John Dalton

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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.
Red Ribbon Movement Monument in Rosalind Park, Bendigo [detail], 2013. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection


Dalton was born in Ireland. He was married by Patrick Smyth just before the Eureka Stockade. [1]

Goldfields Involvement, 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. See Dalton

Dalton was a participant at the Eureka Stockade battle, and helped to conceal Peter Lalor in a hole and covered him with slabs according to Phoebe Emmerson.[2]

Post 1854 Experiences


The funeral of the late Mrs Margaret Dalton took place on - Thursday, the remains being interred in the Smythesdale General Cemetery. There was a large attendance, evidencing the esteem in which the decreased had been held. She was one of the few remaining pioneers. Landing in Tasmania in March, 1852, she came to Ballarat in 1854, and in 1858 to Smythesdale, where she had resided ever since. The deceased lady was of a quiet and kindly disposition, and was highly respected by all who knew her. She retained her mental faculties to the last, and could relate incidents connected with the Eureka Riot and, other events that happened in the early days. She leaves a grown-up family of three sons and four daughters. 19 grandchildren, and one great grandson, to mourn their loss. Two grandsons are on active service. The deceased was born at Birr, King's County, Ireland, and was in her 81st year. The coffin-bearers were Messrs T. Dalton (son of the deceased), W. Manghes, T. Dickson aud W. West (sons-in-law), and the pall bearers were Messrs J. Creed, P. Burke. D. Walsh, N. Schwartz, M. McMenamin, J. Cameron, L. Reitze. M. McCarthy, A. McMaster, J. Robinson. F. Murphy, M. Martin, W. Williamson, R. Searle, W. Hockridge. The Rev. F. Ryan conducted the service at the grave and Mr M Veal had charge of the funeral arrangements. [3]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Smythesdale Cemetery

Further Reading

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


  1. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  2. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  3. Ballarat Star, 3 November 1917.

External links