Saturday, May 24, 2014

Return to Melbourne, circa 1863-1865

Beechworth, c 1922, showing the Bank of Victoria centre right. From the family collection.
The above photo postcard of Beechworth is annotated on the back with "Taken 66 years after other card 1922".  The two storey stone building to the centre right was built in 1867 for the Bank of Victoria, at 29 Camp St, corner of Ford St.  The Bank of Victoria amalgamated with the CBC in 1927.  Someone made a sentimental return to Beechworth - perhaps Mary Jane, born there in 1857.

The building in the right foreground is interesting.  It has the look of an old hotel, but from Camp Street, when looking via Google Maps, the building has a narrow shop front and the verandah only along the front and Ford Street side. Does anyone know what this building was?

We are almost done with the Ovens goldfields - I am waiting on one more reference.  By 1865 the Griffiths had returned to Melbourne.  They'd spent about ten years in the chaotic life of the goldfields, but now the easy surface gold was gone and deep lead mining was replacing the panning and winnowing of the old days.  Economic times were hard.  The population on the goldfields began to drift back to Melbourne, or buy landholdings and turn their efforts to farming.

George and Susan returned to Melbourne with their three little girls - Mary Jane, Ann Catherine and Louisa -  leaving two little boys in the Beechworth Cemetery, it seems in unmarked graves.   Mary Jane, who turned five in August 1862 had probably started school in 1863.

Did they return to Melbourne with a nice sum in a Bank of Victoria account, or had their fortunes declined with the goldfields?  That is a question that would warrant some investigation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Another daughter, 1863

"The Cottage Girl; or, the Marriage-Day. By the author of “The Gipsey Bride,” etc., etc. [i.e. Mary Bennett.], London 1867. Courtesy of the British Library Photostream.
In June 1863 the Griffiths added a third little girl to their brood.  The two little boys had died as infants.  The births index shows that the daughter, Louisa, was born at Beechworth.  Together with the performance with the Beechworth Philharmonic Society the next month, this may indicate the Griffiths had moved back to Beechworth from Chiltern.  It is hard to say without a copy of the certificate.

Beechworth Philharmonic Society, 1863

'To Gipsyland ... Illustrated by J. Pennell', London, 1893.  Courtesy of the British Library Photostream.

A long-winded article in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser, evidently paid for by the word, didn't really tell us much about the concert, but that the Philharmonic Society was an amateur organisation which made enthusiastic attempts to play classical pieces.  They were supported by three professional musicians, Herr Schmidt on the violin, Mr Griffiths on the violin, and Mr Ruxton on the piano

"[N]o notice of the Concert would be complete without mention being made of Herr SCHMIDT's exquisite performance on the violin, and the manner in which he has instructed his pupils. Mr Griffiths and Mr Ruxton also deserves much praise for their masterly execution on the violin and  piano. We, unfortunately, were not present at the 'First Part,'- but MOZART's Twelfth Mass is decidedly the very best selection that could have been made by amateurs,-— the one in fact that is generally attempted by non professional associations. We hear it was admirably rendered, and to judge from the subsequent successes, we should think the applause which it called down was well  deserved. -We wish all prosperity to our Philharmonic Society, and feel convinced that it will exert a powerful influence, both morally and socially, in Beechworth."
 The Ovens and Murray Advertiser. (1863, July 4). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

Henri William Ruxton is described in Graeme Skinner's Austral Harmony as " late member of the Philharmonic Society, Liverpool". Ruxton is interesting because not only was he from the Liverpool area, but he gave Wilkie in Melbourne as a referee when he advertised in Melbourne as a music teacher in 1853.

Herr Schmidt may have been the viola player, active in Ballarat in 1859 according to Austral Harmony.

A New Baby Girl, 1861

"Baby May, Home Poems and Ballads", by William Cox Bennett, 1875, p 8. From the British Library Flickr Photostream.

A fourth child and second daughter was born to Susan and George Griffith in 1861. Her name was Ann Catherine.  The birth appears not to have been registered - it doesn't appear in the Pioneers Index of births, but the index of marriages gave her birthplace as New South Wales.   The birth did not appear in the NSW Index of Births either, and eventually curiosity got the better of me and I purchased Ann's marriage record to see if it named a town in NSW.  It turned out to be "Chilton (sic), New South Wales".    Clearly Ann didn't know what state Chiltern was in, so far from having moved on to another rush in NSW, the Griffiths were still in Chiltern in 1861.

In 1880 Ann Catherine Griffith married Alfred Tarrant. It was interesting to see that both of the fathers' occupations were recorded as 'musician'.  Alfred's father was John Tarrant of Fitzroy.  By this time the Griffith family was living in Fitzroy, George having died there two years earlier.  

Annie was only 23 when she died, and she was buried with her father at the Melbourne General Cemetery.  Her name appears on the memorial stone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

St Patrick's Day, 1860

St Patrick's Day in Melbourne, circa 1881.  Courtesy of the Station Library of Victoria Collection.  IAN06/04/81/73

ST. PATRICK'S DAY.-Chiltern, can not, on this occasion at least, boast of having perpetuated the memory of the celebrated Saint in anything approaching the style so characteristic of St. Patrick's Hall, in Melbourne. There were none of those exciting scenes so common among the boys of the Emerald Isle on such joyful occasion. The event of the evening was the gathering at Keay's Suffolk Hotel. There the celebrated violinist Mr. Griffith, accompanied by Mr. Langemezar on the harp, enlivened the proceedings by their animating performances - there was also a fair sprinkling of ladies, who lent their charms to the evening's amusement. The inclemency of the weather and the darkness of the night, prevented many from attending, never the less a tolerable muster of the brave sons of ould Ireland complied with the invitation of Mr Keay's to roll up on Saint Patrick's night. Dancing was kept up with great spirit to a late hour, and whilst those who liked it were  "shaking the dust from the floor," many ardent spirits were pledging  the  memory of the patron Saint in bumpers full to overflowing, altogether the evening passed off very cheerfully. 

SYDNEY. (1860, March 20). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

Grand Winter Ball At Chiltern, 1860

Star Theatre, Conness St. Chiltern, 1973. J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

THE GRAND WINTER BALL AT CHILTERN.-This event, which excited so much emulation among the fair daughters of our community, came off on Thursday evening last in the Star Theatre, Chiltern. The spacious room was tastefully decorated with evergreens and blossoms arranged so that the colours relieved each other admirably, and imparted a most pleasing effect. The stage was tranferred into a refreshment saloon, the entrance to it being up a few steps and under a triumphant arch constructed with evident pains and good taste; immediately over the archway were blended the British and American colours, the floor was covered with rich carpetting, and easy seats were provided ; altogether the saloon looked elegant and inviting. Dancing commenced about ten o'clock;   the orchestra, which was placed at the opposite end of the room from the stage, consisted of Mr. Austin Saqui, piano; Mr. Griffiths, violin; Jenkins, the celebrated drummer, and part of the brass band from Butler's Eagle Hotel, a triangle was also added, and it was admitted that the music was altogether unexceptionable. About 250 ladies and  gentlemen were present and an animating scene it was. Such a brilliant assemblage of the fair never before graced a hall in this part of the district. The supper, which was prepared under the immediate superintendence of Mr. Graff, comprised every delicacy of the season, prepared and served, up in a style which would do credit to Mr. Soyer himself. The Billiard- room was devoted to the supper, about 100 were seated at a time, the tables being replenished plentifully for each relay of guests, and everyone seemed highly delighted with everything and everybody around. The liquids were of excellent quality, none of your spurious brands, but the genuine article in its sparkling purity. The ready attention paid by the waiters to everyone at the table, is also worthy of note. Altogether it was a most successful affair. It is due to the Stewards to add that the evening passed without, a single occurrence to mar the general happiness and enjoyment of the assembly. The only complaint we have heard in reference to the ball is that of a colored gentleman, who was induced to spend £15 on a ball-dress for a lady, and £12 in a dress for himself, before he ascertained  that the stewards had discretionary power and would not admit him. The lady, of course, found another cavalier and sported the dress to advantage. We must add, in conclusion, that   Messrs. Kidd and Werthiem's spirited conduct in getting up the ball on such   a liberal scale well merited the approbation and support accorded them on the occasion. 

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE. (1860, August 18). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from

The Star Theatre still stands in Chiltern.

Austin Saqui was a pianist and band leader, active in Beechworth from 1855, according to Austral Harmony.   He later became a bookmaker and racehorse owner.

Jenkins, the celebrated drummer, may have been the sax-tuba player from an earlier ensemble with which George played.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Another Child Lost, 1859

This photo gives a view of the old part of the Beechworth Cemetery in about 1875.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.  H2005.34/515; H2005.34/515A.
George and Susan lost their little fellow George at the age of 7 months and 1 week, on 2 October 1859.  The certificate states that the death occurred at Silver Creek, and he was buried on the same day at Beechworth.  There are no extant burial records for the Beechworth Cemetery in this period, so it is impossible to say whether he was buried with his older brother Edward George, or popped into the grave of an adult being buried that day. 

The doctor John C Dempster gave the cause of death as acute hydrocephalus, from which the children had suffered for one week.  The symptoms would be headaches, vomiting, sleepiness and seizures.  In infants the head could swell because of the buildup of fluid.  The cause may have been congenital, or acquired by disease or injury.  The available records don't allow us to know the cause.  Dr Dempster had last seen the child the day before its death.  Dempster was based in Beechworth, and it is possible that the child was brought from Chiltern to see him, which would explain why the death occurred at Silver Creek.  They would probably have had friends there.

The witnesses were W R or W K Lyon, and C Bennett, and the service Church of England.

Susan and George returned to Chiltern with their little girl, now aged just over two years.

Independence Day on the Goldfields, 1859


While it would not be true to say that the American Day of Independence was a huge celebration on the Ovens goldfield, it would be true to say that most mining settlements had one hotel willing to cash in on the celebration.  At Chiltern it was Butler's Eagle Hotel, and George Griffith was the band leader for the Grand Ball and Supper laid on. 

Monday, 4th July, 1859.


HAS much pleasure in announcing to the  inhabitants of New Ballarat [ie, Chiltern] and its vicinity, that he intends giving a GRAND BALL and SUPPER, at the above mentioned  place on the 4th of July, to commemorate the American Declaration of Independence. He hopes that the liberal patronage which he has hitherto enjoyed will be extended to him on this occasion, and nothing shall be wanting on his part to ensure those who attend of a good evening's amusement.

A Good Band engaged.


Open at half-past 7; Dancing to commence at 8 o'clock.

Ticket to admit a Lady and Gentleman, 10s.6d.

Advertising. (1859, July 4). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

(From our own Correspondent.)


Somewhat of the genuine old Indigo spirit was seen on the New Ballarat Lead, on Monday last. Uncle Sam's son's are not so numerous here as they are on some of the older gold-fields, which may account for the absence of any great public display on the fourth of July; but the few among us had the usual amount of jollification ; and Mr Butler, of the Eagle Hotel, had a grand ball and supper to commemorate the Declaration of American Independence.

This entertainment was well attended, and passed of with considerable eclat. A ball at New Ballarat cannot be compared with one of your Beechworth assemblies. We cannot muster the same amount of satin, and swallow-tails, and therefore may be said to be behind you; but, on the other hand, we are still happily ignorant of the class known as your Beechworth  aristocracy—the class who think the best way of shewing their elevation is to look down on all who may earn their bread by their labour, more especially if the unfortunate individual happens to be one of the softer sex. Here, with all the faults and blemishes of our society, there is a sort of glorious, independent, "Jack's as good as his master" sort of a style of living, which fails to recognise the man or woman who may have the command of money as anything more than what they prove themselves and nothing gives us more amusement than to hear of some exhibitions which your parvenus make of themselves. But I was talking of the ball at Mr. Butler's, which was a success in every sense of the word. The supper, which was under, the superintendence of Mr. Butler; the dancing conducted by Mr Stanley, who officiated as M.C.; and the music under the superintendence of Mr. Griffiths, were all equally deserving of praise, and reflected great credit on all concerned. Dancing was kept up till late in the morning, and the company dispersed highly gratified with themselves and with everybody else.

INDIGO. (1859, July 8). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

And back to Court, April 1859

The Magistrates in a detail from [Courtroom Scene] by Charles Lyall, circa 1854, courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.  H87.63/2/7B

Wednesday, April 6th, 1859,
(Before J. P. Morphy, Esq, J. P. and
Dr. Beckett, J. P.)

Annie O'Keefe v George Griffiths.
Claim for £3 15 0 for work and labour done.

Annie O'Keefe, sworn, deposed. Am a single woman, and live at Beechworth. About four months ago I entered into the services of the defendant, at the rate of 25 s. per week. I left him about seven weeks since. I gave him notice of my intention to leave ; he consented to it. He paid me all, but the last three weeks, amounting to £3 15 0. I asked him for the money on Monday last ; he said he could not pay it till his place was furnished.

To the defendant. I did not get £3 the day I went to Beechworth.

Susan Griffiths, sworn, stated. Am a married woman, and live at Indigo. A fortnight before the complainant left I gave her £3, which left a balance of 10s. against her She was in my service a fortnight afterwards ; there is a balance of £2 coming to her.

Order for £2, with costs.  

INDIGO POLICE COURT. (1859, April 7). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

The servant got her money, though only what the Griffiths' said they owed her, but they also paid the costs. 

It is interesting to see that the Griffiths could now keep a servant.  Annie O'Keefe had joined them in the previous December, when Susan was seven months pregnant and with a toddler at foot.  It seems likely she was employed to help with the housekeeping, and possibly in the dance-hall.

New Babe at Indigo, 1859

"Fifty “Bab” Ballads", by W S Gilbert, 1877.  Courtesy of the British Library's Photostream.
 Within days of the end of the Sly Grog court hearings towards the end of February, Susan gave birth to a baby boy, whom they called George Griffith.  Mary Jane was a toddler of 19 months at this time.


Conness St, Chiltern, c 1908.  H90.140/948 Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


George Griffith v Wm. Chadwick.;— Complaint for using abusive language.

George Griffiths deposed: On Friday called defendant to my place and told him that if he allowed his wife to make use of such bad language I would summon him. He then used very abusive language.

A musician residing in Griffith's house corroborated foregoing evidence.             

Fined 40s. -and costs.

INDIGO POLICE COURT. (1859, January 19). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

George had a busy month with one thing and another -several appearances at the Indigo Police Court, for one thing.  Whether William Chadwick's wife had been using abusive language towards Griffith himself, or perhaps to his wife, is not clear, but it is good to see him upholding a high standard of behaviour in his establishment.  It is worth noting, however, that it was only 12 months since Griffith himself had been charged with using threatening language, and bound over to keep himself nice for the next twelve months.

One would like to know whom the musician was who was residing with the Griffiths.  Barlow?  Zeplin, perhaps?

Laying Informations!

"Chiltern, f. the Nord", by Eugene von Guerard, courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales Collection.


On Tuesday the two worthies, Carroll and Bassett, broke down fearfully. Although they had three informations then before the Court, they failed in sustaining even one of them, and were positively unable to raise the price of their nobblers from the revenue. This is a sad condition of things, and will not administer by any means to the lively hopes which the renowned Carroll and his comrade entertained on coming to these diggings in the respectable garb of informers and spies. Three failures in succession, upon one day are rather serious. To be disbelieved three times, even upon oath, is a matter somewhat damaging. If it be possible that an informer has a character to sustain, these constitute a series of mishaps which serve to remove any little traces of it that may perchance be found to remain.

When they went to Connor's at a quarter past ten at night, Carroll seems to have been thoroughly disguised. He wore moustachios, had on a grey shirt, and made himself appear as like a working man as hirsute appendages and toggery could do in that respect. His compatriot, Bassett, all the way from the shores of Italy, was equally well decked out, in a garb fashioned to disarm suspicion. He was dressed in a pair of white trowsers and a blue shirt. On the day they visited Connor's they seem to have done a stroke of business of no inconsiderable extent. They laid six informations that day. The one with his moustachios and the other in his pair of white ducks, took a quiet afternoon's ramble, looked in at ball-rooms, lolled upon sofas, admired the dances, very possibly passed a flattering opinion upon the young ladies who were careering in the waltzes, toppled off a couple of nobblers of brandy—dark brandy they seem to admire—took a moonlight walk to the Camp, and forthwith lodged their informations.

Pleasant life this ! Carroll likes it amazingly. He says it is much easier than that of the labouring business he was engaged in formerly. Bassett, in broken English, declares that it is a capitally "agree-a-bel '' mode of raising the wind, and that he means to write home a letter by the next mail to some of his relatives—the lazzaroni of Rome —to tell them of the good fortune which awaits them should they come out to Australia, and follow the occupation to which he has devoted his future fame.

To be sure the smash of Tuesday has served to darken the prospects of both these gentlemen, for not only did they fail in the case of Connors, but also in that of Prost, and also again in that of Griffiths. In the latter case they struggled hard for a conviction. They made a desperate effort to bag the £5 note ; but their failure was most signal. Carroll swore that the words, " Music Hall, George Griffiths, " were painted on the window, on the night they visited the establishment, whereas Bartlett, who painted the sign, distinctly deposed that the word 'music' only had been painted at the time, and that the other words were subsequently added. This was a floorer for Mr. Carroll, and he never recovered his legs since. He seems, however, to have had the use of his feet on the night he visited Griffiths ; for he admitted he entered the ball-room, tripped the light fantastic toe, and whirled round and round with one of the ladies, before he thought proper to toss off the nobbler that was to subject the landlord to the fine of £50.

It seems to us that these Informers have made a finish of it in this district, for, after three failures in succession, they cannot stand. The two gentlemen,—the strange co-partnership of the Irishman with the Italian had better dissolve, and the one having flourished his shillelagh to little purpose, and the other having used his stilletto to small advantage, they might as well place their respective' weapons upon the shelf, and betake them selves to some respectable line of livelihood in a distant part of the colony.

Since writing the above, we are happy to learn that Carroll and Bassett have taken their departure from amongst us for Beechworth. At two o'clock on Thursday the last of these memorable gentlemen was seen at the Camp. For some days previously they had been employed in sinking a well at the rear of that establishment—a sort of pleasant recreation which imparted an appetite—but the total break-down of their cases on Wednesday caused them speedily to decamp. Had the final departure of two such fashionable gentle men been generally known, doubtless some hundreds would have assembled to greet their departure with three enthusiastic cheers, but, for reasons capable of easy divination, they slipped away very quietly without doing any of us the honor of making known the time of their exit.

THE BREAK-DOWN OF THE INFORMERS. (1859, February 22). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

So in the laying of information with the police, the informants were not able to withstand a vigorous defence - though one cannot help thinking that in fact a fair bit of sly grog had changed hands in these cases- but even the magistrates didn't think the informants were respectable or believable, ad so they were forced to de-camp to Beechworth, and business at Chiltern went back to normal.

Griffith's Music Hall 1859

"Dancing Saloon and Grog Shop, Main Road, Ballarat, May 30th/55", by S T Gill.  Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales Collection.

A week after the Sly Grog cases heard in the Indigo Police Court described in the last blog post, the cases were resumed.  On this occasion, George Griffith made an appearance.  On this occasion the vague hints at some form of establishment are clearer - it is now described as a "music hall" which actually has a window, and at some stage a sign was painted thereon describing the business as "Music Hall, George Griffits" (sic).   Mrs Griffiths is alleged to have been serving nobblers behind a bar.

Indigo Police Court,

Tuesday, 15th February, 1859.

(Before J. S. Morphy, Esq., J. P.)

Sly Grog Cases. 

William O'Connor was brought up charged with permitting the sale of spirituous liquors without a license. 

Mr. Keefer appeared for defendant. P. Carroll, deposed, that on Tuesday evening, about a quarter past ten, went to the Shamrock Restaurant; Constable Bassett was with me; we sat down for about 15 minutes; we then got up and went into the bar, and I asked for brandy; asked a woman behind the bar; she left a decanter on the counter and we helped ourselves to two nobblers of dark brandy; I gave the woman half a crown, and she gave me 6d. out of it;  saw the prisoner in the dancing room;  when we went out he came out of the bar room; it is a calico place; I observed a sign over the door of the Shamrock, Restaurant, by Wm. O'Connor ; have seen the woman several times; she is prisoner's wife; the place is not a public house.       

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Did not understand that was to get £5 for every case; Never heard Mr. Cook say so to Bassett. Was not to receive any thing more. Mr. Bookey said I would get something ; am more anxious to get a conviction than to see the case dismissed ; had moustachio's on when I went to O'Connor's; had on different clothes than now ; had a grey shirt;  wanted-to appear like a working man; did not want to give myself an air of respectability; do not disguise myself to puzzle the witnesses ; the house is on the right hand side going down the Main-road; have laid six informations the same day ; it was not the last place we went to on that occasion; we went to two places afterwards ; never  compare notes with Bassett; told him there were three cases coming on ; did not ask him anything at all about the cases ; saw other men in the ball-room and in the bar; was not trying to entrap any other persons ; was waiting till I was ready before laying the information ; when we went in we sat in the dancing room; the same woman served the bar all the time we were there ; was not watching all the time ; could not say how many people were in the house during the quarter of an hour ; Bassett did not dance ; have been once in this restaurant since : did not see any men in the bar ; anybody can see from the bar to the dancing room ; I threw the money-down on the counter; I pay for the nobblers out of my wages; we never told one and other what the time was.   

F. Bassett deposed: That on Tuesday 18th January, I went into a dancing place with Carroll; it is a calico place ;  it is at the right hand side going down; called the Shamrock Restaurant; know this by the; sign over the door; went into the place, at night about 20 minutes after 10 o'clock; were three about 10 minutes or ¼ of an hour; as we went away Carroll called for two nobblers of brandy; we had  one glass each; Carroll gave the woman half-a-crown ; she gave  him sixpence back ; do not know who the woman was; saw the prisoner in  the bar.   

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Mr.

Cook told us something about getting £5 for every conviction; my wages were the only inducement I had to join the service ; was not aware that I could get better wages elsewhere; we did not receive instructions from our superior officers to disguise ourselves; when I went to this house I was dressed in a pair of white trowsers and a blue shirt; we went in their on purpose to procure a conviction for illegally selling liquor ; do not think we went to any other places on this same night ; did not speak to Carroll about the case before the information was laid; took no notice who was in the bar when we went in; the woman who gave us the nobblers was in the dancing room when we went in first; did not dance ; cannot recollect if Carroll danced ; did not see a man behind the bar when we had our brandy ; would  rather see this case end in a conviction  than an acquittal; went to this house to procure a conviction.

D. McKay, constable, deposed that he knew the prisoner ; he lives in a place called the Harp of Erin, I believe, it is on the right hand side of the Main-road as you go down; arrested the prisoner on Sunday morning at his own place; it is called the Harp of Erin; cannot say if that name is on a sign.

Mr. Mulligan proved that the Indigo was in the licensing district of the Murray.

Mr. Keefer submitted that though two witnesses had sworn to a sale of liquor at a certain house, they had produced no evidence that the prisoner was in any way connected with the house.

Case dismissed.

Eugene Prost was brought up, charged with selling spirituous liquors without a license.

Mr. Young appeared for the prisoner.

Peter Carroll deposed that on Thursday 13th January, about 7 o'clock in the morning went into the prisoner's place on the Melbourne road ; asked for brandy ; a man in the bar left a bottle on the counter ; we helped ourselves ; laid half-a-crown on the table ; defendant took it up ; he is the man who gave us the liquor ; the place is called the Washington hotel.

Cross-examined by Mr Young: I laid the information on the 7th of February ; delayed the information because we were not ready. I passed over this man because of orders from my superior officers ; was at Palmer's on the 20th ; went to no place on the 14th, 15th and 16th ; was at Heilbronn's on the 17th, there was defendant and a woman in the house ; did not call at any house near defendant's-; this was the first place I called on my way from Beechworth ; expect to get my wages from the Government ; expect to get the prices of the nobblers ; have not kept an account of the number of nobblers ; have had no conversation with Bassett regarding this case; did not see what defendant did with the money.

P. Bassett deposed that on Thursday morning he called at defendant's place with Carroll. Carroll called for two glasses of brandy ; defendant gave them to us ; Carroll gave him half-a-crown, and he gave him 6d. change ; we had pale brandy ; there was a sign under the verandah with the words "Washing hotel" on it.  

Cross-examined by Mr. Young : We came to the house about 7 o'clock ; we star ted at sunrise, and might have walked about 2 miles; the defendant and a woman was present ; there was a counter in the place; there was no calico on the house ; they were not papering the bar ; have had no conversation with Carroll about this case ; do not know what was the reason for the information in this case being delayed so long ; was on the Indigo on the 15th. Mr. Mulligan proved that the house of the defendant was in the licensing district of the Murray.

To Mr. Young, am not aware of a license having been granted or applied for this house within the past month.

Mr. Young for the defence, complained of the delay which had occurred in laying the in formation, and contended that the conduct of the police was most disgraceful, there had been no evidence but that of common in formers, and he should bring evidence to show that they had sworn falsely.

Ambrose Grandjuks deposed : That he remembers the 13th of Jany., Mr. Tidyman; brought some merchandise to the house on that day ; Mr. Prost went out to look for his horse on that morning; he went about 5 o'clock and was back again about 8 or 9 o'clock. 

To Mr Weldon. Mr. Prost was home to his breakfast; we generally breakfast about; half past six or seven o'clock until 8 o'clock on the morning in question; he went to Indigo about 7 o'clock.

Louis Belmont, painter, deposed : that he lived at Mr. Prost's; remember the day when the goods came from Mr. Tidyman; Mr. Prost went to look for his horse on that morning ; he was out long that day ; was papering the bar the same day ; did not see either Carroll or Bassett in the house.

To the police. No one could be in the bar without me seeing them.

Case dismissed.

George Griffiths was brought up, charged with permitting the sale of liquor in his unlicensed house.

Mr. Keefer appeared for the defendant.

P. Carroll deposed : That on Tuesday 18th January, about a quarter to ten in the evening, he went into a dancing house on the right hand side as you go down the Main-road ; went to the bar and called for brandy ; a woman was behind the bar ; we helped our selves ; I put a two-shilling piece on the counter ; she picked it up.

To Mr. Weldon : Know the woman, she is Griffith's wife ; know the place, it has his name on the sign ; saw defendant on the evening in question, he was trimming lamps ; his place is not a public-house.

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer; The words "Music Hall, George Griffits (sic)," was on the window that night when I  came out; might have staid about ten minutes in Griffiths ; there were not many there when I went in ; there was no music playing.; Mr. Griffiths is a violinist ; have gone and had a dance in the place ; sat  down on the seat; did not go in for the purpose of trapping the people;  we had our nobblers ; the bar is immediately as you go in at the door ; did not apply to Mr. Griffiths for the two nobblers ; the woman was behind the bar ; do not know how many nobblers I had ; cannot say how many nobblers I had on that day ; cannot say how many I can stand : was not "oblivious" ; I had no conversation with the woman.

F. Bassett deposed that on the evening of Tuesday, the 18th January, he went with Carroll to defendant's place ; went into the dancing room ; Carroll said ' Come away '; their was a woman in the bar ; Carroll called for brandy, she put the decanter on the counter ; we helped ourselves ; Carroll laid 2s. on the counter, the woman took it up, and we then went away.

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Saw Mr. Griffiths in the place ; our object in going in, was to lay an information ; there was no dancing or music while we were in the house ; saw Griffiths near the bar doing something; think he went into another room when we had  our nobblers ; will not swear he was in the room at the time we got the drinks. Carroll only asked for brandy ; believe he asked the woman what was to pay, but am not sure ; it was about 10 minutes or a quarter to ten when we went, into Griffith's house, there were two men at the bar when we were drinking. ....

Constable Scanlan deposed that he knew the defendant Griffiths ; he lives at the Music Hall ; know the place, the words "Music Hall" are written in the window ; there is nothing else, on the window ; served him with a summons at, that place.

Mr. Mulligan deposed, that the house in question was in the licensing district of the Murray. Mr. Keefer contended that there was no evidence. to connect the defendant with the place in question. An actor might be convicted in the same way if a glass of  liquor were sold in the theatre. 

The Bench decided that they would hear  the defence. 

Mr. Keefer addressed himself to the evidence, and commented on the small amount of credibility which ought to be attributed to the evidence of the informers. He did not believe but that Carroll and Bassett talked  over their evidence together before they came into court. There were several discrepancies in their evidence to which he (Mr. Keefer) would call attention, and one in particular which referred to the words said to be on the windows. He should be able to prove that no such words were on the window on the day which the informers referred.

S. G. Bartlett, painter, deposed : That he knew a house in the Main-street with the words "Music Hall, George Grifilths " ; painted the word " Music " on the 17 th Jan.; painted the rest of it on the 19th ; can swear to the dates.

To the Bench : There was no sign on the place before I began to paint the present one.

Case dismissed, there being no evidence to connect the defendant with the house.

Indigo Police Court. (1859, February 17). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

One can only think that the Griffiths' got off on a technicality.  Or did they?  Was it a set up?  Further allegations were to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sly Grog Cases, 1859

"Victorian Gold Fields 1852. The Grog Shanty", by S T Gill, 1869.  No H86.7/33.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

While innocent gossip and watching of pots on the fire occur at the front of the shanty, the missus is out the back pouring nobblers.

Sly Grog Cases.
James Barnes was brought up   charged with permitting the sale of spiritous liquors in his house without a license.

Patrick Carroll deposed : that on Friday Inst in company with Bassett at about 10 o'clock he went into a bagatelle room on the right hand side as you go down the lead ; we played a game on a table in the house ; saw a woman and two men ; the woman said there was nothing to pay ; went to the bar and asked for brandy ; the woman laid a bottle on the counter and we helped  ourselves.  

Mr. Ogier said that the defendant was summoned to answer a charge of illegally selling liquor, and any evidence not proving that ought not to be received.

His Worship overruled the objection. Examination resumed. I paid 2 for the liquor - do not know the defendant; never saw him before.

Cross-examined by Mr. Ogier; we started in the afternoon ; we called at two places after we left the defendant's place.  

The witness refused to say whether he had laid information against these two parties.

The Bench allowed the objection. Cannot say how many glasses of water I had at different places on that day ; am not sure how many glasses of liquor I had on that day ; cannot remember whether I had five glasses of spirits; only went out once that evening.

Mr. Ogier. How many informations have you laid for sales to you on that day ?

The Bench decided that the question was an improper one.

Examination resumed. Will swear that I had not seven nobblers on Friday ; will not swear that I had six ; do not recollect swearing that I only had one nobbler on that day.

F. Bassett, deposed : do not know any thing about the defendant;   remembers Friday, the 21st ; went out with Carroll on thus evening ; played a game of bagatelle ; Carroll asked the woman what was the charge ; she said  "nothing". Carroll called for two nobblers; he paid two shillings for them ; do not know defendant ; never saw him before.

To the Police. Do not know who the woman was.

Case dismissed.

Charles Mullen was called on to answer a similar charge but did not appear.
A warrant was ordered to issue for his apprehension.

Thomas Hoyle was called on to answer a similar charge, but did not appear.  Mrs. Hoyle appeared and stated that her husband was from home when the summons was served ; he was on the diggings, and she had sent him word. A warrant was ordered for his apprehension.  

Joseph Emmell was called on to answer a similar charge, but did not appear. 
A warrant was issued for his  apprehension.

G. Griffiths was called to answer a similar charge, but did not appear. A certificate of sickness was put in from Dr. Beckett. A fresh summons was ordered to issue returnable at such time as Dr.  Beckett might think he would be able to attend
R. R. Jones was called to answer a similar charge, but did not appear. And a warrant was issued for his apprehension.  

Thomas Donovan was called on to answer a similar charge. The information in this case had been laid by Catherine Donovan. As neither party appeared the case was dismissed.     

Sly Grog Cases. (1859, February 4). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

Again there is a suggestion in this court report, following on from the last post indicating that an accident had take place opposite "Griffith's Hotel", that George Griffith had an establishment of his own, where sly grogging might be taking place.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Accident near Griffith's Hotel 1859

Arrival of Geelong mail - Main road, Ballaarat, 1854. Artist S T Gill, Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.

Accident.—Last Friday evening,  opposite Griffiths' hotel, a lot of children, were playing in the middle of the road, when a stupid fellow, driving a team, knocked one of them down. The team was sent to the right about, and then a farther accident took place, for he backed his cart in such a manner as to plant the hoofs of one of his horses right upon the legs of one of the girls. The father and mother naturally looked about them, to apprehend the fellow, but, having found that the child was likely to recover—and   recover she did since—he was permitted to take his departure; Nevertheless, these sort of driving, particularly in public thoroughfares and amongst children, are exceedingly indiscreet and improper. Today we have neither time nor room to advert to them, but on some future occasion we shall have a word or two upon the subject. We have no objection to a good whip. On the contrary, we like a dashing, rattling sort of style, but then it must be done on a public road, and not in a crowded thoroughfare like ours, where you have thousands of men, women, and children meeting you at every step.

INDIGO. (1859, January 6). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

This news article about an accident involving a horse-drawn vehicle and a child "opposite Griffiths'  Hotel" contains an interesting hint that George Griffith might have acquired his own business premises at the new diggings at Indigo, later known as Chiltern. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ashton's Circus, Beechworth, 1858

Drawing of Ashton's Circus in Clermont, 1873. Courtesy of the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

 The large advertisement run in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser  called  the circus "Ashton's British and American Circus".    As it seems not to be the case that the circus came from  Britain or America, perhaps there were a few American personnel amongst the troupe. Or perhaps it was a reference to the American Negro style of entertainment which was part of the program.

The origins of the circus are a little cloudy, but in 1849 in Hobart a man named Thomas Mollor, the licensee of the Bath Hotel in Murray Street, advertised some circus acts associated with the Hotel.  Ashton was performing feats of daredevil riding in that entertainment.  Whether Mollor had a long background in circuses is not certain.  It seems possible that he was the convict of that name who arrived by the Mangles.

In early 1850 Mollor announced that he was leaving the country.  A new company was formed to take over the equestrian horses and circus equipment.  Interestingly this included not only James Ashton, but Mrs Ashton, who also performed with the circus.   In the early 1850s the circus was touring in Queensland and New South Wales, and by 1855 had arrived in Bendigo.  They had probably found the goldfields to be a lucrative source of customers, and in 1858 they had arrived at Beechworth.

LATEST EUROPEAN INTELLIGENCE. (1854, May 6). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 5.

Evidently there was a core group of circus performers, and local musicians were employed to fill in for the musical entertainment.  In the large advertisement taken out in the Advertiser on 6 April 1858, many familiar names were mentioned - Mr Zeplin on the harp; Billy Barlow was to give his 'opinions'; Mr Griffiths (sic) on the violin.  In addition to the locals were: Mr Faulkner on the banjo; Mr Ashton on the flautina; Mr Sams on the tamborine; Troy Knight on the bones; and Fritz Bimes as Leader of the Military Band;

And Mr Griffiths  as the "Leader of the Nigger Band".

Oh dear.  One can only hope he wasn't wearing blackface to really disgrace the family.

Advertising. (1858, April 6). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3.

"Minstrel" entertainment was extraordinarily popular at this time, and continued to be so for many decades.

The "Boston Serenaders" who appeared on the bill, may have been Minstrels, and constituted the main claim to being an American Circus.

The Robert O'Hara Burke Memorial Museum has in its collection a glass slide of Ashton's Circus entering Beechworth via Camp Street.   The street is strangely empty apart from a horse and cart keeping to the opposite side of the road.  The horse looks rather alarmed, and has a rider on its back case it took it into its head to bolt.  This photo is included in a book by Peter M Shea, called Champagne from Six to Sixa short social history of entertainments and recreations at the Beechworth and Ovens' goldfields Victoria 1852-1877. (Durham, CT: Eloquent Books, 2010.)

Grand High Mass, Beechworth 1858

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Beechworth.  Rose Stereograph, circa 1920-1954.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, No H32492/7238

Advertising. (1858, March 17). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 - 1866; 1914 -1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from

An eight-piece orchestra played at a Grand High Mass at St Patrick's Church, Beechworth, on St Patrick's Day in 1858.

Mr G Griffiths (sic) as the First Violin was the orchestra leader, accompanied by Mr Weichman on Second Violin; J P Hurley on Flute; W Radford on Viola; Mr Barlow on Cornet; Mr Jenkins on Sax Tuba; Mr Wright on Violincello; and Herr Esther on Double Bass.

This performance reveals that George has the capacity to play complex sacred music,

Mr Weichmann was most likely Heinrick Weichmann who had arrived in the Colony of South Australia in 1855.  The Austral Harmony website lists several peccadilloes of Weichman in later years, but in 1857 he announced his presence in Beechworth with two advertisements for a Grand Ball at the Freemason's Arms Hotel, High St Beechworth - one in English, and the second in German, an indication of the large numbers of German-speakers on the goldfields.

J P Hurley was a violinist and flautist, active in Beechworth since 1855, according to Austral Harmony.  Later on the same day, J P Hurley was the conductor of a larger orchestra which played for a Grand Ball held in the Mackay, Miller and Mackay's Store in Ford St, Beechworth. 

Mr Radford is most likely William Radford, whom Austral Harmony says was a musician, violinist and composer, active in Melbourne from 1853, and later traced in Beechworth (1855) and Bendigo (1855 and 1858)

Mr Barlow of course we have met before.

The identity of Mr Jenkins, sax tuba player, for the time being is shrouded in mystery, as is Mr Wright who played the violincello.

The last member of the orchestra was Herr Esther, who can be identified on Austral Harmony as Carl Esther, a double-bass player who arrived in Melbourne in 1855 with a German band and was active in Beechworth in 1857.  According to a news article from 1914, he went into partnership with Charles Keirath and opened a green grocery business in Beechworth, also taking engagements as musicians.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Threatening Language, 1858

The Beechworth Courthouse, in Ford Street, was the scene of many famous trials, including those of Ned Kelly and George Griffith. The photographer was John T Collins, courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, H90.100/1468.


Friday, January, 22nd, 1858    (Before Matthew Price, Esq., P M)   

George Griffith was charged with having used threatening language to John Brady, and the charge having been substantiated was fined 20s. and bound over in the sum of £50, to keep the peace towards all her Majesty's liege subjects, and John Brady in particular, for twelve calender months.

POLICE COURT. (1858, January 23). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

John Brady was a butcher at One Mile, per Ovens Directory 1857.

George Griffith made a number of appearances at the Beechworth Courthouse. Several appeared in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser, but perhaps there were other times that didn't get reported.  Let's see if he was able to keep the peace for 12 months and save himself the £50 bond.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wages withheld, 1858

 Detail of Township of Beechworth [cartographic material] / N. F. Martin, Assist. Surveyor, Beechworth, August 20th, 1856 ; lithographed at the Surveyors General's Office, Melbourne, by E. Gilks.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.

John Barlow claimed £4 for services as a musician from John Brock landlord of the Hibernian (sic) hotel. The agreement was that complainant might absent himself on any night except Saturday or Monday, on condition that he found a substitute ; he had absented himself one night without complying with the term of the agreement, defendant therefore refused to pay him.

Zeplin v Brock.

Griffith v Brock.

These two cases were exactly similar to the above, and were all dismissed.
POLICE COURT. (1858, January 6). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Life at Silver Creek, 1857

Image taken from page 33 of '[Original Poems, for Infant Minds ... A new and revised edition. [By Ann and Jane Taylor and others.]]'  London, 1868.   "British Library HMNTS 11649.f.5.

The Griffiths' second child, a girl called Mary Jane, was born on 10 August 1857 at Silver Creek.  Silver Creek was  not far from the centre of Beechworth.  No witnesses were recorded, nor doctor.  Did no-one assist with the birth?  Perhaps it was George.  He was the informant.  At this time he was performing at the El Dorado Hotel.

Ball at the Hibernia Hotel, 1857 UPDATED

Sketches of Australian life and scenery, by S T Gill.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection. H15524.

(From a Correspondent.)

THE opening ball of the Hibernia Hotel came off last evening (Monday) in regular Hibernian style. At an early hour the friends of the worthy host gathered from the surrounding neighbourhood to the scene of action, where a very select number of the fair sex were in waiting  illuminate the pleasures of the ball. The orchestral arrangements  were conducted by Mr. Griffith, cornet by Mr. Barlow, and the harp  by Mr Lyons. Never did the fantastic toe so lightly fly through the  graceful motions of the dance-nor ever was more justice done to the true character of " granuale." From 9 to 5 o'clock in the morning the sport continued in the midst of tranquility and union. The arrangements of the supper table were certainly second to none ever made in the district. The appearance of the diggers seemed entirely enthusiastic, but whether it arose from the merits of the free supper, or the recollections of times past, present, or a future hope remains a mystery to be solved.

About twenty minutes to one o'clock on Tuesday morning an alarm of fire at the Britannia Hotel was given throughout the street, when a number of diggers left the ball to render assistance in saving the property of Mr De Berg, the proprietor. To the police authorities, the conduct of constables Delany and Fitzpatrick is recommended which renders them worthy of promotion for the courageous manner in which they acted in stopping the progress of the fire. It appears that one  of the servants left a candle in a careless manner in her bed room, and the inner lining having ignited in her absence, caused the adjoining  apartments to blaze considerably for about five minutes. The night being wet saved the roof from adding to the fire.

WOOLSHED. (1857, October 21). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from 

  • "Mr Barlow" is identified in Austral Harmony as John Barlow, a musician active in Melbourne in 1855 and Beechworth in 1857.
  • "Mr Lyons" is identified in Austral Harmony as John Christian Lyons, harp player, chemist and journalist, active in Beechworth in 1857
  • Jacb V de Burg was a tentmaker at Woolshed in the Ovens Directory 1857
A "granule" is an Irish barn dance, and presumably a regular offering at the Hiberian (Irish) Hotel.

UPDATE Richard Patterson in Nobblers and Lushingtons (p 306) places the hotel at Woolshed Creek at Sebastopol Flat, and that it was largely destroyed by fire in 1861.  The licensee in 1857 was John Brock, replaced by Henry Johnston in 1858.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Miner's Right, Woolshed, 1856

From the collection of the Gold Museum, Ballarat.

The question as to whether George was a gold-digger, or merely attracted by the festival-like atmosphere of the diggings, is something I often wondered about.  I thought it was resolved when I discovered that his qualification for being included on the 1856/57 Electoral Roll for the Legislative Assembly in the Reid's Creek and Woolshed Division, Ovens District was a Miner's Right.   His occupation on that document was given as 'miner'.  I further discovered that when the new constitution took effect in November 1856 that a miner's right made provision for the holder to occupy crown land and reside.  So a miner's right made it possible for people, such as George and Susan Griffith, to have a secure place to live. Even if George did not spend a lot of time digging for gold, it would seem likely that he must have spent some time engaged in it.