- Brown was by birth an Irishman, having been born at Bandon near Cork, had been fairly educated, and was a good Latin and a tolerable Greek scholar. He had been thrown early in life upon society without either trade and profession; all pursuits of a steady character were distasteful to him ... When quite a youth he landed upon the American shores ... Subsequently he drifted into Texas, at that time a wild region ... Ultimately the discovery of gold in Australia drew him to these shores ... He knew nothing of the goldfields grievances; but it was enough for him that they could be made the basis of an agitation of which he hoped to be leader and director ... He had no fixed principles of any kind, or business capacity for organization of any kind. He was always declamatory, never logical; his speeches were appeals to the passions of his auditors rather than to their reason ... with the crowd he had some influence, with the committee scarcely any. His imperious and dictatorial manner disgusted the men who formed that body.
Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854
Edward Browne 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
Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
- Thomson, Leaves from the diary of an old Bendigonian of 1853, pp. 35-6; A. C. Messner, Rethinking Red-Ribbon Protest: Bendigo 1853-4, 2000, accessed by Dorothy Wickham 13 July 2020, https://rune.une.edu.au/web/bitstream/1959.11/15176/6/open/SOURCE08.pdf.
- Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.