Life On The Job



Famous or Historic People

Peter Lalor (5 February 1827 - 9 February 1889)  PARLIAMENTARIAN

Peter Lalor

Introduction:

Peter Lalor, (born Feb. 5, 1827, Tinakill, Queen’s County, Ireland—died Feb. 9, 1889, Melbourne, Australia), Irish-born Australian leader of the 1854 gold miners’ uprising at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, Victoria, the most celebrated rebellion in Australian history; subsequently he became a politician.

Lalor was the son of a Home Rule supporter and landowner [Patrick], and he was trained as a civil engineer in Ireland. In the mass migration that followed the great Irish famine in the mid-19th century, Lalor and one of his brothers immigrated to Australia in 1852 (three other brothers went to America).

Lalor found work on the Melbourne-Geelong railway and then at the Eureka goldfield in 1853.

He joined the Ballarat Reform League, formed by miners on Nov. 11, 1854, to protest high license fees, police mistreatment, lack of representation, and shortage of land. When the league’s petition for reform went unanswered by the government, the miners organized to fight on November 30 and chose Lalor as their leader.  (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Did You Know?

The Eureka Stockade

Government troops and police stormed and ransacked the Stockade
Government troops and police stormed and ransacked the Stockade on the morning of December 3rd 1854. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

On 30 November another mass burning of licences took place at a meeting on Bakery Hill. Under the leadership of Peter Lalor, the diggers then marched to the Eureka diggings (named after the 'Eureka lead', a deep lead of gold being mined by the diggers) where they constructed the famous stockade.

The stockade itself was a makeshift wooden barricade enclosing about an acre of the goldfields. Inside the stockade some 500 diggers took an oath on the Southern Cross flag, and over the following two days gathered firearms and forged pikes to defend the stockade.

Eureka Flag
The Eureka Flag

Early in the morning of Sunday 3 December the authorities launched an attack on the stockade. Some weeks earlier the government had ordered the 12th and 40th Regiments to the goldfields to support the police troopers. The diggers were outnumbered and the battle was over in twenty minutes. Twenty-two diggers and five troops were killed. The Southern Cross flag was pulled from the flagpole and souvenired by the victors. Peter Lalor escaped the scene even though his arm had been badly injured (later requiring amputation).

On 6 December martial law was declared, and the following day a Commission into the goldfields was appointed. Thirteen diggers were committed for trial, but all were acquitted when they came to trial in February 1855. Peter Lalor avoided capture. The only person imprisoned as a result of the Eureka Stockade was the Editor of the Ballarat Times, Henry Seekamp, who was found guilty of seditious libel.

Reward for Peter Lalor

In March 1855 the Gold Fields Commission handed down its report, and the government adopted all of its recommendations. The Commission resulted in all the demands of the diggers being met. A bill was passed in 1854 to extend the franchise (the vote) to diggers possessing a miner's right costing one pound, whereas previously a six months residency and an eight pound yearly mining licence were required before a digger could register to vote. The hated Gold Commission was replaced by a system of mining wardens.

In 1855 Peter Lalor later became the first MLC (Member of the Legislative Council) for the seat of Ballarat. The Ballarat miners were given eight representatives on the Legislative Council.

The Eureka legacy

The Eureka rebellion is considered by some historians to be the birthplace of Australian democracy. It is the only Australian example of armed rebellion leading to reform of unfair laws. The Southern Cross flag has been used as a symbol of protest by organisations and individuals at both ends of the political spectrum.
(Source: Australian Government)


Lalor declined a knighthood (Source: Parliament of Victoria)

Education:

Carlton College and Trinity College, Dublin. Lalor trained as a civil engineer. (Source: Parliament of Victoria)

Experiences & Work:

Lalor was one of the first goldfield representatives, elected to the Victoria Legislative Council in 1855 and then to the Legislative Assembly (lower house) in 1856–71 and 1875–87. He served as postmaster general (1875), commissioner of trade and customs (1875, 1877–80), and speaker of the Assembly from 1880 to 1887. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

$1 coin representing Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade
2004 $1 Coin to commemorate Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade

 

Stamps
First Day Stamp Cover celebrating 150 since the Eureka Stockade showing the 50c and $2.45 stamp

The 50c stamp features a representation of the
Eureka fl ag, which at the time was called the
flag of the Southern Cross.
The flag has become a symbol of democratic
rights and freedoms and is identified as a flag of
the people. The original holds pride of place in
the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.
The Eureka flag was first fl own to rally
people to Bakery Hill on 29 November 1854,
the “Monster Meeting” of the Ballarat Reform
League. The flag represents the Southern Cross,
with white stars on a dark blue background.
The Ballarat Times reported that “there is no
flag in Europe, or in the civilised world half so
beautiful”.
The flag is constructed of very fine blue
woollen fabric with a high sheen that gives a
silk-like appearance. The cross is made of pieces
of cotton twill and the stars of fine cotton lawn.
(Source: Auspost)

The $2.45 stamp uses an image of Peter
Lalor, the man who led the diggers at the
stockade (La Trobe Collection/State Library
of Victoria).
Peter Lalor (1827 – 1889) was born in Ireland
and trained as an engineer before emigrating to
Victoria in 1852. In 1853 he left Melbourne for
the Ovens gold diggings, and in 1854 moved to
Ballarat. He joined the Ballarat Reform League
when political tension on the fields was high,
and later emerged as the leader of the diggers.
At Bakery Hill, Lalor called on the men to
swear loyalty to their new flag. He was seriously
wounded in the attack at the stockade.
He was in hiding in Geelong for a time,
but within a year he returned to Ballarat and
was elected unopposed as a Member of the
Legislative Assembly for North Grenville, a
Ballarat seat.
The stamp design also uses Lalor’s signature
and a sketch by Charles Alphonse Doudiet
(ca.1832 – 1872), a Swiss-born Canadian who
participated in the Eureka rebellion. The sketch,
Swearing allegiance to the Southern Cross 1854,
shows the diggers taking the oath on Bakery
Hill on 30 November 1854.
(Source: Auspost)

YouTube Videos

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Eureka to Speaker: Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade
(URL: https://youtu.be/1CMi5zQ2R7Q)

 

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Professor John Molony (Manning Clark) - Eureka Stockade Interview [part of the next video]

(URL: https://youtu.be/LUGr8wDv_2c)

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Eureka A defence of liberty [Full Documentary] 23 minutes

(URL: https://youtu.be/xFTuk5W4FyM)

 

 

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Links:

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Australian Dictionary of Biography

Peter Lalor
bullet.gif (981 bytes) Human Rights Coalition - Eureka

Human Rights Coalition
bullet.gif (981 bytes) ABC - Behind the News: Eureka Stockade

BTN
bullet.gif (981 bytes)Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.)

MADE
bullet.gif (981 bytes) ABC Splash: The Eureka Stockade

ABC Splash
bullet.gif (981 bytes)ABC Splash: The famous Bakery Hill speech (audio file)

Splash - Bakery Hill
bullet.gif (981 bytes)Stories from Australia's History

Stories from History
bullet.gif (981 bytes) Eureka Stockade - Australia.gov.au

Australian government

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Electronic Encyclopedia of Gold in Australia

eGold

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Victoria.org.au

Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade

bullet.gif (981 bytes) Peter Lalor - Eurekapedia

Eurekapedia


bullet.gif (981 bytes)State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria

bullet.gif (981 bytes)National Treasures

National Treasures

 

 Activities 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)BTN and Eureka Stockade Activities

PrimaryPrimary

Literacy Australian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

ICT capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: Information and communication technology (ICT) capability

1. Go to the BTN Eureka Stockade Activity booklet based on Episode 35, 3rd December 2013.

BTN Activity booklet

2. Select "Are these primary or secondary sources?" and complete the Biography of Peter Lalor.

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Eureka Stockade: Let's Draw from Song, Story and Poetry

PrimaryPrimary, MiddleMiddle & High SchoolSecondary

Literacy Australian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Go to the eurekaSydney website and view the listing there of many songs, poems and stories about the Eureka Stockade.

Centenary

2.  Select one song or poem or story - with a group of 6 - 10 students who you can work with.

3. Divide up each line of the poem etc - for example Henry Lawson's Eureka has 75 lines. If there are 10 students in your group - each person is to look at 7 lines; and, five students are to take on another line.

4. Once you have your lines, you are to draw the scene described in each line so that in the end, the poem, song or story will be illustrated visually.

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Tax Revolt or a Fight for Democracy?

High SchoolSecondary

Literacy Australian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Read the following excerpts from the 6th Annual Lalor Address in 1980 by Justice Michael Kirby

"The Tradition of Anti-Heroes

The Eureka Stockade in 1854 is celebrated today, 3 December. Yet this is a tale of a group of gold diggers who defied the legitimate authority of govern-ment. They broke the law. They refused to pay taxes. They hoisted a rebel flag over a stockade. They resisted, with arms, a body of the Queen's troops sent by the lawful government. They were defeated in the assault. In fact it was all over in a matter of minutes. Three soldiers and more than 30 diggers were killed. The leaders of the rising were tried for treason, though even in this there was an element of fiasco as each accused was acquitted.... (p4)

The Facts about Eureka

..."The dispute which broke out in the goldfields has been blamed by some upon the dishonesty of the colonial judiciary and by others on the indifference of the unelected colonial administration.
So far as the judiciary is concerned, it is said that a magistrate named Dewes wrongly, and to the outrage of the gold diggers, acquitted the owner of the Eureka Hotel of the charge of murdering a popular miner named Robie. The community denounced the magistrate Dewes. It accused him of having a financial interest in the Eureka Hotel which led him dishonestly to protect his friend the publican. The discontent of the community at the injustice of the magis-trate's action led, on 19 October 1854, to a large assembly burning the Eureka Hotel to the ground. Later, Mr Dewes was removed from office and his conduct criticised as

tending to subvert public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Bench.

...The hotel proprietor was also charged and convicted of the manslaughter of Scobie, the digger. In a sense, the law responded to the community's demand that its procedures should be impartial and just and that guilty men should be brought to trial and punished.
The unrest which arose out of the Scobie murder on 6 October lasted to the Stockade itself. The flames of the Eureka Hotel were easily rekindled at the Stockade. The gold diggers were inflamed by an attempt of the Governor to enforce a licence fee resented as unjust, unequal and unfairly imposed.
The injustice of the fee was that it fell equally on miners, whether or not they discovered gold. The inequality of the fee was that it fell heavily on miners whilst the landed squatters paid little or no tax. It was unfairly imposed because English liberties had been founded on the constitutional principle that there should be no taxation without Parliamentary representation."(p6)


2. Listen to this audio from ABC's Radio National where Dr Anne Beggs-Sunter, historian, discusses the Bakery Hill speech.


ABC Splash: The famous Bakery Hill speech (audio file)



Splash - Bakery Hill

3. Look at the videos (above).

4. Hold a debate -



"Was the Eureka Stockade a Tax Revolt or a Fight for Democracy?"

 

 

Life on the Job

Connect with Historian, Dr Clare Wright and her book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka

 

 

 

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