Charles Dyte

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New Houses of Parliament, 1854. State Library of Victoria Collection, Designed under the general instructions of Captn Charles Pasley, R.E. Commissioner of Public Works. Architects Messrs Lynght & Kerr (H18179)


Dyte was a prominent Jewish citizen and a pioneer digger. He arrived in Melbourne in 1853 on the Vernon, travelling to Maryborough, then Ballarat, in 1853. He married Eve Nathan, and was a member of the Old Colonists Club, and a Member of the Legislative Council for Ballarat East from November 1864 to January 1871 and 1874. In the 1880’s Dyte was an auctioneer who was residing at Ballarat. Dyte died at his residence at 11 Ligar St, and was buried at the Ballaarat Old Cemetery.

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Charles A. Doudiet, watercolour on paper, 1854, watercolour, on paper.
Courtesy Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery with the assistance of many donors, 1996.

In 1854 Dyte was a storekeeper. Just before the burning of James Bentley’s Eureka Hotel Dyte was about to start a store at Ballarat, and directed the carriers who were carting the goods to be sold in the store, to Bentley’s Hotel because it was the most likely place known. The goods arrived on Monday night, and by the next day they were all burnt, the encounter having taken place on Tuesday.

Dyte was a witness examined during the report of the Board appointed to enquire into circumstances connected with the riot at Ballarat, and the burning of James Bentley's Eureka Hotel, [1] and gave character witness form James Bentley. He was an intimate friend and confidante of Bentley. Dyte was witness number 15 at the Board of Enquiry into James Scobie’s murder. Dyte applied for compensation for the loss of merchandise stored at the Eureka Hotel. The Board did not admit the claim. Dyte attended many of the miners meetings, and helped frame resolutions at the meeting on Bakery Hill which took place on 6 December 1854.

Post 1854 Experiences

Dyte moved a motion at the post-Eureka battle meeting on Bakery Hill on 6 December 1854.

In the 1856 Star newspaper an advertisement mentioned Dyte as the “proprietor of the old established Ballarat china, glass and crockery store.” His advertisement states, “extreme civility to all parties (whether customers or others) opposite Darton and Walkers tent makers, Main Rd.”

On 25 July 1884 the committee resolved to inspect the Eureka Stockade Reserve and determine the site for the proposed memorial, and invite the Ballarat East Council to participate. The committee met at Joseph's Hotel, Eureka Street as a diversity of opinion exists regarding the position once occupied by the stockade.[2]

Samuel Thomas Gill, Provident diggers in Melbourne, c1854, watercolour and gum arabic on paper.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, gift of Mr. Tony Hamilton and Miss. S.E. Hamilton, 1967.
Eureka Stockade Monument, 2008, Photography: Clare Gervasoni.

Charles Dyte gave evidence during the 1855 Goldfields Commisssion.


Mr Charles Dyte, who has been well-known in Ballarat for many years past as a public man, died at nine o’clock last evening, at his residence, 11 Ligar street. The deceased had been laid up since September last from cancer on the liver, the illness being a particularly severe one, but he was cheerful and quite conscious to the last. Mr Dyte was a native of London, and was 76 years of age. He was connected with one of the leading Jewish families in London, and received a thorough training in mercantile pursuits in the warehouse of E. Moses and Co. The deceased gentleman arrived in the colony on the ship Vernon when a youth, and on Saturday last he completed his 40th year of residence in Ballarat. Shortly after landing in Victoria, Mr Dyte proceeded to Maryborough under engagement to Messrs John Levy and Co., a firm then carrying on a large and flourishing bsiness in that town. The excitement in connection with the discovery of gold continuing, Mr Dyte came on to Ballarat in 1853, and was an eye-witness to many exciting scenes that led up to the historic encounter ay the Eureka Stockade. His first appearance in Ballarat as a public man was in connection with the troubles arising out of the diggers’ license question. In those stirring times he was a regular attendant at the numerous meetings held by the diggers on Bakery Hill and Main road, and occaisionally he was a speaker. In the course of a few years after the riots Mr Dyte entered into business on Main Road as an auctioneer, and land and estate agent, and in these occupations the training he had received in his youthful days in London was of great service to him in the large connection he established. Fo a considerable period he occupied the position of the leading auctioneer in the district. The deceased ever took a lively interest in municipal and parliamentary affairs; and, on the formation of the Ballarat East Borough Council, he was elected chairman, the duties associated with which he carried out most conscientiously. Amongst the founder of the Ballarat East Fire Brigade, Mr Dyte was one of the most prominent, filling the post of captain and secretary respectively at different periods. He was made the recipient of several handsome testimonials in recognition of the great services he had rendered the fire brigade organisation in Ballarat East. The deceased gentleman was also one of the oldest members of the Ballarat Orphan Asylum committee, at whose meetings he was a constant attendant until laid up by the recent illness. For some time prior to his death, Mr Dyte was a vice-president of the Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat, and was treasurer of the Old Colonists’ Club. Mr Dyte also was amongst the oldest Freemasons in Ballarat being a member of several lodges, including the old Orion and the Tradesmen’s Lodges; and for several terms he occupied the position of president of the Ballarat Hebrew congregation. He was one of the earliest representatives of Ballarat East in the Legislative Assembly, to which he was returned in the general election held on 3rd November, 1864, with Mr C. E. Jones as a colleague. Mr Dyte was again returned at the general elections in 1866 and 1868, his colleague on the last occasion being Mr J.B. Humffray. Mr Dyte had always strongly advocated the system of payment of members, and this measure having become law, he lost his seat at the next election, which was held in March 1871, when out of the eight candidates he was placed 6th on the poll. He last sought re-election to Parliament in March, 1886, the other candidates being Messrs John James, who had just been appointed Minister of Mines in the Gillies – Deakin Coalition Cabinet, Jas. Russell, and Ed. Murphy. The deceased was a warm supporter of the mining industry, and like the vast majority of investors, he experienced many ups and downs; but at one time, had he realised upon the stocks he held, Mr Dyte would have become a very wealthy man. Of late years the deceased devoted the whole of his time to the business of sharebroker, his form being a very familiar figure at the local Mining exchange. He leaves a widow and three children 0 two daughters and a son, the latter being Mr David Dyte, stationmaster at Essendon. [3]


BALLARAT, Wednesday.
Mr Charles Dyte, mining investor, and one of the oldest and heat known pioneers and public men of Ballarat, died to-night from cancer of the liver, after a four months' illness. The deceased, who had suffered great agony during the past few weeks, passed peacefully away, perfectly conscious to the last and quite resigned. Mr. Dyte, who was 75 years of age, was a native of London. In early life he followed commercial pursuits, serving his apprenticeship in the London warehouse of Messrs. E. Moses and Co. Arriving in the colony in the ship Vernon in August, 1853, the deceased gentle man proceeded to Maryborough, where he accepted a responsible position in the then flourishing establishment of Messrs. Moses, Levy and Co. Coming to Ballarat in 1854, when the agitation in respect to the diggers' licences was reaching its serious stage, Mr. Dyte joined in the movements initiated for the redress of the grievances under which the gold seekers suffered, and it was at a meeting of diggers held near Bakery Hill that he made his first appearance as a public speaker. Shortly after the encounter at the Eureka Stockade the deceased became closely associated with movements of a political and municipal character and later on he commenced business as an auctioneer in Main-road, meeting with remarkable success. For a number of years Mr. Dyte was one of the representatives of Ballarat East in the Legislative Assembly, his colleagues during his sessions including Messrs J. B. Humffray and O. E. Jones. He strongly advocated payment of members, but when the measure became law he lost his seat for Ballarat East. The deceased was one of the first Chairmen of the local borough council, and for a long while was a leading magistrate in the district. He was one of the founders of the Orphan Asylum, and took a prominent part in the organisation of the Ballarat Fire Brigade of which he was captain and secretary. With both of these institutions he was connected up to the time of his death. His enterprise as a citizen also materially assisted in the formation of the Ballarat Water Trust, which has since developed into a scheme of considerable magnitude. In Masonic affairs Mr. Dyte was ever fore most, and as a worshipful master he laid the foundation stone of the Ballarat East Town hall. He for some years past had been a leading spirit in the Old Colonists' Association of Ballarat, of which he was a vice-president. The deceased was also a zealous member of the local Hebrew Congregation, filling the presidential chair for Several years. He was a hearty supporter of the mining industry, in which he experienced numerous up's and downs. Had he a few years ago parted with his interests in a few local stocks he could have realised a large fortune. For a lengthy period he was a heavy shareholder in the famous Kohinoor mine, but forfeited his shares just as golden stone had been struck, and the stock became very valuable. Mr. Dyte, who was a fluent speaker and a keen debater, made his final effort to re-enter Parliament when, as Minister of Mines, Mr. John James sought re-election in Ballarat East. He was unsuccessful, however, Mr. E. Murphy, now representing Warrenheip, winning the sent from Mr. James. During his career on these goldfields, Mr. Dyte was made the recipient of numerous testimonials from various public bodies, the most valuable, perhaps, coming from the Ballarat Fire Brigade. Mr. Dyte, who during recent years followed the business of a stock and share broker, was of a kind and charitable disposition, and was held in high esteem by all classes. His familiar form will be greatly missed from the Ballarat Stock Exchange buildings, in which he was in daily attendance. Mr. Dyte leaves a widow and three in family. The station master at Essendon, Mr. David Dyte, is a son of the deceased gentleman.[4]

In the News

The great interest taken in everything concerning the Eureka Stockade was evident yesterday, when several hundred persons gathered at the site at Eureka Street, Ballarat East, for the purpose of fixing the exact spot where the fight took place, on which the monument will shortly be erected. Besides a large number of Stockaders and old identities, there were present Messrs James and Russell, M.L.A., Mayor Ferguson and Councillors Lewis, Morrison, Williams, Roff, Gregory, Walker, Scott, Elsworth, and Messrs Bechervaise, J.N. Wilson, H. Josephs, Lester, C. Dyte, D. Turpie and Mr H.A. King, the architect. Mr James Esmond, the gold discoverer, who looked very well, was amongst the Stockaders present. It soon became apparent that great difficulty was in the way of setting down the exact boundaries of the Stockade, which measured about 400 feet in diameter, This was on account of the great change in the surface, the neighbourhood having undergone considerable change in the course of thirty years. Each knot of Stockaders was of a different opinion, and the scenes were rather amusing, as each one stuck stubbornly to his opinion. the memorial committee recognised the difficulty, but had not foreseen anything of the sort, no arrangement had been made to take evidence on the point. Ultimately Councillor Roff exclaimed - "Let us make a ring and get the different opinions." This idea was carried out. Mr James, M.L.A. said that he had come to the conclusion that the Stockade was to the north of the Eureka Street rise. there were cries of 'No, No." Nearly all the remaining diggers were of the opinion that the fight took place about 200 yards to the north of Eureka Street, and ultimately the spot which is about 200 yards to the east of what was generally accepted as the site, was set down as the centre of the Stockade. Mayor Ferguson duly made the announcement, which was received with cheers. The sport selected, even if not actually the exact site of the Stockade, was undoubtedly the most suitable for the monument, which will probably be unveiled on the 30th anniversary in December next. About 50 pounds is still required for the completion of the monument. it is not generally known that 12 acres in the neighbourhood of the Stockade has been declared a reserve, The whole, or a portion of this reserve, will shortly be fenced in by the Town Council.

Claims for Losses at the Eureka Hotel

The following is a list of the claims made to the Government for compensation in connection with the burning of Bentley's Hotel, on the 17th October, 1854. The total amount is £40,418 ls 2d, of which only £150 is recommended by the select committee to be paid, - viz., 30/ to Messrs D. & W. Wallace, and £120 to Mr Michael Walsh. A sum of £150 is also recommended to be given to Dr Carr, who is at present in the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum; but this amount is on account of a claim for professional services to the wounded after the outbreak on the 3rd of December, and cannot properly be said to have come under the cognizance of the committee.
List of Claims for Compensation for Losses Sustained through the Ballarat Riot, on 7th October, 1854
George Waterson, clothing and working tools, £22 ; Augustus Miell, gold, bank notes, musical instruments and music books, goldrings, and two boxes of clothing, £87 ; D. and W. Wallace, tents and clothing, £30. Samuel Waldock, livery stable keeper, saddles, harness, carts, hay, corn, horses, &c. &c, £766; Henry Harris, merchandise stored in the yard of Bentley's Hotel, £45 ls.; E. F. West, clothing, musical instruments, and music books, £53 ; Chas. Smith, clothing and working tools, £20; Michael Walsh, tent, household goods, clothing of self and family, and injury sustained by his wife, £175 10s.; Chas. Dyte, merchandise stored in the building attached to the hotel, £416 ls; G. C. Smith, two boxes and their contents, which were stored in the hotel, stated value, £343 18s ; Isaac Rigby, chest of tools and clothing, £20 ; total, £1977 10s.
List of Creditors on Bentley's Estate
The Bank of New South Wales, overdrawn banking account, £2,000 : the Union Bank, dishonored, bills, £1,600 ; Thomas Bath, Ballarat, dishonored bill, £192 10s; F. B Beaver, Esq., M.L.A., goods sold and delivered, £2,492 8s 5d; Mark Folk and Isaac Lazarus, goods sold and delivered. £106 11s ; John Ettershank, Stephen Holgate, William Eaglestone, dishonored bills, £87 2s6d; John Rutherford, James Tingeman, goods sold and delivered, £516 16s 8d; John McGuinnes, goods sold and delivered, £96 2s 4d; Charles Morgan, goods sold and delivered, £26 3s 3d ; Patricias Wm Welch, goods sold and delivered, £506 7s ; Dr Carr, for professional services, £124. Total, £7,648 1s 2d.
Servants' Wages, and Moneys due on Building Contracts
Patrick Hanlon, carpenter's contract work, £95; Michael McDermott, do. £125; Donald Ross, do, £150; J. Donnelly, do, £98 ; Roderick Ross, do, £160; Charles Smith, baker, balance for wages, about £110; George Waterson, balance for wages, £22, and £92 10s; Isaac Rigby, money due on contract for building, £200. Total, £1,042 10s.
Bentley's Claim
"Claim by J. F. Bentley and wife, for the sum of £29,750, it being the ascertained value of the hotel, outbuildings, and stock in-trade, all of which were destroyed in the riot.[5]

Edward Cantor, Ballarat - Insolvent had been a butcher, and had contracted about £1400 debts. He paid the whole of these debts, however, prior to the 1st January, 1863. He then took the Adelphi, otherwise known as the Charlie Napier Hotel, in the Main Road, and when Edwards gave up the theatre, which is attached to the premises, insolvent opened it. Commenced on the 1st April. Lost £50 the first week. Was sold off in July under a bill of sale held by Mr Lewis, solicitor, for £260. Gave the bill of sale before opening the theatre. Lewis advanced the money to open it. The landlord took what property remained after the bill of sale was satisfied. Mr Dyte was landlord. The rent of the hotel was £8 per week, with the theatre £15. Up to the time the insolvent took the theatre, the hotel had paid. Insolvent had £260 of his own when he took the hotel. Had no money when he took the theatre. No account bad been rendered by insolvent of the amount realised under the bill of sale. Dyte, the landlord, sold the goods on his own account and Lewis. Witness had never asked Dyte for an account sales. Dyte would not allow Lewis to sell to satisfy the bill of sale until his own account was satisfied. The insolvent was ordered to file a supplementary schedule setting forth all his proceedings since he entered the Adelphi Hotel, together with all debts due to him upon the butchering business. The meeting was then adjourned to the 8th October. [6]

See also

Adelphi Hotel

Charlie Napier Hotel

Eureka Hotel

Legislative Council

Further Reading

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


  1. Report of the Board appointed to Enquire into Circumstances Connected with the Late Disturbance at Ballarat, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 21 November 1854.
  2. Chisholm, J.A., A few notes o the site of the Eureka Memorial, 1974.
  3. Ballarat Courier 28 December 1893.
  4. Melbourne Leader, 09 OCtober 1899.
  5. Ballarat Star, 09 June 1858
  6. Ballarat Star, 04 September 1863.

External links