John Bird

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John Bird's gravestone, 2013. Photograph: Clare Gervasoni

Background

John Bird was married to Mary. He is buried in the Smythesdale Cemetery.

SIR, - As this week will celebrate the 50th year since the fight at the Eureka Stockade took place, I wish as a pioneer of the 50s to express my sympathy with those who lost their lives on the memorable occasion. I am a loyal subject of King Edward, and am proud of the British Empire, the British Flag, and the Britons “who never will be slaves,” but this not prevent me from expressing sympathy with my fellow-diggers who laid down their lives from what they considered to be an injustice. Being a lad at the time of the events that led up to that memorable Stockade, I witnessed every day diggers hunted by troopers, and because their miners’ rights had expired a few hours, they were marched off to the “log,” as the lock-up was then called, brought before the commissioner, and heavily fined. Being fleet of foot, it was my good fortune to get inside of a pile of slabs and hide till the troopers had gone with their prey to the camp. My feelings were nevertheless as keen to the injustice as if I had been in the logs myself. It was a sight never once seen, as I saw it, to be forgotten – manly men of noble men, in their diggers’ clothes, their shirts rolled up with bare and brawny arms, and with sashes round their waists, marched like bushrangers between troopers with loaded carbines, bearing the insult as only Britons could bear it. I remember the volleys fired by the soldiers on the Sunday morning about four o’clock. In the afternoon with my father I went to the Stockade and say the bullet marks everywhere. The dead who had fallen had been removed, but in a tent lay the blacksmith, with a bullet wound in his head from which the brains were protruding. There were pikes he had made, about 8 feet long, with a hook like a reap-hook and a pike at the end. I remember the many funerals after the fight wending their way up the Main road and up to the Old Cemetery. I have no doubt that others share my opinion that many jumped down the deep holes, and there lost their lives, to escape being taken prisoners. I trust the anniversary of the event will be celebrated in every way worthy of the noble men who fell on that occasion, and of the city of Ballarat in which the anniversary will be celebrated. – Yours &c., John Bird, Rotherwood, Scarsdale. [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Post 1854 Experiences

Obituary

DEATH AT 88. - A PIONEER'S PASSING. - THE EUREKA STOCKADE.
A pioneer of Trundle, Mr. John Bird, 88 years of age, died there a few days ago. Born at Taunton, Somersetshire, England, in October. 1832, he came to Australia in 1850, and went to the gold diggings at Ballarat. He was in that city at the time of the Eureka Stockade and had many thrilling experiences during the good times in the gold fields. Mr. Bird afterwards went to the West Coast of New Zealand, where for a number of years he was gold buying for the Bank of England. He then returned to Victoria and entered into partnership with his brother, Henry, in the "Amphitheatre Hotel," a business which Mr. Henry Bird kept for 52 years. Mr. Bird afterwards kept the "Pyrenees Hotel" at Lexton, in Victoria. In 1891 he decided to go on the land, and going to Parkes selected "Warrigal," a fine property between Parkes and Forbes, now owned by Messrs Cannon Bros., and known as "Silver Row." In 1900 "Warrigal" way sold, and the Bird family went to Trundle and selected "Glen Avon," a property still owned by the family. During the early days on the gold fields he and his brother Harry were well known as cross-country riders. Both rode with great success. The burial was in the Anglican cemetery at Trundle. [2]

See also

Further Reading

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


References

  1. Ballarat Courier, 2 December 1904.
  2. Young Witness, 26 March 1920.

External links