David Ducat

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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


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

In 1864 David Ducate was living in or around Myrtleford.[1]

An adjourned public meeting took place as arranged at Mr. Blacketer's Hotel, on the advisability of forming a company to work Mackay's old reef.
Mr. Glass in the chair.
The prospects of the proposed com pany were briefly explained by Mr. J. 0. Lyons, and twenty-four of the townspeople and miners assembled gave in their names as favorable to the proposed formation of a company under "Pyke's limited liability act."
It was then proposed by Robert Corneyn, and seconded by J. 0. Lyons, "That a company be formed for the purpose of working Mackay's reef, and that a committee be appointed to enquire into the neceseary outlay required."
Proposed by Mr. Smith, and seconded by David Ducat, "That the committee be formed of five members."
Proposed by Mr. Smith, and seconded by Samuel Lane, " That John Boyd, Robert; Corneyn, Henry Boyd, Samuel Lane, and William Smith, comprise the committee."
Proposed by David Ducat, and seconded by Robert Corneyn, " That the committee be paid current wages for a days services."
Proposed by Thomas Elgar, and seconded by Samuel Lane, " That the committee meet the members of the proposed company on Saturday even ing, 23rd inst., to give in their report."
The meeting then passed a vote of approbation to Mr. J. C. Lyons for his public spirit, -&c.. which was enthusiastically received, and the usual vote to the chair concluded the evening's business-thus was inaugurated the first meeting towards the formation of Mining Companies on the Ovens for the encouragement of capital and labor. ... [2]

Warden's COURT-Mr. Warden Barnard and assessors heard a case of dispute as to some ground on the Buffalo Reef on Wednesday last, by which Thomas Cole sought to be put in possession of certain ground held by David Ducat and party. The disputed ground was an extension of the line of Cole's claim but as Ducat's party assert that they were on the ground at a given date, and there was no one working in Cole's claim at the time, the decision of the Court went in favor of Ducat and party.[3]

We read that an eccentric individual giving the name of David Fisher Ducat, was arrested about 3 a.m. the other morning, by Sergeant O'Shannassy, at Blrunswick The man went to the residence of Mr Dods, on the Sydney Road, and deliberately broke a large pane of glass. Word was sent at once to the police station, and the sergeant, under the impression that a burglary had been attempted, went in pursuit, and arrested thie man on the Sydney road. He made several rambling state ments about nine buses having been knocked off, and said he was going to drive a four home one that would meet all requirements. The accused was placed before the bench and remanded for medical examination, whereupon the prisoner, remarked that if they (the three justices) thought he was mad, they must be mad themselves. This is the contractor who lately left Alexandra, and at the time, owing to his strange conduuot, doubts were entertained as to his sanity.[4]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 06 March 1861.
  2. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 06 March 1861.
  3. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 03 August 1861.
  4. Alexandra and Yea Standard, 25 November 1881.

External links


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