Alfred Darvall

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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


Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

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


The funeral of the late Mr Alfred Darvall, which took place on Wednesday afternoon, was very largely attended, among the mourners being some of the eldest residents of the district, who had travelled several miles to be present on the occasion. At the grave the burial service of the Independent Church, of which deceased was a leading member, was read by the Rev. Jas. Wilson; the portion of Scripture commencing New is Christ risen from the dead," was read by the Rev. J. A. Osborne; and an address, reviewing past Christian life of Mr Darvall, was delivered by the Rev. H. Swan. Mr Darvall, who was born on the 13th December, 1829, at Romsey, Hampshire, left England for South Australia in the year 1848, but after a short time proceeded to Melbourne, The digging breaking out, he visited many parts of the colony, including Castlemaine, Heathcote, Indigo and Beechworth. In 1857 he returned to England, where he met the lady who became his future wife. After remain ing in the old country a short time, he came back to this colony, and at Beechworth joined Messrs Donald Fletcher, John Yoxall and Samuel Gaylard in mining, purchasing a fourth share in the alluvial claim at Penny weight Flat. First Mr Gaylard, and then Mr Yoxall, sold out, and their shares were purchased hv Mr Fletcher, with whom Mr Darvall remained for a considerable time, leaving in 1870, Mr Fletcher becoming the sole owner of the claim, In 1868 and 1869 the droughts wore the severest ever experienced in the distriet, and the consiqquence was that, after starting with £800 to their credit, the shareholders were at the end of those two years £2000 to the bad, and Mr Fletcher informs us that in all his experience of mining he never saw the like of the droughts referred to. In 1871 Mr Daryall went to South Africa, to the diamond fields, where be remained for two and a half years, at the expiration of which time he took a trip to England, and subsequently made his way back to Victoria. At the diamond fields ee was, we believe, fairly successful, and brought back with him several of the precious stones, of good marketable value. Soon afer his return to Beechworth he received the appointment of sheriff's officer, which he continued to hold up to tbe time he was attacked by the illness that on Monday evening resulted falally. Daring his whole life he was quiet and unostentatious in manner, but always ready to do a good turn to anyone he could lend a helping hand to. There was no display about his religion, but he was a consistent Christian, and in all his dealings he was thoroughly reliable. As Secretary for many years of the Beech worth auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Soeiety, his services were greatly appreciated, and their loss is deplored by members of that organisation. Of pro-vident habits, Sir Darvall has left his Widow and family comfortably provided for, included in the provision made for them being the assurance of his life for a substantial amount.[1]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 11 May 1889.

External links

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