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No. 9.

See Schedule at page 126.


Page 81.

No. 9.

Copy of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-Governor LATROBE to the

(No. 105.)


My last Despatch on the subject of the Gold Fields bore date May 3rd, No. 75. The enclosed series of returns for the months of May and June, presented in a similar form to those hitherto transmitted, will convey that detailed information upon various points having reference to the state of the Gold Fields of this colony, and the public interests more intimately connected with them, which your Grace may be desirous of securing; I am happy to be able to accompany them with the assurance, that general good order, and ready compliance with the laws and the regulations continue to characterize our gold-mining population.

Melbourne, July 6, 1853. (Received October 25, 1853.)

2. About the time when the Despatch above cited was written, various circumstances combined to put the gold seeking population in motion; and it appears to me, that at no former period has the number congregated at the respective divisions of the Gold Field been subject to such great and constant fluctuation, or the habits of the miners been so unsettled and migratory. The early rains which fell at the close of April, not only gave the spur to the occu pants of existing workings, enabling them to begin to turn the labours of the dry season to account, and lent renewed activity to the search for fresh deposits over the whole mining district, but drew towards the interior a large number of the more recent arrivals who had been awaiting this change of the season.


3. The opening of the promising gold field at McIvor Creek at the close of April, reported in the ninth paragraph of my last Despatch, from the comparative proximity of the new ground to the older workings at Bendigo, and to the ordinary lines of communication between Melbourne and that district on the one hand, and with the more remote workings in the Ovens' district on the other, added to the excitement. In the early part of May its influence was felt in every direction. Hundreds poured towards it daily from the other fields; and the population, partly drawn from these sources, and partly direct from the coast, swelled, by the close of the first month, to between 8,000 and 10,000. At the present time, although it is notorious that a very large number of the adventurers from the older fields, many of whom had abandoned productive ground to take their chance at the new field, have returned to Bendigo and Mount Alexander,--it is estimated that there may be no less than 16,000 persons on this ground, or in the vicinity.

4. The more settled and steady the views and operations of the miners the easier the duty of the Government becomes; and it is easily understood that, under such circumstances as I have described, every branch of the service must be subjected to embarrassment, and meet with additional obstacles in the performance of duty. I have in former Despatches, I believe, adverted to the difficulties which are entailed by the discovery of new fields, followed by a general excitement, and sudden and unexpected rush of large numbers to some obscure corner. It becomes instantly necessary to adopt efficient arrangements, corresponding with the movement, to meet the current, carrying with it, as it is always found to do, all the disorderly and vicious elements in the community, and to establish at once due regard to rule and order amongst the unsettled and excited crowd of adventurers, the greater number of whom may probably be at the time unlicensed, and though in the main well disposed, yet desirous to avoid payment until they judge that the new adventure may turn out a profitable one.

5. In the midst of such a scramble, for such it is, it becomes at once imperative, both to secure the confidence of the well disposed, and to overawe the instigators of disorder, forthwith to organize a superintending authority, to prepare for the immediate issue of licenses, the receipt of revenue, and for the general service of the Gold Field, as well as for the prompt punishment of

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offences and administration of justice on the spot. Measures must be at once adopted for the reception, safe custody, and guard of criminals, both on the field and en route; for the escort of private gold; the immediate and regular supply of stores, forage, and provisions; and for the opening of a regular communication with head quarters, both for public and private convenience: all this, too, in the face of every imaginable difficulty, at any sacrifice, and without any of the necessary accommodations and appliances for the orderly dispatch of business, which, under ordinary circumstances, would be judged indispensable. Nothing can more incontestably prove the peaceable disposition and good conduct of the mining population of this colony as a body, when left to the dictates of their own good sense, than the readiness with which, whatever may have been the seeming or real disorder observable on the first rush, the presence of authority on the ground, however humbly, hastily, and insufficiently assorted and accoutred, has in every instance hitherto been at once recognized, cheerfully submitted to, and supported if required. The new workings at McIvor have recently furnished an undeniable proof of this. Reference to a memorandum, appended to the returns, will shew to what extent, and in what Return No. 12. particulars, the exertions of the authorities have been directed to meet the Page 132. public exigencies since the opening of this field.

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McIvor. Heathcote.

6. The position of the Mount Ivor workings has been described in my last Despatch. The limited extent, as it proved, of the richer bed of ore first discovered, was one main cause of the disappointment experienced by many in (Mount Ida, in the course of the month of May, and of their return to the older fields. The certain maps.) later discovery of a new gully in the immediate vicinity, and the certainty that German Gully. the whole district is of the same general character has, however, kept the field in favour, and retained the large population I have already noted within its limits. A considerable number of the miners are, it is understood, profitably employed. Pieces of pure metal of considerable size, of between 90 and 100 ounces in weight, are occasionally found; and many of the claims have proved very rich as much as between 200 and 300 ounces having been secured from one claim during the week, and one party of four having realized no less than 160 pounds weight by steady labour in three weeks' time. Some of the specimens of pure crystallized gold are of extraordinary beauty. There was some little difficulty experienced during the first week in May, after the police came upon the ground, in reducing matters to order; but nothing which prompt measures did not at once obviate, without having recourse to violence. Bushranging, which had prevailed to some extent in this remote and thickly forested district, has been quite put down for the present. I have little hesitation in stating my opinion that the Gold Fields in this quarter, though perhaps less concentrated than those to the westward, will yet prove very productive. The whole line of country intervening between the McIvor and the Goulburn, 30 miles in breadth, is of similar formation. I have also to report that copper ore, in the form of malachite, intermixed with decomposed sandstone, has been found within the limits of the field; but I am not yet in a position to say whether in sufficient abundance to remunerate persons who are disposed to

work it.


7. I do not find, on referring to the weekly reports of the respective officers in charge of the older Gold Fields for the term under review, much call for particular remark. Notwithstanding the rains, the various public works in progress in every quarter of the gold districts, were in a state of forwardness. There was much sickness from low fever and jaundice, both among the miners and the officials, observable in the month of May; but more recent intelligence has shown a general improvement in this respect. The main articles of consumption are everywhere abundant. The high prices are traceable to other causes than any deficiency.

8. In the Mount Alexander and Bendigo district the population may vary from 40,000 to 50,000; the far larger proportion being assignable to the latter. No very marked discovery of new ground has taken place since my last report, as far as I can ascertain, in either; but that the general yield of the field continues very productive is seen from the quantity sent down by escort, and Mount Franklin, Daisy Hill ascertained to reach townby other channels. Old ground continues to be (Amherst).

Mount Alexander (Castlemaine). Bendigo (Sand


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worked over again with very considerable success. The reports received from the outlying stations contain nothing worthy of remark. In each instance the population is reported as being perfectly orderly, however fluctuating,-and the yield, though moderate, sufficient to remunerate the steady miner.

9. The Ballarat district maintains its reputation. Several new plots of ground of very considerable richness have been opened since the rains set in, and there is ample employment for the comparatively settled population frequenting it, averaging from 6,000 to 8,000. The outlying station at Creswick's Creek has also continued productive, and is gradually extending itself. The population, as seen from the number of licenses issued, remains pretty much the same as heretofore.

10. In the May Day Hills everything is reported to be going on satisfactorily. The numbers on the ground may be much less than in the summer, but there can be no doubt that those who remain, and work steadily, find the occupation very remunerative. The increase of prices in the main articles of consumption has not been proportionate to the increased cost of carriage from Melbourne, as the supplies brought over the Murray from New South Wales have been very ample. The new ore, the discovery of which I mentioned in my late Despatch, No. 75, of the 3rd of May, paragraph 12, continues to excite much attention. It is, I am informed, eagerly bought by speculators from Sydney on the ground at 751. per ton; and I take leave to append a memorandum furnished me by the manager of a proposed mining company, embodying some interesting information with regard to the yield and presumed value.

11. It will be seen that during the last two months a considerable increase has taken place in the quantity of gold brought down by regular escort. For the efficient maintenance of this service during the winter months, both from the nearer and more distant Gold Fields every exertion has been made. The most important branch of the service, that from Sandhurst and Castlemaine to Melbourne, has been taken out of the hands of contractors, and is wholly managed by Government, the escort being formed of the new mounted force drafted from the 40th Regiment. Every exertion is also being made, at whatever sacritice, to keep open the main lines of communication between the port and the Gold Fields; and on every hand to keep pace with the requirements and moderate wishes of the large inland population of the province.

12. The enclosed Return shows that, however migrations, changes, and uncertain movements of the mining population may cause the number of licenses issued from month to month in the several gold districts to vary by many thousands, there is still up to this time an increase in the total issue, no less than 42,000 having been taken out for the month just expired.

13. I have reason to express myself satisfied with the general conduct of the great majority of the very numerous staff of officers and subordinates engaged in the various departments connected with this great interest. I always seek to impress upon the service generally, that the government of the large population so peculiarly composed, employed, and circumstanced, must, if it is to be successful, be a government of common sense, temper, tact, and good faith; and, that any display of want of steadiness, heat, or impropriety of conduct in those charged with functions which bring them more or less closely in contact with the mass of the people and their interests, however trifling in appearance, may entail the gravest results. Looking, however, to the past, and to the undeniable difficulties of the service in almost every particular, I have so far had little reason to complain

14. In fact, nothing, in my opinion, can more decidedly speak for the general good management of the Gold Fields, and just operation of the laws and regulations laid down for their government, than the avidity with which any circumstance which may carry with it an appearance of abuse of authority on the part of the officers on the ground is instantly seized upon by the agitators and the public press, to rouse popular feeling, right or wrong.

15. An example of this has been afforded by some proceedings in the beginning of May at Castlemaine, consequent upon the seizure of certain tents under the provisions of the Act of Council, 16 Vict. No. 35, for the suppression of the illicit sale of spirits. It appears from the investigation of the cases, when

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subsequently brought before the Bench, that the evidence upon which the seizures
were carried into execution could not be sustained; in short, that the informer
had perjured himself; and these and other cases based on his testimony were dis-
missed, the offender being immediately committed for trial. He has since been
convicted at the Castlemaine June Sessions and sentenced to five years hard
labour. Though there was nothing illegal in the Act of the police, and no evi-
dence whatever that they had performed their duty in an improper manner,
occasion was at once taken to get up an excitement upon the subject. A meet-
ing attended by about 300 of the inhabitants in the vicinity of Castlemaine, was
convened, and a series of resolutions purporting to be those of the people' were
drawn up and embodied in a communication proposed to be forwarded to the
Lieutenant-Governor. The general public interests were proposed by the
meeting to be entrusted to the charge of three persons then selected, under the
name of the 'people's commissioners.' The whole character of the proceedings,
the persons involved in it, as well as the tone of the resolutions justified my
at once declining to receive it, or any persons deputed to wait upon me in the
above character, or to listen to the claims put forward by them, to decide upon
the amount of compensation to the injured parties, which they forthwith pro-
ceeded to value at 1,900/. I gave it to be understood that I would admit no
interference of the character contemplated between myself and persons who
might complain of injury either from the operation of the law or the acts of the
officers charged with the duty of carrying it into effect. Immediately on the
circumstances becoming known to me, I had directed that the officer charged
with the general oversight and maintenance of good order, should be instructed
to inquire into the whole matter, and to inform the persons actually aggrieved
that liberal compensation would be at once made for any real injury sustained
in consequence of the police having been misled, but that as the law had not
been overstepped, they had no legal claim whatever. I subsequently desired
the Chief Gold Commissioner to proceed to Castlemaine and take the matter
into his own hands. From his report, which I append, it will be seen that the
persons actually aggrieved were quite disposed that the case should be left in the
hands of the proper authorities, without further interference from their self-con-
stituted protectors; in short, that when fairly investigated and liberally con-
strued, an award of 350/. fully met their claims.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,




I have, &c.





Encl. 1 in No. 9.

GOLD RETURNS, &c. &c., contained in the Lieutenant-Governor's Despatch, No. 105, of date

6th July 1853.

May and June.

No. 1. Return of the Number of Licenses issued at the Ballaarat, Castlemaine, Sandhurst,
Beechworth and Heathcote Gold Fields.

No. 2.-Return of Gold transmitted by the Government Escorts from the various Workings
No. 3.-Return of the Amount received as Fees for Licenses issued.

No. 4. Return of the Amount received as Fees for the Escort of Gold.

Enclosure 1 in No. 9.

No. 5.-Return of Sales, by Tender, of Government Gold.

No. 6. Return of the Amount received as Fees for the Custody of Gold and Cash.

No. 7.-Return of Gold exported.

No. 8 a-Return of the Receipt and Delivery of Gold forwarded by the Government Escorts

No. 8b-Return of Gold transmitted by the Private Escort Company.

No. 9-Return of the Rates of Wages Current on the Gold Fields.*

No. 10.-Return of the Rates of Wages Current in Melbourne.*

No. 11.- Return of the Arrivals and Departures at and from this Colony by Sea.

No. 12.-Return of the various Officers employed at the Heathcote Gold Field (Mount

Mc Ivor).

No. 13.- Return of Vessels in the Harbour, Port of Melbourne, 1st July 1853.*
No.14.-Return of Persons tried at the Circuit Court, Castlemaine, on the 9th June 1853

Bailaarat +


No. 1.

KETURN of the Number of Licenses issued at the Gold Fields of Castlemaine, Sandhurst
Ballaarat, Beechworth, and Heathcote, during the Months of May and June 1853.


Beechworth -



*The returns have not been received from the out-stations of Amhurst, Wedderburn, Mount Franklin or Mount Moliagull, later than the 25th June.

The Ballaarat returns for the last week in June have not yet been received.


1st to 31st May.

NOTE. The actual number of licenses issued for the months of May and June respectively, in accordance with the regulations of the 1st January 1853, will be as follows:

Office of Chief Commissioner of Gold Fields,
Melbourne, 18th July 1853.

11,531 20,486





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1st to 30th June.











24th April to 23d May. 24th May to 23d June.









Commissioner, for the Chief Commissioner of Gold Fields.

* These voluminous Returns are omitted. Statements of the Rates of Wages and Prices for a later period will be found at page 146, &c.

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