Henry Holyoake

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Walter E. Pidgeon, Illustration from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni, Sunnybrook Press, 1942, offset print.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 1994.
Bendigo Goldfields Petition Cover, August 1853. State Library of Victoria (MS 12440)
His Excellency Charles Joseph La Trobe on 1st August 1853.
Humble Petition of the Undersigned Gold Diggers and other residents on the Gold Fields of the Colony
That your petitioners are the Loyal and Devoted Subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria the Sovereign Ruler of this Colony one of the dependencies of the British Crown
That in the present impoverished conditions of the Gold Fields the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month is more than Your Petitioners can pay as the fruit of labor at the Mines scarcely affords to a large proportion of the Gold Miners the common necessaries of life
That in consequence of the few Officials appointed to issues Licences the Diggers Storekeepers and other residents lose much time at each Monthly issues in procuring their Licenses
That the laborious occupation of Gold digging and the privation attendant on a residence on the Gold fields entail much sickness and its consequent expenses on Your Petitioners
That in consequence of the Squatter Land Monopoly a large proportion of Successful Diggers who desire to invest their earnings in a portion of land are debarred from so doing
That newly arrived Diggers must lose much time and money before they become acquainted with the process of Gold Mining
That in consequence of Armed Men (many of whom are notoriously bad in characters) being employed to enforce the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month there is much ill feeling engendered amongst the Diggers against the Government
That in consequence of the non-possession by some of the Miners of a Gold Diggers License some of the Commissioners appointed to administer the Law of the Gold Fields have on various occasions Chained non-possessors to Trees and Condemned them to hard labor on the Public Roads of the Colony - A proceeding Your Petitioners maintain to be contrary to the spirit of the British Law which does not recognise the principle of the Subject being a Criminal because he is indebted tot he State
That the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month is unjust because the successful and unsuccessful Digger are assessed in the same ratio
For these reasons and others which could be enumerated Your Petitioners pray Your Excellency to Grant the following Petition
* First. To direct that the Licence Fee be reduced to Ten Shillings a Month
* Secondly To direct that Monthly or Quarterly Licenses be issued at the option of the Applicants
* Thirdly To direct that new arrivals or invalids be allowed on registering their names at the Commissioners Office fifteen clear days residence on the Gold Fields before the License be enforced
* Fourthly To afford greater facility to Diggers and others resident on the Gold Fields who wish to engage in Agricultural Pursuits for investing their earnings in small allotments of land
* Fifthly To direct that the Penalty of Five Pounds for non-possession of License be reduced to One Pound
* Sixthly To direct that (as the Diggers and other residents on the Gold Fields of the Colony have uniformly developed a love of law and order) the sending of an Armed Force to enforce the License Tax be discontinued.
Your Petitioners would respectfully submit to Your Excellency's consideration in favour of the reduction of the License Fee that many Diggers and other residents on the Gold-fields who are debarred from taking a License under the present System would if the Tax were reduced to Ten Shillings a Month cheerfully comply with the Law so that the License Fund instead of being diminished would be increased
Your Petitioners would also remind your Excellency that a Petition is the only mode by which they can submit their wants to your Excellency's consideration as although they contribute more to the Exchequer that half the Revenue of the Colony they are the largest class of Her Majesty's Subjects in the Colony unrepresented
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray etc.


Henry Thomas Groves Holyoake was the brother of George Holyoake. Henry was born on 19 March 1831, and was baptised at St Martin, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. He was known for his involvement in Chartism in England, and his political beliefs were also strong in Victoria.[1]

Brother of George Jacob Holyoake, the last secretary of the National Charter Association, eminent Victorian secularist and leading light of the co-operative movement, Henry Holyoake had been an active Chartist in his own right before emigrating and becoming a member of the Ballarat Reform League.[2]

Henry Holyoake died in 1881. [3]

Goldfields Involvement, 1853-1854

Henry Holyoake was a member of the Ballarat Reform League and was present at the meeting of 11 November 1854 on Bakery Hill.[4] He started the Diggers Advocate Goldfields Weekly with George Thompson later selling it to George Black. [5]

Henry Holyoake signed the Bendigo Goldfields Petition H.T. Holyoake.

Henry Holyoake was active in the Goldfields Reform League. At a meeting on 23 October 1854, at Bakery Hill, Holyoake took a prominent role, and called on subscriptions so as to employ Counsel for Andrew McIntyre and Thomas Fletcher. [6]

At the time of the Bakery Hill meeting held on 29 November 1854 Henry Holyoake had been sent to Bendigo to raise the diggers there. He arrived at Bendigo for the Goldfields Reform League, and William Denovan was appointed to accompany him to Ballan.[7]

Post 1854 Experiences

Henry Holyoake was a Mechanics’ Institute storekeeper when he signed a petition of householders of Ballarat requesting the establishment of a Municipality in 1855.[8] He later kept a bookshop in Melbourne and in 1863 he was working as a master saddler.[9] In 1863 the Holyoake family lived at 116 Cardigan Street, Carlton, in 1864 he was living at Mount Blackwood, Victoria. [10]

Henry Holyoake was a foundation member of the Victorian Saddlers and Harnass Makers Society, and was active in politics from 1873 to 1877. [11]



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.
PUBLIC MEETING ON BAKERY HILL Pursuant to public notice, a large and numerous public meeting was held on Bakery Hill, on the 22nd instant. At about 12 o'clock groups of men, twelve or twelve in number, might be seen in different directions, between the camp and the Hill, eagerly discussing together, and by their gesticulation and passionate manner, it was clear there was a question of some grave import which engrossed their attention. By degrees they began to move slowly along towards the Bakery, and the swarming bills gave notice that a monster meeting was immediately to be held. From every point of the compass, one might have seen groups of men coming eagerly up, and by two o'clock, the time appointed to meet, there could not have been less than fifteen thousand men on the spot. When the different speakers ascended the platform prepared for the occasion. After some preliminary arrangements, and a desultory conversation between the different gentlemen who were to address the meeting, the gentlemen of the press were requested to come forward and take a seat. On these gentlemen making their appearance, three cheers were given for the Ballarat Times, and three groans for the Argus, and loud and long were the shouts of indignation raised against the once popular journal, after which the proceedings of the day were commenced by Mr. H. T. Holyoake's proposing the following resolution :
"That we the Diggers of Ballarat in public meeting assembled, viewing the late demonstration of public feeling as arising from the mal-administration of the law, and sympathising with Messrs M'Intyre and Fletcher, who stand committed for trial at Geelong on the 26th instant, on are bar of aiding and abetting in the wilful destruction of the Eureka Hotel, feel it our duty to subscribe the necessary funds to secure the best counsel and defraying the general expenses of the trial." This was seconded by Dr. Levison, and unanimously adopted by the meeting.
The second resolution, proposed by Mr. Kennedy, and seconded by Mr. Alexander Tough, was also unanimously adopted. "That this meeting looks with feelings of indignation at the daily violation of the personal liberty of the sub jest, and hereby express their unqualified condemnation of the manner in which the laws are enforced at Ballarat." The third resolution was moved by Mr. Humffray, and seconded by Mr. Sylvester. That this meeting is of the opinion that if the laws has been fully and impartially carried out, the burning down of Bentley's hotel would not have occurred, and the entire responsibility rests with the Camp Officials; and that this meeting pledges itself to support the Committee in all their endeavors to obtain the fullest investigation into all the facts connected with the late enquiry into the murder of James Scobie, and to petition for the immediate removal of all Camp officials who have acted so unconstitutionally in the matter."
The object of the meeting being to sympathise with those who were alleged to have been unjustifiably committed for trial by the Ballarat Bench, and to raise funds for their defence in a court of law, the different speakers--the movers and seconders of the resolutions-spoke long to some purpose. It was an observable feature that the speaker who most condemned the present government, and insinuated the possibility at a future day, of a better one, was the most vehemently cheered, and evidently the most appreciated. Whenever the speaker (as some of them did) dwelt with tender enthusiasm upon the English Government and British Constitution , a perceptible ennui and lassitude seemed to pervade the meeting. On hearing "the oft-told tale," however, some of the spectators evinced their sympathy on the spot with the object of the meeting by handling in their subscriptions for the defence of the two committed for trial; and for those who came unprepared to do so, stores were named over the diggings, at which they might leave their subscriptions at their convenience. At the close of the proceedings it was announced that the Committee would meet at the Star Inn, Red Hill Flat, for the purpose of taking down in writing the testimony of M'Intyre's witnesses, relative to the burning of the Eureka Hotel, in order, as many of them could not go to town, to have their depositions read before the Judicial bench at Geelong. All of these (some half-dozen or so) tended in a stronger or lesser degree to exonerate the prisoner. At the close of the business it was found that theparties had not sufficient for the present emergency, when one young gentleman, Mr. Vern, came forward and magnanimously offered to lend the Committee the sum of £100, which was grate fully accepted, and the Committee adjourned.[12]

See also

Ballarat Reform League

George Holyoake

Andrew McIntyre

Dorothy Wickham, Revolutionaries, Radicals & Victorian Goldfields, in Pay Dirt: Ballarat & Other Gold Towns, BHSPublishing, 2019, pp. 164-171.

Further Reading

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

Australia Joint Copying Project, Entry 231, reel M392. Six letters from Horatio Holyoake and Henry Holyoake to their brother George Holyoake and to their mother dated 1854 to 1973. The letters are written from Ballarat, Blackwood and Melbourne, and describe work and life on the Victorian goldfields and comment on Victorian parliamentarians and politics. They point to the high standing of George Jacob Holyoake in Australia and the support he had received in the Argus, and contain news of family matters.[13]


  1. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  2. http://www.chartists.net/Chartists-in-Australia.htm
  3. Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  4. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  5. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  6. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  7. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  8. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  9. http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=432493.
  10. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  11. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  12. Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser, 11 November 1854.
  13. http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=432493.

External links

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