John Barker

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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.


John Barker (Baker on some certificates) emigrated in 1848 on the Artemisia to Moreton Bay, Queensland. He was baptised on 13 February 1820 at Pannal, Yorkshire, England. John Barker married Hannah Leak (Leggo on the shipping list) on 14 December 1846 at the Register Office at Otley, Yorkshire, England. Hannah and John with their family resided in North Brisbane in 1848 before moving to Victoria and Bendigo goldfields.

Benjamin Barker aged 18 years was also on the shipping list of the Artemisia that brought the first free immigrants to Moreton Bay. Benjamin was a brother of John Barker.

Another brother, James Barker, born October 1831 at Kirby Overblow, Yorkshire, England, moved to USA and died there on 3 February 1896 at Bethany, Harrison, Missouri. It is a possibility he was the James Barker also at Bendigo.

Children of Hannah and John Barker

Anthony born 30 October 1847 at Bramham Yorkshire

Mary Ann born 5 April 1850 North Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Joshua born 23 February 1853 Australia and died 11 March 1853 Victoria, Australia

Joshua born 21 May 1855 Specimen Gully, Bendigo, Victoria, died 1945.

Sarah Jane born 3 August 1857 Sandhurst

Elizabeth Barker born 15 May 1861 Sandhurst (Bendigo), Victoria, married William Nichol (1864-1946) and Elizabeth died 1923.

Hannah Barker born 15 May 1861 Specimen Gully, Bendigo She married Richard COLES in 1880. Hannah died in Bendigo aged 76 in 1937 [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

John Barker 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

John Barker died 1896.

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project



Further Reading


  1. Researched by Dr Dorothy Wickham

External links

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