Colony of Victoria.Miner's Right. Issued to Robert [illegible] under the provisions of the Act of the Governor and Council, 18 Victoria, No. 37, to be in force until 16 March 1859 MJ Smith Not Transferable.
Licence printed on vellum, with vignettes including royal coat of ams. Signed by the Commissioner and completed and dated in ink 17th March 1858. 195 x 220mm. 7¾ x 8½". Folds as normal.
A very rare surviving licence for gold mining issued in Castlemaine district, Victoria, Australia. Numbered 'No. 38', and priced '£1'. In 1851 gold was discovered near Ballarat, and subsequently at Bendigo. Later discoveries occurred at many sites across Victoria. This triggered one of the largest gold rushes the world has ever seen. The colony grew rapidly in both population and economic power. In ten years the population of Victoria increased sevenfold from 76,000 to 540,000. All sorts of gold records were produced including the 'richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world' and the largest gold nugget. Victoria produced in the decade 1851-1860 20 million ounces of gold, perhaps as much as one third of the world's output. Castlemaine was established during the gold rush. In September, 1851, three shepherds and a bullock driver discovered gold in Specimen Gully, about 5 km northeast of present-day Castlemaine. Within a month the alluvial bed of Forrest Creek was being worked with 8,000 miners on the field by the end of the year, and 25,000 by March 1852. The gold license system caused considerable unrest on the diggings. It was regarded as a tax and greatly resented since it was applied regardless of the success or failure of the digger. However, the gold commissioners and Police known as ‘traps’ enthusiastically policed the goldfields, checking on licenses and arresting and fining the unfortunate diggers who could not produce them. The Police ‘licence hunts’ were often brutal, corrupt, unfair and inefficient. These license hunts came to symbolise the government’s oppression of the diggers and directly led to major protests on goldfields in Sofala in 1852, Bendigo in 1853 and the Eureka Rebellion in 1854. A year after the Eureka Rebellion the gold license was replaced by a Miner’s Right like this one which cost one pound a year for the right to dig and also entitled the owner to vote in parliamentary elections.
[Ref: 9147] £1,250.00