messrs. Thomas Fowler, John George, R. Fitz, J. Eastwood, R. Guymer, S. Inkred, G. Fox, J. Faulkner, W. Guymere, M. Edgar, R. Gates.

John Harris alias Bonham was placed at the bar, and pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with stealing one inkstand, one pair of trowsers, one sheet, one book, and one roll of plaister, the property of one Thomas Lane, on the 28th May last, at the Bendigo.

The prosecutor, Lane, and another man named Taft, were mates working at the Bendigo. About the beginning of May last Lane went to the M’Ivor, leaving his partner in charge of the tent, with all the effects. A short time after Taft went to the M’Ivor, and informed Lane of the robbery of his tent. Lane returned to the Bendigo, and by the aid of the police having instituted a search, the articles named in the indictment were found in prisoner’s tent, concealed underneath his bed. He was taken into custody.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Sentence: Eighteen calendar months hard labor on the roads of the colony.


STEALING UNDER ARMS.

Charles Smith being placed at the bar, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with violently assaulting and stealing £4, four razors, one dish, one box, one pair of trousers, five blankets, one coat, two pistols, the property of one John Williams, on the 10th July last.

Sentence—Ten years hard labor on the roads of the colony, the first year in irons.


LARCENY.

Before the following jury:—G. Crockett (foreman), W. Foreman, C. Ellis, W. Adams, J. Inglis, J. Davis. J. Day, W. Garnett, W. Dunn, W. Gipson, W. Crow, W. Finney.

William Nixon being placed at the bar, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with stealing 50 lbs. of beef, the property of one Henry Medway, at Fryer’s Creek, on the 5th of June last. Mr. Windsor defended the prisoner.

The prosecutor[,] Henry Medway, is a butcher and storekeeper, residing at Fryer’s Creek. On the 5th June Medway left his shop, leaving his brother in charge, and a piece of beef weighing about fifty pounds hanging up in the stall. During Medway’s absence the beef was missing, and prisoner, who was seen prowling about the shop, was subsequently found with the beef at Reedy’s store. Prisoner told Mr. Reedy that he got the beef for the dogs.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and the prisoner was discharged.


ROBBERY IN COMPANY.

(Before the same Jury.)

Henry Smith, William Moss, and John Harris, were placed at the bar and pleaded not guilty to an information charging them with assaulting and robbing one Francis Davis of £62, thirty-four ounces of gold, two bags, one purse, and one comb, on the 28th day of May last, at Forest Creek. Mr. Thompson defended the prisoner Harris.

Francis Davis is the manager of Mr. Bryant’s store at Forest Creek. On the evening in question, about eight o’clock, three men went to the store and knocked for admittance on pretence of purchasing some tea and sugar. When admitted, they presented fire-arms at the prosecutor and his assistant. They then searched the store, and took away the moneys, &c. named in the indictment.

The prisoners Harris and Smith endeavored to prove an alibi, bringing forward two residents in the neighborhood of the robbery in support.

His Honor having summed up at length, the jury retired for about ten minutes, and brought in a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners.

Sentence—Each of the prisoners twelve years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony, the two first years in irons.


SHEEPSTEALING.

Before the following jury:—C. Ellis (foreman,) Wm. Dunn, J. Englis, J. Eastwood, A. Decker, H. Evans, W. Gipson, W. Evans, W. Foreman, R. Fitz, J. George, W. Adams.

Thomas Moore pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with stealing eight sheep, the property of one John Brogriff, at Bendigo, on the 16th June last. Mr. Thompson defended the prisoner.

The prosecutor Brogriff, is a butcher, residing at the Black Creek, Bendigo, and had some sheep in a pen, at the back of his tent, on the 16th June. About nine o’clock that night he went out of his tent, and found the prisoner at the gate of the pen, and the sheep outside, and shortly after the prisoner turned round and began driving the sheep; the prosecutor gave chase, and captured the prisoner. When taken to the watch-house, the prisoner again attempted to escape.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Sentence—Five years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony.


SHOOTING AT, WITH INTENT .

(Before the same jury.)

Joseph Harrison pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with shooting at one Margaret Barry, with intent to do her some grievous bodily harm, on the 16th July.

The prosecutrix had been living with the prisoner for the last thirteen years, and led rather a quarrelsome life. On the 16th July prisoner took the tent from over the head of prosecutrix, and went away. He again returned on the morning of the 26th, and walking up to her, bid her "Good morning," and fired a pistol at her, but did not hurt her.

The jury acquitted the prisoner.

His Honor, although agreeing with the jury, would call upon the prisoner to be bound over, himself in £200, and two sureties in £100, to keep the peace towards Margaret Barry, and all others of Her Majesty’s subjects. The prisoner was then removed.


OBTAINING GOODS UNDER FALSE PRETENCES.

(Before the same jury.)

James Crawford Young pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with obtaining goods from one Elizabeth Tilley, amounting in value to £2 2s., under pretence that he owned a horse, which also belonged to a man named Murray. A second count charged him with obtaining money amounting to £3, under the same pretences.

The prosecutrix is managing a store for a Mr. Stainbridge, at Sandy Creek. On the day in question the prisoner went to the store and obtained some goods, amounting to £2 2s., under pretence that he was part owner with a Mr. Murray of a horse, which was just then turned into Mr. Stainbridge’s paddock. On the same day he got from Mr. Tilley three pounds in money under the same pretences. The prisoner had been in the habit of obtaining goods on credit from Mrs. Tilley previous to this occurrence.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty, with a recommendation to mercy.

The prisoner was remanded for sentence.

[The following day]:

... the Gaol delivery was gone through, when the following prisoners were brought up for

sentencing.

James Crawford Young found guilty of obtaining money under false pretences, but recommended to mercy. Sentence—Nine calendar months’ confinement in the Deborah hulk.


ROBBERY UNDER ARMS.

Before the following Jury:—R.H. Evans (foreman), A. Decker, W. Dunn, M. Edgar, J. Engliss, S. Tukett, T. Fowler, J. Day, W. Gipson, W. Adams, W. Beaver, G. Crockett.

Edward Williams and Leslie Robinson were placed at the bar, and pleaded not guilty to an information charging them with an offence of the above nature on the 7th July last at [the] Fryer’s Creek [diggings]. Mr. P. Thompson appeared for the prisoner Robinson.

The prosecutors, Edward Ellis and Samuel Jones, are butchers, residing at Fryer’s Creek. About nine o’clock in the evening of the 7th July last, Ellis and Jones were in their tent, when they heard the dogs bark, upon which Ellis went out, and saw three men: he bid them good evening. Shortly after Jones came out and talked with Ellis for about a quarter of an hour, when the three men pounced upon them, and told them to hold their tongues or they would shoot them, holding revolvers at their heads. The prisoner Williams then took Ellis into the tent, and robbed him of £2 in money, one bag, and one licence. During the time Ellis was in the tent, Jones called out "murder," and was threatened to have his brains blown out if he called out again. Jones did call out twice after that, when a shot was fired at him, and the prisoners ran away. During their flight a shot was fired at them from one of the neighboring tents. Shortly after, the prisoner Williams was captured at the tent of a doctor, while in the act of having his wounds dressed.

During the evidence both Ellis and Jones would not identify the prisoner Robinson, although in the deposition at the police hearing they had fully identified Robinson. Of the identity of Williams there was not the least doubt.

The evidence of the prosecutor Jones was so prevaricating and widely different from that given by him at the hearing at the Police Court, that His Honor ordered him to be detained in Court until the closing of the case.

His Honor, in summing up, chaged the jury to acquit the prisoner Robinson.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Edward Williams, and acquitted the prisoner Robinson.

Robinson was remanded.

Edward Williams was sentenced to twelve years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony, the first three years in irons.

contempt of court.

Samuel Jones, one of the prosecutors in the last case, and who was detained in the witness-box, was sentenced by His Honor to six months’ hard labor in gaol for contempt of Court; His Honor regretting that such flagrant conduct should go so lightly punished.


ROBBERY.

(Before the same jury.)

George Davis, James Downey, and Charles Rox, pleaded not guilty to an information charging them with stealing £30 10s., one nugget of gold, and one purse, the property of Edward Nugent, at Fryer’s Creek, on the 21st July last. Mr. P. Thompson defended Davis, and Mr. Windsor for Downey and Rox.

The prosecutor, Edward Nugent, is residing at Fryer’s Creek. He went to a sly-grog tent on the evening of the 21st July, to pay £1 which he was indebted to the owner of the tent. On arriving there he sat down and remained for a short time, when one of the prisoners caught hold of him from behind, and another stood in front of him, while the third, the prisoner Downey, put his hand into his pocket, and abstracted the money and gold named in the indictment. On the next day the prisoners were taken into custody; and on the prisoner Downey a sum of money was found, a half sovereign of which was identified by the prosecutor.

Mr. Windsor brought forward two witnesses to prove an alibi on the part of the prisoner Rox.

The jury retired for about an hour and a half, and brought in a verdict of Charles Rox not guilty, and guilty against George Davis and James Downey.

Sentence—Six years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony.


ROBBERY IN COMPANY.

Before the following jury:—John Davis (foreman), W. Foreman, J. George, R. Fitz, J. Ellis, R. Gates, W. Crow, T. Facy, J. Evans, J. Eastwood, Wm. Guymer, W. Finney.

William Williamson pleaded not guilty to an information, charging him with having violently assaulted one Joseph Waterworth, and robbed him of £45, and 8 dwts. of gold, on the 15th June last.

The prosecutor, Waterworth, is managing a store belonging to Mr. Christopher Ellis, at Choke’em Flat, Fryer’s Creek. A few evenings before the day in question, the prisoner and another man came to the store, and after making some small purchase went away. They came again in the evening of the 15th June, and priced some bacon. The prosecutor being alone in the store, the two men made an assault upon Waterworth, and robbed him of the moneys in the till and afterwards from his person, amounting in all to between £45 and £50. The prisoner was one of the men.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Sentence—Twelve years’ on the roads of the colony, the two first in irons.


ROBBERY IN COMPANY.

(Before the same Jury.)

Phillip Landrigan and William Molesworth, a sickly-looking man, pleaded not guilty to a[n] information charging them with having assaulted and robbed one Parker of £30 in money, 27 ounces of gold, one bag, one specimen of gold, and one watch, on the 7th July last.

The prosecutor and Molesworth were mates, gold-digging at the Bendigo. On the 4th July they shared what gold they had, being about 20 ounces to each, and on the 6th they dissolved partnership. On the 7th, prosecutor was going across the diggings carrying some calico, when he came across the prisoner Molesworth, who invited him to dinner, which he agreed to. After dinner they adjourned to a sly-grog, and after having a glass or two the prosecutor saw Molesworth and Landrigan go out, and the former making certain "offices" to the latter. The prisoners then challenged prosecutor to fight, when he was robbed of the moneys and gold in question. Prosecutor had his watch returned on the following day, when he had given information to the police.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty.

His Honor, in passing sentence, which was twelve years each on the roads of the colony, would not order that Molesworth be ironed, in consequence of his inability, from his sickly state, to endure the punishment; but Phillip Landrigan, being on the calendar as bond, he would order that the two first years be in irons.


STEALING GOLD ORE.

Joseph Pascoe, Francis Pascoe, and Henry Rowland pleaded not guilty to an information charging them with stealing 100 ozs. of gold-ore from one William Stevens, on the 18th May last.

This is the first case of the kind ever brought before a Judge, the facts being the stealing of washing-stuff.

The Attorney-General applied for their discharge, in consequence of there being no law under which they could be tried.

After a little discussion, His Honor ordered the discharge of the prisoners.

Argus 22 October 1853, 5/3:

13th October, 1853

His Honor Mr. Acting Chief Justice Barry took his seat at nine o’clock this morning, when the following was the business of the day.

CUTTING AND WOUNDING.

Before the following jury:—S. Love (foreman), J. Hayward, O. Jones, G. Gawler, N. Jenkins, W. Jamieson, T. Irving, W. Hope, G. Johnston, J. Knowles, J. Hartley, J. Jenkins.

James Brown pleaded not guilty to an information charging him with that he did maliciously with a certain knife, stab, wound, and cut one Arthur Mackininy at Bendigo, on the 7th September last, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. A second count charged the prisoner with cutting and wounding with intent to disfigure.

Mr. P. Thomson defended the prisoner.

The prosecutor Mackininy (who presented a shockingly disfigured face) and the prisoner Brown were gold-diggers, working in adjoining holes at the Back Creek, Bendigo. On the 6th September, being a very wet day, Mackininy and his mates did not go to work, but were informed during the morning that the prisoner Brown had cut a drain and was discharging the water from his pit into Mackininy’s; upon which Mackininy proceeded to the spot, and, being vexed at the time, struck the prisoner some blows with a pick-handle about the ribs; and, having stopped the course of water, went away. On the following morning, Mackininy again proceeded to his work, and met the prisoner Brown, also at his work. A few words were exchanged, Mackininy threatening to fill prisoner’s pit with water. From some reply prisoner made, Mackininy made towards him with the intention of striking him, when his foot slipped, and he fell; upon which the prisoner rushed upon him, kept him down, and inflicted several stabs about his face, ribs, and hand. Mackininy calling out murder, some diggers came to his assistance, when Brown ran away, but was soon after captured, and narrowly escaped being sacrificed to the rage of the diggers.

Verdict—Guilty on the first count. Sentence, eight years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony.

Back to Top

Argus 27 October 1853, 4/6:

BENDIGO.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

24th. October, 1853.

BREAD—Notwithstanding that flour is lowering, bread is rising in price on the White Hills. The 4 lb. loaf is 3s. 6d. Verily these bakers have no conscience! Not content with foisting sour flour on the diggers, they must raise the price of bread, when the material of which it is made is lowering. If a new bakery establishment springs up on the White Hills, the public will know how to give the present bakers "a Roland for an Oliver."

Geelong Advertiser 27 March 1854, 4/3:

BALLARAT AT NIGHT. — Viewed from the new township, far as the eye can reach tents of all sizes and forms stud the flats and ranges around, like a dim illumination wide spread; occasionally a lurid flame and a shower of sparks breaks from a camp-fire, and reveals dark figures moving to and fro misty as phantoms. A burst of music breaks on the ear, and is swept away as the wind comes, bearing with it a surge of adulation from the bowed tree tops. A crash is heard—vociferous shouts, peals of laughter mark the bowling alley. Close at hand the merry rat-a-tat of the drums calls lagging pensioners from pipe and nobbler to parade and duty. A few shots are discharged preparatory to some warlike digger retiring to his martial bunk. Stragglers wend homeward singing a merry song. Nightwork in the deep holes goes on silently. Earnestly, stalwart fellows buckling to with stern devotion to the hardest of hard work, baling out endless buckets of water from subterraneous sources constantly pouring in the deep, deep holes, slabbed from the grass roots to the primitive rocks. Great work! noble work! to delve bed after bed of debris, reft rock, porous clay, and sand drift, and, by pick and spade, bare the rock of its treasure, and force from nature, by dint of labor, gold, the measure of price. Look round! what a vast army of labor is camped here. Not Russians and Turks, burning with the amiable desire of cutting the throats of half a generation, but men toiling to win competency, and the results of whose labour, realised under yon Southern cross, will unlock the factories of the North, and check-mate poverty. Laborer, holy, simple labor, unlettered, cut in twain the Gordian knot that political sages recoiled from, Mount Bunninyong, wood-crested and cloud-draped, and thy gloomy brother Warranup towering upon the forest-clad ranges, until three years ago rose in desolation, but now, the busy hum of twenty thousand men wake up the solitude; the haunts of the Kangaroo and Dingo are marts of business, and where the black strode in independent security, are gathered men from all corners of the world. A bit of quartz, with a yellow speck upon it, that was all that was known when 1851 had half passed away, and now eighty thousand pounds per week would not purchase the result of a keen observation and the accidental tap of a hammer. Is it real? or being real, will it pass like the meteor shooting this moment athwart the brow of Black Hill, or the memory of the two humble men, who set in motion the gold-digging population, and are supposed to be recompensed by a grant of a thousand pounds each? Ugh! ’tis chill and damp—let us to our hostelrie.

Geelong Advertiser 29 March 1854, 4/2:

BALLARAT TOWNSHIP ON A WET DAY . — Hotels on new townships are thickly inhabited directly the roof is on. Partitions of canvass give a light airy appearance to apartments, and, as they belly out with the passing draughts, convey the idea of sleeping in a windsail; whilst the numerous occupants, passing to and fro, gives [sic] a lively representation of a "galanti show" [i.e., a shadow-pantomime, with shadows thrown upon a white screen], which the looker on, snugly ensconced in his blankets, enjoys in warmth and comfort, if he be philosophic enough to contemplate calmly the chances of a conflagration, against the chances of a drenched skin, from the pitiless cold rain pattering against the window panes, as though it were seeking admission—which it gets by trickling through the roof and down the walls, staining paper, and producing wild figures on the white canvass. The wind whistles, and then comes with a rush answering its own call, and sobs—and then the rain falls again pit-pat, with a marked emphasis, keeping time to the running accompaniment of a driblet, which is percolating the ceiling, and forming a small lake on the floor, which a bed-fellow, with a short pipe in his mouth, is contemplating complacently. At length his pipe is put out, the candle flickers in the socket, the last lodger blunders up stairs, and stumbles to bed, and the house is quiet for a few hours. Clang! Clang! Tin-tin-nebulum tang-clang-ge—Good heavens! All up! Are we schoolboys again? Unfinished Latin exercises crossed our troubled brain, and the pale visage of a cruel pedagogue started up alarmingly life-like to our apprehension—It was but the Ballarat breakfast-bell sounding—

Come to the table, those who’re able—
To take your coffee, your chop, or your tay;
If you don’t do it, you’re sure to rue it,
For you’ll get no more till the close of the day.

Reader! did you ever put on a pair of wet socks on a wet morning, and then a pair of wetter muddy trowsers, sopped through at the bottoms, and graduated upwards to an appreciable state of clamminess, sending a cold shiver through the frame. If so, you’ve experienced a delicious emotion, which the sight of your boots, standing lop-sided, fallen into heavy folds about the ancles, encased in a soft composite, which has been permeating the waterproof, until soles and uppers assume a most unhealthy, tripe-like appearance and feel has considerably increased. But the happiness culminates, when from contemplation you proceed to action, and essay to tug your boots on. The veins in your forehead may fill, your eyes start; you may look round in desperation, break a commandment, or choke the sin as it rises in your throat; that boot will not go on until it likes. Some ten minutes afterwards you may stamp your heels down and fancy that you did it, but you didn’t, the boot relented and went on. It was a passive act on the part of the boots, and you may now go to breakfast, as amicable as you like, for you have earned one. Such is the position necessary to enjoy a thorough wet day. Everything is wet: every-body is daguerreotyped by the weather, and looks gloomy. Men in great coats, with riding whips, cluster together and steam, drink nobblers and tap the heels of their spurred boots, look upwards and endeavour to persuade each other to what they cannot persuade themselves "that it will be a fine day yet." Then go to the stables—splash! splash! crossing slippery planks placed as temporary bridges across treacherous puddles, and landing on reeking dung-heaps to see horse flesh smoking hot, and, amphibious ostlers desperately attentive when a gentleman approaches under the influence of a prospective five shilling piece, brim full of profusions that the horse has been so well attended to that it couldn’t eat another mouthful, which he appeals to the empty manger in proof of. Nobblers again. Stray pensioners leave the barracks and indulge in a morning drain. Twenty strayed horses, foodless, empannelled in a stockyard, look wistfully, despondingly poor, and trample on the dead carcase of a poor beast imbedded in the mud. An armful of hay is thrown over the rails, and frantically the skeletons kick and snort to get a mouthful. Hay is sixty-five pounds per ton, and there is no Martin’s Act at Ballarat. Take up the paper again—Holloway’s Pills very entertaining, but Ointment of no efficacy with the clerk of the weather. The rain pours unabated—puddles grow into lakes—troopers look very crest fallen—commissioners keep within doors, the tents look fragile and cold—heavy mists break on the Mount, and, as the weather for a moment clears, down Buninyong rolls a whirling feathery body of vapour, a sure premonition of a drenched skin to the houseless. There is but one thing for it—a cheerful blaze—hot Medoc, and a determination to be cheerful under miserable circumstances, which recollections of what we underwent in 1851 makes very easy indeed, but since then we have become hot house plants.

Geelong Advertiser 3 April 1854, 4/2-3:

BALLARAT.

The shepherds are pretty busy just now, not only have they to attend to their claims, but shift their tents and erect chimneys. The late heavy rains have reminded the old diggers that low grounds and uncovered fires are hardly fitted for a winter campaign. The diggers of the present day, from dearly bought experience, have learned to have some regard for their health, well knowing that they cannot with impunity undergo hard work during their "shift" (be it night or day) and then return to a cold tent.

Many married diggers, too, are erecting very comfortable places for their families. Here and there a boarded and carpeted tent betrays the presence of the invisible occupant who though "she toil not, neither does she spin" still renders her presence a source of profit to her husband, principally by her influence in keeping him from the grog shop.

Geelong Advertiser 27 May 1854, 4/2 [from the Ballarat Times ]:

MORTALITY AT BALLARAT.—Whilst the other day examining the registry of deaths for these diggings, we were deeply affected by observing that out of all the large number of deaths registered since the commencement of that record, few, very few, of the deceased were above thirty years of age when they departed this life, and that a great proportion of them were minors. In the columns of the records before referred to, there are such appalling entries as the following, oftentimes repeated:—"Committed suicide while under the influence of drink;" "Died from delirium tremens caused by drink;" "Fell into a shaft when drunk;" and many other entries of disease from the same fatal source. To add to the melancholy picture, there are often such affecting entries as "Friends not known," so that in many instances the mother at home will never know the fate of the son, the lover of her betrothed, or the friend of the companion of his boyhood; but will be perpetually nursing that "hope deferred which maketh the heart sick," while the bones of the unconscious objects of their solicitude are whitening on a distant strand.—Ballarat Times.

Argus 11 August 1854, 3/4:

BENDIGO DIGGINGS.

inquests.—An inquest was held on Wednesday afternoon last, at Long Gully, on the body of a man named George Payne, who was found lying dead near a tent on the previous day. A post-mortem examination was made on the body, and from the evidence of Dr. Brealey it appeared that the heart was much diseased. Payne had been addicted to intemperate habits. A verdict was returned of "Died from natural causes."—Another inquest was held on Friday on the body of a digger named Martin Drennan, at the Black Creek. It appeared that the unfortunate deceased was taking down what is technically termed a "paddock," when one of the sides of the excavation fell in upon him, burying him alive. Some time elapsed before the accident was discovered, and when the deceased was dug out he was quite dead. The deceased was recently from Sydney, to which place he was about to return at the time of the accident.

Argus 18 August 1854, 5/2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 14th August, 1854.

CIRCUIT COURT.—His Honor the Acting Chief Justice Barry took his seat on the bench, in the Court House at Castlemaine, at ten o’clock, a.m., on the 9th inst., and a jury having been sworn, the business of the court was immediately commenced.

The Attorney-General prosecuted on behalf of the Crown.

WM. COOMBES, charged with shooting at James Anderson, at Bendigo, on the 4th of July last, was sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment, and ordered to find bail to keep the peace in the sum of one hundred pounds, there being no evidence of the pistol being loaded with any deadly missile.—HENRY BROWN , indicted for stealing a watch from William Gibney, on the 17th ultimo, at the Durham Ox, near Sutton Grange, where they had been drinking together, was sentenced to four years’ hard labor on the roads.—WILLIAM HOUGH , charged with stealing a carpet bag and tomahawk, the property of Christopher Mackay at the Avoca [diggings] on the 14th ultimo was sentenced to two years’ hard labor on the roads. JAMES AKINSON , indicted for shooting at Charles Hunter, at Fryer’s Creek [diggings], on the 20th of June last, with intent to do him some grievous bodily harm, was in the first instance found guilty of a misdemeanor, which not being in accordance with the statute, was refused by the Court, and the jury then returned a verdict of not guilty. This verdict either [as well] did not seem satisfactory, and the Court ordered the prisoner to find bail, himself in £100, and two sureties in £50 each, for his future good conduct.—HENRY WILLIAMS , charged with stealing on the 5th of April last, a horse, the property of Edward Kimpton, of Tarrengower, was sentenced to nine years on the roads.—JOHN CARMAN , charged with stealing a £10 note from Mrs. Caulfield, at Adelaide Flat [diggings], Forest Creek, on the 8th ultimo,, was found guilty: sentence, five years’ hard labor on the roads.—R D. WILSON , BEN J. WILBY , and GEORGE PARMINGTON , charged with robbery in company of one Wm. R. Litson, on the 12th June last, were sentenced each to eight years’ hard labor on the roads.—EDWARD THOMAS , indicted for stealing a pistol and other articles, the property of E. Mack, at Daisy Hill, and from his tent, was found guilty, and sentenced to six years on the roads.—JERRY MURRAY was sentenced to twenty months’ hard labor on the roads, for stealing some wearing apparel from the Clarenden Hotel, Barker’s Creek, Castlemaine.—DAVID WILLIAMS , being found guilty of stealing some firearms and other property from Robert Goodwin’s tent, at the Avoca, on the 16th June last, was ordered to be sent to Melbourne Gaol for medical treatment, being considered of weak intellect.—PATRICK DOHERTY and JOHN LOYD , charged with bribing a witness to prevent his giving evidence, were found guilty, and sentenced,—Doherty to two years on the roads, and Loyd to eighteen months.—G. MORETON , a cadet in the Mounted Police Force, charged with obstructing some of his men in the execution of their duty at Burnbank, was fined in the mitigated penalty of 40s., and ordered to find security for his good behaviour for twelve months.—THOMAS CONNELL, charged with cutting and wounding Aaron England, on the 15th of June last at Amphitheatre Station, was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment.—JOHN CLARK, for a grievous assault on Mrs. Kenworthy, a storekeeper at Tarrengower, on the 22nd June last, got two years on the roads.—PERCY WILLIAMS , charged with forgery of the Roman Catholic priest’s name of this district, was sentenced to eighteen months in the hulks—and MICHAEL DUFFY got five years for robbery at the Avoca in June last.—RYAN out on bail, and the co-partner of Connell, who bolted about a fortnight since, being charged with horse-stealing, did not think it advisable to appear before His Honor, and followed the example set by his companion in making himself scarce to defeat the ends of justice.

Argus 18 August 1854, 5/2-3:

BENDIGO.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Sandhurst, August 14th, 1854.

EDUCATION ON THE BENDIGO.— A month or two since[,] I made some remarks upon the subject of education, expressing regret that so little attention appeared to be paid towards the instruction of the rising generation on the Bendigo. In doing so I expressed not only my own sentiments, but those of others who looked upon the provision made for the education of the children of this district to be lamentably insufficient. Others, however, held a different opinion, it would seem, for I subsequently heard these remarks dissented from, and a great deal said about the number of schools and schoolmasters here, and the attendance of large numbers of children. The visit of Mr. Orlebar, the Inspector of National Schools, to Bendigo, affords a fitting opportunity for resuming the subject, and I am sorry to say that the opinions of this gentleman, formed upon an inspection of all the schools here, confirm my previous strictures.

Mr. Orlebar’s visit had reference not only to the inspection of the National schools at present in existence, but to the practicability of establishing others, and to the subject of education in this district generally. It appears that the number of schools at the Bendigo is seven, of which two are conducted under the national system, three are Wesleyan, one Presbyterian, and one Roman Catholic. There are no schools connected with the Church of England, the Rev. Mr. Gregory, the Episcopalian clergyman here, taking an active part in the establishment of National schools. Of these the Presbyterian school, which was established by the exertions of Dr. Allison, is alone unsupported by the Government. One National school is at Sandhurst, near View Point, and the other at the Seventh White Hill. Mr. Orlebar states that the most numerous attendance which he found at the former place was thirty-two children, and at the latter fourteen. All these children are very young, and none are far advanced in the several branches of education. This might naturally be expected in a district where there are such inducements to children as soon as they are serviceable to take employment of some sort. Altogether, he was very much disappointed with the National Schools of this district. The Wesleyans have a school at Sandhurst, another at Golden-square, and a third at the White Hills. The attendance at the first is about forty, at the third thirty-five, and at the second somewhat less. At the Presbyterian school the number of children in attendance is about thirty-four, and at the Roman Catholic about fifty. It will thus be seen that the largest attendance is at the Wesleyan schools, being about 108. The next is the Roman Catholic, while the National schools do not number more than forty-six children, although all the interest of the Church of England clergymen is thrown into the scale. Now, it needs no remarks of mine to prove that this is not as it should be; Mr. Orlebar himself seems quite convinced of this, and will no doubt take such steps as to secure some marked improvement. Besides the two masters of the National schools I have alluded to, there is a third gentleman, who was appointed to take charge of a school in this district, but there is no vacancy for him. He is, as may be expected, very much dissatisfied, and talks of compensation. Why not locate this gentleman at Milkmaid Flat, or at Bullock Creek? There is a large population at the former place, and the township at the latter is rapidly becoming filled with a permanent population.

The total number of children at the seven schools I have enumerated is about two hundred and thirty-eight, and this in a population of some thirty thousand. Making every allowance for the peculiar nature of the population, in which there is so small a proportion of families, for the desultory and nomadic habits of gold-diggers, and for the many inducements to children to follow some employment instead of attending school—making every possible allowance, this number is ridiculously small, and cannot be one seventh of the number of children in this district who should be in regular attendance at schools. The character of a large portion of the succeeding generation, brought up amidst all the demoralising influences of such an unsettled and vagabond life as that of the gold-digger, and almost destitute either of religious or secular instruction, may be anticipated. One of the most serious and important duties of the Government is the education of the thousands of children on the gold-fields, and how well this important duty is at present attended to, let the condition of Bendigo testify.

Argus 18 August 1854, 5/3:

BENDIGO DIGGINGS.

Police Office.—On Wednesday last Richard and Charlotte Smitheram, Geo. Williams, and J. Smith alias Regan, were charged with being rogues and vagabonds and being found in the public highway with intent to commit a felony. It appeared that the prisoners, about twelve o’clock on the night of the 2nd inst., cut open the tent of a person named Strange, at View Point, but were prevented from taking anything before the inmates were roused by the barking of a dog. Sergeant Ryall, of the troopers, proved that Smitheram and his wife were notoriously bad characters. Sergeant O’Neil gave similar evidence. The Police Magistrate sentenced Smitheram and his wife, and the prisoner Williams, to two years’ imprisonment. There was no evidence against Smith, but he was detained in custody on suspicion of being illegally at large.

Geelong Advertiser 21 August 1854, 4/1-2:

BALLAARAT.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

From every quarter we hear of robberies—stores, tents, and the wayfaring, are alike laid under tribute, by lawless hordes who set the authorities at defiance. If you chance to have much money you are robbed, if it is but little it is taken, and you are shamefully beaten for being so poor. Horse-stealing is usually very rife at this particular season of the year; but it appears that this one is about to surpass all its predecessors—the police, the settlers on the various lines of road, and the pound-keepers, are beset from morning till night by parties in quest of lost horses. In some cases as many as fifty such applicants have been at one police station during a day, and as there is generally a list of acquaintances horses in a similar predicament, the matter begins to assume a serious aspect.

The police certainly have lately roused themselves to something like a discharge of their duty, and we may expect that a few of the worthies concerned in these lawless acts will meet with their deserts. But it is questionable if any great good is gained by these fits of official activity, coming as they always do after a long spell of official indolence, during the continuance of which matters have progressed so well that the near approaches of the millenium might justly be calculated on.

To all appearances we have abundance of force to preserve social order, the best means of accomplishing which I humbly opine would be to keep those requiring restraint gently in hand at all times, and not as at present giving them free rein at one time, and immediately after to show your power over them, holding them so closely that they will neither lead nor be driven.

I have lately heard several complaints by diggers, of narrow escapes from bulls on many of the plains. The settlers cannot be expected to watch his cattle at all times when on his own run, but he can hardly be surprised occasionally to hear of some valuable bull being sacrificed by the passer-by in absolute self defence. Such a course could alone save the solitary armed digger on a plain, and he might be driven to a like means of defence, if tried, in a timbered district.

Argus 12 October 1854, 4/6:

BALLAARAT.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)

fatal accident.—On Sunday morning, a man was drawn up from one of the Eureka shafts, quite dead. His mates report that deceased had been missing since Friday last [5 days earlier]. It is thought that the unfortunate man, whose turn it was to watch the washing-stuff on the night mentioned, must have fallen down the hole, and died for want of timely aid.

Geelong Advertiser 28 November 1854, 4/4:

BALLAARAT.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)

Complaints are very rife to tent and store robberies; there is not a night in which the light fingered gentry are not on the move; there is but little too trivial for them, if they can secure can secure nothing else, a pair of blankets is taken, and as I have known instances of late, the digger retiring at night from his work finds that his bedding is all gone, and that he is reduced to the necessity of knocking up some storekeeper at a later hour, or remaining all night without any covering, a pleasant prospect after a days (sic) hard work. Horse stealing is rising to such a pitch as to render stock of that description perfectly valueless, unless, very strongly built stabling can be had to guard them at night. It would be almost worth while to have the country covered with electric telegraphs to put down this crime. The increased term of punishment does not appear to deter the lazy scoundrels in the least, and, indeed, from the facility with which the stolen horses are disposed of, it is a grave question, can horse stealing be put under at all?

Back to Top

B. Grog, Groggeries, Sly Groggeries, & Hocussing;

 

DRINK ON THE DIGGINS

Geelong Advertiser 10 September 1852, 2/1:

[from the Geelong Advertiser correspondent, A.C.]:

EUREKA. Reiterations even of prosperity are apt to grow irksome; to avoid which, at the same time, is to deprive one of subject matter. Good fortune is benignantly smiling on most of us. Hard work and quick returns, comprise in one sentence the fate of the majority. Busy as men can be and content, we work from morn till nightfall, and round off with a hearty meal, and a heavy sleep. Deep sinking, I assure you, is a fine remedy for dyspepsia, and a day’s hard puddling, more infallible than Holloway’s unguents, Parr’s Life Pills, or the choicest prescription culled from the Pharmacopeæ. Then what a faculty it creates for mutton making man doubly carniverous, and robust as Hercules. It would do an invalid good, to witness the appetite of a digger, after a day’s work, just as he throws aside his sopped and bemudded garments, and puts on a change, dry it is true, but coated as with a cast of plaster of Paris; then is the time for a "tot," "nip," "nobbler," or "sensation" if you can get it, and staunch, indeed, would be the Teetotaller to his principles, who would refuse under the circumstances; what a boon it would be were there a licensed house established for the sale of liquors, for men will have them, and if public houses are needed in towns, how much more are they near a gold field, tenanted by men exposed constantly to the inclemency of the weather, and wet through wholly on an average every other day, and half wet the remainder. You, in town have no idea, not the most remote, of the invigorating relish imparted here by a glass of spirits, and in the absence of a regular licensed house, twenty substitutes start into existence—a want is felt, and met, the want a natural one, the provision illegal, and hence spring{s} misdemeanours, fines, imprisonment and tent-burnings. Crime is created through supervision and a cast of forethought. And, perhaps, sir, for thus speaking plainly according to my wont, I may be termed a "tippler," by same [some] charitable purist of the Temperance Code, but "n’importe," my motives are good, despite the construction that may be put upon them.

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/2:

SYMPATHY FOR GROGSELLERS

SIR ,—An event has occurred this week, that will, I think, astonish you, Sir, as also the diggers generally. Shall I say it? Canscience [sic] says "yes!"

The discovery of the richest diggings in Victoria, viz. :—The Eureka, the Canadian Diggings, the upholder of Ballarat, the riend of the distressed, in fact the Howard of Ballarat, the man who, in his short career on the diggings, has, by his advice and purse, assisted numbers—

"Has been what!" "Fined £30 ———!"

It is not the fine, because such things are, and will be: and until the Legislative Council adopt some measure, either by licensing respectable stores, or having licensed houses on the diggings, such places must exist.

What does [sic] our gentlemen of Victoria know of a digger’s life, up to the middle all day in water?

What, with the arduous labour and excitement of gold getting, is it not feasible he should require a "nobbler," not only to keep him from catching cold, but to keep his blood in a proper temperature.

The gentlemen of Victoria may say, why not take with them a sufficient quantity to last as long as they think of remaining. Aloow me to say, Sir, that if known, you are not allowed to have even a single bottle. I have been on these diggings a long time—nearly the first party—and have seen them even destroy empty kegs—little more than full bottles.

As I before observed, it is not the fine—already are subscription lists being opened on the various diggings, from the Canadian to the Mount, by parties who are acquainted with, and have benefited by this benevolent man. Numbers of letters has he received from the Mount and diggings generally, stating that there are sufficient of them to not only pay the fine, and raise him a good round sum to meet future emergencies of a similar nature, should they again occur—even should they only contribute one farthing each—therefore the fine is secondary.

I have understood from various parties that stores at the Mount are licensed to sell liquors, &c., I may have been misinformed, but if so, why not that privilege at Ballarat—depend upon it the diggers will enjoy themselves in their own way, and there will always be vendors.
The insertion of the above will oblige, Sir,
A constant reader, and
OLD BALLARAT DIGGER.

Canadian Gully, Ballarat,
September 5th, 1852.

Geelong Advertiser 8 October 1852, Supplement, 1/2: [from the EUREKA correspondent]:

On Friday last, a large seizure of spirits was made at the Leigh, two miles from this. Such actions are commendable in one sense, because it is against the law to bring up spirits, and in consequence of that law, it was more than likely adulterated and made fit for diggers to drink. Gold-digging is very hard labour, it requires a great deal of exertion and energy in the pursuit, and the animal spirits require to be kept up against discouragement, &c; a glass of brandy is singularly efficacious in affections like this, and it is therefore pretty generally enquired for. Government think proper, however, to prohibit the sale of it, and will not license a house in the neighbourhood; this law has afforded many unprincipled men an opportunity of making a fortune by selling at an extortionate price, adulterated liquor to those actually in want of some stimulant; the grog shops have become a necessary evil, and if conducted respectably would in spite of the law be extensively patronised, persons keeping such places & selling liquor at reasonable prices, would be considered more as benefactors of the people, than breakers of the law, for no law in Victoria, no law on earth will prevent men, from taking that which they have been accustomed to, and which they fancy does them good.

R.W.B.

Geelong Advertiser 29 October 1852, 2/1:

FASHIONABLE ARRIVALS.

AT THE NEW STORE, EUREKA.—The Commissioner and a corps of mounted police[:] the brave fellows made a terrific attack upon sundry cases of tobacco, pipes, red herrings, lemon syrup, &c., having ascertained that the pickled onions were not floating in whiskey, nor the preserved cherries in Cognac; the whole force made a precipitate retreat across the gully just as the proprietor who had been run after by the terrified storekeeper came to the rescue.

AT THE UPPER GULLY .—Two drays half loaded, the police having kindly taken charge of the other half, consisting of five gallon kegs and gin cases, the carriers having strangely forgotten who they belonged to, or what they were going to do with them, and being, of course, totally ignorant of their contents.

Geelong Advertiser 13 November 1852, 2/1: [Editorial]:

SLY GROG SELLING, is a very quaint appellation for a very common practice, engendered by bad laws, cherished by prospects of great gain, and undeterred by summary conviction and heavy mulcts. Regarded by the law as illegal, it is looked upon by the many as a necessity, fraught with much evil, yet administering crookedly to the public wants. Its slyness is a characteristic forced upon it by the anomaly manifested by the present regulations for the sale of spirituous liquors. Sly grog selling is a crime in the bush, but the same practice, differing only in name, is respectable and honourable enough in town and city, where bricks and mortar consecrate the calling which is stigmatized and made punishable among stringy-bark and gum trees. A locality creates a crime, and is supposed to transmogrify wants and appetites—the inhabitants of a town, surrounded with comfort, may drink to his heart’s content, but the denizen of the bush, battling with every discomfort, and exposed to the vicissitudes of weather, must be debarred the use of spirituous liquors. Sly grog selling! What hypocrisy must have existed in the god-fathers and god-mothers who gave it that name. I wonder if those who made the law to punish the crime of its own erection ever drank. Some of the legislators of old—if books tell truly—were mighty wine bibbers, and some of our modern legislators in this colony are present admirers of "Martell’s best." Several of our justices of the peace can, and do take their "cold without," like peaceable Christian men. Our commissioners can crack a bottle right merrily, and smack their lips with a loving gusto. The police do take their nobblers, after the current colonial custom—that is, rapidly and without winking. All are permitted to drink except gold diggers, whose avocation and nature are supposed not to require it, and who, as a class, are to be drilled into tee-totalism, and water men, by act of Council, so that they may become a pure, model race, and an example to all other classes of the community, illustrative of morality and heavy taxation. Sly! the law makes it so. The grog seller in the bark hut pays as much to the Government as the retail spirit merchants of the town—true, he charges enormously, but then, his calling is doubly hazardous,{"} and he insures himself against the £50 fine and seizure. A sly grog seller is an enterprising bush spirit merchant, a purveyor of comforts to a tabooed race—and the best and only means to suppress it, is to legalise the traffic, and afford to the diggers the same facilities for the procuration of comforts, as those which are enjoyed by townspeople, which could be done by leasing a few stores on the diggings, for the sale of spirituous liquors, or permitting the erection of an inn in the locality. Without a change of this sort, sly grog selling will be as rife as ever—informers will flourish, and grog-shops be cherished by the very men paid to suppress them, but who regard them as a source of revenue, and luxuriate in the prospect of participating in fines and seizures. A great risk for la arge [large] profit is incentive enough to induce many to embark in the trade, which, if legalized, would be openly carried on, and the obloquy being removed, the business would pass into other hands, and be trausacted [transacted] like any other occupation, and thus a healthy reform be worked in a trade which neither fine or [sic] imprisonment can suppress.

Argus 15 December 1852, 4/6:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 13th December, 1852.

Sly-grog seizures still continue brisk, hardly a day passing without some case or other being heard at the Police Office, Castlemaine, and invariably met by the infliction of heavy fines: thereby well lining the pockets of the gentlemen of the musket and bayonet. However much required and essential to the well being of the digging community, may be the putting down sly-grog selling, a straightforward course ought to be pursued by parties laying the informations, for it often happens that well-disposed and respectable parties, who have not the least intention of turning their hands to sly-grog selling, are led into a snare by these informers, and when they are least aware of it, are brought before the Magistrate for the offence, and dealt with accordingly. My attention has been drawn, within these last few days, to a shameful case of this nature, where a respectable person was ensnared by three of the constables. The case was heard at the Police Office on Saturday last. The circumstances are these: about a fortnight ago, a person named Carey came from Melbourne with a horse and dray, bringing with him some sugar and other supplies, for sale, and had with him about a quart of brandy. When he arrived here, he proceeded towards More Pork in company with another dray belonging to his brother; on his road he was hailed by three men, who represented themselves as diggers, and made a purchase of a bag of sugar. The three diggers asked Carey if he had not a drop of liquor he could let them have; and he "treated" them with a little each from the small quantity he had. They endeavored to press upon him the acceptance of five shillings as payment for his grog. After a great deal of coaxing, and telling him that they were lucky diggers, and could well afford five shillings for a glass of grog, he ultimately consented, when they took him, his dray, horse, and his brother’s dray and horse also. Carey was fined £15, and forfeited his horse and dray. By the way, the horse which Carey had at the time belonged to his brother, who was sick in bed. Carey has since proceeded to town, to draw up a memorial for presentation to His Excellency the Governor, praying him to consider the circumstances of the case, and mitigate the punishment. This is one instance, of numbers, practised upon unsuspecting persons, who are inveigled into the snares of prowling constables, and severely punished for their weakness. Such conduct ought not to be allowed. I have heard of instances of these disguised constables calling at the tents of respectable and peaceful diggers, representing themselves as being very ill, and have obtained a glass of liquor, which parties have had for their own use, with no intention whatever of selling it; they have pressed upon them the payment, and, when taken, punished them for so doing. If these protectors of the public peace were as active and cunning in suppressing robberies, &c., great praise would be due to them, much more so than when they practise their underhand cunning on unwary and well-disposed persons.

Argus 11 May 1853, 4/4:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, May 9th, 1853.

The seizure of sly-grog tents, or houses, has now become of nightly occurrence. The mode of procedure in three or four instances of late has been most shameful. Last week, a tent, or rather a wooden building, with tarpaulin cover, belonging to Mr. Henry, and long used as a board and lodging house, was seized at night, the tarpaulin torn off, and some thirty diggers lodging therein left without a covering over their heads for the whole of the night: three out of the number being very ill, and under the doctor’s hands. Next morning, before the case was tried, the remainder of the building was pulled down, and carried away to Castlemaine. On Saturday night last, another of these board and lodging houses, accommodating forty persons, belonging to a man named Richard McMahon, situate at Castlemaine, was also seized, and although at night, the covering was torn off, and about forty individuals allowed to pass the remainder of the night under the canopy of heaven. The seizure of sly-grog tents is a thing most anxiously wished, but some discretion ought to be used in effecting the same. How is it possible a number of lodgers in any of these houses can get lodgings for a night? Knowing this, is it not a very hard case to take such steps for putting these down? Would it not be as well to wait a few hours for pulling down premises? How far the police are justified in proceeding this length on making seizures, remains a question to be discussed by the learned gentlemen of the law; but it would appear that the step is premature, for what compensation can a person claim, and from whom, should it so happen that upon the examination of the case, the party should prove to be innocent? Would it not be the better plan, on any seizure being made, to leave the place in charge of police, until after the case has been tried? And then would be high time to seize premises, should the defendant be found guilty. Under present circumstances, I am inclined to think that some day the innocent will be the sufferer.

Argus 16 May 1853, 5/3-4:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, 12th May, 1853.

In consequence of four seizures having been made at Castlemaine on Saturday last, the buildings torn down by the police, and forty-two individuals turned out of one board and lodging house, with some score persons, including women, dragged out of another, to find beds where best they could [see police court report below for 19th May 1853], I paid a visit there on Monday morning, and the first thing which caught my view was the remains of one of the buildings destroyed by the police, belonging to a man named Adams, and on a board immediately in front of the door were placards, which read thus:—

MEN OF CASTLEMAINE!

Meet on the hill behind the Baptist Chapel, to discuss relative to the proceedings of the Government on Saturday night. Chair to be taken at four o’clock this day.

N.B. The Sheriff has been invited to attend.

You are requested to attend the Police Court on Monday next, at 91/2 o’clock, and watch the proceedings.

POLICE v. M’MAHON.
DO. v. A DAMS.

On proceeding further, I met groups of men seriously discussing the aforesaid doings of the authorities. At length I had reached the ruins of what on Saturday night was an extensive boarding and lodging house, belonging to a Mr. M’Mahon, where I again saw the same notices. On arriving at the Police Office, I was surprised at the excitement which prevailed: the large room was crowded to suffocation, and about one hundred people outside anxiously awaiting the issue of the case. At the table in the room I noticed solicitors Messrs. Paynter, Wigley, Fitzgerald, and O’Cock, the Rev. Mr. Jackson, Mr. Hitchcock, and several other gentlemen, watching the case of M’Mahon, which was then under examination, and of which I enclose a report. Immediately on the decision of the Bench being made known, almost every countenance beamed with delight, and Mr. M’Mahon was greeted on all sides with hearty congratulations for his deliverance from the snares of a perjurer; and shortly after the man Mangan was brought out in custody on a charge of perjury. Prior to the opening of the Court, the authorities, knowing the state of public feeling, had taken the precaution to have the military, mounted police, foot police, and all their available force in readiness, and ammunition served out. On leaving the camp, and returning to the township, I found business partially suspended, and one and all preparing to take an active part in the forthcoming meeting. At the appointed hour for the holding the meeting, messengers were despatched to all the places of business, which were yet open, requesting them to close and attend the meeting. The meeting (of which I enclose a report) was numerously and respectably attended, and every indication of determination evinced.

The next morning the following was posted about the diggings:—

"DOWN WITH THE CHRISTIAN TROOPER AND SHOOT HIM."

"DOWN WITH THE OPPRESSION AND THE TYRANT BERKLEY."

"DIGGERS, AVENGE YOUR WRONGS, AND DEMAND YOUR RIGHTS, OTHERWISE YOU
WILL LIVE AND DIE ALL SLAVES."

"DOWN WITH THE [Government] CAMP; UP WITH CHRISTIAN.
CRY NO QUARTER, AND SHOW NO MERCY."

The doings of the police have long threatened to call forth the indignation of the digging community, and at length the cry is raised. In the present instance, you can conceive the feelings of the people, when it is considered that the leaders in the movement were our most respectable storekeepers, auctioneers, and others; men of discernment and wealth; and it was not only a few of that number that seemed to feel the insult offered to the laws of the land, and sympathise with the sufferers. It would be as well if I here give detail of the proceedings of the police on the occasion. On Saturday night, a party of mounted and foot police were marched with drawn swords, to the tent or lodging-house of Mr. M’Mahon, wherein were forty-two individuals, some in bed, some doing one thing and some another: the tent was searched, and one keg of home-brewed beer found. Mr. M’Mahon was handed over into custody for sly-grog-selling, by Mr. Christian, sub-inspector of police. The lodgers were all ordered out of the tent, and then commenced the work of destruction, by pulling down the whole building, and carting the same into the camp. The police then proceeded to another lodging-house, belonging to a man named Adams, wherein were some twenty lodgers,, together with women, and one or two invalids. These persons were ordered, or rather dragged out of the tent, Mr. Adams given into custody, and the place immediately torn down,—the police during the while exulting in the destruction, the one vieing with the other to see who could do the most damage. And their officer, Mr. Christian, who, together with the men, appeared there anything but teetotallers, exclaiming every now and again, "This is glorious work!" "What glorious fun!" &c. Subsequent to Adams’s[,] two other tents were pulled down and carted to Castlemaine. This has been the conduct of the police for some time past in reference to the seizure of sly-grog-tents. Although the law awards the forfeiture of tent and utensils, in cases when convictions for sy-grog-selling takes place, it does not justify the pulling down and destroying of buildings previous to the hearing of the case, as in the present instance. Although this has been done in every case since the passing of the new Licensing Act, convictions have invariably followed so far, until on Saturday night, when the amount of property destroyed and damage sustained was far greater than on any other occasion, the parties were declared innocent, and the informer himself incarcerated for perjury. And strange to say, he was the informant in the four cases. It is not only the destruction of property on these occasions which has called forth the indignation of the residents at Castlemaine, but the manner in which it is done by the police, as it very often happens that many of the very men who are so zealous for carrying out the law, are at the time unable to keep steady feet, or give a civil word. And again, it often happens, that in pulling down the premises of a sly-grog-seller, no notice is taken of what damage is done to property in the building, and thus much irreparable losses have been sustained, over and above what the law awards; and it has been, when the police have actually taken away every particle contained in these tents, and the mistake found out, that an order having been issued for the return of the same, gold and other valuables have not been forthcoming, and, in one particular instance, somewhere to the value of thirty pounds are not made good to this day! The only answer given to the party suffering the loss and annoyance, being "Oh! It’s all a mistake of a blundering sergeant." Can it be wondered at when such things have been going on, that such should be the feelings of the diggers in the present instance?

The riddance of sly-grog on these diggings would indeed be [indecipherable] upon our community; but it is not to be done consistently with a tendency to oppression. The laws of the land are [indecipherable] severe in the way of punishing persons who break the same. If we could only prevail upon those who have the carrying out of them to respect the laws. The liberty of the subject must at all times be a consideration. If a sly-grog-seller is informed against, let him be apprehended, and a watch set over the premises until such time as the examination be gone through, and, after that, if he should be found guilty, then by all means carry out the law in respect to the forfeiture of tent and utensils, but not damage, or cause to be damaged or lost, any property which may belong thereto. And, above all, let us have men to conduct these seizures who have at all times their senses about them, and who will not overstep the bounds of the law in their zeal towards the efficient discharge of their duties, thereby making themselves obnoxious not only to the public, but also to those whom they control.

Argus 16 May 1853, 5/4-5:

IMPORTANT PUBLIC MEETING,
CASTLEMAINE.

A public meeting was convened by hastily distributed placards, at four o’clock on Monday evening, the 9th inst., on the hill immediately behind the Baptist Chapel, Castlemaine, to take into consideration the propriety of taking measures to put a stop to the illegal proceedings of the police, and to demand from the Government restitution on the part of those who were the sufferers on the previous Saturday evening. A few minutes having been allowed for the presence of the Sheriff, that functionary made his appearance at about a quarter-past four o’clock, and took his seat on the dray appropriated as a platform, together with the Rev. Mr. Jackson, Mr. Hitchcock, Drs. Souther, Preshaw, and Gill, and Mr. McEwen. About one thousand persons were present at the commencement of the meeting, which was augmented previous to its conclusion by a few hundreds more; amongst the most prominent being almost all the respectable storekeepers and residents at Castlemaine.

Mr. W. HITCHCOCK, auctioneer, said, he hoped the Sheriff would excuse him for saying that the meeting was honored by the presence of a gentleman who represented the head of the Government here; and while he was present with them, he (the speaker) hoped every man would show a respect for his character which would suppress every ebullition of prejudiced feeling or sinister animosity. The meeting should recollect that they were assembled on the gold-fields, and he trusted that good order and regularity would be observed. He would propose that the Rev. Mr. Jackson take the chair, which was carried with loud cheers before it was seconded.

The Rev. Mr. JACKSON said, as they had called him to preside on this occasion, he appeared before them as one who was decidedly in favor of order at all times, and would do everything in his power to support Government in maintaining the peace, at the same time he was a determined opponent to anarchy and oppression, whether emanating from the Government or any other source; he therefore took the chair on this occasion with alacrity, and felt called upon to-day to enlarge upon the object which had assembled so vast a multitude; whereas, under ordinary circumstances, he should have felt bound, as chairman of the meeting, simply to lay before them its intentions, and then call upon any gentleman to speak to the resolutions. But co-operating so ardently as he did in this movement[,] he felt it was incumbent upon him to express his sentiments candidly, and without hesitation. He now came before them for the purpose of laying the grievances of certain injured and suffering parties fairly before them in order that something might be determined upon to prevent a recurrence of such disgraceful proceedings as were manifest here on Saturday last. (Hear, hear.) He had been an eye-witness of what then went on; and having come on the township with the express intention of spending a little time with Adams, he saw parties employed in pulling that tent to pieces. He (the Chairman), asked Mrs. Adams the reason of it, and deplored the disgraceful manner in which the premises were being dilapidated. There was no seizure or confiscation, but a wanton and wilful destruction of property. The police were told by Mr. Christian, the officer in command, to put him (the speaker) out. Another official exclamed [sic] "—him! lock him up!" And why? simply because he went to sympathise with a member of his own congregation. (Sensation.) At length Mr. Adams was ordered to be incarcerated, and would have been assuredly locked up, had not Mr. Hitchcock and himself applied to the magistrate to have him bailed out. Having urged the case for some length of time, his Worship at last consented, but could not fix the amount of bail until he had seen Mr. Christian, to ascertain what amount of liquor was seized at M’Mahon’s and Adams’s! The bail was at last fixed upon at £100 each. The public were already aware how the case had terminated this morning. Being somewhat of a phrenologist, and having seen the fellow Mangan on Sunday morning, he (the Chairman) expressed his opinion as to the character of the man. What had been the result? It had been elicited that the scoundrel had been transported into this neighborhood, and his evidence was so contradictory, so meagre and inconsistent, that their Worships gave it as their opinion that the case for the prosecution had entirely broken down, and all the other informations which relied upon his evidence should not be entertained. Therefore the meeting had now before them the instant acquittal of a persecuted man, honorably discharged by an unanimous and intelligent Bench, without a single stigma upon his character. He (the Chairman) was a lover of liberty in every sense of the word; he wished to dwell in a land in which he could breathe the pure air of freedom, and where he could express his sentiments as openly as he could do at his own table. He thought that the public were bound to maintain inviolable every right which they possessed, and that they ought not passively, and without resistance, to witness the base infringement of human privileges. Had these men been pronounced guilty first, then it would have been time enough for the Government to effectuate this destruction of their property. Everything that had been done, had been done in daring violation of the law. Had twenty men appeared here on Saturday night, and begun to demolish these places of their own accord, the result would have been their arrest as incendiaries, and they would have been sent for twelve or eighteen months or several years upon the roads of the colony; and for what? Why, for what a body of levellers accomplished when led on by a detachment of the police. (Hear.) He thought the time now arrived when then should speak their thoughts, opinions, and sentiments to the Colonial Government without reservation or delay; and there should be no mincing of the matter. Let them be united, firm, and unflinching, maintaining inviolate those liberties which they possessed, and contending for the [illegible] enjoyed as the birthright of every Englishman, Scotchman, and Irishman. (Loud and prolonged cheers.) He would ask the meeting what good could be expected from tacit submission were the people to continue lukewarm, apathetic, or indifferent.

Back to Top

Argus 19 May 1853, 5/3-4:

IMPORTANT INTELLIGENCE
CASTLEMAINE POLICE COURT.
(BEFORE MESSRS. SHADFORTH AND REYNELL .)

Monday, 9th May, 1853.

Richard M’Mahon, the proprietor of the "Mount Alexander Coffee Rooms," Castlemaine, appeared before the local magistrate, and the resident Adelaide Gold Commissioner, to answer the information of one Daniel Higgins, charging the defendant with selling, on ther [sic] evening of Friday, the 6th instant, one nobbler of spirits, for 1s. 6d., to a person named Mangan.

Mr. Paynter appeared for the respondent, and the Court was crowded to suffocation. Witness [Mangan] stated, on oath, that he was attached to the Castlemaine constabulary: that he knew the defendant, Richard M’Mahon; and purchased the liquor from him on Friday night. When he gave the information, he did not make any arrangement with regard to the amount of bonus which he was to receive. Witness was not actually sworn in as a constable.

By the Bench.—Did you expect, if the defendant was fined, that you would receive part of the moiety?

Witness.—If it was promised! (Laughter.)

By Mr. Paynter.—Have you been promised it at all, Sir?

Witness.—I have not.

Mr. Paynter.—Then, why have you been shilly-shallying so long?

Witness.—I do not understand what you have been driving at so long. (Laughter.)

By Mr. Paynter.—Were you ever told that you were to be paid so much on every conviction you got?

Witness.—No.

By Mr. Paynter.—Not been promised any sum of money? I will put the question in that form.

Bench (peremptorily.)—The witness has already sworn that he has not been promised any money or reward. Now we will come to the defendant, who you went to on Friday evening. What description of tent was it?

Witness.—It was a good large tent. A board and lodging house.

Q.—Were you at Castlemaine on the night that M’Mahon’s house was stripped? Ans.—Yes.

Examination continued.—A man of color, who gave his name as Thomas Johnstone, was by the fire when witness asked M’Mahon for the nip, and the defendant handed it to him. Witness returned there on Sunday morning with a man of the name of the name of Cousins. The defendant was then present, alone. On that occasion, witness asked for some drink, which was refused.

By Mr. Paynter.—What were you, Mr. Mangan, before you entered this detachment of the police force?

Ans.—A digger.

Q.—And where did you come from to the Colony of Victoria?

Ans.—From Sydney.

Q.—How long were you in Sydney?

Ans.—Some five or six years.

Q.—You need not answer what I now ask you, unless you like. Were you free or bond there?

Ans.—I was a prisoner. (Sensation in court.)

Examination resumed.—Witness got information from a party who lived over the way, and was promised by him to receive a certain reward for giving information against the defendant. Witness was kept a prisoner, all Saturday night in a tent erected opposite to Adams’s.

By Mr. Paynter.—Do you know where the Baptist chapel is?

Witness.—No, sir.

Mr. Paynter now addressed the Bench for the defendant, M’Mahon, and, referring to the evidence for the prosecution, remarked that the very extraordinary manner in which that witness had answered all the questions put to him was sufficient to cast suspicion upon his testimony. The hesitation and equivocation of the witness confirmed his opinion that some money had been promised him as a reward. Fortunately, he (Mr. Paynter) was in a position to refute every word, and disprove every statement by inconvertible facts. He could show that, at the time the witness swore he saw a black man sitting by the fire-place, no fire-place existed! (Laughter.) He would be able to call others to prove, that the witness was never in that place on Friday night, and that he was in the service of another party. It would be for their Worships to discriminate whether the witness had spoken truth or uttered falsehood. (The learned gentleman was loudly applauded during his elaborate address, and the Bench called the audience to order.) The defendant, M’Mahon, had conducted his place for fifteen months, and all the camp had borne testimony to the character he held, and the management of his house. He (Mr. Paynter) would contend, that it was most monstrous for such things to occur; and he would now proceed to call witnesses to disprove all the statements for the prosecution.

Charles Cousins sworn.—Was not in company with the last witness on Friday night at M’Mahon’s tent, nor was he there any time with the witness Mangan. Deponent knew the last witness. Was drinking with him last Saturday.

(Police-Sergeant Kennedy, who conducted the prosecution, put several irrelevant questions to the witness, which were objected to by counsel, and overruled by the Bench.)

James Gardiner sworn.—Witness had resided at M’Mahon’s boarding-house, the defendant now before the Court. Witness was one of the unlucky gentlemen who had to turn out of bed during the cold night of Saturday last. Had resided there ten months. There was no fire-place in that long building, nor was there any either on Friday night or Saturday morning. There never had been one on the premises during witness’s time. Witness was at M’Mahon’s place on Friday evening last, and remained there from a quarter to half past five all the evening. Witness did not see Mangan there on that night. Had been residing at the defendant’s tent for the last ten months, and had never seen him during that time sell any spirits whatever. Witness had frequently seen the defendant turn a man out for bringing liquor into his premises.

Cross-examined.—Witness would swear that there was no stove, or fire, in Mr. Mahon’s tent, either on Friday or Saturday.

George Augustus Clair, a painter by trade, had resided for six or seven months at the defendant’s boarding-house in Castlemaine. Was there on Friday night last. Did not go out after dinner, and was there all the evening until after dark. Was certain that he was there between the hours of six and eight o’clock. Never saw the prosecuting witness, Mangan, there, to his knowledge. Was of opinion that he should have recollected him if he did. Never saw the defendant serve any one with spirits during the time he had been in the house. If the defendant had served Mangan with spirits, he (witness) must have seen it.

By the Bench.—There was one other black man in the tent on that night with the defendant. There was no fire-place or stove on the premises.

Edward Adams, the holder of a refreshment license at Castlemaine, knew Johnstone perfectly well. Between six and eight o’clock on Friday evening last, that man was in witness’s tent, located about eight or nine hundred yards from the premises of the defendant. Johnstone was there all the evening. Witness was taken up on Saturday by Mangan, on a charge of grog-selling, and bail was given for his appearance by Mr. Hitchcock. During a conversation which ensued between witness and Mangan, witness asked him if he had ever purchased any spirits at M’Mahon’s tent; when Mangan replied that he had never purchased spirits there at all.

Mr. Paynter addressed the Bench. If the witness, Mangan,[,] told a gratuitous and voluntary lie to the deponent Adams on Saturday, how was his testimony to be received as valid in that Court?

The Bench were of opinion that the evidence for the prosecution had been entirely capsized. If there had been evidence before the Bench to criminate the defendant, their Worships would have denuded him of his license. As it was, the information was dismissed.

The defendant immediately gave peremptory instructions to his retained solicitor, Mr. Paynter, to commence proceedings against Mangan, for malicious and wanton perjury.

Mr. Wigley informed the Court, when the case of Adams was called on, that he believed this case rested solely on similar testimony to that elicited in the last case.

Mr. Shadforth rejoined.—The Bench could not prejudge a case until they had heard the evidence; but if the present information relied upon the evidence of the last witness, retained for the prosecution in the last case[,] their Worships were not inclined to believe one word he said.

Mr. Adams was then discharged.

Mr. Wigley applied for a warrant against the informer Mangan.

Mr. Shadforth said he wished the learned gentleman to forego his motion until the rising of the Court.

Mr. Wigley replied.—Such has been the public excitement on the ground, fomented by the recent proceedings, that he must urgently, but respectfully, press his application. The utmost order and decorum had hitherto prevailed on the gold-fields; but there was no saying how much the diggers might tolerate before they became unanimous and exasperated.

The Bench then ordered the informant Mangan into immediate custody, for premeditated and mischievous perjury.

Other sly-grog cases were withdrawn.

Argus 26 May 1853, 5/1-2:

MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Forest Creek, May 12th, 1853.

The late sly-grog seizures in the neighborhood of Castlemaine, in which the establishments were unroofed and a large number of people of both sexes were exposed to the inclemency of a bitter cold night, has led to one of the most orderly, most determined, most systematically organised and by far the most respectfully countenanced meetings which have as yet taken place at any of the gold-fields. You will see by an account of the proceedings, that the Rev. Mr. Jackson, Dr. Gill, and Mr. Hitchcock, are the gentlemen named as having been appointed to act as delegates, or People’s Commissioners, to wait on His Excellency for the purpose of obtaining redress for the injury said to have been committed by the police on this occasion. It would have been difficult for the diggers to have selected three gentlemen better adapted for the duties, not only as regards the respectable position in which they stand at Mount Alexander, but from their well-known loyalty to Her Majesty and Her Majesty’s representatives, as their speeches will testify.

Argus 13 June 1853, 5/4:

BALAARAT.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

June 4, 1853.

The Queen’s birthday was duly celebrated at the [Government] camp by the issue of brandy to each man, who forthwith proceeded to get drunk on the same. Surely if the police and cadets can be permitted to drink brandy, it is very unjust to the digger that he is forbidden to purchase a single glass when fatigued by his far mor laborious occupation. But I forget; the Commissioners and all connected with the camp are a superior class of mortals, and are not to be for one minute compared with the blue-shirted digger or any one else unblessed by Government pay. The weather during the last few days has been unusually severe: sleet, snow, and rain have fallen almost uninterruptedly, the roads are in the most disgraceful condition, and the effort to reach the post office and the [Government] camp is a task to be overcome with difficulty, and only to be accomplished by wading through several running streams, and plunging into bogs innumerable. Happy is he who possesses a pair of long sea-boots, as without them there is no safety! The manner in which the prisoners at the camp are treated, calls for enquiry. I am informed they are compelled to lie upon the floor of their cells, without either blankets or bedding of any description, unless they should be so fortunate as to possess friends to provide them with these necessaries during this severe weather. I wonder whether one of the Commissioners would like to pass one night in this way, even though he had imbibed his pint of brandy. For my own part, I find that with half a dozen blankets over me, I am not at all too warm.

Argus 16 July 1853, 3/3:

SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Spring Creek,12 July, 1853.

REFRESHMENT TENTS.—When licenses for the sale of refreshments were first granted here, the applicants were informed at a Court of Petty Sessions held on 1st April last, that in case of diggings being opened near their tents, a certain protection would be afforded them, and no claims would be allowed to be worked within a certain distance of their tents; in fact, that the same protection would be extended to them as to stores. On this occasion the above promise was announced by Mr. Chief Commissioner Wright, who sat on the bench on the occasion. It now appears that Mr. Wright, pursuing his usual roundabout course, only made April fools of the credulous applicants, who too readily believed a promise uttered with the pomp and self-sufficiency of the great man in the presence of several magistrates. A few days ago one of the largest of the licensed refreshment tents on the diggings was surrounded by diggers eagerly marking out claims, a rush having taken place in the neighbourhood. The owner of the tent sought the aid of Mr. Assistant Commissioner Hood, who came to the spot, and though holes were then being sunk within five feet of the tent, he refused to interfere. What is the consequence? The licensed refreshment tent keeper cannot remove without first obtaining another refreshment license, for which he must give twenty days’ notice of application, besides being compelled to dance attendance at the Court. Mr. Hood was one of the magistrates present on the 1st of April in the Court: why did he not act on the promise of the Bench? Alas! gold commission promises are at a sad discount.

Argus 30 July 1853, 4/6:

SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Spring Creek, 26th July, 1853.

POLICE OFFICE.—On the 23rd inst., James Carroll[,] charged by Detective Officer Fenning with carrying about liquors for sale in a cart, on the high road between Albury and the Black Dog Inn, was convicted of the said offence by Messrs. Campbell and Jones, the magistrates, and sentenced to forfeit his cart, three horses, liquor, utensils, and other property. On the same day George Bailey, whose tent had been seized and liquor confiscated last week, on account of sly-grog-selling, and who had contrived to elude the vigilance of the police, was brought up on warrant, and being convicted of keeping a notoriously disorderly tent, as well as of sly-grog-selling, was sentenced to four months’ hard labor in the Melbourne Gaol, the magistrates not deeming it expedient to give him the option of paying a fine, though he earnestly requested them to do so. The Bench have declared their intention of pursuing this course of inflicting imprisonment instead of fine, in all aggravated cases of sly-grog-selling that may come before them. The Police Magistrate stated in Court on Saturday that the Government Surgeon had repeatedly informed him of the daily instances occurring of the awful effects of hocussed liquor sold in sly-grog-shops, and that charges of robbery and violence were constantly brought before the Court, originating in sly-grog-shop quarrels, and that he was determined to do all in his power to abate the nuisance. Charges of grog-selling have of late been brought against two of the principlal stores here: one charge has failed, and the other is still pending before the Bench.

Argus 15 August 1853, 5/4:

NORTHERN CIRCUIT COURT.
CRIMINAL SITTINGS.
(Before His Honor Mr. Acting Chief Justice Barry.)

PERJURY.

Before the following jury:—J. Finney (foreman), W. Crow, W. Beaver, J. Faulkner, G. Fox, G. Crockett, S. Inkred, T. Fowler, J. Ellis, R. Guymer, J. Day, J. Davis.

Daniel Urell was placed at the bar, and pleaded not guilty to an information, charging him with wilful and corrupt perjury at Bendigo, on the 2nd June last.

MR. P. THOMPSON defended the prisoner.

The particulars of this case were these:—The prisoner, Daniel Urell, and another man, named M’Alister, were constables in the foot police at Bendigo. On the 31st May last they were taking a walk, and called at a store belonging to a man named M’Namara, and found Mr. M’Namara standing outside the door in the middle of the street. The prisoner asked him if he had a pair of corduroy or moleskin trousers for sale, and was answered not, but he could supply him with a pair of dark ones: without returning an answer, the prisoner and M’Alister went away. Two days after[,] M’Alister was told that M’Namara was arrested for sly-grog-selling, at the instance of Urell (the prisoner). M’Alister asked the prisoner how he could possibly swear that M’Namara sold grog to him on the day they were in company at M’Namara’s, for they had not as much as gone into the store, nor did he obtain any liquor from him. Prisoner made reply, that if he (M’Alister) came against him he would be "lagged," and ruined, but he should say he got it at night. M’Namara was convicted for sly-grog-selling, and fined £50, without hearing the evidence of M’Alister at the Bendigo Police Office. Two other men, named M’Enery and M’Namara, stated that they were at the Store the best part of the day in question, and did not see any liquor sold.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty.

The prisoner was remanded for sentence.

[The following day]:

... the Gaol delivery was gone through, when the following prisoners were brought up for

SENTENCE:

Daniel Urell found guilty of perjury, three years’ hard labor on the roads of the colony.

Back to Top

C. Gambling on the Diggins;

Geelong Advertiser 1 December 1851, 2/5-6:

FOREST CREEK DIGGINGS, MOUNT ALEXANDER.
(From the Correspondent of the "Argus.")

November 27th.

The police force has been increased at last. A file of ten men made their appearance on Monday, dressed in drab California hats, blue monkey jackets and trowsers, and armed with short carbines. On inquiry I find that fifty-two abled-bodied men are to be stationed here, independent of the mounted police. They were much wanted; and it is to be hoped that they may be put upon their various beats shortly. The sly-grog-shops are gradually disappearing from my neighbourhood; but equally as great an evil has been introduced to catch the unwary, that is, gambling. A party, or parties, (for it is hard to say how many there are), commenced what they call a thimble rig, yesterday afternoon, as the diggers were leaving off work. A crowd soon collected, and some victims were trapped. The first players were dressed in different garbs, some as gentlemen, some as diggers, and one or two out at the elbows. There were eight or ten, but whether they compose a gang, or were drawn into it by one man, I cannot say; it only shows the necessity of having a force constantly on the move. The least it will do will be to drive them to more retired spots than the public road in open day; and I sincerely hope the Commissioner will use the utmost severity on those who may be detected. Men, after a day’s toil, returning to their tents, must not have such temptations as these thrown in their path. If they are fools enough to risk their hard earnings while, in some cases, their families are in want, let them go elsewhere than in public thoroughfares.

Back to Top

D. Racial Tensions on the Diggins.;

Argus 15 July 1854, 3/1-3:

BENDIGO.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Sandhurst, July 10th, 1854.

THE ANTI-CHINESE MOVEMENT.—Considerable surprise was caused by the arrival on Friday last, of fifty mounted policemen from Melbourne, forwarded, I understand, in consequence of exaggerated reports respecting the Anti-Chinese agitation. As will be seen by the accompanying report of the monster meeting there was to be, there was no necessity whatever for this display; and indeed, the appearance of this reinforcement of troopers had only the effect of exasperating the diggers. They will return to town immediately, having performed the same feat as the king who, with all his valiant men, walked up the hill, and then walked down again.

By the report of the meeting, it will be observed that .... [i]n reference to the Chinese, there is evidently a strong feeling of opposition to them on the part of the diggers, but they are ashamed of their former belligerent display, and merely challenge the attention of Government to the influx of these foreigners, a matter which may prove to be of importance. A large portion of the diggers manifested their dissatisfaction with Mr. Denovan’s conduct, but they would not consent to have their former champion condemned. As the report is lengthy, I reserve other matters of interest till next post.

PUBLIC MEETING.

About three o’clock on Saturday afternoon the monster-meeting, called by Mr. W.D.C. Denovan by placard, for the purpose of organising a system of prospecting, and also for discussing the Chinese immigration question was held in front of the Criterion Hotel. Truth obliges me to say that it was not by any means a monster meeting, there being only about a thousand persons present. There was a very large attendance of the influential classes of Bendigo, including an uncommon array of officials. The speakers addressed the meeting from the balcony of the hotel, on which a large number of gentlemen were assembled.

[Here a chair is appointed and several motions regarding the prospecting for new goldfields in the region are put and debated.]

The meeting was then declared at an end so far as concerned the subject of prospecting.

On the motion of Mr. MACKAY, seconded by Mr. DENOVAN, Mr. Burall was again placed in the chair, so that the Chinese question might be considered.

Mr. DENOVAN, who was received with great cheering, stood forward and said that, after having conferred with many of his friends on this subject, it was not his intention to bring forward any proposition on the present occasion respecting the Chinese. A hearty meeting had just taken place, in which all parties had united and taken up the subject of prospecting, and he did not wish to go into the Chinese question to destroy that good feeling which then existed. A considerable amount of abuse had been lavished on him through the press, and he had been described as urging them on to a breach of the peace. He objected to the Chinese, not on account of their wastefulness of water, and encroachments upon claims, but because he disapproved of thousands of these people being poured into the colony in the present reckless manner, and he would object to this even if they were his own countrymen. (CHEERS.) The authorities should be called upon to stop the Immigrations altogether, or so to graduate it that the resident population would not be injured by it. (At this part of the proceedings great confusion was caused by some person on the balcony blowing a horn and shouting "Advertiser ," but this was soon put an end to.) Mr. Denovan proceeded to say that the blowing of the horn reminded him of the days of the Bastile, when the sound of the drum was employed to stifle the cries of the victims. (CHEERS.) No doubt parties whose sores he might lay open would be glad to interrupt him by a horn. It was known that many on the diggings could hardly support themselves, and he would ask how could the district support so many thousands of Chinese? The influx of these foreigners ought to be checked, so as not to interfere with the vested interests of the colonists. (CHEERS .) Were they (the European population of the diggings) to have the advantages which they sought in this colony taken away from them by the influx of hordes of Chinese brought here by squatters and merchants? With the excess of population they were threatened with, how were they to keep provisions from going up to a famine price? Thousands of Chinese were here, and thousands were coming. He contended that he had maintained his position in spite of all the petty scribbling and charges that had been made against him. (CHEERS AND CONFUSION.) The digging population had a right to be first considered in the matter. His conduct had been called unmanly because he had recommended that the Chinese should be driven off the diggings. Now, without admitting the truth of that charge, he would ask, Had not the English made war upon China, and devastated an independent country, and shot down the natives? Mr. Denovan in the same way alluded to the African war, and to the war in India. Why was now such an interest felt for these Chinese? What talismanic influence had turned the scale in their favor? Because certain interested parties had encouraged their immigration to reduce the price of wages, which their presence had already done. (CHEERS.) He would say no more at present until he heard what was said against him; but he would urge on that meeting and the Government the necessity of checking the immigration of the Chinese. (GREAT CHEERING .)

Mr. Mackay then came forward and said that, as he was about to address them on this subject, he trusted that they would give him a patient hearing, although he might have to enunciate sentiments opposed to the opinions entertained by some of them. Mr. Denovan in his placard had stated that he would give fair play to his opponents, but he would appeal to the meeting themselves for a fair and impartial hearing. (HEAR, HEAR.) Only a few months had elapsed since he had been a digger himself, and he therefore claimed their fellow feeling. Mr. D. took credit to himself for having been connected with the anti-gold-license movement of last year, but he would claim their sympathy on the same grounds, having been one of the committee which last year carried on a similar agitation at the Ovens. He was therefore associated with the diggers in feelings and sentiments, and he did not know how soon he might take to the pick and shovel again. Must it not have struck them that Mr. D. sung a very different tune to-day from what he had sung on the former occasion? (CHEERS.) He was glad that the question was to be fairly discussed as the people always benefitted by free and open discussion, and only suffered when public opinion was suppressed. It was the great orator Curran, he believed, a countryman of many preent, who had said in one of his eloquent orations that "liberty was commensurate with and inseparable from British soil. No matter under what sun, or with what ceremonies the man had been devoted on the altar of slavery, the moment he touched British ground his chains fell from around him, and he stood confessed in the face of heaven an emancipated freeman." (GREAT CHEERING .) Were they Englishmen? Did they wish to carry out those eternal principles of freedom associated with the British language and name? Did they wish, in the eyes of mankind, to be identified with and to support that freedom of opinion and extension of public liberty which had distinguished the British from every nation in the world? (CHEERS.) If so, were they to ignore those principles by an unprovoked attack upon these foreigners! If they turned out the Chinese, what was to hinder them from carrying out the principle further, and turn out the Americans; and eventually the English from turning out the Irish and Scotch? (CHEERS.) At the former meeting Mr. D. had proposed to drive out the Chinese on the 4th of July,—Now, whatever he might think of the intellect of the man who proposed such a breach of the peace, if he had stuck to his purpose, he (Mr. M.) would have at least admired and respected him for his consistency. But he was very much surprised to hear the man who spoke so boldly at the former meeting, sing so small on this occasion. When he was associated with the diggers they acted differently from this. What they said they meant, and what they meant they did. But in what a contemptible position were they now placed, having bound themselves to an act which they shrunk from performing. But what could be expected from a man who proposed a violation of the law? When they returned to their homes, and common sense resumed its sway, they would see the folly and the wickedness of the outrage they were asked to commit. In their hearing Mr. D. had proposed committing a breach of the peace, and he could testify that the report which appeared in the Advertiser was correct, as he took notes on the occasion. (CHEERS, HISSES, AND GREAT CONFUSION.) He appealed to them whether this was not true. (GREAT CHEERING, AND CRIES OF "HOW MUCH ARE YOU PAID FOR IT? ["]) He was independent of Mr. Denovan, of the Camp, or any party on the diggings, and he appealed to them whether the correspondent of the Argus, for the last few months, had not acted impartially, and taken the authorities to task when they deserved it. (GREAT CHEERING.) Mr. Denovan, when before the police magistrate, had denied the correctness of the report, or that he intended to take any measures against the Chinese. Now what did they think of the man who could so grossly prevaricate? Was he qualified to be a leader of the diggers? (CRIES OF "NO, NO," AND CHEERS .) This gingerbread hero, Mr. Denovan! (LAUGHTER AND CONFUSION .) If they had cause of complaint against the Chinese, why not have petitioned the Government first? Mr. Denovan said that the Chinese lowered the price of labor, and that they had been imported by squatters and capitalists for that purpose. Now, that was not the case with the greater number of the Chinese on the gold-fields, who had paid their passage to this country. He was aware that in New South Wales and even in Victoria, Chinese had been introduced to supply the demand for labor; but in that case the blame was not attributable to them, but to the men who had brought them; and would they wreak their vengeance upon the heads of these unoffending men? Where the revenue of the colony was employed for the introduction of foreigners—Coolies and Chinese—into the country, the people had good right to complain, as was the case now in New South Wales, where there was considerable agitation on the subject of Coolie immigration. But of what else were the Chinese accused? Wasting the water and encroaching upon the claims of other diggers. But was not this the fault of the Commissioners, who should have instructed the Chinese, ignorant as they were of our language and customs? But suppose they were to blame, would the diggers not ptoportion the punishment to the offence? If a man picked a pocket, they did not hang him; and if Mr. Denovan came there and talked nonsense they would not duck him in a water hole. (GREAT CONFUSION .) He would now conclude by reading the resolution and appealing to the common sense of the meeting to support it.

That this meeting asserts the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, among the diggers, and emphatically condemns the proposal of Mr. Denovan to commit a breach of the peace by driving the Chinese off the gold-fields; but as the Chinese may have rendered themselves obnoxious to the diggers through their ignorance of our language and customs, the authorities should use their utmost exertions to prevent the mischievous and exasperating conduct of these foreigners.

Dr. ROCHE, who was received with great cheering, seconded the resolution. In a lengthy, able, and humorous speech, he appealed to the diggers to refrain from violence towards the Chinese, who were the weaker party, and to employ constitutional means for the redress of their grievances. The authroities were ready and willing to pay every attention to their just complaints.

Mr. DENOVAN then came forward amidst cheering, and again addressing the meeting contending that no answer had been given to his objections to the immigration of the Chinese into the colony. The country was suffering from a superabundant population, and the influx of the Chinese would have the effect of aggravating this evil. He would move an amendment,

That this meeting views with alarm the large influx of Chinese into the country, and calls on the Government to take measures to stop this immigration, or so to graduate it as not to interfere with the interests of the resident population. (CHEERS .)

Mr. ARMSTRONG seconded the amendment.

Mr. MACKAY had no objection to the amendment, which did not materially differ from his resolution, but he would press that portion of the latter condemnatory of Mr. Denovan.

The amendment was then put, and afterwards the resolution, and as the show of hands was greater for the former, it was declared carried amidst great cheering and confusion.

Mr. DENOVAN thanked the meeting for supporting his views, the confusion still continuing.

Dr. ROCHE, having got a hearing, explained that the meeting by negativing the resolution had undone what they did in carrying the amendment. He agreed with the amendment, but he wished them to give expression to an opinion against resorting to violence. He therefore appealed to them to do so, and all who were for resorting to constitutional means of redress, and who objected to any violence being used towards the Chinese, would hold up their hands.

This appeal was unanimously responded to, amidst enthusiastic cheering, and the meeting then quietly separated about dusk.

Argus 12 October 1854, 4/7:

BENDIGO.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

DISTURBANCES WITH THE CHINESE.—From time to time there are altercations constantly arising between the Europeans and the Chinese here. It would seem that there are faults upon both sides. The Chinese are inveterate pilferers, and are constantly filching the washing-stuff of other people. They take no trouble to form waterholes for themselves, but make free with those of the other diggers, no matter at what trouble the latter have been in providing them. Besides this, by their method of working they spoil the ground, converting it into a mud lake, of which not one-half is properly wrought. They are generally impertinent, and often very exasperating. On the other hand, the Europeans are often guilty of the most scandalous outrages upon the Chinese, against whom they certainly have a very strong antipathy. This is a very undesirable state of things, and it seems difficult to provide a remedy, for the ignorance of these foreigners of our language prevents us from properly understanding their complaints and doing them justice, and at the same time often shields them from the punishment they in all probability deserve. If things go on as they do, it is by no means unlikely that there will be a very serious broil. The diggers may not be induced to adopt Mr. Denovan’s suggestion in cold blood, but when mutual injuries have been inflicted there is no telling where they may stop. Besides, to speak the truth, there is a strong feeling against the Chinese population on the part of intelligent men, who question the usefulness of these foreigners as colonists, and have strong objections to urge against them on the score of immorality. The immigration of the Chinese is likely to be a subject which will call for the interference of the Legislature. In the meantime all offences against the law and infractions of the private liberty of these foreigners should be severely punished, and those who foment the disturbances should be held responsible. Perhaps this is a fitting time for me to do justice to Mr. Denovan, upon whom, in reference to this question, I was somewhat unsparing in my strictures. A better acquaintance with him has led me to regret the tone of my remarks, though I must still contend for their general correctness. Mr. Denovan is a young man, a digger, enthusiastic in his views, and often imprudent. He is honest and straightforward however, has a good moral character, and is very much respected and liked by the diggers. On Friday a collision took place between the diggers at Iron Bark and a party of a hundred Chinese who had just arrived from Forest Creek. The diggers were averse to their locating themselves at Iron Bark, and attempted to drive them off. Three of the Chinese were brought into the hospital very much bruised, and several Europeans have been arrested. Last night there was another altercation at the White Hills between the Celestials and the diggers. The police were sent for, and the disturbance was soon quelled.

Back to Top

E. The Postal Service at the Diggins;

Geelong Advertiser 25 November 1851, 2/2-3:

BALLARAT.

The Gold Diggings have been in operation upwards of three months, large masses of people have been concentrated in one locality, licenses have been rigidly enforced, a large revenue has been obtained, and every effort made to increase it; and yet up to the present moment the laggard government which it has pleased providence and the home authorities to bless us with its benign influence, has not taken one step to establish a Postal communication with Ballarat. Like a boa constrictor, the government has gorged its prey, and lies its huge length in supineness. The assemblage of ten thousand people in the Buninyong Ranges, was at last recognised only as a medium to tax, and to exercise patronage, in the consideration of which the wants of the community have been lost sight of, or if seen disregarded, for it cannot for one moment be supposed that a government could be so purblind as not to perceive the necessity of maintaining a community of feeling and interests, through the channels ordinarily provided in civilized communities. There is no government post office at Ballarat; there is no regular rate of postage charged, it is a private speculation which has pased [passed] from hand to hand, from tent to tent, just as it has suited individuals to undertake, or give it up. It may be bought, sold, bartered, or abandoned, like picks, shovels, cradles, or a worn out claim. "Providence helps them who help themselves," says the old proverb—and Latrobian policy appreciating the axiom, leaves the gold digger to test its truth, where outlay in its part is concerned, but assures the converse when it is a question of income, and the attribute with it.

Let us take a brief glance at this matter. Buninyong is about seven miles from Ballarat. Previous to the discovery of the gold fields, the late Buninyong post master received and despatched twelve mails per week, beside private bags. The down country mails were received about two o’clock in the morning, the Sabbath being also broken in upon, by receiving and despatching. The month of October brought an increase of letters and newspapers, until it reached 3,600 in one month—owing to the gold discoveries. This great accession to the ordinary duties of the post master at Buninyong, involved great labor, greater care, greater expense, considerable anxiety, constant annoyance, and great loss of time. He solicited an advance of salary—something commensurate to his increased labors, which involved the necessity of an assistant. The government refused to make any advance on the present sum allowed, and at once superseded him. Now contrast this with the professions of the government, and their acts in other quarters, and let it be considered when the demand of his Excellency on the general revenue to cover the expense incurred by raising the salaries of government officers &c, on account of the gold question is taken into consideration. The salary of the Buninyong post master is fixed at £19 per annum, being about two pounds less than that of a hut keeper, minus rations, or one pound more than the license per annum of one gold digger, and yet the beggarly stinginess of our government, refuses to increase the salary of the post master, to an equality with the meanest employee on a station, and can peril the transit of letters to and from Ballarat, for the sake of saving a few paltry pence, and yet has the barefaced impudence to talk in rounded periods to the Legislative Council of the necessity of providing for increased government expenditure. Contrast the salaries of the Commissioners, Subs and their subordinates, with that of efficient, useful, hardworking servants of the public, expected to attend to the beck, or nod of every body, at all times. Imagine only for a moment, a man dignified with title of post master, holding a highly respectable government situation at £19 a year and find himself. But it is ever the way with these pseudo libeals [liberals], they save at the spigot, and let out at the bung hole; they can lavish on patronage broadcast—whilst they cripple efficient usefulness, by miserly economy, and sacrifice the interests and convenience of the cimmunity to a paltry £ s. d. view, saving a fraction of a fraction to themselves, by starving the post master and entailing treble postage on the thirty shillings a-month for eight square feet taxed gold diggers. Of a truth here we have a notable instance of enlightened statesmanship, a foretaste of the excellency of independent government, that casts a halo around the advent of unshackled Latrobeism, which should placard its tent at Ballarat—"The highest taxation enforced here for the least service that can be rendered."

Dismissing the subject of the postage, but with more ceremony than the government used is dismissing the post-master, who, like Oliver Twist was frowned down by the work-house authorities for "more soup[,]" I shall proceed to consider the propriety of damming the water.

Argus 3 March 1852, 3/2:

THE POST OFFICE AT MOUNT MACEDON [ALEXANDER].

A series of attacks is being made by our contemporary the Herald upon the postal arrangements at Mount Alexander. There is a remarkable incongruity, by the way, between the extreme susceptibility of the Herald to unfavorable expressions regarding this department at the Diggings, and the dull complacency with which he views the mode of conducting other departments. The diggers may have their tents rushed every hour of the night, and only keep of marauders at the pistol-point, without any hint being given by the Toady-General that his darling Government are scarcely as active or vigilant as could be wished. But no digger must wait an hour for a letter, or be disappointed in receiving one, on pain of death without benefit of clergy. The fact is, that the post office department at Mount Alexander has lately been in the hands of Mr Howard, a gentleman who is not the very best friend in the world to the M. Herald, and therefore everything connected with the matter necessarily must be wrong. We are far from saying that the Mount Alexander mails are on the best possible footing. On the contrary, we consider that the want of a direct mail [is] deeply disgraceful to the Executive. We consider the withholding of the cheap and obvious luxury of a regular mail between the thirty or forty thousand people of Melbourne, and the thirty or forty thousand people of Mount Alexander, is a deeply disgraceful instance of their incapacity and torpor; but any blame attributable anywhere, rests with the Government, and not with the parties who are now doing the duty that the Government ought to do. The facts of the case are these:—When Mount Alexander was discovered to be the rich gold mine that it is, we sent up a confidential agent to attend to the interests of the Argus in that locality. Mr. Howard, the party to whom we entrusted this duty, found no post established at the Diggings,—no provision made for getting either newspapers or letters from Kyneton to "the Mount"[,] a distance of eighteen or twenty miles. He had therefore to ride down twice a week to get his papers, and offered the miners to bring up their letters as well, if they would give him a trifle upon each, to repay him for his trouble. This they gladly agreed to do, and for some months he acted as a private postmaster[,] charging a fee of two pence upon each letter, for carrying them up and down, sorting, receiving, and delivering them; and during that time we are sure that no Government department in the colony was conducted with greater zeal or attention, or was calculated to afford less real grounds of complaint. It was a fine illustration of the difference between the energy of individual enterprise, and the torpidity of Governmental niggardliness and neglect, to find the Argus Agent affording the diggers the advantages of a Post Office, while the Government stood with its fingers in its mouth, and — did nothing, as usual. The population at the Diggings increased, and Mr Howard found that the duties of the Post Office were likely to interfere with those in connexion with the paper he represented, and he therefore turned it over to a Mr Evans who still conducts it, and whom we believe to be, although we do not know him, a steady, painstaking young man, grateful to the diggers for a remunerative office, and anxious to do his best to please them, and perform his duty. That letters miscarry, or are occasionally mislaid, we think quite possible, inasmuch as that a Post Office at Mount Alexander is not exempt from the casualties attendant upon all other Post Offices, but it remains to be proved, whether the blame rests at the office at the diggings, or with some other of the branches nearer home. We agree with the Herald that a General Post Office ought long since to have been established, but if this piece of extravagance should be ventured upon by that golden pauper, the Victoria Executive, we are quite prepared to believe, that some complaints will still be heard as to the arrangements and mode of action.

Geelong Advertiser 14 September 1852, 2/1:

EUREKA DIGGINGS. There are great complaints of the want of Post-office regulations. There is a Chief postmaster of Boninyong [sic], there is a Postmaster at Ballarat. Letters directed to Eureka, are forwarded from Boninyong to Ballarat, at least I understand so, which is three miles from Eureka. The mail arrived at Boninyong on Saturday last, at 2 p.m., on the Monday following it was not taken to Ballarat, and it was not until Tuesday morning that the newspapers were delivered at Eureka. No one knows where to get, or where to deposit a letter, or which mail it will go by. There seems to be a mixing up of complexity, a confusion—worse confounded, in which the public convenience is made subservient to certain sixpences—attention is directed to the mal-working of the present want of system; and it is to be hoped that a rectification will result soon.

Geelong Advertiser 19 November 1852, 2/3:

To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer.

SIR,—Having observed in the columns of your paper of the 13th instant, some remarks in an article headed "Scraps from Eureka{.}" I beg leave through your paper to give that information which the writer of that article seems very anxious to obtain. He states that he has been for the last four months trying to understand how the Post Office is managed, and in despair is about to give it up.

Now, as the writer G.W. is known to me, and from my knowledge of him I am led to believe that he is an enquirer after truth, I shall be most happy to give him every information on the subject, and as there are others who are interested in the matter, permit me to state that many months since I received my appointment as Postmaster for Ballarat, since which time I have endeavoured to give satisfaction.

When the Eureka Diggings were first opened, several persons, principally the storekeepers, expressed a wish that a branch Post Office should be established at those diggings, to save the trouble of walking three miles for their letters. I therefore engaged a person of the name of Little to take the management of a store and branch Post Office at Eureka, and finding his duties were heavy, also engaged a person to assist him.

I have observed since I established the branch Post Office, several storekeepers have placards in their stores headed "Post Office." Now this is calculated to mislead the diggers, and what was intended to save much valuable time, will cause by having more than one Post Office at each diggings, much delay and trouble to those who have letters sent them.

Delays in the delivery and forwarding of letters, have, I regret to state, taken place in a few instances, not on my part. An arrangement was made for one of the troopers to convey and to fetch the mail bags from Buninyong. Occasionally the troopers have neglected to call for the bags, and therefore a post has been lost; and it ought to be remembered that the trooper may have other duties to perform in Buninyong, for I have received my letters in Buninyong and answered my correspondents before the trooper has left Buninyong with the Ballarat bags. A remark has been made by G.W. respecting a gold broker’s silk flag being deposited in the pocket of the postmaster. This is a deliberate untruth, and I regret that the writer has not ascertained the correctness of the statement, before he committed it to paper.

The paragraph states that the Ballarat Post Office is a great humbug, a sepulchre of correspondence, a vile delusion. Surely G.W. cannot be aware that I have at considerable expense engaged a person whose duty is confined to receiving and delivering of letters and newspapers, who I firmly believe discharges his duty faithfully.

The public should distinctly understand that the article headed "Scraps from Eureka," is from the pen of a rival storekeeper, who doubtless is anxious to become, like others, a collector of letters for the vigilant Mr. Akehurst, whom he has been pleased to signify with that title. Henceforth G.W. might with more propriety sign himself Alexander the Coppersmith.

Yours most respectfully,
JOHN ADAMS,
Buninyong, Ballarat, and Eureka Store.

Geelong Advertiser 20 November 1852, Supplement 1/1:

THE BALLARAT POST OFFICE.

To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer.

SIR ,—In this morning’s paper I have read a letter signed Mr Adams, being a reply to some remarks upon the Post Office, Ballarat, contained in my "Scraps from Eureka." I have read that production of Mr Adams’, to use a common phrase, "with mingled feelings of satisfaction and regret." Mr A. knows me, (good)—believes me to be an enquirer after truth, (good again)—is willing to supply all the information desired—this is really better still, and, so far, satisfactory—but why was not Mr Adams or any of his subs. as ready to supply me with my letters when I was an enquirer after news—this I regret with a feeling of sincere sorrow, simply because I am out of pocket through my letters being detained at one or the other of the dead letter receptacles under the management of Mr Adams. Mr A. says that I could not be aware of the fact that he has employed, at considerable expense, a person whose duty is confined to the receipt and delivery of papers, &c. Mr A. is right, I was not, am not aware of the fact, nor do I believe anybody else is. I know there is not a man or boy in his employ whom I have not seen delivering goods, and weighing gold, and otherwise engaged in the miscellaneous duties of storekeeping—in honest truth I fear poor Mr A. is under a mistake, and is either deceiving or deceived.

At a store at Ballarat, you read a placard, "no business done on Sundays." Expecting a letter, I ventured timidly inside, fearing a difficulty to make upon the Adamantine heart of the Postmaster, some favourable impression, so that I might get my letters; on entering I found a gentleman purchasing and weighing gold. A dusty travel-worn man rushed in and said "hoy young un" I wont [sic] a loaf of bread. Oh! replied the lad, as he eyed the gold scale, "no bread to day, don’t do business Sundays," "just four ounces thirteen penniweights good weight, you see."

Now, Mr A. may have hired a man for the due and careful performance of the post office duties. And he may have shown his abhorrence of Sabbath breaking, but let him not be deceived. The post office and the Sabbath are both humbugged, in spite of special clerks, troopers, and placards.

Mr A. observes, with reference to the delay of the flag, that it is an untruth. I shall only say at present, that I can give my author, and that I believe it is a fact and no untruth at all.

Mr A. states that the public should bear in mind that the Scraps from the Eureka are from the pen of a rival storekeeper, and further suggests the propriety of my adopting the name of Alexander the Coppersmith.

With reference to the rival store, as Mr A.’s nearest store is one and a-half miles from mine, I never yet for a moment regarded my very distant neighbour Adams, as a rival; as to the adoption of Alexander the Coppersmith, as my name, style and title, I don’t feel inclined to abandon the well worn G.W. unless friend Adams can give good reasons. If I remember right a man of the name recommended did much injury to Saint Paul, and either storekeeping or scrap writing having annoyed Mr Adams, I am to be dubbed Alexander the Coppersmith, and of course Mr Adams will complete the affair by making his appearance as Paul the aged.

But to business. Mr J. Adams is most seriously cautioned against the delivery of letters to a Mr Little or a Mr Big at any store of Mr Adams at Eureka, or any where else. Mr Adams, the Postmaster at Ballarat, has hitherto taken my letters and papers past my door, and left them at his place one and a half miles beyond me. Now, if Mr Adams should send me a letter by the next post, and the Geelong Postmaster should send that letter to a store of his at Point Henry or any where else, he would do just what I complain of as being done at the Ballarat Post Office every week. Messrs Surplice, Dunsford, and many others have the same to complain of. Should it, however, again occur in any case of mine, I shall take some more effectual means to remedy the evil.

G.W.

Geelong, 19th Nov.

Geelong Advertiser 20 November 1852, Supplement 1/1:

Ballarat, Nov. 15th.

To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer.

SIR ,—I observed in your last week’s paper a remark in the "Scraps from Eureka," that the world would after all be wanting in something which your correspondent calls "tozy mozy," or, rather, I should say the world would be "tozy mozy" (which I suppose means melancholy) without grumblers. Now, I am disposed to grumble just now, and first and foremost in the list of causes is the Ballarat Post-office, which is about as complicated and cumbrous a machine as can well be imagined. It was bad enough when the storekeeper, unassisted, or nearly so, had not only the business of the store, but also the delivery and assortment of letters and papers to attend to, but it is now confusion worse confused, siune [since] there has been one man placed there, solely devoted to the task. It is now no uncommon thing for a person to go two or three times for his papers, and then sometimes to submit calmly to disappointment, and I myself have made enquiries for letters three mail days running, and at the third time of asking obtained that which should have been given on the first inquiry. About a week ago, an acquaintance of mine, upon inquiring for a letter for himself, was handed one addressed to his wife, and which he had posted three or four days previously—foolishly and fondly imagining that it was winging its way to its destination. The deity who presides at the Ballarat Post-office seems to be in the predicament in which Justice is represented to be, he has a mystic veil or bandage over his eyes. Your correspondent holds himself to be a respector [sic] of the Sabbath; I also regard it as a day of rest and a day of holiness to the Lord, but, if letters are to be delivered on that day, one hour is not sufficient to transact the business, as many come from a distance, and if the hour is up, the rule is rigidly enforced, and the poor applicant must return, and bear the doom of disappointment through the coming week.

I saw one man from Creswick’s Creek, but he was just too late; and another, who stated he had come a long distance, just too late; and so numbers were—just too late. It is really too bad that men are to be jaunted and jostled at the caprice of these Ballarat worthies. While Elihu Burritt is nobly inviting us to petition for universal penny postage, we, in Ballarat, must either tamely submit to such an anomalous state of things as exist above, or raise the cry for a total reform of the present system at Ballarat. Poor old Ballarat! Who cares for thee?

T.

Argus 30 July 1853, 4/6:

SCRAPS FROM THE OVENS.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Spring Creek, 26th July, 1853.

MAILS.—The two last post-days, viz.—the 21st and 24th inst., have passed without the arrival of any Argus newspapers, thanks to the blundering method in which mail contracts are entered into by the Chief Postmaster, who has actually made the Executive believe that it is impossible for new [?news] papers to be carried on this road in winter, notwithstanding the fact that the escort finds it quite practicable to geth through with a far more troublesome species of load than newspapers. On the 24th inst. letters, as well as papers, failed to arrive. The latest date of the Argus received here is the 15th July. Though the complaints of diggers are numerous, and much regret is expressed by them regarding the non-arrival of the paper, I am amused to note that the loudest complaints, and the most dolorous regrets on this subject, come from the Government officials at the camp. One would sometimes almost be led to think that they are unable to encounter the heavy duties of office without the consolation of the Argus, if one did not at the same time remember that these same gentlemen may occasionally be heard to declare that the Argus is a most scandalous paper, and one which no respectable man would credit. So much for consistency!

Geelong Advertiser 3 April 1854, 4/3-4:

THE BALLARAT POST OFFICE.—Postal facili[ties] to twenty thousand diggers are supposed to be amply provided by a tattered tent, open at both ends. A dirty canvas drop scene, with two slits in it, interpose between the sanctity of Post Office mysteries and the blue shirted crowds outside. The process of sorting is carried on as best it may, and letters and papers are placed upon an iron stretcher, where the parcels lie exposed until the owner calls, covered with dust, unless carried away by a whirlwind, and scattered over the flat. When the mail bags arrive at the Ballarat Post Office, the Ballarat Post-master General’s operations bear a striking resemblance to the performance of Toby, the Learned Pig—he, not the pig, but the post-master, having the letters strewed in a circle on the ground, from which he is called upon to select as ordered. If we call the Post-master Toby, it will simplify the affair. Imagine then Toby to be the "Man of Letters," grumbling under excessive and ill-paid labor, unassisted, and performed in a Government pig-stye, under the auspices of Victoria Regina, duly Lionised and Unicorned. A noisy, anxious, pushing crowd, elbow their ways up to the slit in the canvass drop, and shout for all the Brown’s, with or without alphabetical prefixes, from A. to Z., and plain "misters" and "missusses" besides,—then the Smiths and Smythes, come on, followed by the numerous Joneses, and tribes of others in vast array, and all this time Toby is gyrating like a weathercock, his hands plying fast as an electric telegraph, handing a letter to one, a paper to another, and his head shaking negative to unsuccessful applicants at the same time. What a complicated mechanism to perform such multifarious operations at one time. It is too bad to limit the performance to a stye. Toby the Pig is well housed; but the Ballarat Post-master, under Royal patronage, sinks to bunk, as little cared for as an aborigine, and lies down wrapped in newspapers, with a bundle of letters for a pillow, and a mail bag for a night-cap, after closing the Ballarat Government Post-office with a skewer, and wakes, that is if he sleeps at all, to witness his canvass curtains rent asunder, and papers and letters blown out of their envelopes, or sodden into illegibility and pulp by a heavy shower pouring through the canvas roof, and conferring a shower bath gratis.

Geelong Advertiser 1 June 1854, 4/4:

BALLARAT. "It never rains but it pours," so runs the adage; and it so happens in regard to our postal department. We have now four gentlemen in the office, including Mr. Paine, the Postmaster, and but the other day two were deemed enough for the duties; when it is stated that the present staff is barely sufficient to overtake the business of the office, an idea may be formed of our former state. Our mail has lately arrived more punctually, and its operations are in future to include Creswick’s and Smythe’s Creeks. And to crown all, the new Post office, corner of Lydiard and Mair streets, is to be occupied in some ten days from now. Although the new premises are not nearly completed, they will, even as they are, be a decided improvement on the accommodations of our present pig-sty. The old Post office tent would make a splendid bonfire to greet the arrival of Sir C. Hotham: and as it is of but little value, might thus be made in words that burn, to sermon—
"Old things are passed away and all things are become new."

 

Updated: 18 October 2010/ Responsible Officer:  Centre Director / Page Contact:  Web Publisher