Evelyn Pitfield Shirley Sturt was born in Dorsetshire, England, in 1816. His brother of the explorer Charles Sturt. E.P.S. Sturt married in 1852 to Miss Gryll, daughter of Canon J. C. Gryll, of Trinity Church, Sydney. They had no family.
Goldfields Involvement, 1854
0n 21 October 1854 Charles MacMahon, acting Head of the Police force, and Police Magistrate E.P.S. Sturt, arrived in Ballarat from Melbourne.
Sturt was the magistrate at the Ballarat Court on 08 December 1854, when Eureka prisoners were arraigned before himself and Webster.
- ... The report of the Commission appointed by the Lieut.-Governor on the 30th October, to enquire into the circumstances connected with the death of Scobie and the burning of the Eureka Hotel, was published on the 6th inst. It is dated November 17, and bears the signature of the Chairman, Mr. Evelyn Sturt. After setting forth the points to which the Commission was instructed to direct its enquiries, it proceeds to report on each separately, to the following effect
- 1. That the decision of the Magistrates in discharging Bentley, who was accused of Scobie's murder, was opposed to the evidence and facts elicited; that there was some appearance of a leaning towards the prisoner on the part of Mr. Dewes, the Police Magistrate. The other Magistrates are passed by without censure.
- 2. That the Magistrates did not act with sufficient promptitude at the burning of the Eureka Hotel.
- 3. That the complaint against the Commissioners and officers in the Camp at Ballarat has (mentioned in No. 4, with two exceptions) been such as to merit the respect and confidence of the people. ::4. That Mr. Dewes, the Police Commissioner, has laid himself under improper obligations to licensed victuallers by engaging with them in bill transactions to enable him to purchase land; and that Sergeant-Major Milne has received 'hush money' from sly-grogsellers.
- 5. That no blame attaches to the Coroner, although a more experienced officer might have led to a different verdict.
- 6. That the present system of settling disputed claims, the employment of the police to apprehend slygrogsellers and unlicensed diggers, and the existence of the license-fee, have been the main causes of discontent. The Commissioners, therefore, recommend the settlement of disputed claims by a Jury of three (or such other number as may be deemed advisable); the employment of detective officers, in plain clothes, to restrain sly-grogselling ; and the abolition of the license-fee.
- They conclude by suggesting the passions of an Act empowering the Executive to levy a rate upon any particular district tor the amount of any property destroyed by unlawful proceedings. To this report is appended a minute by His Excellency, dated 20th November, dismissing Mr. Dewes from the public service, and erasing his name from the list of Magistrates. It refers the case of Sergeant Major Milne to the Attorney-General with a view to his prosecution. The last item of news we find from Ballarat is in the second edition of the Argus, 6th December, viz. : — 'Recent news from Ballarat is very encouraging. Order is reported to prevail, the people are returning to their ordinary pursuits, and a strong feeling has been manifested among the miners to support good order and authority.' Connected with the disturbances we may mention a public meeting held in the open air at Melbourne on the 5th instant, and attended by 3,000 persons. 'Resolutions were passed — 1st, Regretting the course pursued by the diggers; 2nd, Asserting the necessity of the laws being supported; 3rd, Fledging the meeting to assist in the preservation of peace.
Post 1854 Experiences
Charles Sturt, first Surveyor-General and afterwards Colonial Secretary of South Australia.
- DEATH OF MR E. P. S. STURT
- By cable the news was received on Saturday of the death of Mr E. P. S. Sturt at Port Said, while on his way back to Melbourne where for a quarter of a century he held the position of police magistrate. Mr Sturt was a passenger with Mrs Sturt by the P. and O. steamship Pekin, which left London on the 29th of January, and is due here on the 18th March. The cause of death is not stated. Mr Sturt suffered while in England from bronchitis, and was, besides, subject to attacks of rheumatic gout. Recently the doctors advised him not to remain another winter at home as bronchitis might prove fatal, and possibly Mr Sturt delayed his departure a little too long. This, however, is a matter of conjecture. Besides being himself a very old colonist, Mr Sturt was a member of a family which will have a permanent place in Australian history. His brother, Charles Sturt, was one of the bravest and most persevering - but also the least fortunate - of the early explorers. it was the ill-luck of this intrepid man to have to contend with seasons of extreme dryness, and to be baffled again and again by tracts of desert, which as then known seemed to have no possible crossing-place. Charles Sturt did not give up his determined efforts to reach Central Australia until disabled by blindness. Another brother-Captain Sturt-was one of the heroes of the Kyber Pass in the first Afghan war of 1842. He got through the pass, but lost his life when returning to succour a brother office.
- Evelyn Pitfield Shirley Sturt was born in Dorsetshire in 1816. He was the youngest and last surviving son of a judge in India. He received his education at the Military College of Sandhurst, being intended for the army, but came out to Sydney in 1838, some years after his brother Charles had completed one of his trying explorations. Evelyn Sturt, then scarcely much more than 21, obtained almost immediately on his arrival a commisionership in the Crown Lands department, and was spoken of for a time - namely until his strong and manly qualities became prominent - as the "boy commissioner." After three or four years service under the New South Wales Government, Mr Sturt took to squatting, and struck out in an enterprising way for himself. He was one of the first party to successfully make the overland journey from Sydney to Adelaide. The late Mr. Dalmahoy Campbell and a brother were his comrades. A short time previously, another party of venturesome colonists had set out on a similar expedition, but they were murdered by the blacks.
- Great privations were suffered by Sturt and the Campbells, owing to drought, and in one of their worst straits they were only saved by Mr Sturt pushing ahead by himself until he found water. Like Charles Sturt, he had a capacity for overcoming the difficulties of travelling, and was equal to trying emergencies. The arrival of the party in Adelaide was deemed worthy of a public fete. Charles Sturt, first Surveyor-General and afterwards Colonial Secretary of South Australia, was then living in Adelaide, and it may supposed gave his youngest brother a hearty welcome. Evelyn Sturt took up an extensive tract of country at Mount Gambier, and came to Melbourne for stock. He started overland with men sheep and stores. On the Keilor Plains, when passing the last publichouse on the road out from Melbourne, his men demanded a drink at their leader's expense Mr Sturt was travelling with empty pockets. If he had given this as a reason for not treating the men, they would probably have refused to march further. Mr Sturt ordered drinks, paying for them with an order on a friend in Melbourne, by whom the debt was duly paid. Mr Sturt had to rough it on the Mount Gambier run for several years. His abode was a mia-mia, and he drove his own team into Belfast with wool after shearing. The townspeople were always glad to see him, and had many rejoicings over his visits to Belfast. In 1849 Mr Sturt gave up the active management of the station, and came to Melbourne. He accepted next year the charge of the police force from Mr Latrobe, taking office as superintendent. Soon after the discovery of gold, and the rush of everybody to the diggings, Mr. Sturt disposed of his run, fearing that no one would stay to look after the stock. The town of Mount Gambier now stands on the site of his old homestead. The great rush of population into Victoria led to a reorganisation of the police force. Mr (after wards Sir William) Mitchell became chief commissioner, while Mr Sturt was appointed police magistrate for the city of Melbourne. In his capacity as police magistrate, Mr Sturt was sent to Ballarat during the riot and did some useful service there. He pre-sided over the City Bench from 1853 to 1878. A more efficient and capable magistrate the colony never possessed. The honorary justices held him in high respect.
- It falls to the lot of the city magistate to not only administer the law but also to relieve cases of distress from the poor-box. Mr Sturt's room was often crowded with the poor and unfortunate, and he gave away his private means liberally. While in active service, Mr Sturt obtained a holiday and visited England. On reaching the age of 60 he asked leave to retire on a pension, but was informed by the Government of the day that his services could not be spared. About two years afterwards it was a severe shock to him on going to the court on the morning of the 8th of January, 1878 to find on the bench a copy of the Government Gazette dismissing the whole of the police magistrates of the colony from office. They suffered in common with other public servants of high standing. Mr Sturt being a man of high honour and of a sensitive nature, felt the stroke keenly. It seemed to him a cruel reward for 28 years arduous and responsible work. The honorary justices gathered round him with assurances of their sympathy. For some weeks the administration of justice was paralysed. A proportion of the police magistrates were restored to office at the termination of the crisis. Mr Sturt accepted a pension, and closed his official career. In the month of December following he went with Mrs Sturt to England, and, by an odd coincidence, in the same steamer as the two Victorian ambassadors. Mr. Sturt was in independent circumstances, and did not, like some other public servents, feel the loss of office as a pecuniary misfortune. Mr. and Mrs. Sturt stayed in England until 1881. On their return to Victoria they lived for 12 months at Brighton. They then made another voyage to the old country. Soon after landing Mr. Sturt had an attack of bronchitis, and his health during his last sojourn ashore was far from good. When he made his arrangements for returning to Melbourne by the Pekin, it was with the intention of ending his days here. He died in his 70th year. Mr. Sturt was married in 1852 to Miss Gryll, daughter of Canon J. C. Gryll, of Trinity Church, Sydney. He had no family. For many years prior to 1878 Mr. Sturt was member of the church assembly, as representative of St. Mary's, Hotham, the church of the parish in which he resided. Mr. sturt came of good English stock. He was the cousin of the first Lord Alington, and second cousin of the present lord, Sturt being the family name. In this colony Mr. Sturt had many friends, and was connected by marriage with Dr. Ford, Dr. Campbell, Mr. A. Harry Knight and Mr Murdoch McLeod, all of whom married, like himself, daughters of Canon Gryll.
For Forms, Evidence and Depositions in relation to the James Scobie trial click the following link Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 5527 Official Forms, Evidence and Depositions, October 1854]]
Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
- The Argus, 16 February 1885.
- South Australian Register, 11 December 1854.
- The Argus, 16 February 1885.
- The Argus, 16 February 1885.