Dr Macdonald

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Signature of Dr Macdonald from the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition

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 Late Murder at Pleasant Creek.- In yesterterday's Herald we gave, from the Argus, the particulars of the finding of the decomposed body of a China-man, in a prospecting hole, about a mile from the Deep Lead. The coroner of the district, Dr. Macdonald, held an inquest upon the remains on Thursday last, John Graham, the woodcutter, who discovered the body, and Samuel Milliken, of the mounted police, described its appearance, when first seen on the 10th instant. The most important testimony, however, was that of Dr. Brisbane, living at Pleasant Creek, who said:- I have made a post mortem examination of the body in the adjoining tent, and found on the anterior part of the head three wounds, and three wounds cn the posterior. The left side of the skull was com-pletely beaten in. There was one wound above the eye, which, in my opinion, was made by a bullet, and there was a corresponding wound at the back.'he wound appeared as if made by a bullet entering at the anterior part and escaping at the posterior. I think that the other wounds found on the anterior and posterior parts of the head were made by other instruments. I found many fragments of bones in the cavity of the skull, but nothing else. The lower jaw on the right side wss severely fractured. The other parts of the body bore no traces of violence, and the organs of the chest and abdomen were perfectly healthy. It is my opinion that death resulted from the wounds described, and that death was immediate and violent. I think that those wounds were in-flicted by a second party. I believe the deceased to have been a Chinaman. I think that a pistol would produce one of the wounds, and such an instrument as a pick the other wounds I found. Some blunt instrument produced the fracture of the jaw. From the appearance of the wounds I think that more than one person was concerned in causing the death of the de-ceased. I think it is about five or six weeks since deceased met with his death. Verdict-" That the deceased man, unknown, of the Mongolian race, came to his death from wounds produced on the forehead and jaw by some Instruments in the, hands of some party or parties unknown."[1]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading


  1. Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August 1858.

External links


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