Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the gold mania of the 1850s


Caption: "Landing Gold from 'The Australian' steam ship, in the East India Docks".
Illustrated London News 22 January 1853

Captain Edward Goldsmith was elected by ballot to the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on 17th December, 1851. His donation of  a specimen of gold from Central America was recorded by the Royal Society in January 1852.

Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land
Vol.II, Part I. January 1852 Tasmania
Source: Smithsonian Institution Museum Library

Captain Goldsmith presented a fine specimen of gold upon an indurated
ferruginous clay, brought by himself from Central America, where it was
obtained at an elevation of about 3000 feet, in 13° North.

Extract from the Illustrated London News, 2nd October 1852

THE LARGEST VAN DIEMEN'S LAND NUGGET. - The Messrs Stevens have returned from the Fingal diggings, with a small nugget, weighing seven grains, value one shilling; it is, however, the largest lump found in this colony. If we receive the testimony of Messrs. Stevens, not only one, but hundreds of nuggets will be found - the inference is just, the deduction is clear. We believe it is just probable the diggers have been working at the fag end of the range - being about twenty miles too far to the southward. This specimen of Van Diemen's Land gold was picked up at Stanfield's Nook, about fourteen miles from Avoca. We have heard a gentleman say, whose geological acquirements are considerable, and whose judgment is not likely to be biassed by the excitement of the gold mania, that the precious metal will be found in large quantities, and probably in a few weeks, and that great changes may be anticipated in the moral and social position of this colony, from the reaction that will take place, and the stimulus that will be given to industry. Australian and New Zealand Gazette.

No. 5 Derwent
Stamped on verso Melbourne Public Library
Date: ca. 1865
State Library of Victoria Ref: 1728676

Gold to London on the Derwent: Hobart Courier, 21 July 1853

The brig Lion, Captain Odgar, arrived from London, on Tuesday. She left in March, and is consigned to Mr. Crookes. She brings neither mail nor passengers.
The Derwent, from Hobart Town, with wool and gold, arrived in London on 3rd May.
Offers were made by the Gold Exploration Committee for subscriptions to encourage diggers with a reward to defray costs.

Local Intelligence.

A MEETING convened by the promoters of the Gold Discovery Reward was held at Mezger and Basstian's, on Thursday afternoon, at three o'clock. There was a good attendance on the occasion, and amongst those present we observed Messrs. T. D. Chapman, M. L. C, Maning, J. Foster, C. Toby, A. Orr, L. Roope, J. Degraves, R. Worley, Huxtable (2), H. Rowcroft, J. A. Thompson, J. Price, E. H. Ivey, Captain Goldsmith, Dr. Crooke.

On the motion of Messrs. Roope and Foster, T. D. CHAPMAN Esq., M. L. C, was called to the chair. The object of the meeting was briefly stated by the chairman to be, to take into consideration certain resolutions, which had been prepared on the previous day by a number of gentlemen interested in the discovery of gold in this colony. It was proposed that a sum of £1500 should be raised by subscription, for the purpose of fitting out exploring parties under efficient leaders: the persons undertaking the search stipulating to return the money advanced for their expenses, in case the £15,000 were awarded to them. Dr. CROOKE proposed the following resolution:—
"That this meeting, taking into consideration the difficulties attendant upon inducing exploring parties to go out in search of a Workable Gold Field at their own expense: and looking to the fact that the large reward does not seem sufficient of itself to overcome this difficulty considers it desirable that a Subscription List should be opened to raise the sum of £1500, to defray the cost of fitting out a few eligible exploring parties."
In support of this resolution, the speaker addressed the meeting at considerable length, discussing the question in all its bearings—geological, political, physical, moral. He stated that he had much pleasure in taking part in the movement at the present juncture, because he thought that the discovery of gold would advance the material, whilst it would not injure the moral interests of Van Diemen's Land. The former search for gold had failed through the superior attractions which the mines of Victoria and New South Wales presented to enterprise. Persons preferred to visit gold fields positively known, than to attempt to discover others, the existence of which, was at least uncertain. But at the same time, he had not heard doubt expressed as to the existence of a rich and workable gold field in the colony. The mercantile and trading community profited, as well as the mere gold digger, in the rich productiveness of the gold fields on the other side of the channel; and whilst therefore this colony reaped considerable advantage from the gold fields, without any of the social inconveniences which a closer neighbourhood was supposed to entail, no wonder that there was considerable apathy as to the discovery of the precious metal nearer home, and that the imperfect search for it had been fruitless. But circumstances had materially changed. The diminution in the periodical return of gold diggers originally from Van Diemen's Land arising from the attractions offered in Victoria for permanent settlement, and in some cases from the operation of the Convicts' Prevention Bill, the decrease in the importation of gold—and the depressed value of Van Diemen's Land produce at Victoria; all these circumstances contributed to diminish the advantage that had accrued to the colony from the discovery of gold in Victoria, and New South Wales, and led to increased desire for its discovery here. It was therefore an opportune moment for the attempt about to be made. He then proceeded to show by reference to the pub-lished works of Clarke, Strzelecki, and from the experience of many practical men who had visited various auriferous districts in this colony—that there were two ranges of gold-bearing rock, running due north and south, having for their culminating points, Ben Lomond and the Frenchman's Cap, towards which the search should be particularly directed.

Mr. HORACE ROWCROFT seconded the motion. It was proposed by Mr. ORR and seconded by Captain GOLDSMITH
"That a committee be appointed to receive applications from persons desirous of engaging in the search, to select such applications as they may deem most desirable, and otherwise to carry out the objects of this meeting. That the following gentleman being subscribers, be requested to act as the committee:—Mr. Whitcomb. Mr. Maning, Dr. Crooke, Mr. Rowcroft, and Mr. Roope, three of them to form a quorum, and that John Dunn, Esq., Junr., be requested to act as Treasurer."
After some discussion, in the course of which it was suggested that some gentlemen practically acquainted with the requirements of the case and the country to be explored, should be placed upon the committee the name of Mr. James A. Thomson (who is well acquainted with the district of country said to be auriferous; was added to the list, and in this form the resolution passed with one dissentient — Mr. Regan — who bluntly stated that he objected to Mr. Thomson.
It was proposed by Mr. J. A. THOMSON, seconded by Mr. S. MOSES, and carried unanimously—
"That any one or more of the exploring parties proving successful in the search, and obtaining the Reward, shall return the amount expended by the Committee not exceeding the sum of Fifteen Hundred Pounds; to be re-paid to the Subscribers."
At the suggestion of the Chairman, Mr. Roope and Dr. Crooke undertook the duty of canvassing for subscriptions. About £180 were subscribed in the room, and after the usual compliments to the chair-man, the meeting separated.
Source: The Courier, Hobart, Friday, 9 December 1853 page 2 General Intelligence


Map of the Den gold fields and Ifracombe iron deposits, Tasmania
Creator: Piguenit, W. C. (William Charles), 1836-1914
Title: Map of the Den gold fields and Ifracombe iron deposits, Tasmania / W.C. Piguenit, del, ; A. Randall, litho Call Number MAP RM 1733
Created/Published [Hobart : Geological Survey, 1880?] Extent 1 map : col. ; 54.7 x 44.0 cm. Archives Office Tasmania

1854: appeal for Mrs Baily
Captain Edward Goldsmith's generosity in mounting appeals for public subscriptions to help women and their families to return to England when their husbands were terminally incapacitated or deceased was widely appreciated. In 1842 he raised a public subscription for charitable donations to aid Captain John Biscoe and family to return with him on board the Janet Izzat.  There were probably many more instances of offers of  a subsided passage on board his return voyages to London. In June and July 1854, in conjunction with the offertory funds of St Davids' and Trinity Churches, Captain Goldsmith launched an appeal to aid Mrs Baily and her six children to return to England. According to this record, her husband J. A. Baily had departed Hobart on 16th October 1852, never to be heard from again.

Archives Office Tasmania
Name: Baily, J A
Record Type: Departures
Rank: Cabin
Departure date: 16 Oct 1852
Departure port: Hobart
Ship: Dart
Bound to: Geelong
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:519302
Resource: CUS36/1/141

So, in June and July, 1854, this appeal to assist Mrs Baily and her six children return to England appeared in the Hobart Courier. It concerned the disappearance of her husband, Mr J. A. Baily "for sixteen years a Clerk in the Probation Department" (i.e. in VDL/Tasmania) who had departed Hobart on board the Dart for Geelong in October 1852, bound for the Californian goldfields. The notice stated that it was almost certain he had perished with "a party of Mexicans whom he joined in a mining expedition".

Captain Goldsmith's appeal for Mrs Baily
Source: Hobart Courier 14th July 1854

It was at Captain Edward Goldsmith's suggestion that a public subscription be raised to aid Mrs Baily and family. He had donated £5 to the subscription fund and organised the passage for them on board the barque Cornhill. If they did depart on the Cornhill, which cleared out on 7th July 1854, they must have been the eight persons sailing in steerage, as only cabin passengers were named in this notice of 7th July):

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) Fri 7 Jul 1854 Page 2 Shipping Intelligence.

John Nevin snr at the Californian Goldfields
Gold fever had affected the family of photographer Thomas J. Nevin as well. His father, John Nevin snr, ventured to California soon after emigrating with his wife Mary Ann Dickson and their four children, to Tasmania in 1852 when Thomas, the eldest, was just 10 years old. In this poem by John Nevin snr, published in 1868, he says he left Tasmania, which would have been in the first years after his arrival in 1852, to seek his fortune in the Californian gold mines. The life there was not for him: "the rover" returned to "Tasman's sea girt Isle", to his children (Thomas James Nevin, William John aka Jack Nevin, Mary Ann Nevin and Rebecca Jane Nevin) and his "partner" (Mary Ann Dickson) who "reclaims" him. His return was to Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley, Hobart), still very much a wilderness in the northern foothills of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, where he was registered as resident schoolmaster by 1854.

"My Cottage in the Wilderness" by John Nevin, 1868. Mitchell Library NSW
Photo © KLW NFC 2009 Arr.

My Cottage in the Wilderness

Tir'd at last of Ocean dangers
I've sought and found a lone retreat,
Oft in youth deceiv'd by strangers
My home is now where friends may meet.
In a Vale by woods surrounded,
Romantic scenes I must confess, -
A rural building I have founded,
My cottage in the wilderness'

From the top of yonder mountain
Murmuring comes a rivulet,
Clear as Eden's sparkling fountain,
With crystal waves cheer beget.
How fair to view the wattle blossom,
When spring the glade does sweetly dress;
Once no doubt the wild Oppossum
Stray'd fearless through this wilderness,

Lands by labor long neglected
Too soon become a waste again,
But industry well directed
Reclaims at length the sterile plain.
Toils have not been unavailing,
My efforts crown'd with great success,
Defend'd by a row of pailing
My cottage in the wilderness.

In early life I sought for treasure
In the Californian Mines;
Tempted oft to ease and pleasure,
And the treacherous gamblers wines;
There no lov'd one strove to cheer me,
No smiling prattlers to caress,
Or friendly hand when sick, was near me,
No cottage in the wilderness.

Now those freaks of youth are over,
Return'd to Tasman's sea girt Isle,
A partner now reclaims the rover,
And youngsters cluster round the while,
In solitude and peace we slumber,
Far from the City's wild excess,
No faithless friend home shall cumber,
My cottage in the wilderness.

We can view the Derwent flowing
List to its noiseless current by,
Or at times the fleet skiff rowing
Beyond my cottage windows high;
Flowers bloom around my dwelling,
And creeping vines its wall shall dress,
Secure when tempests round are swelling
My cottage in the wilderness.

No more t'face dark Ocean's billow,
At set of sun, I'll seek repose,
Yet not on a strangers' pillow,
My eyes in gentle sleep shall close.
Here all my days, I'll spend in quiet,
While Providence my home shall bless,
Far from tumult noise and riot,
My cottage in the wilderness.

Kangaroo Valley, April, 19, 1868.

RELATED POSTS main weblog

On board the "City of Hobart" 31st January 1872