Clara Seekamp

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Background

Clara Maria Lodge was born in Dublin Ireland[1] on 24 March 1819.[2][3] She eloped with her dancing teacher George William (Claud) Du Val, and they had three children together.[4]

Charles A. Doudiet, Gravel Pits Ballarat, 1854, watercolour, pen and ink on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery with the assistance of many donors, 1996.

Arriving in Australia in 1847[5] she became a teacher of languages and a well-known actress at the Gravel Pits.[6] Although the Australian Dictionary of Biography states Clara entered Australia around 1847 the Unassisted Inwards Shipping (Victoria) show that she arrived on the Marco Polo in May 1853 giving her age as 20 years although she was 34 years of age. She brought with her two of her three children, 9 yr old Oliver and one year old Francis whose twin sister Clara was left back in Ireland.[7]

By early 1854 she was living with Henry Seekamp the editor of the Ballarat Times.[8] Henry was ten years younger than Clara. They lived on Bakery Hill, near the Gravel Pits and the Eureka Lead.

During the 1880s she was living at 56 Gertrude St, Fitzroy. Clara died c1893 at Coburg, Victoria.[9]

Soon Clara Maria Du Val (Duval), née Lodge, infatuated Seekamp. A teacher of languages, Clara had arrived in Victoria about 1847 and conducted a theatrical company.

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Post 1854 Experiences

After the Ballarat Times newspaper was closed down by the government in the aftermath of the Eureka Stockade, and its editor Henry Seekamp was arrested on the 4th December 1854 and charged with sedition, Clara Seekamp took over the role of editing the newspaper.[10] On New Year's Day 1855 Clara published the list of subscribers to the proposed Miners' Hospital. Here we find that Sarah Hanmer donated 53 pounds, with Robert Rede's being the second largest donation.

After his release from prison her husband Henry was frail and unwell. Clara reunited with her then seven year old daughter Clara Maria Du Val who joined the Seekamps on Bakery hill.

Clara petitioned the government in 1861 and was awarded 500 pounds compensation for loss of business income, property value and amenity associated with road widening. She HAD asked for 3000 pounds compensation.

Clara moved to Melbourne with her children after Henry died in Queensland in January 1864. Her daughter Clara died on diphtheria aged 18 years. Her son Oliver died of lead poisoning in 1884 when he was only 42 years old.

Obituary

Mrs. Clara Maria Seekamp, who died on Wednesday at Pascoevale, Victoria, at the age of 90 years, was the widow of Mr. Harry Seekamp, who was editor of the. "Ballarat Times"' at the date of the Eureka Stockade fight. Mrs. Seekamp was the widow of Mr. Claud Du Val when she married Mr. Seekamp. With Mr. Du Val she took part in theatrical performances in the early days of Ballarat, and often appeared before Melbourne audiences.[11]


A nonogenarian in the person of Mrs. Clara, Maria Seekamp died at her son's residence, Pascoe Vale, on 22nd January, her death being accelerated by the recent protracted heat. Mrs. Seekamp was the widow of the late Mr. Harry Seekamp, who at. the time of the Eureka Stockade riots was editor of the Ballarat "Times," and an outspoken advocate of the diggers' cause. For articles which he wrote and published he, like others, was arrested for high treason, and in the court at which he was arraigned his outspokenness was so strong that: there was some talk of shooting him. Not long after this he died in Queensland. The deceased lady was widow of Mr. Claud Du Val when she married Mr. Seekamp, and with him had come out to Ballarat in 1847, and afterwards successfully conducted a theatrical company, being frequently heard in Melbourne also by delighted audiences. Mrs. Seekamp was of forcible character, high educational attainments and much determination. She numbered amongst many influential friends the late Dr. Brownless, was a brilliant conversationalist, and up to the end had a wonderful memory of all that led up to and accompanied the sensational times which centred in the Eureka Stockade event above referred to.[12]

Links in the chain binding the past with the present history of Ballarat are being too rapidly rendered by the hand of death. The demise has to be recorded of another pioneer of this city in the person of Mrs Clara Maria Seekamp. The deceased was relict of Mr Henry Seekamp, proprietor of the defunct Ballarat Times, the first newspaper published here at the time of the roaring fifties. The late Mrs Seekamp who was 83 years of age died on Wednesday at the residence of her son, Mr F. W. Du Val Seekamp, 12 Pleasant Street, Pascoe Vale. [13]

In the News

BALLARAT (from the correspondent of the Argus)
January 29th 1855 - ... a manifesto from Mrs Seekamp, as startling in its time, as energetic in its language, italics, and capitals, ...I only hope that Sir W. a’Beckett will at once perceive that a lenient sentence upon Mr Seekamp and a quicker return to his editorial duties. ...[14]
ROBBERY - Ralph Gray, (foreman,) James Davis, Robert Holmes, Wm. Cameron, Samuel Bradshaw, Henry Harris, George Howe, Archibald Chil mers, Andrew Davies, Charles Brown, Charles Coglan, and James Jamieson, having been sworn as a jury, Henry Jones and William Naylor were placae at the bar, charged with having, in company with others, robbed the house of Henry Seekamp of certain moneys on the night of the 1st of March.
Clara Seekamp deposed : On the night in question, about eight or nine o'clock, Jones and two or three other men came into my house, presented pistols at my head and that of my visitor, Mr. Rochlitz, while we were engaged making up some accounts. They took about £100 which was in a cash-box in the house. I knew Jones, as he had been, formerly a servant in the printing-office. I am convinced that Naylor was another of the gang on the occasion.
J. A. Rochlitz deposed : I was present on the occasion. I was robbed of about 20s. in silver. The prisoners presented pistols at Mrs. Seekamp's head and mine. I identify both prisoners. I knew Jones before, and I paid particular attention to Naylor and the others, as I could offer no resistance. I am a daguerrean artist, and can easily remember faces, when, as in this case, I studied them.
Guilty, Jones, twelve years on the roads, the first three in irons. Naylor, ten years, the first two in irons. [15]


10. MRS SEEKAMP – Mr Frazer moved, pursuant to amended notice, That a Select Committee be appointed to enquire into the claims of Clara Seekamp, as set forth in a Petition signed by her, such Committee to consist of Dr Evans, Mr Gillies, Mr Brooke, Mr Lock, Mr McLellan, Mr Loader and the mover; with power to send for persons and papers; three to form a quorum.
Question – put and resolved in the affirmative. [16]


7. MRS SEEKAMP – Mr Frazer moved, pursuant to amended notice, That, in accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee, this house will, on Tuesday next, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to consider the propriety of presenting an Address to His Excellency the Governor, requesting for the sum of £500 be placed upon the Additional Estimates for 1861 for the purpose of compensating Mrs Seekamp.[17]


The select committee of the 21st May, 1861, appointed to inquire into the claims of Clara Seekamp, as set forth in a petition signed by her, report as follows:-From the evidence laid before your committee it appears that the Government caused the removal of a large poition of the premises occupied by Mr Seekamp, on Bakery Hill, Ballarat, in consequence of the land on which the premises were situated being re- quired for road purposes. It also appears that the loss sustained by Mr Seekamp, in consequence of that removal, was so great, as in the opinion of your committee, to entitle him to some compensation. Your committee is of opinion that the sum of £500 should be awarded to Mrs Seekamp as compensation for such loss.[18]


YACKANDANDAH COURT OF MINES,
The only case for trial was with drawn, and the Court did not sit.
Last session a sum of £500 was voted to Mrs. Clara Seekamp, for damage which the property of her husband at Ballarat had sustained some years ago through the intervention of the Government. Some inquiry was made at the time why Mrs. Seekamp was to be the recipient of the compensation, and the answer was that her husband was dead ! Mr Seekamp had gained sufficient notoriety in one way or other to make his exit from the world a subject of public remark, but no one appeared to know when or where, or under what circumstances, he had departed this life." He had been last heard of in Queensland, and as Mr Frazer's word was regarded as a certificate of death, the money was voted to his widow. But, behold,'we have Mr Seekamp resuscitated, and in Melbourne, apparently in the full enjoyment of health, and none the worse for the fact of £500 having been voted to his widow.-Age.[19]

See also

William A'Beckett

Duncan Gillies

Ballarat Times

Henry Seekamp

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


References

  1. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  2. Dorothy Wickham, Eureka's Women, BHS Publishing, 2014.
  3. Anne Beggs Sunter, 'Seekamp, Clara Maria (1819–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/seekamp-clara-maria-13282/text23875, accessed 27 October 2013.
  4. Anne Beggs Sunter, 'Seekamp, Clara Maria (1819–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/seekamp-clara-maria-13282/text23875, accessed 27 October 2013.
  5. Anne Beggs Sunter, 'Seekamp, Clara Maria (1819–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/seekamp-clara-maria-13282/text23875, accessed 27 October 2013.
  6. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  7. http://prov.vic.gov.au/search_results?searchid=23&format=freetext&FamilyName=&GivenName=&Ship=marco+polo&Month=0&Monthto=0&Year=1853&Yearto=0&SearchSortField1=&SearchSortField2=&SearchRecords=5000
  8. Anne Beggs Sunter, 'Seekamp, Clara Maria (1819–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/seekamp-clara-maria-13282/text23875, accessed 27 October 2013.
  9. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  10. The Eureka Trails publicity brochure, undated.
  11. Adelaide Advertiser, 27 January 1908.
  12. Melbourne Leader, 01 February 1908.
  13. The Ballarat Courier, 24 January 1908
  14. Mount Alexander Mail, 02 February 1855.
  15. The Argus, 26 April 1855.
  16. Victorian Votes & Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 21 May 1861.
  17. Victorian Votes & Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 26 June1861.
  18. Ballarat Star, 29 June 1861.
  19. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 07 December 1861.

External links

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/seekamp-clara-maria-13282



Citation Details: Gervasoni, Clare, ‘Clara Seekamp', Eurekapedia, http://eurekapedia.org, accessed [insert date]