Lambing Flat Folk Museum (Young, NSW)

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History Blog

Report to Parliament (Part 1)

Posted on August 3, 2015 at 12:45 AM

Report by William D Campbell Esq to Secretary for Lands as published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 3rd November 1862.


Sir, - in accordance with instructions contained in your communications of the 16th July 1861 forwarding certain claims by Chinese for compensation for losses said to have been sustained by them at the riot which took place at the Burrangong Goldfield on the 30th June 1861, I have now the honour to report as follows:-


Immediately on receiving your instructions I placed myself in communication with the parties acting on behalf of the claimants. My instructions being to enquire into the claims of the Chinese for compensation.


It would appear that on the 13th June, 1861, a number of Chinese, estimated about 200-600 were encamped at Sawpit Gully, Lambing Flat, and about 1000-1200 at Back Creek about 7 miles distance. On that morning a “roll up” took place, where a number of Europeans attacked the Chinese at Sawpit Gully, and drove them from the ground, burning and otherwise destroying what property was left behind. The rioters then proceeded to Back Creek where they acted in a similar manner. It was known at Back Creek that the rioters were approaching; and the Chinese being warned, a considerable number packed up their goods and left the encampment sometime before the rioters reached that place. A number of Chinese at the Back Creek on their arrival is variously estimated at about 400-1000; those who remained were attacked even more savagely than their countrymen at Sawpit Gully had been;


Many of their numbers were brutally assaulted, their bundles taken from them and burned; their stores and other property sharing the same fate.


In addition to the claims forwarded on behalf of the Chinese directed to the government, a large number were handed to me by the claimants themselves, having returned after the arrival of the military stationed at Lambing Flat. From the list attached it will be seen that the claimants numbered 1568 individuals. The amount claimed for loss of gold, notes, etc £2083; opium £4917; general store goods £2120; and for tents, clothing, tools etc; £13492. The total amount of the claims being £40628 - Many of the largest of the claims have been lodged on behalf of Chinese who had in various parts of the country employed agents to whom intimation was given of the time when the inquiry would be held and that their personal attention would be required, but in scarcely a single instance did they appear. On referring to the Chinese interpreters, I found that the names of the claimants in many of these cases were only equivalent to the Christian names of Europeans, and that it was therefore impossible to discover the individuals represented. Looking, however, to the particular nature of the losses which they are said to have sustained, consisting for the most part of gold, notes, etc, it is not improbable that these claims were put in at a venture and that the claimants were intentionally absent from the inquiry. Under these circumstances, I am unable to make any definite report as to their accuracy.


Having gone carefully into every claim, when the claimant had appeared, and having procured such information as could be obtained I have prepared a separate list containing the particulars of approved claims. In this list it will be seen that the claims on behalf of 706 individuals against 1568 who have claimed, and the amount supposed to have been lost is £4240 against £40623 claimed.

With reference to the loss of gold, notes, etc, I have found it impossible, excepting in a few cases, to get any satisfactory information. Presuming that those who had the most to lose, and could readily get away, were first to take advantage of the warning previous to the approach of the rioters, and seen that the average amount of gold said to have been held by each of the claimants, far exceeds that generally is the position of the gold digger, there is every reason to believe that, in many cases at least, the claims under this heading are fraudulent.

Footnote; W.D. Campbell’s report seems to be at variance with the usual reports that on 30 June 1861 the Chinese were driven from Blackguard Gully. Campbell states they were driven from Sawpit Gully, no mention of Blackguard Gully. Some would have been at Blackguard Gully but the greater number were on Sawpit Gully.


*To be continued.


Young Historical Society – Brian James.


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