|Posted on August 9, 2015 at 10:50 PM|
Continued report of William D. Campbell to Parliament regarding Chinese Compensation Claims
Some of the claims require special notice; but it may be well to draw attention to the claim of Simon San Ling. He is one of the few Chinamen on the gold field who was known to the Europeans beyond the Chinese encampment, probably on account of his being married to a European, but among these, as well as among his own countrymen, he appears to have borne a good character. His claim is, however, deserving of special notice, on account of the statement made by Mr. James M. Henley, in a letter to the Governor, wherein, speaking with reference to the European wife of the claimant, he says, “The lawless mob burned down her tent, and the cradle wherein the baby was sleeping; her own and children’s clothing were torn to pieces and burned by a lot of vagabonds who counselled together for the violation of the woman and murder of the children, but were prevented by the timely interference of some of their number less hardened than the others.” Without desiring to palliate or excuse the proceedings of the rioters on the occasion referred to, I consider it necessary to state that, having made special enquiry into the truth of this statement, I have not been able to get any corroborative testimony. The troopers at the camp at Back Creek neither saw nor heard of anything of the sort, and the woman herself says, in her evidence, “I was not in the tent during the time the mob was there, and received no ill-sage, personally, from any of their number. I was not molested by any of them in any way. I had a cradle in the tent which was burned, but my child was not in that cradle when the mob came up.” Simon San Ling’s own statement shows that his wife never complained to him of being ill-used on the occasion referred to and the conclusion is almost inevitable that Mr. Henley must have been labouring under an excited imagination when he made the statement above quoted.
In the claimant’s evidence he particularises the property destroyed, amounting to £69 worth; and making an allowance for new and old articles I have concluded his loss could not have exceeded £50. It will be observed that he and his brother, San Sing Dob, are represented being in poor circumstances in February previous, and he must have been more than ordinarily successful to have saved that amount in so short a time.
In the general list there appears a claim by John Sam, and three others, for £1396.0s.4d., being the value of gold and notes said to have been taken from two of the claimants. In the course of inquiries in reference to this claim (the claimants not having appeared) the only evidence obtained was from Leogh Look, whose tent the claimants resided in, but he cannot speak of the amount of gold in their possession. They state that they came to ’Lambing Flat’ to collect debts due to them from “400 Chinamen;” and Leogh Look states that in addition to the sums collected they in addition received monies to take to China for their friends. If there is any truth in their having had the gold the missing partners found it a convenient opportunity for carrying it off to China.
There is no reason to doubt that cases of robbery from the person did occur, but from the excited condition of the mob at the time, they appear more to have looked to the destruction of property than its appropriation to their own use.
The fact that few Europeans not implicated in the riot could supply any information renders it impossible to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the actual amount of losses sustained. The amount of gold, if actually appropriated, would in due course have found its way to the ordinary escort, but no evidence of this can be obtained, while there is little evidence to show that the parties who formed the mob were in better circumstances after the riot than before.
PS. This is the end of William D. Campbell’s report, which has been abbreviated due to space available.
Young Historical Society – Brian James.