Brother of George Jacob Holyoake, the last secretary of the National Charter Association, eminent Victorian secularist and leading light of the co-operative movement, Horatio Holyoake had been an active Chartist in his own right before emigrating.
Goldfields Involvement, 1854
Post 1854 Experiences
Letter from Horatio Hoyloake to his mother, dated Ballarat April 22, 1855
My Dear Mother
We are still alive and kicking and anxiously waiting to here [sic] from home, for we have not heard from any of you for some months past till aletter a few days ago, that we received a letter from William King Bottomly. I little expected there would ever be a King in the family to rain [sic] over one subject and I hope he will govern his domain with honor and integrity and I hope my dear sister will respond to the same feeling with all her heart.
We have been going on all manner of ways since we landed. I have been almost as many trades as I have been weeks in the colony and now I think I have turned the last trade I shall be and that is Digger and I am only sorry I did not come to digging on my first onset in the colony. I should ... how I have not received a line from Austin or George. I suppose they don't intent to write. I wish you would try to ascertain what became of the ... in Manchester. I was so anxious to hear. Give our best love to Dear Mother, tell her the ... not thinking us unkind in sending her a present before this but we are only 4 chains ... Better off than when we ... One thing worth mentioning and one not quite so ... At present we have no work. Thinking of going up to the diggins. Henry has opened a store on the Ballarat Diggins.... If you know anyone who thinks of coming to Australia - give them a gentle hint to stay at home for there are thousands landed here every day. Ship loads of Chinese have been landed and as they can live upon one meal a day and that meal consists of one rat and a pound of bad rice of ... it does not take so much to keep them as we English. As the Chinese live on the smell of ... they are very strong. They work for almost any thing per sweets ... been the cause of ? ...''
- PUBLIC MEETING ON BAKERY HILL Pursuant to public notice, a large and numerous public meeting was held on Bakery Hill, on the 22nd instant. At about 12 o'clock groups of men, twelve or twelve in number, might be seen in different directions, between the camp and the Hill, eagerly discussing together, and by their gesticulation and passionate manner, it was clear there was a question of some grave import which engrossed their attention. By degrees they began to move slowly along towards the Bakery, and the swarming bills gave notice that a monster meeting was immediately to be held. From every point of the compass, one might have seen groups of men coming eagerly up, and by two o'clock, the time appointed to meet, there could not have been less than fifteen thousand men on the spot. When the different speakers ascended the platform prepared for the occasion. After some preliminary arrangements, and a desultory conversation between the different gentlemen who were to address the meeting, the gentlemen of the press were requested to come forward and take a seat. On these gentlemen making their appearance, three cheers were given for the Ballarat Times, and three groans for the Argus, and loud and long were the shouts of indignation raised against the once popular journal, after which the proceedings of the day were commenced by Mr. H. T. Holyoake's proposing the following resolution :
- "That we the Diggers of Ballarat in public meeting assembled, viewing the late demonstration of public feeling as arising from the mal-administration of the law, and sympathising with Messrs M'Intyre and Fletcher, who stand committed for trial at Geelong on the 26th instant, on are bar of aiding and abetting in the wilful destruction of the Eureka Hotel, feel it our duty to subscribe the necessary funds to secure the best counsel and defraying the general expenses of the trial." This was seconded by Dr. Levison, and unanimously adopted by the meeting.
- The second resolution, proposed by Mr. Kennedy, and seconded by Mr. Alexander Tough, was also unanimously adopted. "That this meeting looks with feelings of indignation at the daily violation of the personal liberty of the sub jest, and hereby express their unqualified condemnation of the manner in which the laws are enforced at Ballarat." The third resolution was moved by Mr. Humffray, and seconded by Mr. Sylvester. That this meeting is of the opinion that if the laws has been fully and impartially carried out, the burning down of Bentley's hotel would not have occurred, and the entire responsibility rests with the Camp Officials; and that this meeting pledges itself to support the Committee in all their endeavors to obtain the fullest investigation into all the facts connected with the late enquiry into the murder of James Scobie, and to petition for the immediate removal of all Camp officials who have acted so unconstitutionally in the matter."
- The object of the meeting being to sympathise with those who were alleged to have been unjustifiably committed for trial by the Ballarat Bench, and to raise funds for their defence in a court of law, the different speakers--the movers and seconders of the resolutions-spoke long to some purpose. It was an observable feature that the speaker who most condemned the present government, and insinuated the possibility at a future day, of a better one, was the most vehemently cheered, and evidently the most appreciated. Whenever the speaker (as some of them did) dwelt with tender enthusiasm upon the English Government and British Constitution , a perceptible ennui and lassitude seemed to pervade the meeting. On hearing "the oft-told tale," however, some of the spectators evinced their sympathy on the spot with the object of the meeting by handling in their subscriptions for the defence of the two committed for trial; and for those who came unprepared to do so, stores were named over the diggings, at which they might leave their subscriptions at their convenience. At the close of the proceedings it was announced that the Committee would meet at the Star Inn, Red Hill Flat, for the purpose of taking down in writing the testimony of M'Intyre's witnesses, relative to the burning of the Eureka Hotel, in order, as many of them could not go to town, to have their depositions read before the Judicial bench at Geelong. All of these (some half-dozen or so) tended in a stronger or lesser degree to exonerate the prisoner. At the close of the business it was found that theparties had not sufficient for the present emergency, when one young gentleman, Mr. Vern, came forward and magnanimously offered to lend the Committee the sum of £100, which was grate fully accepted, and the Committee adjourned.
Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
Australia Joint Copying Project, Entry 231, reel M392. Six letters from Horatio Holyoake and Henry Holyoake to their brother George Holyoake and to their mother dated 1854 to 1973. The letters are written from Ballarat, Blackwood and Melbourne, and describe work and life on the Victorian goldfields and comment on Victorian parliamentarians and politics. They point to the high standing of George Jacob Holyoake in Australia and the support he had received in the Argus, and contain news of family matters.
- AJCP, M392
- Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser, 11 November 1854.