David Jones

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Signature of David Jones from the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition
David Jones one of the leaders of the Bendigo Agitations.
Bendigo Goldfields Petition Cover, August 1853. State Library of Victoria (MS 12440)
His Excellency Charles Joseph La Trobe on 1st August 1853.
Humble Petition of the Undersigned Gold Diggers and other residents on the Gold Fields of the Colony
That your petitioners are the Loyal and Devoted Subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria the Sovereign Ruler of this Colony one of the dependencies of the British Crown
That in the present impoverished conditions of the Gold Fields the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month is more than Your Petitioners can pay as the fruit of labor at the Mines scarcely affords to a large proportion of the Gold Miners the common necessaries of life
That in consequence of the few Officials appointed to issues Licences the Diggers Storekeepers and other residents lose much time at each Monthly issues in procuring their Licenses
That the laborious occupation of Gold digging and the privation attendant on a residence on the Gold fields entail much sickness and its consequent expenses on Your Petitioners
That in consequence of the Squatter Land Monopoly a large proportion of Successful Diggers who desire to invest their earnings in a portion of land are debarred from so doing
That newly arrived Diggers must lose much time and money before they become acquainted with the process of Gold Mining
That in consequence of Armed Men (many of whom are notoriously bad in characters) being employed to enforce the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month there is much ill feeling engendered amongst the Diggers against the Government
That in consequence of the non-possession by some of the Miners of a Gold Diggers License some of the Commissioners appointed to administer the Law of the Gold Fields have on various occasions Chained non-possessors to Trees 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 tot he 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


David Griffiths Jones sailed to Sydney c1840.[1] He arrived in White Flat (Bendigo) c1852.[2] He died in 1876 in Sydney, aged 59.[3]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

Dr Jones was President of the Anti-Gold License Association, and 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 calling 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.

Pre-Eureka 1853

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).[4]

Post 1854 Experiences

David Jones was a journalist in Deniliquin.[5] He died in 1876 in Sydney, aged 59.[6]


We learn with deep regret that a very old resident of these colonies, who has done the State some service in his time, has passed away. The deceased gentlemen, Dr. D.G. Jones, of Deniliquin, may be reckoned amongst the pioneers of the great salt-bush country north of the Murray. He was a zealous and energetic worker in the public interests, and an able journalist, having for many years edited the Pastoral Times, of which he was the founder and proprietor, and which ranks amongst the best newspapers of New South Wales. He also established the Riverina Advertiser, published at Deniliquin, and the Deniliquin and Hay Standard, published at Hay, on the Murrumbidgee. The deceased gentleman had been suffering severely from dysentery, followed by fever and ague. Dr Jones arrived in Sydney about the year 849, and after a short resident in this colony, left for Victoria, attracted bu the gold-fever, during which period he took an active part in public matters connected with the management of the gold-fields. About the year 1856 Dr. Jones went to Riverina, and settled at Deniliquin, where he started the Pastoral Times newspaper, a journal which has carefully supported the pastoral interests, whole also advocating the development of the resources of the district. Dr. Jones took the initiatory steps for connecting Riverina district with Victoria by telegraph, and was one of the main supporters of the Deniliquin and Moama Railway, and undertaking first mooted by himself, and to the accomplishment of which he assiduously devoted himself, in the face of very serious obstacles thrown in the way by the Sydney Government. His death will leave a vacancy difficult to fill in the district of Riverina.[7]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. The Australian Medical Journal, December 1876.
  2. Bowden, Keith (1974) Doctors and Diggers on the Mt Alexander Goldfields, Maryborough.
  3. New South Wales Death Registration.
  4. Dorothy Wickham, Bendigo Goldfields Petition, BHS Publishing, 11 November 2020
  5. Bowden, Keith (1974) Doctors and Diggers on the Mt Alexander Goldfields, Maryborough.
  6. New South Wales Death Registration.
  7. The Australian Medical Journal, December 1876.

External links


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