Hugh Meikle

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Samuel Thomas Gill, Diggers on route to deposit gold, c1852, watercolour and gum arabic on paper.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, gift of Mr. Tony Hamilton and Miss. S.E. Hamilton, 1967.
Samuel Thomas Gill, Marking the Claim, c1852, watercolour and gum arabic on paper.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, gift of Mr. Tony Hamilton and Miss. S.E. Hamilton, 1967.
Magdalena Meikle


Hugh Meikle was born at Paisley, Scotland, and sailed to Australia on the Marco Polo. He married Magdalene who was born at Paisley, Scotland on 12 August 1819. [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Meikl was a juror at James Scobie's Coroner's Inquest. He was also Chairman of the Digger’s Meeting. He chaired a meeting regarding justice over the James Scobie murder. [2]

Post 1854 Experiences

Meikle moved to Pentland Hills shortly after the Eureka Stockade, and named his house ‘Meikleriggs’.[3]


Councillor Hugh Meikle died on Saturday last at his residence, Meikleriggs, Pentland Hills, where he resided for about 42 years. He had been in failing health for some months past, but he was only seriously ill at the beginning of last week. His death was due chiefly to weakness of the heart. The deceased would have been 80 years old today. He was an intelligent man, with a strong sympathy for the masses, which made him a Liberal, and even a Radical in the far back days when those views were not so easily held and avowed as they are now. He was a pioneer in that respect as well as in many others. He had an active career as a contractor in this district and in others. We always regarded him as one the ablest of our Shire Councillors, not only on account of his technical knowledge but because he had a comprehensive grasp on the bearings of every question and knew how to deal with it. He was also broad-minded, and in every way a man who gained the respect of his associates. The following extract from “Victoria Illustrated” gives some interesting particulars of his career: - Meikle, Hugh, a native of Paisley, came to Melbourne in 1852, and worked for Richardson and White, ironmongers, Collins Street, for one year, after which he went to Ballarat and was engaged in mining pursuits there until 1855. He was one out of four survivors of those who were at a meeting (at which he was chairman) held to frame a petition asking the Government to offer a reward to the discoverer of the murderer of James Scobie, whose murder did so much to precipitate the Ballarat riots. The other survivors are the Hon. Peter Lalor. Mr Oddie, mayor of Ballarat, and Mr Thos. B. Wanless. In 1855 he settled on land which he purchased in Bacchus Marsh, and embarked in farming pursuits on his 180 acres of grazing land. He takes an interest in all public affairs, was President of the Shire Council in 1886, and is still a member, and has for two years been Chairman of the Bacchus Marsh Water Works Trust. He has a family of seven children.
A local resident gives us the following additional particulars: - The late Mr Hugh Meikle arrived here from Paisley, Scotland, by the sailing ship Marco Polo in the year 1852. There were 1,000 souls on board. Mr Meikle was employed for some time by a cousin of his, Mr Robert Aitken, then of North Melbourne, after which he had the Hopetoun Flour Mill at the east end of Bacchus Marsh for several years. Messrs Meikle, Dryden, Crighton, and others went to try their luck at the Ballarat diggings. They were among the first to try deep sinking, and were the first party who worked their claim by steam power, and the iron sinking cage. Their claim turned out so rich that it was called the jewellers’ shop. After this Messrs Meikle and Dryden purchased the farms ever since owned, and occupied by them on the Pentland Hills. Had Mr Meikle lived 2½ years longer he and Mrs Meikle would have reached their diamond wedding day.
The funeral of Cr Hugh Meikle on Monday was largely attended. Some 46 vehicles and 26 horsemen joining in the procession. The service at the grave was conducted by the Rev. A. McNeilage, Presbyterian minister at Ballan, as the Rev. J.A. Stuart is at present absent in New South Wales. [4]

The death of Mr Hugh Meikle [jnr] which occurred on Friday, 12th inst., at “Meikleriggs,” removes from the Pentland Hills one of its oldest and most highly esteemed residents; and expressions of regret have been general throughout the whole district. His death was not altogether unexpected, owing to the fact that heart trouble developed some time ago, and from which he could get no relief, notwithstanding the fact that best medical aid and attention were always available. With that quiet persistency – which was one of his characteristics – he continued to move about until a fortnight or so prior to his death, when he gradually sank and died peacefully on Friday evening, in the presence of his brother and sister, with whom he resided, and to whom he was greatly attached. The late Mr Meikle, who was 77 years of age, had, in a sense, a unique experience, for he was one of the few pioneers who saw bloodshed in Victoria, at the Eureka Stockade. Born at Scotland (Paisley) in 1843, he, together with his parents (the late Mr and Mrs Hugh Meikle) and his sister and brother landed in Victoria in 1852 and almost immediately after went to the diggings in Ballarat, deceased being nine years of age. It was whilst engaged in the fascinating occupation of gold fossicking that Mr Meikle’s father came in close contact with the late Mr Peter Lalor, and it is generally understood that, when trouble arose over the Miners’ Licenses, that many of the indignation meetings were presided over by Mr Meikle’s father, the principal speaker, or course, being Mr Lalor. At that time there were many scarlet patches in the history of Victoria, with an occasional bit of bright red, which finally culminated in bloodshed at Eureka. The deceased remembered these circumstances as though it were yesterday, and it has been said that, when a search was made for Mr Lalor after the outbreak ended, Mr Meikle’s father was one who gloriously helped to conceal him. These scarlet happenings were amongst the first experiences of Mr Meikle and he took pride – now and then – in telling his friends of his reminiscences. When things became more normal at Ballarat, the Meikle family settled on the Pentland Hills, and deceased at once became a blacksmith apprentice to Mr Vere Quail; later, he worked with the late Mr John Tyson, of Myrniong, at his blacksmith trade, and eventually he bought Mr Quail’s shop and business at Bacchus Marsh, where, for many years, he was recognised as the foremost blacksmith in the town. In all his work Mr Meikle had one characteristic – honest of purpose. He was never known to “slum” a piece of work, and any of his assistants who practised such found short-shrift. Finally, he retired from the business, which has since been carried on by Messrs Edwards with much success. Any one who is acquainted with the early municipal history of Bacchus Marsh will remember the prominent part of Mr Meikle’s father played in its making; and at his death (in 1898) it seemed quite fitting and proper that his son Hugh should be chosen to carry on the work his father had been so long and successfully engaged in. He was waited on by several influential residents, with the view of getting him to offer his services to the ratepayers, and he at once consented, the seat being held by him continuously, without opposition, up till two years ago, when oll health caused him to retire. As a Councillor, he was quiet and dignified and rarely spoke out of his turn – in fact, he would have been a greater success had he displayed a “municipal punch” earlier in his career, for his quiet demeanour was sometimes imposed upon. He occupied the President’s chair some eight years ago, and, altogether, the ratepayers of the Pentland Hills were highly satisfied with his stewardship. Mr Meikle was a prominent member of the Baptist Church, and a Sunday school teacher in Coimadai and Pentland Hills, for which services he was presented with a handsome Bible, suitably inscribed. Mr Meikle used to walk regularly to the Church at Bacchus Marsh from his home in Pentland Hills (about four miles) - a fine example of his life-long earnestness. Deceased was unmarried. He remains were interred in the Maddingley Cemetery on Sunday last, Pastor Cross, of the local Baptist Church, officiating at the graveside, and the mortuary arrangements were in the capable hands of Mr Hjorth. [5]
Meikle – on the 30th September, at Meikleriggs, Pentland Hills, Magdeleine, relict of the late Hugh Meikle, aged 88 years. A resident of the district for 52 years. [6]
Mrs Hugh Meikle died ay 1 p.m. pm Monday last, aged 88 years. Born in Paisley Scotland, on 12th August, 1819. Came to Australia in 1852, and came to Bacchus Marsh shortly after the Eureka riots. Resided on the Pentland Hills since that time. Her husband, Cr Hugh Meikle died about ten years back, and was in his time President of the Shire. Their son is now President. The deceased kept her senses, and her hearing, and her habitual good temper, to the last. There are three sons and three daughters, one of them being Mrs Riddell, ex-mayoress of Hawthorn. Mrs Dryden, a next door neighbour of the deceased, is a sister. The Rev. E.J. Welch officiated at the funeral.[7]

See also

Peter Lalor

Magdalena Meikle

James Scobie

Scobie's Murder

Further Reading

Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


  1. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  2. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  3. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  4. Bacchus Marsh Express, 2 September 1899.
  5. Bacchus Marsh 20 November 1920.
  6. Bacchus Marsh Express, 5 October 1907.
  7. Bacchus Marsh Express, 5 October 1907.

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