Butler Aspinall

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Butler Cole Aspinall - Barrister by Davies & Co. State Library of Victoria Collection (H29505).
William E. Pidgeon (WEP), Illustration from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni, Sunnybrook Press, 1942, offset print.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 1994.
William E. Pidgeon artwork is reproduced with the permission of Peter Pidgeon


Butler Cole Aspinall was born in Liverpool, England on 04 April 1875. He left for Victoria in 1854. [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Aspinall made his reputation as a radical and a barrister in the aftermath of the Eureka Stockade. Although new in Melbourne he spoke at public meetings on 13 and 15 January 1855, protesting against Governor Sir Charles Hotham's refusal to grant amnesties to the imprisoned revolutionaries. He acted without charge as junior counsel for several of the defendants tried for treason, and some contemporaries credited him with securing the acquittal of John Joseph, the first man tried; he asked, 'Surely, gentlemen of the jury, you won't hesitate to hang a trifling nigger to oblige the Attorney-General?' Another defendant, Raffaello Carboni, described him: 'The print of generous frankness in your forehead, of benevolence in your eyes … of sincere boldness in your mouth; your height, fine complexion, noble deportment, indicate in you the gentleman and the scholar'. The acquittals were popular and ensured a flood of criminal briefs for the future. As late as 1868 Aspinall went to Sydney to defend John O'Farrell, unsuccessfully, against a charge of attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh.[2]

Post 1854 Experiences

See also

Raffaello Carboni

John Joseph

Treason Trials

Further Reading

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


  1. Dianne Campbell, Anglo-Irish Lawyers in Post Goldrush Ballarat, Masters theses, 2002, p.183.
  2. Joanne Richardson, 'Aspinall, Butler Cole (1830–1875)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/aspinall-butler-cole-2905/text4173, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 28 September 2015.

External links