John Eldridge

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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

Background

Brothers John Eldridge, Moses Eldridge and Jesse Eldridge were from County Sussex, England. John was born in 1816 in the parish of Sedlescombe, Moses in 1819 and Jesse in 1831, both in the parish of Ewhurst. Their parents were John Eldridge and his wife Elizabeth Sargent.

John married Maria Baker on 30 January 1836 at Ewhurst . they had a daughter Sarah Ann who died in September 1836, aged 2 months. Moses had also married at Ewhurst on 10 March 1838 to Eliza King. Jesse was 7 years of age in 1838. Their father had died by 1833 when Elizabeth called her son Thomas in 1833. At htat time she stated she was a widow and the father was not John. Elizabeth remarried William Crouch on 7 January 1838 at Rye, Sussex.

Shortly after Moses and Eliza married, the whole family, including Elizabeth and her new husband, set sail for Australia on the ship Amelia Thompson. During the John's Wife Maria died typhoid fever on the 6 May and Thomas (youngest son of Elizabeth) also died of Typhid on the 4 June. The remaining members of the family arrived safely at Sydney in July 1838. They were William and Elizabeth Crouch, and the Eldridges, John, Moses and Eliza, Miriam, Harriet, Barbara, Frances Ann and Jesse.

With the exception of Moses and his wife Eliza, the family stayed around Sydney until the mid-1840s. By late 1845, three of the sisters had married: Miriam to John Thompson on 23 October 1843, Harriet to Frederick Prior on the 22 Feb 1840, and Frances to Henry McGregor on 11 November 1845.

Moses and Eliza had one child in Sydney, James (1839 - died in infancy), they then moved to Melbourne where there was a daughter Elizabeth Jane born (1840 - died 5 months). Moses and Eliza then moved back to West Sydney where my great-grand-mother Fanny was born in November 1844.

The family, with the exception of Frances and her husband Henry and sister Barbara, moved to South Australia. Harriet and her husband Frederick followed a few months after the others and remained in South Australia the rest of their lives.

Elizabeth, the mother died in South Australia.

While in South Australia, Moses and Eliza had four more children, Harriet (1847), William (1849 - died in infancy), Henry (1850) and Thomas (1852).

John married again, to Frances Maria Leggett at Woodside, Adelaide on 31 July 1852.[1]

Moses and Eliza and children, John and Frances and Jesse moved to the Ballarat district in Victoria late 1852 or early 1853.[2]

John and Frances were to become parents of six children in the ensuring years. John (1854), Jesse (1856), William (1858 - died in infancy), Edward (1860), Mark (1863) and Elizabeth Ann (1864).[3]

Jesse married Martha Bailey on 25 March 1856 at Ballarat. They became the parents of a family of eleven children. Alfred b 1857, Jesse b 1859 died in infancy), Edwin b 1861, Elizabeth Sergeant b 1863 died 2 years), Frederick b 1865 died 5 years, Albert b 1868, Henry b 1870, Charles b 1872, Jesse b 1875, William b 1877 and Spencer James b 1880.[4]

1858 was to be another unhappy year for Moses. Eliza was delivered of another son, Moses Jnr on 27 January and Eliza died of complications of childbirth on 29 January. Moses Jnr followed his mother on the 3 February 1858. John, Moses and Jesse were miners on the Ballarat gold fields at the time of the disputes over miner's rights and they all signed the Miners Rights Petition in 1853. On the 1855 Electoral Roll for Ballarat, Moses was recorded under the qualification of Miner's Right.[5]

John died on 3 September 1883 at Ballarat West, Moses died on 13 September 1902 at Ballarat East and Jesse died on 3 September 1883 at Hiscocks (Buninyong).[6]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

John Eldridge 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

Family

MARRIAGES
NELSEN—ELDRIDGE. —On the 28th December, in the Bible Christian Chapel, Harrogate, by the Rev. G. Varley, Peter, the eldest son of Mr. JohnNelsen, of Harrogate, to Elizabeth Annie, only daughter of the late John Eldridge, of Little Bendigo, Ballarat, Victoria.<South Australian Register, 05 January 1888.</ref>

See also

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Monuments Project

Further Reading

References

External links

https://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au/family-matters/collections/did-you-ancestor-sign-the-bendigo-goldfields-petition/


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