Ballarat Reform League

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On Saturday, 11 November 1854 an assembly of more than 10,000 miners met at Bakery Hill the Ballarat Reform League was formed, with J.B. Humffray being elected the first Chairman. Kennedy and Henry Holyoake were also elected leaders of the Ballarat Reform League. [1]

The Ballaarat Reform League was a movement that grew out of the frustration that the diggers felt with their treatment on the goldfields.[2] Within a month of the official discovery of gold in Victoria in August 1851, the new Victorian government had imposed a large licence fee for the right to dig for gold. The fee was unpopular but the even greater irritant was the heavy handed, and at times corrupt, administration of the goldfields by the local officials. Eventually collecting licence fees became armed hunts.[3]

Active for a brief time around October and November 1854.[4] The committee was known to meet at The Star Hotel in Main Road, Ballarat, and was though to have initially formed to organise the defence of prisoners taken for the burning of Bentley's Eureka Hotel (17th October 1854). The committee went on to discuss and formulate a Charter outlining such goals as manhood suffrage and full and fair representation.[5]

Ballarat Reform League Objectives

In forming its goals, the Ballarat Reform League's objectives were very closely aligned to those of British Chartism movement's objectives.

1. A full and fair representation 2. Manhood suffrage 3. No property qualification of Members for the Legislative Council. 4. Payment of Members 5. Short duration of Parliament.

The feelings of the diggers is expressed in this excerpt from the Ballarat Times around two days before the Bakery Hill Monster Meeting:

It is not fines, imprisonments, taxation and bayonets that is required to keep a people tranquil and content. It is attention to their wants and their just rights alone that will make the miners content.[6]

Ballarat Reform League Members

George Black

Hugh Gray

Timothy Hayes

George Holyoake

Henry Holyoake

J.B. Humffray

Also See

Ballarat Reform League Charter

Ballarat Reform League Inc.

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