Treason Trials

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State Trial Prisoners, Mount Alexander Mail, 02 March 1855.
link title
Release of Treason Trial Prisoners, Melbourne, 1855,

Background

Thirteen men were tried at the Eureka Treason Trials in Melbourne from 22 February to 27 March 1855.[1]


GOLD-SEEKERS OF THE FIFTIES.
THE EUREKA PRISONERS.
A STATE TRIAL.
THE CHARGE OF HIGH TREASON.
The sequel to the fall of the Eureka Stockade, and the capture of over one hundred men—some of whom had fought there, while some were merely lookers on was a State trial in Melbourne in the month of March following the outbreak. In all thirteen men were brought to trial, and the cases picked were those in which the Crown Law authorities considered they could bring most conclusive testimony as to complicity in the riot. Yet the only conviction secured was that of poor little Henry Seekamp, as mild-mannered a journalist as ever wrote an inflammatory leader. Under ordinary circumstances Seekamp's sedition would have been accepted with the tolerance that British peoples have for "cranks" everywhere, but men were taking themselves very seriously on the subject of sedition just then, and some of Seekamp's articles can without any stretch of imagination be called inflammatory. Listen awhile to the special effort which led to his arrest:—
"The Australian flag shall triumphantly wave in the sunshine of its own blue and peerless sky over thousands of Australia's adopted sons. And when the loud paean of "Now's the day and now's the hour, See the front of battle lour!" shall have pierced the blue vaults of Australia's matchless sky from the brave men of Ballarat next Wednesday at Bakery Hill there will not be one discordant voice in the sublime and heroic chorus. Go forth, indomitable people, gain your rights, and may the God of creation smile down propitiously upon your glorious cause. Forward! People, Forward!"
Sober-minded men would have accepted that as a very fair burlesque on stump oratory, and the jury which found Seekamp guilty of sedition considered no doubt that the little man's imagination had bolted with him, and recommended him to mercy. The mercy was shown, for he was set at liberty, gaining more celebrity by the fact that he was horsewhipped in the streets of Ballarat by the notorious Lola Montez than because of the Victor Hugo-like outbursts to his countrymen.
Raffaello states that the Ballarat rioters were acquitted on All Fools' Day, 1855, and other historians have followed him in commenting on the significance of the date as a part of the irony of fate. The Italian was not a man who allowed facts to interfere with the naturally theatrical trend of his pen, but as a matter of fact the trials were over in the month of March, and all the prisoners acquitted.
The charge was high treason, set forth with ominous detail, and possibly the more simple-minded of the rebels realised for the first time, on hearing it read, that they had really been engaged upon something very awful. Here is the first paragraph of the indictment, which no doubt had its share in making Raffaello, according to the law reported of "The Argus," "unshaved, haggard, care-worn, and dispirited":—
Redmond Barry, c1875. State Library of Victoria (H4706)
"The charge is that you did on the 3rd December, 1854, being then in a warlike manner, traitorously assemble together against our Lady the Queen, and that you did, whilst so armed and assembled together levy and make war against our said Lady the Queen within part of her dominions called Victoria, and attempt by force of arms to destroy the Government constituted there and by law established, and to depose our Lady the Queen from the kingly name and her Imperial Crown."
Great preparations were made for the trials, which took place before Mr. Justice Barry, with the then Attorney-General, Mr. W. F. Stawell, and the Solicitor-General, Mr. R. Molesworth, prosecuting for the Crown; while some of the most eminent fighting counsel of the period—Mr. Ireland, Mr. Aspinall, Mr. Michie, Mr. Cope, and Mr. Dawson—defended the pri- soners. For the jury there was a special panel of 180 men, who had a portion of the court reserved to them; and by the time one or two juries had been taken out of the mass the rest were pretty familiar with the evidence to come, and had quite made up their minds as to a verdict. Indeed, the remarkable feature of the trial was the directly contradictory nature of the evidence—the one set of witnesses deposing that when attacking the stockade they had seen the prisoners firing at them, and had captured them afterwards with arms in their hands; while others swore that the unfortunate prisoners had by purely fortuitous circumstances been brought to the neighbourhood of the stockade on that particular morning, and then only as on-lookers. In fact, some of them were so prudent that they had been almost forcibly dragged there.
In the case of Timothy Hayes, who was the first tried, the evidence of Trooper Henry Goodenough, known as "the spy of Eureka"—and who certainly humbugged the diggers in the most complete manner— was as to his identity and sympathies. Goodenough stated that the rioters were at the outset drilled in five companies of 100 men each. On one occasion he heard Lalor say to them, "Gentlemen soldiers, mind the officers. Take a good aim at the officers. If they beat us we will retreat through the Gravel Pits to the Canadian Gully. I don't think the soldiers will fight, as they will be on our side if the officers fall." His evidence looked direct and conclusive, but being utterly unused to the methods of legal warfare, he broke down utterly under the artillery of Ireland's wit, contradicted himself a dozen times, while hardly knowing what he was saying, and Judge Barry had to threaten the occupants of the court to silence their jeering laughter.
Henry Winkles, Sailors, Prince Regent & Canadian Gullies, 1850s, pencil on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased Purchased with funds from the Colin Hicks Caldwell Bequest, 2004.
State Prisoners from The Revolt at Eureka’ by R. Wenban. Schools Publishing House, 1959.
Digger Hunts from The Revolt at Eureka’ by R. Wenban. Schools Publishing House, 1959.
The judge himself provided a laugh during the progress of the trial. One of the accused had in heroic language just pictured himself romantically as a man with the sword of Damocles suspended over him by a hair, when a suspicious cracking of wood was heard, and someone shouted from the gallery that the huge canopy of cedar over the bench was about to fall.
His Honour took one look at the tottering structure, and skipped blithely out, with the remark that he would sooner sit under the sword of Damocles than under that canopy.
There was a feeling that the vice-regal visit to Ballarat some time before the riot had not proved the success anticipated in smoothing over the difficulties and discontent. Sir Charles Hotham was a sailor— a man who, by training, formed quick conclusions, and acted upon them, though he was sometimes put to very considerable trouble in undoing these resolutions after- wards. He went to both Ballarat and Bendigo with a firm conviction that it was to the officials personally, and not to the license, that the diggers took objection. Both Mr. Panton, the chief commissioner at Bendigo, and Colonel Rede who occupied the same position at Ballarat, represented to His Excellency that the tax was a most unfair one, in so far that it brought all diggers under police surveillance—an irritating thing of itself—while it pressed heavily upon those who were not getting gold. Both were convinced that it would lead to trouble in the end, and urged an export duty on gold as a better means of raising the revenue required for administration. Colonel Rede was especially strong on that point, urging that with an export duty on gold the more fortunate diggers would pay the heavier share of the tax, and that the heavier the tax they were called upon to pay the better able they were to pay it. The Governor would not listen to the proposal, however, and, though while at Ballarat he rather gave the diggers an idea that he had no very great admiration for the Government administrators on the gold-fields, no sooner had he returned to Melbourne than instructions were given for digger-hunting raids twice a month, instead of once as formerly. Ireland was just the man to "bell the cat," and he seized upon the point, and made the most of it in the diggers' defence. The impulse given to medition upon, as was then secretly known, the direct authority of the Queen's representative proved to be the strongest answer that could have been given to the charge of high treason, and was more valu-able than evidence as to facts in securing an acquittal. Crown witnesses admitted that it was on Sir Charles Hotham's instructions that the last digger hunt took place on Ballarat, the raid that brought the discontent to a crisis.
The evidence as to Timothy Hayes having taken any part in the fighting was not conclusive, though, according to the testimony of Lieutenant Richards, Haye's wife was an Amazon, who would have made a much better show behind the barricades. She came up to him while her husband was a prisoner, and said, "Why didn't you come yesterday, when the men were ready for you," and then, with a contemptuous look at her shrinking husband, added,
"If I was a man I wouldn't be taken by the likes of him."
According to some of the witnesses a system of commandeering was attempted by the rioters before the outbreak. One man, named James Gaunt , said that he and his mate were riding down the Melbourne road to meet the troops coming up, when they asked the way from a black-fellow, named Campbell, who was one of the men tried for treason. He led them to a little hollow, where they came suddenly upon a knot of diggers drilling. They immediately turned their horses to ride away, when Campbell called out, "Shoot them," and several bullets flew over their heads.
Amongst the witnesses was an ex-soldier, Thomas Allen, who had fought at Waterloo. He told how he watched the diggers being drilled into such formations as pre-paring to receive cavalry, and said they made a very bad hand of it. He jocosely offered his services as drill instructor, and suggested that the help of a Waterloo man in that capacity should be worth a bonus of £50. They arrested him, and confined him to his tent, where, on the night of the attack, two bullets passed through his Wellington boots, which were standing by the bunk on which he slept. His tent was burned down by the police, and he himself arrested as a rebel, facts of which counsel for the defence made the most, as showing the prevailing confusion as to who really had a part in the outbreak.
In defence of Hayes it was sworn that he never carried a double barrelled gun, as stated, at any of the diggers' meetings; that he declared one meeting closed be-cause a speaker came on the platform with a gun in his hand; and that he saved Dr. Carr's life on one occasion, when but for Hayes's interference he would have been instantly shot as a Government spy. One man, John O'Brien, who said that he roused Hayes from sleep while the fight at the stockade was in progress, caused some amusement in court by saying that he was out that night "just on the brow of the valley, not bein' aisy in me mind about me horse." Whenever an awkward question was asked, O'Brien always started to give his honour an enthusiastic description of the points of his lost horse—a peculiarity that tickled the Attorney-General, who was fond of a good horse.
One of the points dwelt upon by the judge with some significance in the sum-ming up was the adoption of a flag and the defiant hoisting of it on all occasions. This he thought indicated an absolute intent at insurrection.
After the acquittal of Hayes—an event received with cheers in the court and by the crowds in the streets—the rest of the trial, which lasted over many days, was a useless farce, since there was never any hope of a conviction. Counsel wandered off into the other courts to attend to more profitable business, and had to be called in to criticise evidence they had not heard. They were perfectly candid, how-ever, in assuring the Crown that there was no chance of a conviction. They knew they could rely upon the jury.
In Raffaello's case there was the same confusion of testimony, and it was notable that the little Italian anarchist was quite another man after Hayes's acquittal. Hi intense depression had changed to a mercurial vivacity, and his counsel had great difficulty in keeping them quiet.
As illustrating the confusion, one soldier swore that he arrested the Italian while dressing the wounds of a digger at the Lon-don Tavern; another said that Rafaello and two others drove him out of the stockade during the fight at the point of the bayonet; while a third, who was not examined, was equally convinced that he had shot "Great Works," who was well known in the camp, and regarded as being "a shingle short."
The group of prisoners were a truly cosmopolitan mixture, for there were amongst the thirteen Irish, English, Scotch, Dutch, German, italian, and an American negro. The Crown were pretty sure of Jan Vennik, the Dane, because he wore conspicuous red trousers, but Jan had some hard- swearing compatriots in Cornelius Peters and Michael Bloemb, who swore that all the Danes on Ballarat wore red breeches, and that Jan was never at the fight, though he had a cut across his face, which no one could account for save a trooper, who said that it was his gift in a sabre cut, delivered just outside the palisades. Mr. Ireland dwelt always upon prevailing excitement at the storming of Eureka, and some of his encounters with witnesses who swore otherwise were interesting, and left counsel with little, if anything, the best of it. Thus:—
Mr. Ireland.—"So you mean to say the police did not get very excited in their conflict with the diggers?"
Witness.—"I do. If you were a police-man instead of a lawyer, and got as ex-cited and noisy on the diggings as you do in this court, you would be put down a deep hole in less than no time." (Loud Laughter.)
Mr. Ireland.—So you say the diggers generally were well satisfied. That's a novelty to me?
Witness.—"I should suppose that the truth was at all times a strange novelty to you." (Laughter.)
These, however, were rare spots of bright-ness in a trial which finally became tire-some, and ended in the acquittal of all the prisoners, a general amnesty to those who were not charged, and the payment of compensation to some who deserved it, as well as to a great many who did not. [2]

Treason Trial Prisoners

Although over one hundred men were arrested, the cases against all but thirteen were dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Those who stood trial for High Treason were:

James Beattie who was about to be executed at the stockade by trooper Rivell when Sergeant Riley heard his calls for mercy and took him prisoner; [3]
James Campbell a black man from Kingston, Jamaica; [4]
Raffaello Carboni, an Italian who had been involved in the 1848 revolutions in Europe and an anarchist sympathiser who wrote one of the most important books about the Eureka rebellion in 1855, The Eureka Stockade: The Consequences Of Some Pirates Wanting On Quarter-Deck A Rebellion; [5]
Thomas Dignum, born in Sydney [6]
Timothy Hayes, Chairman of the Ballarat Reform League; [7]
John Joseph, a black American who is credited with firing the shot that eventually killed Captain Henry Wise, [8]
John Manning, a Ballarat Times journalist originally from Ireland, [9]
William Molloy
John Phelan, a friend and business partner of the elected leader of the Eureka rebellion Peter Lalor who came out from Ireland as a young man;[10]
Henry Reid a stockader who stood his ground and fired repeatedly at the military advance on the stockade;[11]
Jacob Sorenson, a Jew; [12]
Michael Tuohy a survivor of the Irish potato famine who immigrated to Melbourne at the age of 19 in 1849; [13]
Jan Vennik from Holland, [14]

Witnesses

At the State Treason Trials Sub-Inspector of Police, Charles Carter, responded to questions from the Attorney General in relation to the site of the Eureka Stockade:

'Was it on the brow of the hill? Yes.
Did it enclose the brow of the hill? Yes.
And the ground fell from it? On the side we attacked it did.'[15]


Commissioner Gilbert Amos of the Eureka Camp answered the Attorney General's questions thus:

'How was the ground placed; was it on the summit of a hill, in a valley, or how? It was rather in a hollow; it sloped slightly down into a hollow.'[16]

Frank Penhalluriack


Witnesses deposing against James Beattie, John Joseph, Raffaello Carboni and Jan Vennick were: Henry Goodenough, Thomas Atkins, Patrick Riley, William Revell, Samuel Stackwell Fuirnell, John King, James Gorr, Patrick Lynott, Daniel Haggarty, Andrew Peters, John Badcock, John Donnelly, Thomas Milne, Patric O'Keefe, George Fraser


Witnesses deposing against Timothy Hayes were: Henry Goodenough, Andrew Peters, Hugh King, Willliam Thompson, Thomas Edmund Langley, Thomas bailey Richards]], Thomas Carruthers, William Fleming, James Ronayn.


Witnesses deposing against Charles Jefferies Carter, John Manning, Thomas Joseph McKeown, and John Cahill were: Henry Goodenough, Patrick O’Keefe, Charles Jeffries Carter, Patrick Synott, Daniel Haggarty, Andrew Peters, William John Sullivan, Michael Costello.


Witnesses deposing against Charles Brown, Thomas Barry, Michael Tuohy, Henry Read and James Campbell were: George King, John King, Samuel Slackwell Furnell, John Dogherty, Michael Lawler, Joseph Penrose, John White, John Penaluna, Eugene Bellairs, James Wearne, James Richardson Gaunt, Peter Ellis, John Sullivan, James Clerk, Joseph Raynor, Henry Bedwell, William Richardson.


William Revell was deposed as a witness for the case of Thomas Dignum which was later dropped by the Attorney General.

Witnesses deposing against William Molloy, Jacob Sorenson and Patrick Howard were: Edward Viret, George King, Thomas Bradley, and Henry Foster.

Witnesses deposing against John Phelan were: Ladislas Kossak, Samuel Slackwell Furnell, John Culkin.


Jurors

Raffaello Carboni Trial of 21 March 1855

Alexander Bartholomew

Entrance buildings Melbourne Gaol, 1861. Photography: Jean Baptiste Charlier. State Library of Victoria (H36668 )
Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services.

Old Melbourne Gaol

The thirteen were transferred to the Old Melbourne Gaol from Bacchus Marsh lockup on Wednesday the 7th of December 1854. They were held in the most vile conditions, fed barely anything and were repeatedly stripped naked and searched. [John Price] the Inspector of Victoria's prison system and the man who made life so difficult for the prisoners was murdered by a group of convicts three years later in 1857 and some people say "God doesn't exist".

Letter from gaol

The transcription below is taken from the Age dated 14 February 1855.

To the Sheriff of the Colony of Victoria, SIR – As the chief officer of the Government regulating Prison Discipline in Victoria, we, the undersigned Ballarat state prisoners, respectfully beg to acquaint you with the mode of our treatment since our imprisonment in this Gaol, in the hope that you will have the goodness to make some alterations for the better.

At seven o’clock in the morning we are led into a small yard of about thirty yards long and eight wide where we must either stand, walk or sent (print not readable) upon the cold earth (no seats or benches were afforded us), and which at meal times serves chair, table, &c., with the additional consequence of having our food saturated with sand (print not readable) and with every kind of disgusting filth which the wind may happen to stir up within the yard. We are locked in about three o’clock in the afternoon, four or five of us together, in a cell whose dimensions are three feet by twelve, being thus debarred from the free air of heaven for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four. The food is of the very worst description ever used by civilised beings. We are debarred the use of writing materials except for purposes of pressing necessity ; are never permitted to see a newspaper ; and strictly prohibited the use of tobacco and snuff ; we have been subjected to the annoyance of being sometimes stripped naked, a dozen men together, when a process of ‘searching’ takes place which is debasing to any human being, but perfectly revolting to men whose sensibilities have never been blunted by familiarity with crime – an ordeal of examination, and the coarse audacity with which it is perpetrated, as would make manhood blush, and which it would assuredly resent, as an outrage upon common decency in any other place than a prison. And again, when the visiting Justice takes his rounds, we are made to stand bareheaded before him, as if &c.

We give the Government the credit of believing that it is not its wish we should be treated with such unsparing malignity and apparent malice, and also believe that, if you, Sir, the representative of Government, in this Department, had been previously been made acquainted with this mode of treatment you would have caused it to be altered. But we have hitherto refrained from troubling the Government on the subject, in expectation of a speedy trial, which now appears to be postponed sign die.

We, each of us, can look back with laudable pride upon our lives, and not a page in the record of the past can unfold a single transgression which would degrade us before man, or for which, we would be condemned before our Maker.

And we naturally ask why we should be treated as if our lives had been one succession of crime, or as if society breathe freely once more at being rid of our dangerous and demoralising presence. Even the Sunday that to all men in Christendom is a day of relaxation and comparative enjoyment, is for us one of gloom and weariness, being locked up in a dreary cell from three o’clock Saturday evening, til seven on Sunday morning (except for about an hour and a half on Sunday), thus locked up in a narrow dungeon for forty consecutive hours, we appeal to you, and ask was there ever worse treatment in the worst days of the Roman Inquisition, for men whose reputation had never been sullied with crime?

We therefore humbly submit that, as the State only looks at present to our being well secured we ought to be treated with every liberality consistent with our safe custody, and that any unnecessary harshness or arrogant display of power, is nothing more or less than wanton cruelty. Some of us for instance, could while away several hours each day in writing, an occupation which, while it would fill up the dreary vacuum of a prison life, would lend elasticity to the mind, as would the moderate use of snuff and tobacco, cheer it and soothe that mental irritation consequent upon seclusion. But that system of discipline which would paralyse the mind and debilitate the body – that would destroy intellectual as well as physical energy and vigor, cannot certainly be of human origin. Trusting you will remove these sources of annoyance and complaint, We beg to subscribe ourselves, Sir Your obedient servants,

Here follows the names.

On 16 January 1855 the prisoners were brought before Sir William a`Beckett, in the Supreme Court of Victoria, where they were required to answer the charges laid against them and to select counsel. The prisoners were not required to enter a plea until 29 January.

In the News

STATE TRIALS. Friday, Feb. 23, 1855. (Before his Honor the Chief Justice.) His Honor took his seat at the usual hour, and the names of the jury (who had been locked up during the night) having been called over, the Attorney-General called as a witness for the prosecution Patrick O'Keefe. Patrick O'Keefe, sworn.—I am a private of the 40th, and was at the camp at Ballarat on Sunday, the 3rd, I remember coming to the stockade; I went inside, and when there I saw the prisoner, and saw him discharge one barrel of a double-barrelled piece which he held in his hand; he was about six yards from me, and inside of the stockade.; he fired in the direction of me and Captain Wise; Captain Wise was alongside of me at the time the piece was discharged; after prisoner had given fire, he dropped the piece, took up a pike and went towards a tent within the stockade; I afterwards saw him in custody outside of the stockade, in charge of one of the escort. Cross-examined by Mr Chapman.—I never saw the prisoner before; I could never be mistaken; this was after he was bronght in in custody; I belong to the 40th regiment; Captain Wise also belongs to the same regiment; there was a great deal of firing; there were men fell in and around Captain Wise before and after prisoner fired; there were others standing near the prisoner when he fired; they also were firing in the direction of my company; ...; I could see distinctly what was going on. John Donnelly, sworn—I belong to the 40th; I was one who attacked the stockade on the 3rd December; I know the prisoner, and saw him with a double-barrelled gun in his hand within the stockade; I was distant 50 yards; I did not see prisoner do anything with the gun; I am sure the prisoner was the man. By Mr Chapman — It was early in the morn- ing this took place; I could see the prisoner constantly; we were all fighting together; in the heat of the battle I distinctly recollect the prisoner; I am positive he is the man, though my conviction may affect the life of the prisoner. Sergeant Harris, sworn—I am sergeant of the 40th, and was at Ballaarat in beginning of Dec.; I formed one of the storming company attacking the stockade; the camp was fortified as well as we possibly could; from the Camp I could see what appeared to me men drilling in the stockade; I observed the men formed in companies, they had a flag, the southern cross, and this flag was flying when we attacked the stockade; it was light enough to enable us to see what we were about. I saw the prisoner in the stockade with fire arms in his hands; I did not see him fire. By Mr Chapman—The camp is distant about three-quarters of a mile from Bakery Hill, where the drilling took place; I did not use a glass to observe them; it is usual to fly flags on the diggings; I have seen this flag before at a public meeting; it is a common practice to hoist flags on the diggings; I was at the Camp in November, a few days before the disturbance took place; it was the break of day when we reached the stockade, and sufficient light to recognise individuals; they kept their features concealed as much as possible whilst we were marching up to the attack. Gilbert Andrew Amos sworn—In November last I was Commissioner at the Eureka Camp; it was about 2¼ miles from the Camp at Ballarat; Bakery Hill is distant about ¾ of a mile from the Ballarat Camp; the plan produced is a correct description of the Camp, and features of the country. (Witness here was requested to mark out the position of Bakery Hill, and Eureka Camp, and the rounte the soldiers took when marching to the attack.) Mr Chapman submitted that if the plan is submitted as evidence, stricter proof of its ac- curacy should be given, and not rely upon the mere jotting down by pencil of this or that position by any witness who may be required to point out the localities mentioned in the examination.
Unknown maker (Australia), The flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag), 1854, wool, cotton.
Art Gallery of Ballarat Collection. Gift of the King family, 2001
His Honor submitted that it was only a means of defining more accurately than mere verbal evidence could do, the particular position of the attacking and attacked forces. Examination continued—The stockade was much stronger than represented in the plan; I see no carts in the plan, though several carts were used in forming the barricade; on the Saturday I was taken prisoner at the Eureka Government Camp by the rioters, numbering 100 men and 3 officers; they were drilled and evidently understood the drill perfectly well; they were taught to secure firelocks against the weather, a manœuvre not frequently taught to young recruits, and it coming on to rain I noticed they secured firelocks; I was captured by a man named Ross, mounted on a horse, who rode up to me, and said he was ordered to take me prisoner; he was accompanied by about twenty men; they came up armed, and amused themselves with cocking and uncocking in my face by way of intimidation; I told them if they wished to frighten me they had succeeded, for I thought one of their pieces might go off by accident: I then said, "Where do you wish me to go?" he replied, "To our camp," pointing to a camp with a blue flag flying over the centre. (The horse Ross, or Captain Ross as he was called, role, had been stolen from our camp a day or two before.) I said I would go, and went; I warned him of the consequences of his conduct; I was taken half way towards the camp; when I got half way towards the camp, another mounted man galloped up from the camp to meet Captain Ross's detachment, who said, "We do not wish Mr Arnold to be taken prisoner—we do not wish to have any prisoners;" I enquired whether he or Ross was the senior officer; Ross replied that was the colonel; I then turned on my heel and walked away; it was on the Friday I saw them drilling repeatedly about Bakery Hill; the Southern Cross was flying on the Bakery Hill on that morning, but on the evening of the same day the flag was moved to the Eureka. (The witness here described the nature and construction of the stockade, apparently a very formidable one, so strong indeed that no cavalry could force it, as their best horses refused the charge during the attack; it was only about four feet high from the ground.) Examination continued—There were about 14 or 15 tents within the stockade; Ross died two days after, from a gun shot wound received in the stockade; it was just down when we reached the stockade and there was sufficient light to distinguish features: all operations were suspended the three preceeding days by the operation and intimidation of these armed bodies, amongst the diggers; a store kept by one Morrison in the rear of the camp was entered twice by bodies of armed men on the 2nd of December; on the arrival of a third party, I remonstrated when they asked me to stand aside, one of them went into the store, when he brought out a bag of bread and gave in return an order on the commander in chief of the united forces; I am not aware that throughout the whole of the Ballarat camp any mining operations were going on ; we left the Ballarat Camp about 3 o'clock, accompanied by soldiers and police, taking the direction of the Black Hill, then striking off towards the Eureka Camp, making towards the stockade as we thought unobserved; but the videttes and sentries of the enemy warned the stockade of our approach, guns being fired repeatedly during our advance, and we were met before we reached the stockade by a volley of musketry, which knocked over some of our men. By Mr Chapman—When I accompanied the troops to the stockade, I was armed; I went as a magistrate; I did not volunteer; I pointed out the country to the attacking party; I do not know who the colonel in command of the enemy was; I do not know anything of M'Gill; I do not know anything of the Rangers; there was a search for licenses on Thursday, the 30th November; these searches are generally carried out by a number of police; the search for licenses, on this particular day, was made by a large body of mounted or footsoldier; they were armed with sabre, firelock, and pistols; on the Wednesday a number of placards were posted all round the diggings; and there was burning of licenses. The Thursday raid might have been the result of the placards and burning of the licenses. I have something to do with the search for licenses at the Eureka. I dare say there are instances where a man has been applied to more than once during the day for his license. When he left the camp for the stockade, it was about three o'clock; it was then dark. When the first volley was fired, there was sufficient light to take an aim; I was distant about 60 yards from the stockade with the mounted troopers; the party firing was, I think, still more distant ; I could see, but not distinguish, faces; I cannot say whether any firing occurred after we had got into the stockade; there was firing, but it was owing to a number of loaded guns, placed in a guard tent, going off through the heat, which the burning of the tent engendered; I could not say there was any other firing going on; I think not; I was nearly shot by one of the guns from the gold tent accidentally going off; I have been about two years in the Gold Commission; I have never held office before under the Government;I have not been in office in Sydney; I held office as commander of the Private Escort between the Ovens and Sydney; I left it of my own account; the correspondence that was the cause of my leaving the company, is in the Colonial Secretary's office; I was not dismissed from the Escort Company; the reason this correspondence found its way into the Colonial Secretary's office here was to ascertain my fitness for an appointment. I have heard of a man named M'Gill, not General M'Gill; I think, every thing put together, that it was M'Gill; I know he is now on the diggings, in fact, I knorw he is, for he returned thanks the other day on behalf of the American army. Hackett—I am a police magistrate, and was at the Camp at Ballarat on the 3rd December, I saw a meeting held at Bakery Hill on the 29th November; I was in the Camp at that time; on the subsequent days. I saw a deal of rioting from the Camp; on Friday, I saw bodies of men, apparently drilling, armed; I accompanied the party that advanced towards the stockade in my capacity as magistrate; I did not do any thing in my capacity of magistrate, for they did not permit me, a volley from the stockade drove the Riot Act out of my head; I believe one of the military was knocked down by the volley; some few parties were working at their occupation on the Friday, but they were afterwards suspended by an armed party from the stockade; the suspension of work by the miners covered a very large surface, all the chief diggers in fact. Examined by Chapman—The police made their excursion on the Thursday, by order of the Resident Commissioner; it is at the option of the Resident Commissioner to order the police to go in search of the licenses. George Webster—I was lately in the service of the Government; I attended a meeting on the 20th on Bakery Hill; it was presided over by Mr Hayes; at the meeting a resolution was passed that licenses should be destroyed and not renew them; Raphaello then tore up his, and with a great many others set them on fire; most of the diggers were prevented from working by armed parties; I accompanied the attacking party to the Eureka Stockade; the command was under Captain Thomas; when within 150 yards from the stockade (the sun shining on our faces enabled the enemy to see us before we observed them); a shot was fired from the stockade, then a volley, and the firing became general; Captain Wise led the storming party, and was in the act of mounting the stockade when he fell; when the stockade was captured, Captain Thomas reformed his party, and with the prisoners took their way to the camp. Examined by Mr Chapman : It took about ten minutes to collect the prisoners; they numbered about 125. Thomas Allen: I kept the Waterloo Coffeehouse and store on the Eureka; I returned from Melbourne to Eureka on the Saturday; I saw bodies of men go through their evolutions, like an awkward squad, armed with pikes and guns; the commander of the pike squad put them through their evolutions, instructing them how to receive cavalry, and in short drilling them in proper military style; they asked me to join them. knowing I was an old Waterloo man, were anxious for me to drill them; when they asked me to join they thrust a pike into my hand but I refused the d—d ugly weapon; I afterwards asked them what bounty they would give; I said £50 was little enough for a Waterloo man; I afterwards refused to have any thing to do with them, when they made me a prisoner and marched me to my tent; accompanied by three men armed with pikes; my tent was in the stockade, the stockade being built round the tents; my store had been on that ground for some months; my tent was set fire to with others by the police, and out of £200 worth of property I only saved £11 10. The witnesses, Peter Hoggerty, Goodenough, being called upon to identify prisoner Raphello, as the individual whose name was mentioned during the proceedings of yesterday, as associated with Joseph.
The case for the Crown concluded. Mr. Chapman took objection to the indictment. 1st. That an overt act ought to have been set out, and was necessary to validate the first count. 2nd. That the indictment charging prisoner with high treason is by law reducible to felony, and that consequently, there was no evidence to go to the jury on the third and fourth counts. His Honor overruled the first objection, but the second being of a graver character, though his Honor's opinion was against Mr. Chapman, he consented to reserve. The Court then adjourned till 2 o'clock, when Mr Chapman will proceed to address the jury. BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH. The CHIEF JUSTICE'S charge to the jury closed at a quarter to five, when the jury retired to consider their verdict. At a quarter to six they returned into court and returned a verdict of NOT GUILY. LOUD APPLAUSE FOLLOWED THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE VERDICT. Two of the noisiest were selected for the vengeance of the court and sentenced to seven days' imprisonment in Melbourne jail. The prisoner Joseph was discharged. [17]


James Beattie, John Fenwick, Josephs, and Raphaello, were placed at the bar. Beattie has rather a feeble and timid expression, and very unlike one's idea of a rebel. Fenwick is apparently a Dane, has a sailor-like look, and appears strong and active. Josephs is a negro, a very tall and powerful man, but with a stupid and vacant expression of countenance. Raphaello is an Italian, of middle age, of spare but vigorous form. His hair and beard are thin, and of a red color. He has black eyes, and an earnest, enthusiastic manner. He was secretary to Mazzini when Rome was captured, and bears the traces of several wounds.
H. Goodenough, a trooper, saw Beattie offer himself as a volunteer at the meeting at Bakery Hill, on Thursday, the 30th ult. He was drilled, then marched with the others to Eureka, and was drilled there that day and the next. On Sunday, the 3rd December, Beattie was arrested by him, at the London Hotel, about one hundred yards from the stockade. Prisoner had no arms when drilled nor when arrested. Many of the volunteers were armed. Fenwick was among the volunteers. Raphaello was captain of a company of about twenty-five, armed with swords and knives. He commanded his company with a sword by his side, and on Thursday a way was opened for them up to the platform where Raphaello made a speech. He said— "Gentlemen soldiers, those that cannot provide themselves with firearms, let them provide themselves with a piece of steel, if it is only six inches long, attached to a pole, and that will pierce the tyrant's heart." He marched his men to Eureka, and drilled them there on that and the following day. In answer to Raphaello, witness said that prisoner's company were more than one-half foreigners, apparently Germans and French.
In answer to the Bench witness stated that the origin of the Wednesday meeting was the return from Melbourne of a deputation to the Governor, and repeated the words used by Hayes and others.
Thomas Atkins, constable, saw one hundred and fifty men being drilled at Eureka on Friday last.
Beattie was in the ranks. Saw Raphaello, mounted, and with a party capturing horses, and giving them over to another party. Was threatened by the party and withdrew.
Patrick Reilly, sergeant in the mounted 40th, saw Beattie on the Sunday morning standing with his back to the stockade and crying for mercy. Took him prisoner and brought him round to the rest of the prisoners. The firing had just ceased.
William Rivel, of the mounted force of the 40th, saw Beattie come over the wall of the stockade, before the firing had quite ceased. After the soldier ceased firing, several shots were discharged at them from tents. Beattie had a large horse-pistol in his hand as he climbed the stockade. When he saw the troops without, he dropped the pistol inside the stockade, and either fell or dropped on his knees and cried for mercy, saying he "was beaten and would give in."
Samuel J. Furnell, sub inspector of police, was at the stockade, in command of the mounted police. Some time after the firing had ceased, he saw Fenwick running away at a short distance from the stockade. Cantered after him, and told him he was his prisoner. He endeavored to escape, but being struck and slightly wounded, he yielded.
John King, sergeant of police, saw Beattie and Raphaello taken out of the stockade.
James Goar, private 40th, charged the stockade. Raphaello and two others charged him with pikes as he entered the stockade. He jumped out of the stockade and ran back, pursued by Raphaello till he met the troopers. Raphaello now retreated till he reached the stockade.
Patrick Hynott, a private of the 40th, saw Fenwick in the stockade. He had on a pair of red drawers. He was on the right hand of the tent, armed with a fowling piece. He was very busy. Afterwards saw him a prisoner in the Camp. Saw Josephs with a pike in his hand looking over the stockade at the time. Witness fired at him when he saw him. An order was given to fix bayonets and troops charged. Josephs was taken prisoner by Captain Carter and a constable. Saw Raphaello pursuing the last witness. He was armed, but is not certain as to the weapon, as he only saw the handle.
Daniel Hagherty is a sergeant of the 40th. Identifies Fenwick. Was one of the skirmishers on the 3rd. The troops halted about twenty paces from the stockade, and extended from the right. The 12th were extended from the right of the 40th. The troops advanced a little when the firing began, and received a good many shots, which they did not return until the bugle sounded. We fired and then charged. Several of the 40th were shot Captain Wise fell at this time. Some of our men under Captain Thomas went into the stockade. When the firing slackened a little, Captain Thomas ordered the troops outside. Came out and remained outside the stockade. Fenwick was brought out bleeding at the time, and was put with the other prisoners. Took the principal charge of the prisoners. Josephs resisted the soldiers who had taken him. Raphaello was brought out of the stockade a prisoner. Does not know who took him. Saw Fenwick brought out with a lot of prisoners, but did not see him arrested. Saw Josephs resisting the two soldiers who had him in charge. Told them to push him on with the remainder of the prisoners.
Andrew Peters, a constable at Ballaarat, saw Raphaello drilling men on the Bakery Hill. Josephs was in the ranks, armed. Raphaello had about twenty men in the ranks. This was on the evening of the second day after the meeting. Raphaello was armed. Never saw him but once. Was not present at the stockade on the morning of the 3rd. On the evening after the meeting, Raphaello was armed with a pistol or revolver.
Cross-examined by Raphaello: Saw him with 20 or 30 men. They were chiefly foreigners.
John Badcock, a constable at Ballaarat, was present at the Eureka Stockade on Sunday morning when it was charged. Jumped over the stockade. Saw Raphaello going round the corner of a tent. Presented his firelock at him, but it missed fire. did not see him again until he was a priosner. He was armed with something like a pike. Saw Josephs and Beattie prisoners outside the stockade at about twenty paces from it.
John Donolly, a private of the 40th: Saw Josephs with a double-barrelled piece in his hand outside the stockade. Saw Raphaello inside the stockade armed with some weapon. This morning the court sat at half-past nine.
The case of Beattie, Fenwick, Josephs, and Raphaello, was resumed.
Mr. Dunne stated that he appeared for Raphaello.
Thomas Milne deposed: That he was a sergeant of police at Ballaarat. Was in the stockade on the morning of the 3rd. Was at the large slab tent after the firing had ceased. The slab tent was inside the stockade. Saw a number of men running towards where the soldiers were stationed. Saw the prisoners Raphaello and Josephs in custody. They were unarmed. Never saw any of the prisoners previously.
Cross-exmained by Mr. Dunne: Has been here stationed about four months.
Patrick O'Keefe, a private of the 40th, was present at the attack on Eureka. saw Josephs there. He fired on us. Saw him afterwards with a pike running towards the tent, and again in custody outside the stockade. Cannot identify any of the other prisoners.
By the Bench: he fired towards where Captain Wise was stationed and some of the soldiers. Atthat time Captain Wise fell.
George Fraser, constable, was at the attack. Saw Josephs and Raphaello when in the stockade. Josephs was in custody. Was ordered to join guard to secure the prisoners. Saw Raphaello brought out from the direction of the stockade in the custody of two men.
Cross-examined: Have been stationed here and in the force about twelve months.
Inspector Evans, in reply to a question from the Bench, stated that he had evidence to produce with regard to the meetings on Bakery Hill.
Charles Jeffreys Carter: Was in charge of the foot police. Took Josephs out of the tent called the guard-room, while the firing was going on. Did not see any of the other prisoners. Called out to any that weer alive in the tent to give themselves up. There were two there. One of them said "For God's sake don't fire on us; we will surrender." He was unarmed. I saw many arms in the guard-tent, which is inside the stockade, as well as many dead and wounded.
This was the case for the Crown.
Mr Dunne submitted that there was no case against Beattie, but the Bench overruled the objection, and committed the prisoners to take their trial for high treason.
Nicholas Edwards, Joseph Gray, Francis Kent, Henry Trynon, Henry Bazley, Thomas Bisk, George Davidson, Richard Humphreys, Charles Adams, John Delamere, Henry Robilliard, Nicholas Allaire, Peter Priaulx, Isaac Hinds, Joseph Hindon, Andrew White, Joseph Macknon, Charles Brown, and Thomas Barry, were discharged, there being no evidence against them.
Mr. Dunne appeared for the following prisoners who were likewise discharged, there being not sufficient evidence against them to warrant a committal:—
Patrick Gilhooly, Walter Ryley, John Powell, Joseph Penrose, Robert Winkfield, Dugald Magennis, John Quin, Edmund Burn, Wm. James Steer, Arthur Smith, Kennedy O'Brien, Martin Kinnear, Matthew Orr, Alexander Ross, Robert Leslie, George Thompson, Martin Ryan, Thomas Box, Thomas Ferdinand Tighe, and John Cahill.
John Manning, reporter of the Ballaarat Times, was next arraigned.
Mr. Dunne appeared for the prisoner.
Inspector Carter saw Manning on Sunday morning in the tent called the guard-room. It was within the stockade. I arrested the prisoner and handed him over to the 40th. The firing had not ceased. The tent was full of arms. He was one of the two taken out of the tent.
Daniel Higgarty, a sergeant of the 40th, was in the engagement at the stockade. Saw Manning brought out of the stockade under the charge of Lieutenant Richards, 40th.
Cross-examined: Manning was in custody when he saw him.
Thomas Barr, district surveyor, was present at several meetings. Was on Bakery Hill at the meeting on Wednesday 29th November. The object of this meeting was to raise subscriptions for organising a large force, and to defray the expenses of delegates to the different diggings. Heard Black, Lawlor (sic), Vern, Kennedy, and some others speak at the meeting.
Mr. Dunne submitted this was not evidence, as the prisoner was not alleged to have been present.
The Bench ruled that the evidence must be received.
Examination resumed: Did not recognise the prisoner there.
William Dalgliesh: I was at a meeting on Bakery Hill on the 30th ultimo. Recognised the prisoner as one of a party of about twenty being drilled armed with pikes. Does not know who commanded them. Saw the prisoner the next time in custody. Did not see him in the stockade.
[A portion of the copy appears to have miscarried and this examination is incomplete.]
Four men — Pohill, Bryant, Rodan, and Ferguson — were brought up.
John Gillman, sergeant mounted police, was at the attack at the Eureka. Saw Bryant about 100 yards from the stockade; was called to the seize him. Did so when he was running from the stockade. He had no arms, but was running to hide himself behind a chimney.
Mr. Hackett, Stipendiary Magistrate for the District : Received on Sunday morning a message from Captain Thomas requesting him to accompany the troops and police on an expedition. He did so. They advanced in the direction of the Eureka. As they approached the position of the entrenchment, he was told that it was quite near. To night being very dark, he lay down, and saw a flag flapping. One shot, and then a volley, shewed where they were. The bugle sounded, which he believes is the signal for the troops to fire. After ten or twelve minutes the troops went into the stockade. Identifies Pohill, Bryant, and Ferguson. Cannot say when they were taken. Has been informed that Ferguson can bring evidence to account for his being found where he was. Dr. Kenworthy and another American gentleman can account for his being there.
The Bench advised Ferguson to lose no time in procuring the evidence of these gentlemen.
Bryant asked Mr. Hackett if he knew him?
Mr. Hackett said he did, and his feeling was surprise to see him where he was.
Bryant called the attention of the Bench to a cut on his head, and stated that it was the cause of his being where he was. The wound had been inflicted by a trooper because he could not move fast enough and then he arrived at the Camp he was detained because he was bloody.
Sub Inspector Cossac saw Rodan inside the stockade, attempting to crawl out. He called to him to surrender, and he did so. There were arms lying about.
John Mordan White, trooper, saw Rodan in the stockade, at a corner between two tents. There was a passage out on the left and a dray on the right. The prisoner was under the dray. Many arms lying about.
Cross-examined: Prisoner had been wounded in the left shoulder, though slightly.
William Murrell, corporal of the 40th, was at the Eureka on the 3rd. Saw Ferguson twenty years inside the stockade, and ordered him to join the other prisoners.
George Byford, private 40th, recognises Ferguson. Saw him inside the stockade. He had no arms. Saw him run from one tent to another.
Henry Perry, private mounted 40th, recognises Bryant. Saw him jump over the stockade. He had a pike, and struck at witness.
For Rodan, in defence, George Anderson, who had lived two years near the Eureka, deposed that Rodan was his mate, and was in the tent at ten o'clock on Saturday night; that they ordered Rodan out saying, "If you don't come we will shoot you." Witness had concealed himself between the tent and the lining, or he is sure he also would have been compelled to go. Had incurred odium by not attending the meetings. Had been attacked on Friday night by three men, knocked down and called a "trap."
Rodan assured the Bench that he had been forced away unarmed.
Ferguson described himself as having been seized on his way to visit a friend, and detained by the rioters against his will.
The Bench decided on remanding Bryant till next day, in order that he might produce the witnesses he spoke of. The other prisoners were discharged, with an admonition to some of them for allowing the stockade to be erected so near them without giving information to the authorities and seeking their protection.
A public meeting of the inhabitants of the township was held this afternoon, at which a committee was appointed to draw up a memorial to the Lieutenant Governor. The committee met this evening, and adopted a memorial for general subscription, of which I enclose a copy.
To His Excellency Sir Charles Hotham, K.C.B.,
Lieut.-Govcrnor of the colony of Victoria.
The memorial of the undersigned merchants,
landholders, storekeepers, and inhabitants of the gold-fields at Ballaarat,
Humbly sheweth —
That your memorialists view with extreme regret the late disturbances on these gold-fields, arising from causes on which they do not feel called upon to express an opinion.
Reposing the utmost confidence in your Excellency, they earnestly urge the necessity that exists for your Excellency's presence on these mines, and humbly, yet earnestly, pray your clemency, and the issue of an amnesty in favor of those individuals who have taken a part in the late lamentable disturbances.
That your memorialists desire to express their loyalty towards Her Majesty, and pledge them- selves to support your Excellency in the maintenance of order.
Your memorialists would respectfully draw your Excellency's attention to the benefits that would arise by the issue of an amnesty, in restoring confidence, and in the return to their occupations of hundreds who have left this district from various causes connected with the late disturbances.
And your memorialists as in duty bound will ever pray.
11 P.M.
A slight alarm was created a short time ago by a gun fired in the proximity of the Camp. All were instantly on the alert. Sounds of preparation were heard all over the Camp, and the frequent challenge of sentries. Two troopers galloped southward along the road, and one of them soon re turned with a prisoner in charge, but whether or not he had anything to do with the suspicions shot, or it had any omen of danger to the authorities, it is equally impossible as yet to tell.
A reward of £500 is offered for "the body, dead or alive, of Frederick Vern, sometimes called Colonel Vern."
The Right Rev. Dr. Goold, Roman Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, arrived at Ballaarat this evening.[18]


FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN TRIALS, No. 12 - EUREKA AFTERMATH
(By STANLEY BROGDEN)
PART 1
AT SIX O'CLOCK ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1855, the gallery of the Supreme Court at Melbourne was in an uproar. Men and Women stamped their feet on the floor and pounded the seats with their fists.
A few of them shouted, but the words were lost in the din: 'Good old Jack! Good on yer. Darky! That'll show the Toorak Tyrant! Wot d'yer think of that verdict, Sir William Stawell? The Chief Justice (Sir William A'Beckett), sat back in his ornamented chair amazed, while the court officials tried to restore order. In a momentary lull in the uproar, the Chief Justice bitterly told his clerks to seize the persons responsible for the 'disgraceful scene.' The gallery emptied quickly. Of the dozens who had clamoured upstairs, only two were caught, and they were brought, struggling, before his Honour, to admit their names as George Gordon and John Keogh. But while his Honour flayed the pair with bitter comment on the type that had made him famous throughout the colony, nobody took much heed of their fate. Sentenced to a week in the cells for contempt, they were taken away by the troopers almost unnoticed. For all eyes were on the beautifully built, poorly dressed negro in the street outside, surrounded by cheering hundreds of people who immediately carried him shoulder high down Russell Street. All the way down the street people rushed out of shops and houses to pick up the cry that echoed through out the Victorian capital within a few minutes. 'Not guilty! The nigger boy has been acquitted! ACQUITTED.' Throughout the crowd strode odd diggers from Ballarat and Bendigo, outlandish in their costume, shouting in glee the year-old taunt against the troopers, who demanded their licences on the goldfields: Joe, Joe! Yes. we've jammed their tails!' Only a few visiting pastoralists and local civil servants, police troopers, and red-coat ed Imperial troops watched the uproar with distaste. This was a triumph in which they had no part, which they feared and distrusted, for it seemed to them that rioters and traitors had been canonised by the mob. To-day, after 88 years, the State trials of the 15 men selected for trial after capture at the Eureka Stockade are little known. Very few persons have read through the evidence. Three generations of Australians have been born since the affair of the Eureka Stockade, and most have obtained their knowledge in a few small books written from a purely political standpoint by writers wanting to make political capital out of the events. Left-wing gentry to-day would have us believe the affair at Eureka was a glorious battle, to be ranked with Thermopylae and Lexington. They largely disregard the actual trials, taking it for granted that the State should never have tried the men at all or that no Jury could, have returned any verdict other than not guilty. :WHAT IS THE TRUTH? Were the men guilty? Were they victims of sheer Government spite? Should they have been tried at all? Were they tried on the wrong charges? One's own politics obviously colour any replies made to these questions. The best reply is to remind you that the diggers In the Eureka Stockade themselves were by no means united in political views. Their leader, Peter Lalor (who was not among those tried; he had been wounded in the affray and went into hiding until it had blown over) ended his career as a strike breaker after many years in political life as a Conservative; only one of the slain was an Australian; and the only digger 'who wrote a book on the affair (which is almost unreadable) admitted there was no democratic movement behind it. It is the political gentry of the succeeding generations who hove striven to discover hidden political influences In the affair and have described the diggers as the advance guard of the proletarian element in Australian history. The leaders of those diggers would be the first to deny it were they alive to-day. The truth is that the diggers were men of spirit, many of them from good families, who resented an unjust method of taxation, struggled against the brutal methods by which it was collected, and were forced Into a corner by the authorities, who then entered Into a series of very misguided trials. The trials themselves were farcical (by present day standards), but, fortunately for the accused, the weight of popular opinion was so unanimous that no Jury could have been chosen which would have re turned any verdict other than that of not guilty. The Crown never had a hope. Looking back to the 1850's, with its fear of revolution, Its terror of uprisings, which was considered the most frightful o' all crimes, is it reasonable to assume that middle-class men such as those who formed juries in the State trials would have freed men who menaced the State? THE STOCKADE AFFAIR was hardly bigger than an Irish riot, and the people of the time realised it it might have been a much bigger affair, of course. But the facts, as stated in the records, are that of all the many thousands of diggers on the Ballarat goldfields, only a few hundred men took part. It began when the Colonial Government of Victoria decided that the diggers must pay for the privilege of looking for gold. They were ordered to pay 30/- a month licence fee. This was obviously unfair, and a better method would hare been to tax the export of gold bullion. The diners were agreed that the industry should con tribute to public funds, but they resented the fact that they were taxed directly by a government of squatters with out any mining representation. Victoria was then governed by a squatter group, bey cause the colony was up to that time a pastoral country. The squatters were naturally conservative in outlook, as large land holders usually are and aristocratic by natural inclination. Their officials were as dictatorial as officials always are In a new country. The Governor (Sir Charles Hotham) was a naval officer of distinction, who displayed till the energy of the quarter deck, with ail its contempt of the use of tact. To him the best argument was the fist To these officials and landed gentry the diggers were rude fellows, who wanted easy fortunes and would spoil the Garden of Eden the squatters hoped to make in Victoria. The spirit of equality and freedom on the goldfields was puzzling to the officials and pasturalists. To collect the licence fee, the authorities appointed a police force of ex-convicts and ex-warders, officered by former Imperial Army of fleers. All these three classes of men were accustomed to rule by force. They under stood that discipline could only be maintained by strong arm methods. They treated the diggers from the outset as criminals, so that from the very beginning there was a spirit of increasing hatred on both sides. The police and some of the goldfield officials frankly regarded the diggers with contempt, as persons who need not be treated with British respect. The diggers reacted quickly to this, and regarded them as their natural enemies. That was the tragedy of the goldfields. The licence fee itself aroused great hostility among the diggers, and they resented the fact that it was imposed on them by persons who were quite remote in ideas and inclinations from themselves. They knew they were wrongly regarded as ignorant men, sweepings of the seas, and ex convicts. Certainly many of them were English Chartists, Irish exiles, European refugees, with some American Republicans. These were all feared by the squatters. And it Is the squatters' description of them that has been used by the political writers of later years to claim them as the first revolting workers In history. The idea that the men were in revolt against the political system of their time is one of the great Australian myths. It is founded on the fact that the Attorney-General, the Governor, and the squatter leaders of the time tried to pin this charge upon them. The juries of the day rejected that charge. Yet our leftist writers to-day would have us believe the juries were wrong and the officials were right. The diggers would have ac cepted the licence fees. The great majority of the men regarded the imposition as unjust, but they accepted it as one of the injustices of which the world was full. The trouble was that the Government used brutal men and methods to collect the fees, and even doubled the fee. Looking back now, we ace that the diggers were among the most law-abiding of al communities. Crimes were unknown on the goldfields, except when committed by the larrikin-bushranger or escaped convicts. In the absence ot any other form of crime, the police and officials regarded the diggers' resentment of licences as a crime. The police had little more to do than search for licences, and they began a system of licence hunts, galloping about the fields and rounding up diggers in groups. Men were compelled to abandon work while the searches were on, and those who did not carry licences were chained to trees until their mates could bail them out. The police did not recognise that they were dealing with free men, many of whom were of good birth and education. These men resented such treatment. Yet they did not retaliate. One of the most amazing aspects ot the whole affair is the lack of individual violence against the police. An outbreak very nearly occurred on the Bendigo fields, where a police official shot a digger; the miners re acted In a mass, but merely hunted the man off the field, without killing him. In California in the 1840's such police methods would have started a mass killing. In 1851 the Government made the miners even more restive by doubling the licence fee and passing a law which compelled the miner to act as a police Informer if he was aware of any person who was guilty of breaking the licence law. If the miner re fused, he was automatically treated as a vagabond and rogue under the act. Even this did not arouse the miners to violence, but it in creased the spirit of hatred between the police and their officials and the diggers, and set the stage properly for an outburst. All that was needed was a direct reason for trouble. The reason was not long coming. Unfortunately for everybody concerned, the Ballarat magistrate, J. Dewes (or D' Ewes) was a particularly obnoxious specimen. There is good reason to believe that he had an interest In a rum licence given to the ex-convict Bentley, with a share in the large Eureka Hotel, which Bentley built on Specimen Hill. The diggers felt an affection for sly grog sellers who had so far slaked their thirst, partly because sly groggers were simply unlicenced gentry too. Bentley and Dewes acted together to put a good many sly groggers out of business, and thus aroused the hostility of many diggers. Bentley also had a knack of 'strong-arming' physically weaker diggers who went broke in his bar. A quick-tempered gent was Bentley.
Charles A. Doudiet, The Old Tent - BALLARAT (Specimen Hill (Tents), circa 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.
ON OCTOBER 6, 1854, a very popular Scotsman named James Scobie, who was usually a sober man, met an old friend and drank too much. On his way home to his tent he called at the Eureka Hotel for a last drink. The Eureka was shut, so he hammered on the door. After a moment the door opened, and 10 minutes later Scoble was dead Then came the first of the long series of trials which one must study to understand the Eureka affair, Bentley, with his ex-convict wife, and his ex-convict bar man, Farrell, was charged before the local Bench headed by Dewes, and discharged. This decision was the spark needed to set the town ablaze In more ways than one. On the claim next to Scoble's was a well-born and well-educated Irishman, Peter Lalor, who believed the verdict was a farce. He and friends believed that officials, such as Dewes and the police, were corrupt, and the court decision proved It. Lalor was appointed secretary of a committee which was forced to take the decision further. Bentley heard of the appointment and appealed to Dewes for police action. The police considered there was little danger, but when a crowd of diggers appeared outside the hotel in a great demonstration they changed their minds. When the crowd —estimated at almost 10,000— heard that Bentley had been taken away for protection, it set the hotel ablaze and watched the place burn to the ground. Dewes made some angry comments and appealed to Melbourne. So far, the diggers had acted only against what would seem, after 92 years, to be a miscarriage of justice. They could have been controlled by an administrator who had a sense of tact and sufficient character to bend before a wind. But Hotham was a Navy Martinet, fair minded in his own lights, but a man who could only find violence in reply to violence. Hotham dispatched 450 police and troops to Ballarat with orders to use arms when necessary. He was unable to disregard the odour which hovered about Dewes, so a board of Inquiry was appointed to investigate Dewes' private affairs and some charges of corruption brought against a police sergeant-major. Both Dewes and the police sergeant-major were reported guilty. Dewes then went to Canada to take up a career of crime, and committed suicide in Paris. Bentley was re-arrested, tried, and sentenced to three years. The diggers had been vindicated. Their mass actions were proved to be just— If not legal— In any case many people still believe there is a considerable gap between what Is just and what is legal. The matter might have finished (here, but for the fact that the authorities could not let well alone. They had to punish somebody to prove their Importance. When they couldn't find the person who set the first match to Bentley's hotel their police roamed about until on October 21 two men were arrested. Neither man had had anything to do with the burning — one had definitely tried to atop the crowd from wrecking the hotel before it was burnt, and the other hadn't been in the crowd at all. A third man was arrested soon after, and the three were tried in Melbourne. MEANWHILE, DIGGER HUNTS CONTINUED. A mass meeting on Bakery Hill on November 11 demanded a change in the management of the goldfields (actually by dismissal or the commissioners and abolition of the licence fee). The official name given to the organisation demanding these charges was the Reform League. There was certainly nothing revolutionary or radicalabout that. The demands were very quiet. At the same time Hotham appointed a commission to Investigate the goldfleld position. On November 25, resulU of the trial reached Ballarat, where every digger on the field stopped work to buy a copy of the 'Ballarat Times' which carried the news. The three had been declared guilty and they had received three, four and six months, respectively, with hard labour. The most Interesting words uttered during the hearing ware those of the foreman of the jury when he read the jury's rider to their verdict: 'The Jury felt, in giving their verdict against the prisoners at the bar, that in all probability they (the jury) should never had had that painful duty to perform if those entrusted with the Government of Ballarat had done theirs properly.' The diggers were infuriated by the sentences, and at once delegated three men to wait upon Hotham and demand freedom for the convicted men. That meeting with Hotham on November 27 was one of the most import ant events leading Up to the Eureka Stockade Affair. The spokesman made a tactical error at the start by using the words 'demand' which sent Hotham's quarter ? deck hackles up. Common-sense tact should have warned the delegates that the word was inflammatory. Hotham, backed by the Attorney General, William Stawell, and the Colonial Secretary, simply rejected the proposal out of While the trio returned to Ballarat to report to the diggers, the trouble which event usually ended at the stockade itself had begun. Detachments of the 40th. and 12th. regiments arrived on the gold fields from Melbourne, tired after a long march, and were received with hoots and jeers. The men of the 12th. arrived an hour after the 40th., and the officer In charge, tired perhaps, forgot to form his column. Diggers broke In to turn over two of the supply carts. Fighting began, some shots were exchanged, and real bad feeling arose be tween troops and diggers. It was the old story that civilians bitterly resented the use of troops and the troops themselves regarded the citizens as a vicious mob. The same thing has happened for thousands of years. ON THE VERY NEXT day the three delegates reported to the diggers at a meeting on Bakery Hill. By this time the diggers had made a flag comprising the five stars of the Southern Cross on a blue field. A great effort has been made by writers to claim this as a republican flag designed for the Republic of Victoria. Yet the counsel for defence In the Stale trials was later to deny this! He should know. However, there were a lot of speeches made, resolutions passed and protests made after the usual style of public meetings. More Impor tant, the meeting agreed to burn all licences. Although three Catholic priests pleaded with the diggers not to take this action, fires were lit and the licences burnt. Tickets were issued to members of the Reform League, and Peter Lalor proposed that a meeting should be held on the following Sunday. Here again was no revolutionary outbreak. The diggers merely burnt the concrete evidence of their unjust taxes— the licences. But It must have been obvious to anybody that eventually there must be an armed clash. The priests knew It. Yet on the following day a digger hunt was held. The Resident Commissioner Rede, and his police were stoned when they tried to surround Licenceless diggers. It Is just as well to say here that a majority of the diggers had licences, although the meeting on the hill had been attended by several thousand (1,500 said the police: 7,000 said the league leaders.) Rede appealed to the miners to disperse, but when some stayed on to jeer he read the Riot Act and troops advanced across the flat diggings. With mounted men on either flank they simply swept the diggers away. There was no resistance on any organised scale. One police constable and one digger were silently wounded. More troops left Melbourne that afternoon, with cannon from the naval ships In the harbour, all under the command of Major-General Sir Robert Nickle. Rede demanded martial law on the goldfields, thus proving that the authorities Intended to risk considerable bloodshed, and were even prepared to shed blood m order to crush opposition. There was only one answer to this. The diggers in the league now believed that they would be attacked. They must have known that they stood very little chance against disciplined troops. but they decided to take defensive measures. They obtained arms— pistols, blunderbuses, muskets, pikes. knives and such— and elected Peter Lalor commander-in chief. He ordered them to build a barricade enclosing some two acres of land on Bakery Hill, and this was made of slabs, stones and mullock. Some writers have described it as a fortress with nigh walls, but troops later stated they had jumped over the fortifications. The flag wad raised and tents put up. This was all defensive, but one hothead, Haynes. took a group to attack the troops on Soldiers' Hill. The troops fired as the men approached the camp and Haynes himself was killed. Sentries were posted. But during the night rain came. Hundreds of men slipped away from the camp, some disliked any discomfort some feeling afraid now it was dark, some to their families. and some for any other reason. Altogether only 146 men were left in 'action' that night. Only 146 were in the Stockade itself, most being in the Warrenheip Ranges to intercept Nickle's forces. Police spies realised the weakness of the position, skipped away to the troops' camp, and advised officers of the situation. At dawn on Sunday morning, troops advancing on the Stockade were observed by a digger sentry, who fired. The troops charged and within a few minutes blood flowed. Men were killed, wounded and taken prisoner. Lalor, wounded, was whisked away to hiding with several other leaders, but Raffaelo, the Italian, Humffray, one of the Hotham delegation, and many others were seized. Prisoners and wounded wore handled brutally— the troops had little to be proud of. Next day the men from the Warrenheip Ranges arrived back on the fields, horrified when they saw the smoking ruins of the Stockade. They made an effort to revenge their comrades by attacking the soldiers' camp, but the sight of advancing troops with bayonets ready sent them running for shelter. On Tuesday, Nickle arrived with 1,200 troops and cannon, declared the gold fields under martial law. Ballarat settled down to normal life again, and Nickel suspended the licence hunts. But 13 men had to stand trial. (TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK).[19]

Also See

Butler Aspinall

Ballarat Reform League

James Bentley

John D'Ewes

Eureka Timeline

Charles Hotham

J.B. Humffray

Richard Ireland

Robert Nickle

Robert Rede

Prisoners and Trials

James Scobie

Other Sites

Eureka Treason Trial Map - [1]

State Trial Judgements - http://vsc.sirsidynix.net.au/Judgments/Summaries/statetrials.pdf

References

  1. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  2. The Argus, 08 July 1899.
  3. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  4. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  5. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  6. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  7. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013;
  8. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  9. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013;
  10. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  11. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  12. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  13. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  14. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  15. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  16. Harvey, Jack, Eureka Rediscovered, University of Ballarat, 1994.
  17. Geelong Advertiser, 24 February 1855.
  18. The Argus, 11 December 1854.
  19. Townsville Daily Bulleton, 25 February 1953.