John Daly

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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


Goldfields Involvement, 1854

There were many signatories using the surname John Daly on 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 Daly

Post 1854 Experiences

Daly was at storekeeper at Eureka when he signed the Benden Hassell Petition in 1856. [1] He became a Warden at the Ballarat Local Court.[2]

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Ballarat Local Court

Benden Sherritt Hassell Compensation Case

James Baker

Henry Nicholls


All old Ballarat will remember the local court, and the great fun and frolic in dulged in by the friends of the candidates for a seat in that embryo mining Parliament. As is always usual with would be legislators for either a thinking board or Leglslative Assembly, promises are plentifully given, and the slightest wish of the interrogatory voter, as a matter of good policy, acceded to. At one election Dr Kenworthy, long since dead, was a candidate, and but for the. manoeuvres of Carboni Raffaello (“Great Works"), he (Dr Kenworthy) would have certainly been elected. In those days the gentlemen of the medical profession were not so full of business as one might expect, But the fact was, there was comparatively little sickness; and this worthy American “medico,” as a consequence, took to the life of a seeker, for the precious racial, and with rd shirt, moleskin unmentionables, and plenty of “ Yankee blarney, and was pretty successful, both as a gold digger and a popularity, hunting adventurer. The “blarney,” in dealing with the "digger mob” of those early days, was an essential, and served the doctor instead of logic. It was not, therefore, very surprising that the diggers heard him gladly, and drank his jolly good health in bumpers of bottled ale at their own expense. Although a digger, and always in digger costume, Kenworthy was invariably called “Doctor,” and when at the Eureka Stockade he was appointed medical officer to the insurgent forces the expectant warriors for diggers' rights rejoiced exceedingly. On the day. Kenworthy stood as a candidate the morning was ushered in by many a shout at the grog shanties on the flat. Warden Daly (since dead) occupied the chair on the temporary platform erected on Bakery Hill, and a big crowd of the Eureka boys assembled to give their votes. The doctor addressed the assemblage In his usual “streak of lightning” style, and was duly proposed as a fit and proper person to fill the position of member of the Local Court. Everything seemed favourable and we ell expected the doctor right for election, when up jumps “Great Works, his repulsive face, fiery red beard, and ferret-like, wicked eyes sparkling with envy and hatred, gave the assembled voters the cue that Carboni Raffaello meant mischief. He went off like a sky-rocket, denounced the doctor as a “spy and a traitor,” and de clared that when he (“Great Works”) was taken as a prisoner to the camp by the lousy “traps,” he there saw the doctor, disguised “vith a vig ” and false beard, pointing out to the blasted camp officials the principal rioters in the rebel camp; and thus acting the “double villain” by fawning on' the boys at the Stock ade and selling them like a traitor in the camp. As this was spoken by “Great Works” in the most bitterly sarcastic and spiteful way, you may judge the effect it had on the crowd of excited diggers, “Blood-un ’ouns !” says Pat Malone, “just let me at the doctor shpy, and if I don't lave him so that bis own mother won’t know him, nor Dr Bunce be able to hale him for the next month, then chuck me down the first shicer we come to on our way to the flat.” A general howl of execration followed this impromptu delivery, and the doctor thinking discretion the best part of valour, amidst a storm of groans and boo-boos, and cries of “ Traitor," made his way over the hill, and cleared for his canvas home completely flabbergasted. The result was, as might have been anticipated, “ Great Works" was elected by a big majority; show of hands being the mode of voting. At another election W. C. Weeks, afterwards member for the Ovens, and now dead, stood up to propose a well-known digger named Kennedy, aftas “Lickln the Lag,” so called from his having at one of the meetings prior to the fight made use of the following poetic couplet:— Moral persuasion Is arrant humbug; Nothing convinces like a lick in the log; Kennedy, although well known, was not well liked, for during the battle twas said be had shown the white feather, and altogether was not the man to fight when there was a chance of running away, and this peculiar weakness of his was freely commented upon by the survivors of the fight la consequence of his failing he (Kennedy) was not popular, and as soon as Weeks proposed him the cry arose, “Stand yourself; you’re the better man; we’ll vote for you. Weeks, Weeks, Weeks!" was echoed and re-echoed by the crowd. “Oh,” said “Oily Charley," “gentlemen, if you prefer me to my friend Kennedy, I cave in at once, and bow to the decision of your better judgment." The warden (Daly), there fore put the motion that Weeks was a fit and proper person, &c., &c., and the rising of a forest of hands told Weeks he, not his friend, was elected. Charles bowed his thanks, and retired, seemingly altogether oblivious of his duty to Kennedy, whom he was pledged to propose and support. Poor Weeks, after being rejected for the Ovens on presenting himself to that constituency a second time, eked out a precarious living for years at lecturing and acting as Melbourne correspondent for the Ovens and Murray and some years ago died suddenly In Melbourne, neglected and uncared for by many whom he had in his time be friended, for he was in his day like many other members, “ a capital billet-getter.” It will be remembered that after leaving Ballarat, and before being returned for the Ovens, he held some menial position on the Government railways, and always said it was for this cause he was snubbed by many of the members of the House, who thought when returned to Parliament that they were at once transmogrified into gentlemen. H. R. Nicholls, of Ballarat, and John Wall, of Sebastopol, are the only members of the old local court, I believe, still residing amongst us. James Baker, the first chairman of the board, is now in New South Wales to a good billet under that Government, and I heard only recently has still the old “ Ballarat fire*’ in him, as shown in the early days of the gold diggings, when he gained the goodwill of the miners, and worked energetically and well for the righting of local grievances in the old Local Court.[3]

Further Reading

Wickham, Dorothy, Shot in the Dark: Being the Petition for the Compensation Case of Benden S. Hassell, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1998.


  1. Wickham, Dorothy, Shot in the Dark: Being the Petition for the Compensation Case of Benden S. Hassell, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1998.
  2. Wickham, Dorothy, Shot in the Dark: Being the Petition for the Compensation Case of Benden S. Hassell, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1998.
  3. Ballarat Star, 0 February 1881.

External links