Agitations at Ballarat

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Bakery Hill Plaque, St Paul's Way, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.
Bakery Hill Plaque, Flagpole, and St Paul's Church, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.
Bakery Hill Flagpole and Plaque, St Paul's Way, Ballarat East, 2015. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection.

Ballarat 1851

An incident on the Ballarat goldfields on 21 September 1851 illustrates the intention of the government forces and their preparedness to intervene in case of disorder. Commissioner Doveton (Francis Doveton) and his assistant David Armstrong explained to the diggers the government’s decision to introduce licensing fees, which attracted an angry response from the miners. A public meeting was held immediately, and when the first men came forward to pay the fee, 13 they were struck and pelted by ‘the mob’ as Dana called them. Had it not been for the presence of the Native Police, Dana reported, those diggers would have been seriously injured (Fels 1988, p. 213)’. [1]

Ballarat 1854

Diary: Bishop Goold Wednesday November 29th

I arrived in Ballaarat at 10 this morning - after travelling the whole night.

The diggers are very much excited. I conversed with two persons - seemingly leaders of two different sections of the diggers and parties to the present movement. I used every persuasive argument to induce them to abandon the meeting they called for this evening but did not succeed. However they assured me that they would use all their influence to keep it within the bounds of peace and order. They complained of the overbearing conduct of the officials - of the frequent and offensive inquiries after their licences at all hours by the troopers. I think a little kindness and forbearance on the part of the officials and police would have gone far in conciliating them. It is however now too late. They appear to know their own strength and the weakness of the Government.

The inquiry into the insult offered to Fr. Smyth (Patrick Smyth) in the person of his servant and the illegal fine in which the latter was mulcted has terminated in a most unjust division approved by the Executive Council and communicated to the Clergyman in a most offensive manner.

This slight which the Government put upon the Clergyman and the unjust fine he was forced to pay for his servant together with the silent contempt with which was treated the address of the Catholics approved at a public meeting have forced them into the ranks of the disaffected. A large meeting is now being held. I hope in God it terminates peaceably. Many diggers went to it armed.[2]

Gold licence hunts 2.jpg

Also See

James Johnston

Robert Lewis

Robert Serjeant

James Goold


  1. Clark, Ian D., Another Side of Eureka - the Aboriginal presence on the Ballarat goldfields in 1854- Were Aboriginal people involved in the Eureka rebellion?, University of Ballarat, 2007.
  2. Bishop Goold, diary