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uninteresting to my readers to hear that shortly after the siege of Delhi was brought to a triumphant issue-where, I may add, I served with the gallant 1st Bengal Fusiliers-I was summoned to Meerut to attend the wedding of the eldest Miss Forrest with Lieutenant M. Procter, one of the officers who had escaped with us from Delhi; and although the latter has long since passed over to the great majority, Mrs. Procter herself is still alive and in the enjoyment of good health. Both her sisters were also, a few years later, respectively married to Lieutenant Forbes, of the Bengal Sappers and Miners, and Captain Engledue, of the Royal Engineers; but the youngest, Mrs. Engledue, has been dead for some years. Of the officers who formed our little band of fugitives, the only representative now left alive is the writer of this memoir. E. VIBART,
Colonel late 15th Bengal Cavalry.
THE GENESIS OF GOLD-FIELDS LAW IN
THE eventful year 1851. Transportation had ceased. The squatters and farmers largely employed free labour, though the ticket-of-leave holders were very efficient workers. Cattle and sheep were plentiful and low in price, when, in the autumn, the discovery of gold in New South Wales startled the old world and the new.
Sir Charles Fitzroy, the Governor, and the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, the late Sir Edward Deas Thomson, in conversation with Mr. John Hardy, police magistrate of Parramatta, happened to state that in consequence of this surprising event and the rapid massing of populations recruited from all sources, having regard also to the disturbance of industrial relations, they were in much doubt as to their policy.
'Give me ten of the Old Mounted Police,' said Mr. Hardy. 'I will go with them to "Ophir," and guarantee to maintain order at the "diggings."
'What are your qualifications for such a post?' it was asked. 'Oh, I don't know,' replied Mr. Hardy, a resolute, original, and humorous personage; 'set a thief to catch a thief, if you like.' This unofficial answer apparently satisfied his superiors that he would be the 'right man in the right place.' And such he unquestionably was-cool, prompt, and bold-acting in difficult emergencies with that admirable firmness and discretion' which has since distinguished so many of those valuable and experienced officials-the Gold-fields Commissioners of New South Waleswho for nearly half a century have added lustre to the New South Wales Civil Service.
He received his orders, and within a week was on the road with his ten troopers and Mr. Essington King, an old friend whom, at Government House on the Queen's birthnight ball, he had invited to accompany him. Arrived at Bathurst, they found that all the magistrates, with nearly the whole able-bodied population, had gone to the diggings;' they were told that the police would have their ears cut off and suffer all manner of violent
treatment directly they showed themselves on the diggings. This 'canard' they regarded not at all.
Major Wentworth, inspector of police at Bathurst, was so anxious for their safety, that he sent ten mounted constables, in black hats and long-tailed coats, to help to protect them. However, when camped for dinner, Mr. Hardy remarked that he thought he would spare them to go back and protect Bathurst.' To which city they returned, perhaps not all unwillingly.
They reached'Ophir,' the name given to the settlement of miners, on Summer Hill creek, in the evening, camping in an adjacent gully in a truly unostentatious manner. A man was sent to the butcher to buy a sheep for supper, when they made themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, considering that they had no tent, and were without bedding of any description.
Early next morning Mr. Hardy, attended by trooper Flanagan only, went down the creek to collect licence fees. The monthly licence had been fixed at thirty shillings. He found no difficulty-nearly every man paid down his money. A party of five having declined, he sent them up to the camp to await his return. They had no money; upon which statement they were released with a warning to be ready when the Commissioners called next morning. This, of course, he did not do. Manifestly he could only get the fees from those who had the money. To commence with a prosecution would have been bad policy. Still, few escaped payment who were duly liable.
A copy is appended of the first gold licence granted in Australia.
May 24, 1851.
The bearer [Richard Roe] having paid to me the sum of one pound ten shillings on account of the Territorial Revenue, I hereby authorise him to dig, search for, and remove gold, within such Crown Lands in this County of Bathurst as I shall assign to him for that purpose during the month of May 1851. This Licence must be produced whenever demanded by me, or other person acting under the authority of Government.
(Signed) J. R. HARDY, J.P., Commissioner.
On the night of arrival a miner came to the camp to deposit a nugget for safety. After he left, Hardy and Mr. King examined. it by the fire-light with much curiosity. Was it really gold? What was its value? An old pair of scales from a medicine chest, with a half-ounce weight (Troy) was in camp. With this,
using the bullets supplied to the troopers, it was computed to weigh about eighteen ounces. Next morning the owner offered it for sale. Mr. Hardy, of course, could not purchase, being a Government officer. Mr. King, then unattached, offered him 50l., which he accepted. He sent it to Sir Charles Fitzroy to be forwarded to the Queen. This was done; and within a year afterwards her Gracious Majesty caused to be remitted the sum of 647. 108. in payment.
Mr. King remained in camp for a fortnight, buying in that time about 1,500 ounces of gold at from 21. 10s. to 3l. 58. per ounce, which he carried to Sydney in a valise, riding his famous thoroughbred hackney Comet,' and sold at a profit of 78. 6d. per ounce. It was worth more, but at that time no one knew the exact value of the gold.
He had intended to return, but, having accepted the appointment of Assistant Gold-fields Commissioner, went to the Colonial Secretary, the late Sir Edward Deas Thomson, for instructions. He gave none in detail, but authorised him to proceed to the Turon gold-field, then just discovered, to keep the peace (being already a magistrate), collect licence fees, and do generally as to him and Mr. Chief Commissioner Hardy seemed fitting. Mr. C. H. Green had been in the interim appointed to Ophir. Mr. King's was the third appointment, therefore, in a department which has since grown to be so extensive and important.
When Mr. King commenced work at the Turon (from August 1 to the end of December 1851), Mr. Hardy sent over Sergeants Bagnell and Grice, with troopers Saunders, Flanagan, McDonald, and Croker. He enlisted two aboriginals-Georgey and Billy Suttor.' The former was promoted to the rank of corporal, and, in consequence, his 'gin' was officially addressed in the camp as Mrs. Corplar Suttor.'
Commissioner King's management was eminently successful, 'for which,' he says, 'I have largely to thank these members of the "Old Mounted Police "-more particularly Sergeant Gricetheir efficiency, courage, and discretion being beyond all praise in the trying position in which they were placed.' The newly appointed ruler devised workable regulations for the division of mining claims and the maintenance of order. He granted a publican's licence to any man of decent character who would conform to a somewhat unique ukase, that the front of his building should be built of slabs that would stand pressure.' The
police thus knew the holders of licences, and could supervise their management. The miners would have grog. And surely it was wiser to permit free trade and open revelry than to wink at illegal and clandestine tippling.
Nevertheless, in such a community 'sly grog-selling' could not be extirpated wholly. A bush on the top of a tent pole meant 'spirits for sale here.' There were other secret devices-peripatetic grog-shops. Men walked through the diggings with tin vessels under their serge shirts, fitted with a cock on one side for rum, and on the other for brandy-drawing off glasses as required. When detected, these were confiscated and broken up; the owners warned that they were known to the police. Mr. King was found fault with by a member of the Legislative Council in Sydney for licensing so many public-houses, but he carried on the policy as long as he was permitted, and, under similar circumstances, though a foe to intemperance, no doubt would do it again. Many illegally equitable acts at that time were done on the Commissioner's own responsibility, but, as Mr. Wentworth said, 'Farthing damages will always protect him.' Apparently they did, as no litigants ever attempted to get any. The police broke up a cradle now and then, but only in those cases when a digger swam the Turon, and laughed at them from the other side, boldly defying authority. It might be said, 'Why not proceed against them by summons?'
For one thing, the Commissioner had no dungeon handy, nor could he afford to lose a day in punishing a single offence. This sort of thing righted itself, and with six thousand miners or more there really was very little trouble on the Turon. Mr. King remained in charge till the end of the year 1851, when he was transferred to Braidwood, having been promoted to the appointment of Commissioner for Southern Gold-fields.' Soon afterwards, the following gentlemen were appointed Assistant Commissioners: Messrs. William Johnson, Lieutenant Zouch, A. D. Broughton, H. Whitty, Hugh Hamilton, and Edward Browne, of whom Mr. King is now the only man alive.
The last half-year of 1851 was marked by strange and eventful scenes, but the Commissioners managed to collect licences and preserve order without blame from the Government or collision with the miners-no trifling matter. For, consider, they had no regulations, no Gold-fields Act, and as the whole complex system of statutory gold-fields management had yet to be