Monday, July 28, 2014

Diary of a gold digger

Unidentified man, photographed by William Mariner Bent at Bendigo, circa 1870.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria collection. H2007.44/24
I visited the library of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria on a quiet Friday afternoon to read the 'Diaries of Edward J. Mallandain', which included an account of the voyage of the Panama from :London to Melbourne in 1852.   This had been extracted and transcribed by Charles Mallandain.  Whether Charles M had imposed his own construction on the events of the voyage of the Panama is difficult to say ( had he left out all the interesting bits about musical interludes that I was keen to read?) but apparently Edward's on-board pre-occupations were largely to do with rows between the other passengers, and noting all the bible services on the poop deck, followed by a declaration that he didn't attend.  He mentioned only a few fellow-passengers by name, and even then, usually by initials, and nothing at all about any dance or musical parties.

The difficulties he experienced in getting himself and his good on shore are nothing short of a disgrace, and it was amazing to see how badly the passengers were treated at the end of the voyage.  It was not explained why this happened, but it was a very lengthy period of over a week after arriving in Hobsons Bay that the ship docked and allowed cargo to be removed - by which time Mallandaine had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to have his unloaded while the ship was still anchored out in the bay.

Mallandaine was certainly prepared to work hard with a pick and shovel, and his efforts with these were mainly rewarded when he got to the goldfields.  On Sunday 19 December 1852 while in camp at Bendigo he "received visits of Bennett, Fielden, Griffith, Clark re Fryers Creek & Co".  He showed his gold to them.

Whether the visitors were all shipmates from the Panama I cannot say  - PROV and its passenger lists is temporariy unavailable this evening - but even if they are, there is no clue to say whether or not that Griffith was my ancestor.

However, I enjoyed reading the manuscript, so I was glad to have spent the time on it.





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