Colville Armstrong

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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


Born 1826 at Midlothian, Edinburgh, Scotland to George Armstrong. He married Sarah Armstrong(nee Candish) on 10 January 1849 in Melbourne. They produced the following children: Sarah b. 1850 Melbourne; Elizabeth b. 1852 Melbourne; Joseph b. 7 November 1854 Chewton; Elizabeth b. 1857 Castlemaine, d. 10 September 1951 Ballarat; Jane b. 1858 Castlemaine, d. 26 March 1866 Chewton; Charlotte b. 24 March 1861 Castlemaine,d. 12 September 1955 • Cheltenham, Victoria; Thomas b. 1863 Castlemaine,d.1935 Creswick; Colville b.26 May 1866 Chewton, d.13 May 1962 Kangaroo Flat; Hume b. 1868 Chewton, d.19 January 1959 Berrigan, New South Wales, Australia; Jane b.1871 Chewton, Victoria, d.2 MAR 1965 Morley, Western Australia, Australia. Colville Armstrong died in 1889 at Junction Reservoir near Chewton.

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

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



A very old resident of Charcoal Gully, Chewton, named Colville Armstrong, committed suicide yesterday morning in the Junction Reservoir, which is situated near the railway line between the Chewton station and the Elphinstone tunnel. Some time ago deceased became deprived of the sight of one eye through an accident, and has since been in a despondent mood occasionally. On Sunday night his wife observed him to be in a melancholy state, and advised him to go to bed. He refused to do so for some time, but afterwards retired to rest. At about 7 o'clock yesterday morning Armstrong left his house, accompanied by his dog, and as he did not return to dinner, his wife became alarmed as to his whereabouts. Towards noon, however, a man named Daniel O'Grady heard a dog barking, and also noticed a hat and walking stick on the bank of the reservoir, which was used at one time to supply the local station with water for feed purposes. O'Grady suspected that a person had committed suicide and gave an alarm. Information having been given to Constables Arthur and Foers at Chewton, steps were taken to recover the body, which proved to be that of Armstrong. The reason assigned for his act of self-destruction is: that whilst suffering from despondency, and no doubt temporary insanity, he became tired of his life, and ended his career in the manner stated. Deceased, who was about 63 years of age, leaves a widow, and grown-up family. He was a tinsmith by trade, and was in the habit of paying house-to-house visits in the district in pursuit of his occupation. The body was brought to the Quartz Miners' Arms Hotel, Chewton, where it awaits an inquiry, which will be held at 10 o'clock this morning.[1]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. Mount Alexander Mail, 26 February 1889.

External links

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