Creswick

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Creswick Creek Near Ballarat From Spring Hill, 1855"

Goldfields Agitation at Creswick

Members of the Ballarat Reform League visited Creswick and spoke at open air meetings. Harry Williams stated in his Memoir that Peter Lalor was working on Clark's Flat, Creswick, and abandoned his claim to go to Ballarat shortly before trouble started brewing.[1]

In late October 1854, the road to the Government Camp at Creswick Creek was crowded with diggers so incensed by the oppressive license system and general injustice that they threatened to burn the Camp, and demanded the removal of all officials. The protest was quelled, but the anger returned on 25 November when delegates from Ballarat’s vigorous Reform League rode in to seek support for their democratic protest and their condemnation of officials. Four days later, about 2,000 men, from the population of 25,000, met at Long Point to promise support. Licenses were burnt and, led by a German band, a contingent of about 150 set off for Ballarat travelling via Clarke’s Flat and Black Lead, encouraging fellow miners to join them.

Legend has it that some were caught in a thunderstorm at Mopoke and returned home. Yet it is recorded that about 500 Creswick men arrived at the stockade in Ballarat on 1 December 1854.

The Creswick men joined the Ballarat men in their defensive stockade, standing up for their rights and liberties. The Stockaders were no match for the Government forces, who stormed the stockade and even massacred bystanders early on the morning of 03 December 1854.


GEELONG. - (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)- Monday. 23rd October. 1854.
The Spirit of the Age of this morning has the following notices of affairs at the diggings:-
Saturday. - I have just time to write you in a few words the most important news ever sent from Ballaarat :
The Creswick's Creek Camp been burnt by the diggers, and all the available force has been sent there, - the diggers declaring that they will have no more Commissioners nor troops there...
EMEUTE AT Creswick's Creek.-We have learnt by inquiries in town made subsequent to our Ballaarat correspondent's express, that his news probably requires modifying. A trooper arrived in town on Saturday night with a warrant for the apprehension of Bentley. We are informed that just before he left Ballaarat, the diggers were congregated round the Chief Commissioner's camp, insisting that the Commissioners and Police should leave at once and never dare to appear there again. The Military and police were at once ordered to start for Creswick's Creek, and we are afraid that by this time a serious conflict may have taken place. The news that the license tent was burnt down was current at the time he left, but it was considered doubtful. The immediate cause of this outbreak is not known, but one of the Resident Commissioners, Mr. Sherrard, is known as an exceedingly hasty and passionate man, and the other one, Mr, Foster, is very young. All the other officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, were exceedingly popular a short time since. We hope that it will appear that the diggers have been excited by some harsh exercise of the Commissioner's authority, and not through the present anti-license agitation; as in the former instance the emeute will probably subside as rapidly as it rose, in the latter a disorderly state of affairs will probably remain for some time. ...
CRESWICK'S CREEK,-We have been informed that information we received in town on Saturday last that the diggers had threatened to destroy the Government Camp at this place. Almost all the troopers in Melbourne and Geelong, besides some four or five companies of the 18th regiment, have been despatched to the diggings, so that they may be in readiness to act either at Creswick's Creek or Ballaarat if required. We understand the grievance at Creswick's Creek is the license-tax.
In reference to the above I can only say that, so far as I can learn, the burning of the Camp at Creswick's Creek had not been accomplished when the latest news left, but it had been threatened by a mob.. In this instance the disturbance assumes a much more serious aspect than even the burning of Bentley's house It is, in the truest sense of the word, a rebellion, and, for the sake of the colony in general, it is to be hoped that the majority of the diggers are opposed to such a very unconstitutional and dangerous method of obtaining their rights and privileges,without first having availed themselves of every constitutional remedy in their power. The diggers appear just now to be led away too much by the excitement of recent events, and by the harangues of a few mad-brained demagogues, in whose breast the desire to promote the real welfare of these diggers has no place in the present troubled state of the diggings, a few honest, intelligent, and determined men might, if they took the lead, do in- calculable good. The diggers generally are men possessed of sound reasoning faculties, and if the folly of their extreme views on the license question, and the serious consequences attending their hasty conduct, were properly explained, they might be saved from disgrace and the consequences of their folly, at the same time other methods of accomplishing all that they require might be as satisfactorily laid before them. Are there no such men as these among the digging population-no men of sufficient courage and ability to see the digger's rights protected, at the same time that they uphold the majesty of the law, and the functions of the Government? The present disturbances were expected to occur twelve months ago, and now that matters have reached the pitch they have, some change must take place, but whatever that change may be, it must be discussed calmly and without prejudice One happy step has been taken, viz, the reissuing of a warrant for Bentley, so that another investigation may take place, and, if necessary that he may be tried before a disinterested judge and jury. This act of itself removes all excuse now for any further acts of violence by the diggers, and if they persist in them, we must suppose that they have other motives for acting so. [2]
Ballarat Reform League Creswick Memorial," 2014. Photograph: Clare Gervasoni
Ballarat Reform League Creswick Memorial," 2014. Photograph: Clare Gervasoni

Further agitation took place in early November 1954:

At the Ballarat diggings there had been a riot amongst the diggers. A large number had assembled at the Commissioner's Camp, at Creswick's Creek, and insisted that that officer, together with all the Police, should at once leave the place, and never return. There was a rumour that they had set fire to the camp. They had undoubtedly threatened to do so. The Eureka Hotel at Ballarat, had been burnt down by the diggers.[3]


The Creswick Contingent

The Creswick contingent set out on 30 November 1854 from a grog shanty at Long Point, Creswick led by an Hanovarian band playing the Marseillaise. It proceeded along the densely crowded Clark's Flat, where stump orations were delivered and licenses burnt. Firearms were eagerly sought, and crowbar and pick-handles came into requisition. The scratch army swelled as it passed along the Black Lead and the centre of town until it reached 400 to 500. Provisions, horses and ammunition were commandeered as they walked four deep towards Ballarat, but 'a heavy thunderstorm not only drenched their bodies but cooled their ardour', and not many reached the Eureka Stockade. The following day around 200 departed. One of these was Henry Hammon. [4]


...No man was allowed to work yesterday; he distinctly understood that if he did so he would be fired on. A body of diggers some 400 strong, and armed, came in from Creswick in the evening, and the united forces - some 1000 men met and went through sundry evolutions about 8 o'clock p.m. On all hands, to-day is looked forward to with great anxiety, Matters are not mending. ... [5]

The following diggers were among those who left Creswick for the Eureka Stockade:

Antonio Capuano; Natale D'Angri; Charles Fenwick; John Fenwick; Patrick Gittings; Henry Hammon; John Keenan; Thomas Kennedy; Thomas Marks; Edward McGowan; Antonio Nida; Henry Powell; Edward McGowan; Michael Tuohy; James Warner; James Woolcock

Creswick Residents

Richard Allan - Gilbert Amos - William Bell - William Boase - Frederick Bury - George Colwell - Patrick Curtain - John Kennan - Alexander Mollison - Charles Nicholls - Robert Nicholls - Thomas Phillips - Michael Tuohy

Also See

Creswick Cemetery

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Creswick Monument

References

  1. Graham, John A. Early Creswick: The First Century, Arbuckle, Waddell Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1942, p58.
  2. Geelong Advertiser, 24 October 1854.
  3. Moreton Bay Courier, 04 November 1854.
  4. Graham, John A. Early Creswick: The First Century, Arbuckle, Waddell Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1942, p58.
  5. Geelong Advertiser,4 December 1854.