Ballarat Gold Diggers Association
Goldfields Involvement, 1854
Dr Alfred Yates Carr (Alfred Carr) and Henry Silvester formed the Ballarat Gold Diggers Association, a body which, on 6 September 1853 sent a Petition to the Legislative Council. This was signed by Ballarat diggers who objected to the high licence fees, and the manner in which the fees were collected. They were ‘alarmed’ by the poor administration of the goldfields and were disgusted by the way men were chained to the logs for not paying their licence fees. Richard Brown in commenting on the agitation in Ballarat in the latter months of 1853 posted that: Silvester also requested that a deputation should be heard at the bar of the House in support of the petition. In mid-September, he and Carr gave evidence to the Legislative Council Select Committee on the Goldfields dwelling on the injustices that stemmed from the license fee with Carr pointing to increasing opposition to the fee and the semi-military manner in which it was enforced. Silvester maintained there were some in Ballarat who anticipated the establishment of a republic in Victoria and Carr later concluded that dissatisfaction in 1853 was greater than in the weeks leading up to Eureka a year later. On 26 October, Silvester wrote to John Foster, the Colonial Secretary seeking the introduction of a bill to enfranchise diggers. Almost a month later on 21 November, he expressed his concern to Foster at the failure of the government to carry out its promises to the Diggers’ Association concerning the police in Ballarat. Eight days later, a petition from the Association was forwarded to Foster that opposed proposed legislation for managing the goldfields but added that the Ballarat miners had no sympathy with the ‘lawless and unjustifiable proceedings…at Bendigo’. Although the Ballarat diggers were unsympathetic to the nature of the protests in Bendigo, meetings on 19, 21 and 26 November and 17 December all expressed widespread support for immediately enfranchising the mining population. (Argus 22, 25, 29 November 1853; 20 December 1853.) The Anti-Gold License Association was disbanded on October 1853, near the site of the first mass meetings at View Point, Bendigo and twelve months before the two Monster Meetings were held in 1854 on Bakery Hill, Ballarat. Its message had spread throughout the goldfields of Victoria and beyond. The speakers on this final occasion in Bendigo were Dr David Griffith Jones (David Jones), George Edward Thomson (George Thomson), William Edmonds, William Dixon Campbell Denovan (William Denovan), and Henry Thomas Groves Holyoake (Henry Holyoake).
Post 1854 Experiences
Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
- Dorothy Wickham, Bendigo Goldfields Petition, BHS Publishing, 11 November 2020