Ellen Young

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Ellen Young is one of the remarkable women on Ballarat goldfields. The Women of the Diggings cover shows Susan Blight, Ballarat Heritage Services


Ellen Frances Young Ellen was born Ellen Warboy around 1810 in Hampshire, England. She was married to Frederick Young. He was the first Mayor of Ballarat East. Ellen and Francis lived at Golden Point. [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Ellen Young witnessed the burning of Bentley’s Eureka Hotel, and James Bentley's escape. She wrote to the editor of Ballarat Times re Charles Hotham. Ellen Young’s poetry is vividly descriptive and interesting to read. She comments upon the events of Eureka and political discourse. She also wrote to the editor of the Ballarat Times criticizing Governor Hotham and she called upon Hotham to accede to the demands of the population. She supported the Ballarat Reform League. Ellen wrote stirring poetry supporting the Eureka cause. [2]

Ellen Young expressed her political feelings strongly in a public letter published in The Ballarat Times on 18 November 1854. She wrote ‘From the door of the tent from the creek … I could plainly see the crowd in front of the hotel. … Bentley … was riding for his life, the trooper aimed to protect him – a rope had been procured from the stables – an executioner chosen from those who offered to act as such but he had, thank God, time to escape. Oh such Lynch Law is too dreadful for our English ideas’. Young’s poetry demonstrates that her attitudes, public demeanour and comment changed towards the government and Sir Charles Hotham the Governor of the Colony of Victoria. During the time of Eureka, Young experienced Hotham’s unbending attitudes to the issues central to the people, high taxes, no representation, restraint on freedom of speech, and corrupt government, all of which were blamed for the culmination at the Eureka Stockade. Two of the lines of her poem printed about Hotham, written on pink satin and occupying the end papers of a hand-written manuscript, compared to her later poems, illustrate her acute political mind. The line ‘The man of upright heart and daring deed’ is marked with an asterisk by Young who added ‘What a satire his conduct made the above line’. She later refers to him as being ‘Like clown upon his hobby horse’.

After realising and experiencing the actions of the government at Eureka Young began to write poetry in direct reference to censorship and to the colonial Victorian government ‘Who’d chain the People’s thought and pen’. Her strong political sense and will is demonstrated by a stanza from a poem with references to Eureka on corrupt government.

Post 1854 Experiences

Golden Point and the Alluvial Goldwashers
Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services.
Sir, My late lamented husband, Sir Frederick Young, the last chairman and first mayor of Ballarat East, received at his funeral a testimonial from all classes,and from many miles around, that will never be offered to ex-town-clerk Rodier. Mr Young did not refuse or return a testimonial proper—what he did receive was a few lines scrawled on a small piece of discolored flimsy paper, quite unfit for the purpose. It was an insult to him, mayor, and council to affix their seal to such a subterfuge, and Mr Rodier knows he promised the vote should be earned out in its integrity. I grieve I am compelled to write in a seeming antagonistic spirit, and assure, Mr Rodier I am at peace with him as all others, but I cannot pass uncontradicted such an insult to Mr Young's memory as the assertion of his returning a testimonial voted by mayor and council, executed in the spirit such vote most certainly would be—an act all know him to have been incapable of.
I remain, sir, your obedient servant
Ellen Frances Young.
Wills street, 17th April.[3]

Frederick died on 4 September 1868 aged 56 years.

Ellen Frances Young died on 27 January 1872 aged 62.

Husband and wife were buried at the Ballaarat Old Cemetery. [4]

See also


Further Reading

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

Dorothy Wickham, Women in 'Ballarat' 1851-1871: A Case Study in Agency, PhD. School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, March 2008.

Dorothy Wickham, Blood, Sweat and Tears: Women of Eureka in Journal of Australian Colonial History, 10, No, 1, 2008, pp. 99-115.

Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, BHSPublishing, 2009.


Clare Wright, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Text Publishing, 2013.

Dorothy Wickham, Not just a Pretty Face: Women on the Goldfields, in Pay Dirt: Ballarat & Other Gold Towns, BHSPublishing, 2019, pp. 25-36.


  1. Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2009; Clare Wright, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Text Publishing, 2013, pp. 49, 201-214, 460.
  2. Volume of verse by Ellen Young, NLA MS 1019, originals held by the Ballarat Library Australiana Room. This is now housed at the Eureka Centre, Ballarat.
  3. Ballarat Star, 19 April 1869.
  4. Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2009.

External links