Thomas Underdown

From eurekapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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


Thomas Underdown was born at Southleigh, Devon, England in 1821, and was baptised on 01 July 1821. He married Rachel Harpur on 30 August 1851 at Adelaide. Thomas and his family spent around 10 years on the Victorian goldfields around Bendigo. The were first located at White Flat, and Bullock Creek, then Iron Bark Gully.[1]

He died on 26 November 1876 at College Street, Portlaind Estate, Adelaide, South Australia..[2]

Thomas died on the 26th November 1876, aged 55 years of 'softening of the brain' (cerberal softening, as a result of stroke or hemorrhage). He died at his home on College Street, Portland Estate. He was buried at Alberton.[3]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

Thomas Underdown may have signed the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition under the name Thomas Underwood - his brother Robert was known to use Underwood as an alias surname.

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

The Underdown family moved back to South Australia between 1863 and 1867, where the birth of their son Robert is registered at Portland Estate, Port Adelaide.[4]


Thomas Underdown was the child of Thomas Underdown (snr) and Harding. He was the seventh of twelve children. The siblings were Elizabeth, James, Amelia, Jane, Sarah, Agnes, Robert, Catherine, George, Elizabeth and William., accessed 09 March 2019.[5]

Thomas and Rahel Underdown has seven children.

1. Jane (buried in the Old Sandhurst Burial Ground in May 1854[6]

2. William (buried in the Golden Gully/Square Cemetery in February 1860)[7]

3. William John (buried in the Kangaroo Flat Burial Ground in February 1861)[8]

4. Robert (born c1864, Adelaide)[9]





UNDERDOWN.— In loving remembrance of my dear father, Thomas Underdown, who departed this life at College-street, Portland Estate, Port Adelaide, November 26/1876. I cannot clasp thy hand. Thy face 1 cannot see, But let this little token tell I still remember thee. Forgotten, not by my fond heart, Nor ever will you be; As long as life within me lasts I will remember thee. — Inserted by his youngest son, Robert.[10]
UNDERDOWN. On the 17th December, at College street, Portland Estate, Port Adelaide, Rachel, widow of the late Thomas Underdown, aged 79 years. For ever with the Lord. Melbourne and Dublin papers please copy.[11]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


External links

If you can assist with information on this person, or a related image, please email

To CITE this page click Cite This Page on the link to the left of this page.