Archive for August, 2005

Probate for Thomas Wells

title years
WELLS Thomas – Kaniere – Labourer 1955 – 1955

agency series accession box / item record part alternative no.
CAIF CH300 GM1936/1955

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———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Martin Elliget <melliget@bigpond.net.au>
Date: 20-Aug-2005 13:11
Subject: Article: Immigrant experience arriving in Melbourne, 1850s
To: GENANZ-L@rootsweb.com

I came across the following article in The Times and thought it might
be of interest, particularly to those whose ancestors arrived in
Melbourne in the 1850s. It gives an insight into what they may have
experienced upon arrival.

There was discussion a few months back on possible reasons why some
newly arrived immigrants may have left Melbourne and moved to regional
towns. Some of the conditions and problems described in the article
could have played some part.

I hope the length is not a problem – thought it worth quoting in full.


Martin Elliget
Fig Tree Pocket QLD Australia

The Times, Monday, 22 Aug 1853
"The tide of immigration continues to pour into
Melbourne at a rate almost alarming. Up to the
end of 1852 the population of the province of
Victoria had more than doubled what it was
in 1851; what it will be at the close of 1853 it
would be difficult to predict. The arrivals in the
month of April have exceeded the maximum of any
month in 1852; and on the 27th ult. more than
2,400 immigrants arrived in the bay in the course
of the 24 hours. To meet this daily increasing
mass of life there is in Melbourne little or no pre-
paration; the place is fed, like a besieged city, by
supplies thrown in by distant speculation, and pro-
visions are, indeed, nearly at siege and famine
prices. As to house-room, every nook is filled;
the places of those who leave for the goldfields
are instantly occupied by new comers. Only
the more provident and better circumstanced
arrive furnished with tents, which they can pitch at
"Canvas town," or portable houses, to put up on
any patch of ground that can be obtained. The
first few days after his arrival must try the courage
of an intending settler severely; his first impres-
sions on landing can hardly be other than unfavour-
able. In this respect Melbourne differs, and greatly
to its disadvantage, from Sydney. The immigrant
arriving at the latter place sails up a beautiful bay,
locked in by well wooded hills and headlands, dotted
with handsome villas. After the monotony of the
long sea voyage, the landscape, with its evidences of
wealth and cultivation, is quite exhilarating. The
ship anchors close off the city, and in a few minutes
a boat lands him on a clean and well-built quay, and
he may find a lodging to put his head in, and get his
baggage conveyed to it for something less than
financial ruin. If his destiny is Port Phillip,
after a long passage up the bay, which,
however good as a harbour, cannot be compared
with Port Jackson for beauty, the ship anchors,
probably, off a cluster of wooden houses and
low stores, the beach in front of them strewn
with decaying bones and refuse, called Williams-
town. The boatmen of the place ply only for
extortionate and fancy prices, calculated on the
anxiety of the passenger to get ashore and the
means of transport. As nine persons out of ten
cannot pay the demand, or will not submit to what
appears to their as yet happy inexperience to be
robbery, they wait on board, for two or three hours
perhaps, till one of the Melbourne steamers makes
its circuit of the bay and brings up alongside
the ship for fares. With a full freight she starts
for the mouth of the muddy Yarra, and
glides up between flat and scrubby banks, passing
the wreck of an iron steamboat, rusting to pieces in
the show water, a few vessels taking in ballast,
and an official in uniform lying on his back by a
gum tree, watching the process, ready to pounce on
the evasive skippers, who at times abstract portions
of the Australian continent without paying for a
license. Higher up, the Yarra, not very wide any-
where, narrows in rapidly, and becomes evidently
too small for the traffic that, as yet, has no other
channel; here and there the rotting carcase of an
ox or horse on the water’s edge poisons the air
for a considerable distance, and as the new
comer begins to sight the city of Melbourne,
at the very narrowest part of the river,
there is a succession of wooden slaughter-houses,
melting-houses, and other similar establishments,
surrounded by indescribable filth, of a most patched,
rickety, and makeshift construction, and yet in full
activity. In the yards of the slaughter-houses pigs
are revelling among the garbage, dragging about
large lengths of entrails, or devouring them in a
manner that makes the stranger inwardly vow to
abstain from "dairy-fed" pork during his entire
sojourn in the colony. Through this part of the
river he had better shut his eyes, and nose, too, if
possible, and reserve himself for the landing-place,
where his real troubles will begin, especially if he has
unsuspectingly brought any luggage with him on his
first journey up. There are two landing-places, and
the steamers stop at the worst, called Cole’s Wharf. An
enormous amount of traffic has certainly been thrown
suddenly upon this spot; but, considering the re-
venue derived from it by the proprietors, something
might have been done to redeem it from being, as it
is, a disgrace and scandal to the city. Goods are
tumbled on to the bank, and the drays back up to
them to be loaded through pools of black mud, in
which they stand nearly axle-deep. Boxes, cases,
and bags (no matter what their contents) may roll
into the slush, and stay there soaking till called for.
Expensive as horseflesh is, half the power of the
animals is wasted in getting out of these pits and
the deep ruts of the roadway, which a few loads of
stones would fill and level. There is no shed to
protect goods liable to be damaged by rain. Reckless
indifference to everything but collecting the enor-
mously high freights up the river, and the still
higher rate of carriage to the city, seems to be the
rule. Combined, these charges have frequently
amounted to more, for a distance of six or seven
miles, than the freight of the goods from England.
The other landing-place, the Queen’s Wharf, is a
little higher up the river, and here the accommoda-
tion is much superior, a proof that improving is
not so impossible as represented. How the mer-
cantile men of Melbourne can quietly bear the da-
mage and expense such utter neglect must entail
on them, without strong remonstrance, is a marvel

Once clear of Cole’s Wharf, things being to
mend; you ascend into the city, and in the course
of a walk of an hour or two a better impression is
produced. The main streets of Melbourne are well
planned, wide, and regular. The houses are, of
course, very dissimilar –  a good stone or brick build-
ing often having a mean little wooden shed for
its neighbour. There are many vacant plots
of ground for building, and in good situations
they command fabulous prices, far more that would
be given for ground in the heart of London; it is
difficult to believe that these prices represent the
real values. Many lots have been bought over and
over again, not to build on – the only thing that
could make them profitable – but to sell as a specu-
lation. The original owners, or the first purchasers,
of them have netted enormous sums, but those
who bought late, calculating that such sites must
continually rise in price, may find themselves
disappointed. The most rapid progress will
not for some generations make Melbourne a
London or Paris, and the most valuable business
sites in the most populous and wealthy capitals of
the world can be purchased for less than has been
given for the same surface in Melbourne. Yet, in
Europe, labour is at hand to convert such barren
spots at once into sources of income; here they must
long remain what they are at present, mere city
wastes, deposits of rubbish, or pools of stagnant
water. The prices of land are symptomatic of a
touch of mania in this branch of speculation, and a
reaction would surprise no one but the speculators.

Of public enterprise, even to guard against im-
pending social perils, there is none; the rains of
heaven are the only scavengers of the city, and, out
of the main streets, the filth of the alleys and back
premises is excessive, there being no drains of any
kind. Much alarm, indeed, begins to be felt for the
health of the place, and with good reason, when
4,000 souls are being added to the population
weekly. But in this, as in everything else, gold
paralyzes effective exertion on a large scale, and the
very wealth of the land seems to be condemning its
capital to disease and pestilence.

The great error in the plan of Melbourne is the
disproportion between the main streets and the
lateral communications. The last have been made
much too narrow, little better than alleys. The
inconvenience is already apparent, and will be felt
more and more every year. Land has become so
valuable that it is feared the evil is now
beyond remedy. For all defects of drainage, for
the bad supply of water, the peril of a fire of
Californian magnitude without an engine in the
place, the Government, the corporation, the police,
and the authorities generally are abused; but the
people themselves, who might do so much in all
these matters, have attempted nothing. All are too
busy in the one pursuit – money-making; nor can any
improvement be expected till the place becomes less
of a camp and more of a community. The feeling of
citizenship has yet to grow up; the merchants and
shopkeepers are rather suttlers to an immense army,
suddenly thrown into the province, then patriotic
burghers. The mass of the people are strangers
to the place and to each other; the "diggings"
are not a home to any one, and the spirit that takes
men there is almost as visible at Melbourne. No
common action for a future and general benefit can
yet be organized; and it is useless to complain of
an evil that lies in the very structure of society;
time only, and the subsiding of the present feverish
excitement of the search for gold into a steady and
regular trade, can remove it. There are already in-
dications that such a change is approaching.

Some few months ago the city was far less safe
than now; but those who have resided there any
length of time do now, even at present, trust wholly
to the police. Many of them always carry arms, if
they have to be out after dark, avoid certain locali-
ties, keep the centre of the street, and answer any
inquirer of the hour, or applicant for a light
to a cigar, by the click of a pistol, and an in-
junction to the parties to keep their distance.
I cannot say I have found any precautions of
the kind necessary; but the experience of others
may as well be cited. The fact is, so completely
are the relations of society reversed here, that the
garb of a gentleman (or "swell" in the colonial
vernacular) is in itself a protection, being the badge
of poverty; he is not worth robbing; he either has
no money, or, being sober and discreet, leaves what
he may have at home. But the drunken digger,
just down from the mines with his golddust in his
belt, reeling from pothouse to pothouse, is a rich and
easy prey. He is marked out, followed, and robbed
in a systematic manner. Many a better "pocket"
of gold is picked out of a kennel in the city than
could be got by weeks of delving at Ballarat. Ex-
cept to this class, I should say the place is safe
enough, and quieter than could be expected.

The true gold mines are the publichouses at
Melbourne and the several diggings; the publicans
make large and rapid fortunes, and thousands of
pounds are freely given for the goodwill of a house
of the lowest class, the lower indeed the better, for in
them greater profits are made than in the respect-
able hotels. The diggers frequently give their gold
to the landlord, drink it out, and go back to the fields
as poor as they came. If they deposit it in a bank
the simplest forms of business are a puzzle to them;
in some case, the proffered passbook has been
indignantly refused, under an impression that it is
something equivalent to a convict’s ticket-of-
leave. It is calculated that a large amount of
gold in the Melbourne banks will never be claimed,
the depositors having drunk themselves to death, or
died by accident or disease at the mines, where
casualties are by no means rare. Those who save
their earnings, to invest in land or business here-
after, are the minority, the prudent or educated;
but fortune is capricious, and the luckiest are not
always the most deserving.

The Victoria goldfields continue to produce the
greatest quantity of the metal, and have drawn
away most of the diggers from the northern province.
There is a sameness in the accounts from all the
fields; reports of the greater productiveness of
certain spots, and the invariable rush to them from
others, complaints of the enormous prices of provi-
sions and forage, and the non-arrival of the post,
form the staple of news. The roads are in a
terrible state, and will be worse as the winter
comes on; in the same season last year 100 l.
per tone was paid for the carriage of goods from
Melbourne to the goldfields, and even the diggers
regard with apprehension the prices provisions are
likely to be there within the next few months. The
Government escort brought down to Melbourne for
the week ending the 30th of April 31,830 ounces
of gold; the average produce of what may be
called the Sydney goldfields is scarcely a fourth of
this quantity. It is alleged that the regulations of the
Sydney Government are more restrictive than
those in force in Victoria, and that they have tended
to drive people to the diggings of the latter province.
It is not certainly ascertained that the fields of New
South Wales are less rich, but fewer hands are at
work on them. The regulations in question are to
be modified in the present session of the Council,
in consequence of the representations made against
them. In his last official report to the Government
Mr. Hargreaves states his belief, that "the whole of
New South Wales is auriferous, or nearly so," and that
"the question in the colony is rather where is gold
not to be found, than where it is." He admits that
the Victoria fields are more productive, but thinks
those of New South Wales are the most extensive.
He, too, complains that the gold "has unhinged
every industrial pursuit," and that at the diggings
money has almost lost its value. At the date of his
report the Government was paying, at Bendigo, 10 1/2 d.
for every pound of hay for the horses of the escort
and police; oats were 3l.5s. a-bushel; bran, 16s.
the 20 lb.; 40s. was the cost of shoeing a horse, and
35s. a-night was charged for livery.

In the last week of April 4,000 immigrants landed
at Port Phillip, and before that the influx for the
month had reached the maximum of any previous
month; 2,400 were landed in one day. Melbourne,
already crowded, has no adequate house accommo-
dation for these multitudes, and the last accounts
describe the condition of those who land without
means as most distressing; a low fever has made
its appearance, and alarm is felt for the health of
the city. Those who arrive later in the season
will suffer still more. Those who have but
a small stock of cash will find it absorbed in a
very short time indeed. If determined to try
their chance at the diggings, they had better leave
the city as soon as possible. When they arrive at
the mines, if they can work very hard and have
good luck, they may have a bare subsistence. Mr.
Hardy, the late chief gold commissioner, states,
from his own experience, and that of many others
conversant with the whole system, that the average
earnings of the diggers do not exceed one ounce of
gold a-week; in proportion to the thousands
engaged in the pursuit those who make
large sums are few; those who succeed are
men who have had some knowledge of mining
or been used to the roughest labour. To do any-
thing, more experience is necessary than most new
comers possess. The holes are now sunk to greater
depths than when the workings began, and are
rather mines in miniature than mere excava-
tions. A hole, 70 or 80 feet deep, or even 100,
may be called a shaft; when the vein is found,
side galleries are driven under it, and the bed con-
taining the gold is removed by working from be-
neath it. These veins are followed, if rich in metal,
as far as it can be done with safety, without regard to
the limits of the claim on the surface. It is often a keen
competition between the parties in two neighbour-
ing holes which can sink to the gold vein first, so as
to undermine the other completely. and clear out
the precious deposit before his rival gets down to it.
It may be imagined what chance a party of London
shopmen or clerks have against neighbours of the
hard-handed sort to whom the work is familiar. In
works of this depth some rough kind of machinery
is also required, – boarding for the shaft and sup-
ports for the side galleries. For anything but
surface work some skill and a little capital
are necessary; the best organized parties now
generally include a carpenter and blacksmith;
and those who come out thinking that mere
digging, as the term is generally understood, will
do, will be grievously disappointed. But when
a great "find" is made, the brilliancy of the result
blinds those at a distance to the laborious nature of
the process, and the rush to the goldfields con-
tinues. A little experience cools the ardour of the
new comers considerably, and both in Melbourne
and Sydney numbers of persons are to be found who
have returned in despair to do what they had better
have done at first, – resort to ordinary labour for a
living. Those who know a trade, the skilled work-
man or mechanic, will make high wages, and un-
less he takes to drinking – the great peril – will
do well. But the condition of the many edu-
cated men, the weak gentilities, clerks, accountants,
shopmen, and those of half or no professions, who,
having no other resources, have failed at the dig-
gings, is pitiable in the extreme. There are Uni-
versity graduates in the colony breaking stones on
the road, and dashing "men upon town" driving
drays. If extremely lucky, they may get appointed
to the police; but, if they cannot descend to actual
work, they are in danger of starvation.

The following may be regarded as a sufficient
approximation to the influx and efflux of shipping
and population since the 2d of April :- Influx, –
total ships from all extra-colonial ports, 100 ships;
of tonnage, about 35,154; with passengers, about
3,472. Efflux, – total ships to all ports out of the
colony, about 96 ships; of tonnage, about 27,799;
with about 2,263 passengers. The balance of pas-
sengers has thus been more than 1,200 in favour of
New South Wales. But between this and Victoria
the balance has been in favour of the latter colony
since the beginning of April by 600 or 700, the pro-
bability being that with the whole of the difference
Sydney was, intentionally, merely a port of passage.
The above is to be understood as only an approxi-
mation, as some of the data are wanting in authen-
ticity. It may, however, aid in forming a general
estimate. In the meantime the internal transitions
from colony to colony are incessantly going on."

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———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kristy Jorgensen <krizt_ann@hotmail.com>
Date: 07-Aug-2005 00:09
Subject: Creswell site thingy
To: hugh@xtra.co.nz

Hi Hugh,

Kristy Jorgensen Webster here, you are going to get sick of me and my
sister correcting you! LOL.

Our (first) last name is spelt wrong. Not a big deal – just a minor

Hows things going anyway? How exactly are we related? I found the
family tree a wee bit confusing! Although i haven’t spent too much
time delving into it. As you would know – my nan died the other day
and we had a family reunion up in Bundaberg QLD Aus and my cousins
(Madgwicks) told us about your site – Darrell said he had punched his
name into GOOGLE and came up with your site –

When i first wrote on the site – i thought i was going to end up
dealing with some old dude who had nothing to do with our family – was
just into genealogy or something – so i might have sounded a bit nasty
– sorry if you got that impression…

We never got the chance to know our dad – so we kinda feel a strong
connection to the rest of the family cause they tell us juicy stories
about our old man – jeez he was rough…LOL

Anyway, better let you get back to it – Thanks for taking the time and
effort to put us on there – it means a lot!

Your relative in some form

Kristy Jorgensen-Webster
Queensland, Australia
Your opinion counts..for your chance to win a BMW click here

papatoetoe, new zealand

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