George Aspinall

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George Aspinall, 1853. State Library of Victoria (H26099/56)
Bendigo Goldfields Petition Cover, August 1853. State Library of Victoria (MS 12440) and Condemned them to hard labor on the Public Roads of the Colony - A proceeding Your Petitioners maintain to be contrary to the spirit of the British Law which does not recognise the principle of the Subject being a Criminal because he is indebted to the State
That the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month is unjust because the successful and unsuccessful Digger are assessed in the same ratio
For these reasons and others which could be enumerated Your Petitioners pray Your Excellency to Grant the following Petition
* First. To direct that the Licence Fee be reduced to Ten Shillings a Month
* Secondly To direct that Monthly or Quarterly Licenses be issued at the option of the Applicants
* Thirdly To direct that new arrivals or invalids be allowed on registering their names at the Commissioners Office fifteen clear days residence on the Gold Fields before the License be enforced
* Fourthly To afford greater facility to Diggers and others resident on the Gold Fields who wish to engage in Agricultural Pursuits for investing their earnings in small allotments of land
* Fifthly To direct that the Penalty of Five Pounds for non-possession of License be reduced to One Pound
* Sixthly To direct that (as the Diggers and other residents on the Gold Fields of the Colony have uniformly developed a love of law and order) the sending of an Armed Force to enforce the License Tax be discontinued.
Your Petitioners would respectfully submit to Your Excellency's consideration in favour of the reduction of the License Fee that many Diggers and other residents on the Gold-fields who are debarred from taking a License under the present System would if the Tax were reduced to Ten Shillings a Month cheerfully comply with the Law so that the License Fund instead of being diminished would be increased
Your Petitioners would also remind your Excellency that a Petition is the only mode by which they can submit their wants to your Excellency's consideration as although they contribute more to the Exchequer that half the Revenue of the Colony they are the largest class of Her Majesty's Subjects in the Colony unrepresented
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray etc.
Red Ribbon Movement Monument in Rosalind Park, Bendigo [detail], 2013. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection


George Aspinall died in 1883.[1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

George Aspinall signed the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition. Agitation of the Victorian goldfields started with the Forest Creek Monster Meeting in 1851, but what became known as the Red Ribbon Movement was centred around the Bendigo goldfields in 1853. The Anti-Gold License Association was formed at Bendigo in June 1853, led by George Thomson, Dr D.G. Jones and 'Captain' Edward Browne. The association focused its attention on the 30 shillings monthly licence fee miners were required to pay to the government. They drew up a petition outlining digger grievances and called for a reduced licence fee, improved law and order, the right to vote and the right to buy land. The petition was signed by diggers at Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, McIvor (Heathcote), Mount Alexander (Harcourt) and other diggings. The 13 metre long petition was presented to Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe in Melbourne on the 01 August 1853, but their call for a reduction in monthly licence fees and land reform for diggers was rejected. The diggers dissatisfaction erupted into the Red Ribbon Rebellion where agitators wore red ribbons on their hats symbolising their defiance of the law and prohibitive licence fees.

Post 1854 Experiences


Another gap has been caused in the rapidly thinning ranks of the old Bendigonians, Mr. George Aspinall, who during his career on Bendigo has been a useful citizen in a variety of ways, having died at his residence, in View-street, last evening. His death was not unexpected, all hope of his recovery from the malady which resulted in his death—chest disease— having been given up some time since. Mr. Aspinall was born at Whitworth, near Rochdale in Lancashire, in 1831, and was consequently 52 years of age at the time of his death. His father was manager of a cotton manufactory, and Mr Aspinall was then engaged in the counting office. Mr. Aspinall left home in 1852, and came to Victoria in the ship "True Briton," which was trading between Liverpool and Melbourne. He came to Sandhurst in 1853 along with a party known as "Hux and Co." A portion of this party went digging, and Messrs. Aspinall and Hux started a butcher's establishment near the old escort barracks, Sheepshead, near where the Red, White and Blue mine is situated. This party was broken up after a time, and Mr. Aspinall started a butcher's establishment in Camp-street on the present site of Webb's tailoring establishment, next the Shamrock Hotel. He became acquainted with Mr. Robert Strickland, the present coroner, in 1854, and in the first week in February 1855 they commenced business together as butchers in Bridge-street. The partnership was very successful, and was subsequently joined by Mr. Richard Williamson, who was then carrying on business in View Point. They established another shop where the ironmongery portion of the Lyceum Store is now carried on. This place had previously been Scherff's store,and was connected with the Lyceum Theatre, which was built by Mr. J.H. Abbott. The firm had also a cattle yard in the vicinity of the present abattoirs, and carried on a large wholesale cattle trade, with a depot paddock at Harney's Barnedown station near Clare Inn. The business was remarkably successful, and in 1859 Mr. Aspinall took a trip home. He was supposed to have gone home by the "Royal Charter," which was lost at sea, but it after-wards transpired that he had not gone home by that vessel. Mr. Williamson retired from the firm about this time. When he was at home, Mr. Aspinall was married and returned to the colony, bringing his wife with him, in May, 1860, by the ship Norfolk. The firm of Aspinall and Strickland continued to conduct the business until August 1862, when Mr. Strick-land was returned to Parliament in the place of Mr. W. D. C. Denovan. Mr. Aspinall continued to conduct the business alone for about five years, and in 1867 he relinquished it in favor of his nephew, Mr. Timothy Nelson. Mr. Aspinall entered the council in 1868, and was re-elected for the Barkly Ward on every occasion till 1880, when he was defeated by Cr. Bailes. He twice occupied the position of Mayor during his long and serviceable tenure of office as councillor, and was for many years a justice of the peace. Mr. Aspinall was a very energetic councillor, and exhibited very great aptitude in financial matters. He was always a careful councillor and was guided by thorough business habits, acquired by private experience, in discharging the duties of his position. His absence from the council has been much felt.
For some time he was on the Hospital Board of Management, and for many years was president of the Asylum Board. He was one of the direc-tors of the Permanent Building Society, and he and several other gentlemen subsequently formed themselves into the City Discount Com-pany, of which he was managing director. He was also a local director, along with Mr. R. Burrowes, M.L.A., and Mr. Vahland, of the National Insurance Company, of which Mr. Von der Heyde is secretary. He was the chairman of directors of the Royal Princess Theatre Company, and was one of the originators of the Easter Fairs, which have resulted so satisfactorily for the charitable institutions. During the last nine or ten months Mr. Aspinall has suffered very much from chest disease, which presented a serious aspect during the last three months, and since Christmas he has been seldom able to leave his house. He has not been confined to his bed, but it was apparent that he was gradually wasting away, and about a week ago Dr. James Boyd, who has been his constant medical attendant, said that his death was only a matter of a few days. Yesterday he did not get up as was his habit, and he sank gradually, and died at twenty-five minutes to six o'clock last evening. Mr. Aspinall was a kind and affec-tionate husband and father, and leaves a widow and seven children, three sons and four daugh-ters, to mourn their loss. The eldest son, Herbert, who is 22 years of age, occupies a good position as clerk in the Savings Bank, and the youngest member of the family is six years of age.
The funeral will take place at 11' o'clock on Monday morning.[2]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. Bendigo Advertiser, 18 January 1890.
  2. Bendigo Advertiser 19 May 1883.

External links

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