Elizabeth Rowlands

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Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Many women had reasons to be vitally interested in the causes of Eureka and attended the large rallies held on the Ballarat goldfields. They were thus active in a political sense.28 Although it is difficult to find overt evidence of women’s physical presence in the records of events organised by the Ballaarat Reform League and associated with Eureka there is evidence of women attending the Monster Meetings. Elizabeth Rowlands asserted that she “attended several meetings” and was present at the proclamation when soldiers presented their guns ordering the crowd to disperse at Bakery Hill. [1]

Post 1854 Experiences

Mrs. E. Rowlands remembers...

To the Editor of the Courier Sir, - May I give a few of my recollections re the Stockade? I arrived in Ballarat in 1852, and stayed on the Brown Hill for six weeks. I spent the Christmas of 1852 there. My husband and I returned to Geelong and stopped for six months, and came back to Ballarat in 1853, pitching our tent near where the old Charlie Napier Theatre was afterwards built. There was then a little store called the “Whaler’s Flag,” kept by a man named William Foster. After a little while the Eureka opened up, and we shifted to Palmer’s Gully. The next tent to mine was poor Scobie’s and I spent many an hour there with him and his wife. Another neighbour was Gannon, who had cows. We paid him 4s a quart for milk, and glad to get it. The morning before the riot I went to the camp and bought a licence and paid £3 for it, and my husband burnt it in the evening at one of the camp meetings. I attended several meetings. I witnessed Bentley’s burned down and saw a man they said was Bentley making his escape on horseback. I was present when the proclamation was read, and the soldiers dropped on their knees, presenting their guns at the crowd to compel them to disperse. We were on the Gravel Pits at the time of the fight, and were under martial law. No lights were allowed, and all amusements were stopped. My husband was in the Stockade all night, and early on the Sunday morning my tent was crowded to know if it was he that was killed - a man the same name having been shot. For may years I had a pistol brought from the stockade; also a pannikin which my husband gave to a gentleman who was going to England, and wished to have it to show at home. The pannikin was perfectly riddled with shot.

Yours &c. E. Rowlands 29 Plank Road, Ballarat East Ballarat Courier, 5 December1904 [2]


Mrs Elizabeth Rowlands, of Main road died, at her residence on Sunday at the good ripe old age of 81 years. Mrs Rowlands arrived in Melbourne at the age of 7 years. Some 13 years later she married and came to reside at Ballarat, and was present at the Eureka riot. For the period of 61 years Mrs Rowlands has practically lived in the same spot, and was the oldest, resident; of Plank road, having lived there before there were any houses. Mr and Mrs Rowlands resided in a tent. Her husband, Mr Thomas Rowlands predeceased her 15 years ago, and leaves a family of 5 sons and 4 daughters. The funeral takes place to morrow at the Old Cemetery.<ref>Ballarat Star, 07 December 1914.</erf>

See also

Women of Eureka

Further Reading

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

Dorothy Wickham, Women in 'Ballarat' 1851-1871: A Case Study in Agency, PhD. School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, March 2008.

Dorothy Wickham, Blood, Sweat and Tears: Women of Eureka in Journal of Australian Colonial History, 10, No, 1, 2008, pp. 99-115.

Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, BHSPublishing, 2009.


Clare Wright, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Text Publishing, 2013.

Dorothy Wickham, Not just a Pretty Face: Women on the Goldfields, in Pay Dirt: Ballarat & Other Gold Towns, BHSPublishing, 2019, pp. 25-36.


  1. Dorothy Wickham, Women of the Diggings: Ballarat 1854, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2009
  2. Eureka Reminiscences, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1998

External links

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