Thomas Kennedy was born in Ayreshire, Scotland. He was described as a a red haired, Catholic Chartist who was in the Peace Party. He lived near Cameron Hotel, Golden Point. Raffaello Carboni said he had a thick head, bold, but bald. Withers described Kennedy as ‘a man of rough, but moving elequence’.
He died on 7 March 1859, aged 42, and was buried at the Ballaarat Old Cemetery on 8 March 1859.
Goldfields Involvement, 1854
He spoke at the public meeting after mass. A member of the Ballarat Reform League he was sent to Melbourne to demand the release of the prisoners accused of burning James Bentley’s Eureka Hotel. He seconded J.B. Humffray's proposal re Ballarat Reform League resolution at the Bakery Hill meeting of 29 November 1854. According to Raffalloe Carboni Kennedy had no license to burn at the Monster Meeting because he had a wife and four children dependent on him. He mourned James Scobie and went to Creswick with George Black to drum up support for the stockaders. Kennedy coined the phrase “moral force is all humbug, nothing convinces like a lick i’ the lug.”
Post 1854 Experiences
Thomas Kennedy had a wife and four children.
- The sudden and violent death of a miner well known on this gold field was reported yesterday in our usual record of inquests held before the District Coroner. "We allude to the death of Mr Thomas Kennedy by a fall from his horse while riding in the vicinity of Creswick and Kingston. To those of our readers who were in Ballarat during the troublous times which preceded the tragic scene at the Eureka Stockade, Mr Kennedy was no stranger. Either by repute or by personal acquaintance, he was known to everybody who knew anything at all about public affairs in this locality, as a miner gifted with much natural powers, and of a warm and energetic temperament. He took a prominent part in the agitation which followed the death of Scobie, and resulted it the destruction of the Eureka Hotel and the trial and conviction of Bentley and was subsequently chosen to be one of the delegates to the Government to " demand " the release of Fletcher, Westerby, and McIntyre. Since the advent of local self-government, and the quiet which supervened thereon, the deceased had noiselessly, but industriously followed his vocation as a miner, but with poor results to himself. In common with many others, he had failures that compelled him to seek relief is the insolvency court; from his difficulties he had just begun to rally having entered, with one or two partners, into a remunerative venture with a steam thrashing machine; and it was while out in the adjacent agricultural districts, engaged in his new undertaking, that he met with his untimely death. The remains of the unfortunate deceased were brought into town yesterday, and will be conveyed this day to the cemetery, as notified in our advertising columns. We regret to have to add that a widow and two children, but indifferently provided for are left to mourn this untoward bereavement. It is not possible, however that the miners of Ballarat can allow want to aggravate the sorrows of the widow and fatherless ones of the man who, in times of general trouble an disaster, battled hard for the rights of those with whom he lived and labored as one of themselves.
In the News
- BALLAARAT. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) 18th October, 1854.
- The exciting events of the last few days have been of such nature as to deserve special attention in your columns, embracing, in the short space of two days, one of the most daring and extensive robberies that has yet occurred in these colonies, and the most deliberate and most deter- mined expression of public resentment against in- justice that has yet graced or disgraced the annals of Australia.
- One James Scobie was brutally murdered on the morning of the 7th inst., near Bentley's Eureka Hotel. The evidence adduced at the inquest bore strongly against some of the members of Bentley's establishment, and, in consequence, Bentley and two others were arrested on the Monday following, and admitted to bail of £1000 each. On Thursday, the 12th inst., they were examined before the police magistrate, Mr. Dewes, and the commissioners, Messrs. Rede and Johnston. The evidence against them was pretty strong, and the general expectation was, that they would be committed. However, the decision of the magistrates was, that there was not the shadow of a case against Mr. Bentley, and that he, as well as the others, were honorably discharged. The decision was received with groans and hisses, and it was evident that great dissatisfaction existed in the public mind. Rumors prejudicial to the character of the Bench, and which we forbear to mention, spread abroad, and it was evident that the matter was not to be allowed to rest without further investigation. A public meeting was announced to be held on Tuesday, near the spot where Scobie was murdered. It is necessary to mention that Bentley's hotel had acquired a very bad name throughout the diggings, numerous robberies having occurred in it since its establishment; and complaints were general, that though a favorite resort of thieves and Vandemonians, the establishment seemed to be under the protection of some of the Camp authorities, as no notice was taken of its well-known irregularities. This explanation will, in some measure, account for the spirit evinced at its destruction.
- The business of the meeting was to commence at twelve o'clock, and long before that hour an immense number of people were on the spot. A strong body of foot-police, under Sub-Inspector Ximenes, was posted in the hotel, and the mounted troopers, under Captain Evans, were stationed in an adjacent hollow. When the chair was taken, about 3000 people were present, which increased to 5000 before the termination of the meeting.
- The following is a correct copy of the resolutions moved at the meeting, which throughout was conducted in a temperate, judicious, and creditable manner: —
- 1. Moved by Mr. William Corkhill, seconded by Mr. James R. Thomson —
- That this meeting, not feeling satisfied with the manner in which the proceedings connected with the death of the late James Scobie have been conducted, either by the magistrates or by the coroner, pledges itself to use every lawful means to have the case brought before other and more competent authorities; and to effect this object do forward a petition embodying the facts of the case for the consideration of the Lieutenant Governor.
- Carried unanimously.
- 2. Moved by Mr. Alexander M. P. Grant, seconded by Mr. Archibald Carmichael —
- That this meeting views with mingled feelings of indignation and surprise the address in favor of Mr. Bentley, which appeared in the Ballaarat Times of Saturday last, and begs to express its total dissent from the sentiments therein conveyed.
- Carried without a dissentient voice.
- 3. Moved by Mr. Thomas Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Angus Sutherland —
- That this meeting deems it necessary to collect subscriptions for the purpose of offering a reward for the conviction of the murderer or murderers and defraying all other expenses connected with the prosecution of the case.
- Mr. Kennedy, in moving this resolution, made an eloquent and powerful speech. The motion was also carried without one dissentient voice.
- Number four, moved by Mr. Stephen Cumming, seconded by Mr. Blair —
- That a committee of seven be appointed, to carry out the views of the meeting, as embodied in the foregoing resolutions, and that Peter Lalor, James R. Thomson, John W. Gray, Thomas D. Wanliss, William Corkhill, Alexander M. P. Grant and Archibald Carmichael form said committee, with power to add to their number. Three to form a quorum.
- Carried unanimously.
- It is impossible to exaggerate the unanimity displayed by the meeting: the vast assemblage seemed animated by one desired. After the meeting was dissolved a number proceeded towards Bentley's hotel, and were immediately followed by the Commissioners and some mounted troopers. It is a matter of speculation whether the meeting would not have dispersed peaceably had this course not been taken by the authorities. When the horsemen were seen to proceed towards the hotel, numbers that were then on their way home arrested their steps to see what "was up." The police being very unpopular on account of their late numerous license "raids," came in for the first share of public wrath. They were "joeyed" most perseveringly. The first proceedings against the hotel were of a very simple nature, gravel being "chucked" at the windows; but after a few panes of glass were broken the appetite for destruction seemed to increase, and a continued shower of stones, bottle, and billets of wood, was kept up on the building till every window was broken. About twenty minutes after the commencement of the fray Bentley, without hat or coat, escaped on horseback from the back yard, galloped to the Camp at a great rate, pursued by the execrations of the multitude. About this time an additional body of troopers was ordered up by Captain Evans, who exercised great discretion at this critical period, and several orderlies were despatched to the Camp to hasten the arrival of the Military. Meanwhile the work of destruction went on rapidly, and it became evident that the total destruction of the building was determined on. The mob got inside and began to destroy the furniture. On the arrival of the military a strong party was stationed in the bowling-alley, behind the main building, but the mob were so daring and determined as completely to defy them.
- About half-past two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and when the crowd had increased to about 8000 or 10,000, a man carried an armful of paper and rags to the windward end of the bowling-alley, and placing them under the calico covering, deliberately struck a match and fired the building, in the presence of the Military. The cool and resolute manner in which every-thing was carried on, resembled more the proceedings of the "Porteus mob" than of anything of the kind that has occurred since. When the building was fired, they immediately upset the water-cask, to prevent it from being used in extinguishing the flames. Some having rolled out a cask of porter with the intention of drinking it, others staved it in, and spilled the contents on the ground. A blackfellow being detected stealing a ball belonging to the bowling-alley was severely punished, and the ball thrown into the flames.
- The horses were taken out of the stable, and the sheep and pigs out of the yard. The stable was then fired. Meanwhile, in the main building the furniture was being completely destroyed. Several members of the establishment endeavored to save some of the articles, by throwing them out of the window, and carrying them aside, but they were all afterwards destroyed by the fire. The property of the servants was, however, respected and carried to a place of safety. The instruments of the musicians, including a pianoforte, were saved. The liquor in the bar was run off and wasted, without any attempt to use it. One fellow got hold of Mrs. Bentley's jewel-box, and with an exclamation about the box, pitched it into the flames. When the main building was nearly consumed, a striking sight was presented. The weather-boarding and shingles of the roof, being thin and perishable, disappeared first, leaving the joists and ridge-pole glowing vividly in the sky. To the onlookers at a distance it seemed for a few moments like ribs of fire supporting a fiery keel.
- "Several tents and stores on the opposite side of the road caught fire, and were consumed. A fine new ballroom, running at right angles to the main building of the hotel, also caught fire, and burned slowly, the flames in this case creeping against the wind. While the ruins of the other buildings were smouldering, the mob tore up the fence, and threw it into the flames. A dray and shay-cart were also run into the flames. It being stated that the latter did not belong to Mr. Bentley, it was at some risk rescued; but on further enquiry it was ascertained to be his property, and immediately run into the burning mass and totally consumed.
- About three hours after the commencement of the proceedings, and about two hours after the first application of fire, there remained nothing of the once only too famous Eureka Hotel but the glowing embers and the dismantled chimneys.
- When all the property of the obnoxious Bentley had been destroyed, the cool, determined spirit of vengeance which had hitherto marked the proceedings gave way to the drunken revelry of the rabble. The hot ashes were ransacked for bottles of ale and spirits with as much eagerness as could have been displayed on another Golden Point or Specimen Hill.
- There was only one man taken by the police, and he was rescued on the way to the Camp. Great excitement prevailed in the Camp last night. Several reports came, to the effect that the diggers were coming in great strength to take Mr. Bentley, and there was a force under arms all night.
- The administration of justice, it is apparent, has received a severe blow in this district; and it is entirely to be attributed to the inconsistent, and, to the public, insulting decision of the Bench on Thursday last. With the evidence brought before them, and aware, moreover, of the well-known character of Mr. Bentley's establishment, to decide "that there was not the shadow of a case against him, and that he was honorably discharged," seemed to the public so inconsistent with facts, and so contrary to justice, as to excite a universal feeling of indignation, which found vent in the terrible outburst of yesterday.
- A petition to His Excellency Sir Charles Hotham, requesting him to institute another investigation into the case, is about to be sent round for signature. I enclose a copy.
- The late James Scobie, whose unfortunate death has given rise to all these proceedings, was a native of Scotland, and was much respected throughout these diggings. I understand that he was related, being either first or second cousin to Captain Hall, who was so well known in the Chinese war, and who has lately been distinguishing himself so much by his gallantry in the Baltic.
- To His Excellency Sir Charles Hotham, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Victoria, &c, &c, &c, &c. The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of Ballaarat humbly sheweth, —
- That your petitioners feeling dissatisfied with the manner in which justice has been administered in regard to the death of one James Scobie, who was brutally murdered near Bentley's Eureka Hotel on the morning of the 7th inst., feel bound to lay some of the principal features of the case before your Excellency.
- The deceased James Scobie, in company with one Peter Martin, seeing a light in the Eureka Hotel when passing about one o'clock on the above morning, sought for admission in order to have something to drink. In doing so a portion of a window was broken. Not obtaining admittance, they proceeded towards the tent of the deceased. When about eighty yards from the hotel they heard a noise behind them, and turning back to see the cause of it, Martin states they met two or three men and one woman. That one of the men had in his hand a weapon, which he supposed to be a battle-axe. The individual holding this weapon he believed to be Bentley, the landlord of the Eureka Hotel. He also heard the woman say, referring to Scobie, the deceased, "This is the man that broke the window." At this time, Martin was knocked down and rendered insensible. On recovering, he went up to deceased, whom he found unable to speak, and on assistance being brought, he was found to be quite dead.
- It may be necessary to inform your Excellency that the night was perfectly clear and moonlight.
- Between the Eureka Hotel and the spot where Scobie was murdered, and within about twenty- five yards of and almost directly opposite to a back entrance of the hotel, lives a woman and her son named Walshe. The boy is about ten years old, and remarkably intelligent. He deposed that having heard two men pass the tent, he very shortly afterwards heard two or three men and a woman follow, apparently coming from the hotel, or some place near to it. Looking through a hole in the tent, he saw two men, one much stouter than the other; the stouter man he believed to be Bentley. That he heard one of the party lift something, which he susposed to be a spade, from a corner of the tent. Shortly afterwards he heard a voice say, "How dare you break my window?" or to that effect. Then he heard a scuffle, and a blow given. He swears to the best of his knowledge and belief, that the voice was that of Bentley's wife. The parties returning towards the Eureka Hotel dropped the supposed spade. He then saw them proceed towards a back door of the Eureka Hotel. The boy's mother swears distinctly that she heard a voice say, "How dare you break my window?" and to the best of her belief this was the voice of Bentley's wife. In every other particular she corroborates the evidence of her son.
- The evidence of these three witnesses was given with great reserve and caution, and therefore in the opinion of your petitioners is entitled to particular weight and consideration.
- Your petitioners consider that the evident tendency of these impartial depositions is to implicate Bentley, his wife, and some person or persons connected with the Eureka Hotel.
- The only evidence brought forward to exonerate them was that of the men named George Bassar, Everett Gud, and Henry Green.
- George Bassar is a butcher, living near Bentley's hotel. The value of this witness's evidence may be known by the fact of his positively swearing "that no person could leave the hotel without his seeing them." Yet, on cross-examination, he was obliged to confess that persons could go in and out of the back door without his knowledge.
- Everett Gud, the second witness, is the reputed brother-in-law of Bentley, manager of his bar and bowling alley, and lives in the hotel, and of course liable to suspicion, as one concerned in the murder.
- The third witness, Henry Green, has for a considerable time been an inmate of the hotel, and was there on the night of the murder, and of course equally liable to suspicion.
- The coroner's inquest was held on the day of the murder. Your petitioners being dissatisfied with the proceedings at that inquest, a number of them waited upon the authorities the following day, in order to have a further inquiry. On the following morning, Bentley and two other members of his establishment were arrested, admitted to bail, and the case remanded for three days. During this period, the accused parties and their witnesses had every opportunity of communicating with each other. The decision of the Bench of Magistrates was, that "There is not the shadow of a case against Mr. Bentley, and that he was honorably discharged."
- The other accused were also discharged at same time.
- Your petitioners are strongly of opinion, that instead of the magistrates dismissing the case, it should have been sent before a jury. Your petitioners are borne out in this view of the case by the authority of Lord Denman, (Magistrates' Manual, page 21,) who states, "if witnesses for the defence contradict those for the prosecution in material points, then the case would be properly sent to a jury to ascertain the truth of the statements of each party."
- Your petitioners beg to state, that not only the decision, but also the manner in which the case was conducted, both by the magistrates, and the coroner, has strongly tended to destroy the confidence hitherto placed in them by the public.
- Your petitioners humbly trust that your Excellency will direct the necessary measures to be taken, to have a further and more satisfactory investigation of the case, and at the same time, beg to express a hope, that in order to elicit the truth, and further the ends of justice, your Excellency will direct a suitable reward to be offered for the conviction of the murderers.
- Trusting that your Excellency will be pleased to attribute the object of your petitioners to its real motive, namely a love of order and justice, and that your Excellency will graciously grant their request.
- Your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
- Over 300 men arrive from Creswick, led by Kennedy waving his sword.
- RENEWING THEIR YOUTH.
- Scene.—The horse parade in Armstrong street. Time.—Saturday, loth September, 1888. They were old mates—three of them.
- They had not met since I856 —fine stalwart young fellows then; old grey beards now of 50 and upwards. “Charley, old man, is that yourself? Hullo; is that you, Mick?” They grip, aud hold on, while giving forcible ex pression to their surprise and pleasure of meeting. “Come and have a drink.” One of them had just come down from Northern Queensland, the other was farming in the north-eastern district up beyond St Arnaud. The drinks were just tabled when a rousing whack on each of their shoulders faced them round to discover a third old mate. Bill, now a retired cattle salesman from the Western district. More hand-gripping and more drinks, followed by loud talking about old times and the beautiful fools we used to be when Ballarat was young. Let’s go down to the " Old Charlie” and have a general look round was voted unanimous. But the “ Old Charlie” was gone; John Chinaman was in possession. Shades of Thatcher; don’t we remember how he used to sing— “ John Chinaman my Joe John, You're coming precious fast, And every ship from Shanghai Brings an increase on the last; And you’ve got a butcher's shop, John, At your encampment down below, And you likes your cutlets now and then, John Chinaman my Joe.” John o’ Groats had disappeared; the Union Tent was no more; here the comic Morris brought down the house nightly with double success, while Miska Hauser's sweet music failed to reach the fancy of the noisy majority, fiddle he never so divinely. Herr Ralim, the great Tyrolese minstrel, decorated in highly fantastic costume, fared but little better. The double gum tree, where Big Larry lauded Lady Hotham across the diggers’ holes, has gone to decay; the House of Blazes is no more, and the old Duchess of Kent—oh where, and oh where is she gone? Every night her sweet tenor contralto wound up the ball with the declara tion that For bonnie Annie Laurie I’d lay me down and dee. That was the signal to shut up shop. Well, take her for all in all as times weut, she wasn’t a bad old sort; let’s go and driuk her health. Up Eureka way they light upon the Free Trade hotel and call for nobblers round. They move on; here’s the spot the traps dropped on us for our licenses. We made a run for it right across the gully, and you, Charley, got bogged going round over there by O’Connor’s T store—two great T’s, one black and one green. Yes, and you blessed fellows kept shy while me and a lot more was herded in that blessed Camp waiting for Cocky Reid to wash down his grub with some poor devil’s forfeited sly grog before he would condescend to come out and fine us for leaving our licenses in the tent in the other trousers pocket. Lucky for me Terrier Jack had notes enough about him to pay for both. Talking about Terrier Jack, do you mind when he was sitting down on the top of the shaft in front of Mrs Denny’s saloon he slipped off and dropped into the well 80 feet, got into the bucket, and shouted to wind up. Didn’t he swear, though. Jack was a plucky little chap. When the tiger got away from the travelling menagerie and took shelter in the crockery shop there was a commotion and no mistake. Jack got up on the ridgepole and lassoed Mr Tiger in quick sticks. The showman gave him 10 notes. We had a grand carouse that night—oh, what jolly old fools we were in those days. Let’s move on, and here’s where Bentley’s was— don’t some of us remember the pretty barmaid—eh, Bill, old man? You was a bit gone there—now, don’t deny it. I was sweet on that lot myself, but didn’t care to run an old friend too close; things used to go pretty-high at Bentley’s. Black Ferry, Flash Bourke, Tip M’Grath, and that crowd; aud there was Bob M’Laren and Mat. Hardy, and old Emery’s bowling saloon—oh Lord, what games we used to cut here in the old times! Hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels Put life and mettle in our heels. And the noble art wasn’t neglected. I thought we was in for it that night when Mick knocked Black Ferry over three times running. The nigger did not understand the Cornish tip of the toe close under his ankle bone, but he came up smiling, aud a liberal call on the waiter made things pleasant. Well, Bentley made a fine bonfire, and none too soon, for it was the devil’s own shop. The acquittal of Bentley, “ without a stain upon his character,” by Police-Magistrate Dewes, for the murder of Scobie, created tremendous indignation, and little Kennedy kept stirring the fire until the authorities ordered a new trial, and Bentley was committed for manslaughter. Ah, well, Scobie was no hero, only the martyr of his own folly. And here is the Stockade of the 4th of December, 1854. It is a long time since we were here boys, but to my mind this monument is too far up the hill. Look, yonder is where Captain Wise came on with the 40th, and around here the troopers dashed through the slabs, and soon made short work of it. Little Thoneman, the lemonade man, was shot, bayonetted, and sabred here on the right of the gully, and over there on the left lay the German blacksmith who made the pikes, with the top of his skull hanging by the scalp, and still living, his little terrier dog lying on his breast aud refusing to leave his master. It was a sorry sight that blackened the hillside on that bright Sabbath morn, with the bodies of 30 stalwart, mostly mis guided, men. Where are the patriots to-day who goaded them on — Kennedy, who declared there was no argument equal to a “lick under the lug,” was not to be found in the stockade when the licking had to be done; poor fellow, he was killed by a fall from his horse at Kingston. George Black, the chief’s aide-de-camp, died in the Melbourne Hospital; his brother Alfred, secretary for War, was killed by a fall of ground at Staffordshire Reef; Tim Hayes died in the Lunatic Asylum at Kew; Mulholland served the Government for some time against his will; Jim M’Gill fills a pauper’s grave at Inglewood; Lalor and Humffray are still with us; let them speak for themselves, and say if they are satisfied with the past and content with the present; but we move on across the Red Hill to the place where once stood the Sir Charles Hotham hotel and the arena where Bill Hodge and Tom Cawse, Jack Botherras, and Collie Bray and other notable athletes contended for the belt —no Greco-Roman strangling hammerlock brutality, but scientific heel and toe play, with Doctor Gibson up as referee; back through the Canadian, Prince Regent, and the jeweller’s shop, down the Red Streak to the Gum Tree Flat and Navvy Jacks, through the lane between old Grimley and the Gasworks the approach Yale’s corner, where Mick raised the cry of “Joe, Joe,” and “Traps, traps,” “Look out boys, here they come,” but it was only a squad of Oldham’s State school cadets going home from drill. Decent lads these, said Charley, not ashamed to take off their shirts or turn up their trousers; no tatooing on their back or bracelet souvenirs on their ankles. The squatting nominee Government of the old days have a multit ude of sins to answer for, but their reign has passed away, the working man is our god to-day, aud he is a hard task-master in his Newcastle. Up the Camp Hill to Bath’s, they call for nobblers round three times. Good-bye, hic—good-bye, old fe-fella; who can tell when we three shall meet again ?
Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
Townsend, Helen, Above the Starry Frame, Macmillan, Sydney, 2007.
- Gervasoni, Clare and Ford, Tina, Eureka Stockade centre Hall of Debate Ki, 1998.
- Gervasoni, Clare and Ford, Tina, Eureka Stockade centre Hall of Debate Kit, 1998.
- Gervasoni, Clare and Ford, Tina, Eureka Stockade centre Hall of Debate Kit, 1998.
- Ballarat Star, 9 March 1859.
- The Argus, 23 October 1854.
- Ballarat Star, 4 March 1870.
- Ballarat Star, 22 September 1888.