Lambing Flat Folk Museum (Young, NSW)

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The Roll Up Banner

McCarthy family history claims that when Tom McCarthy was questioned by police, he denied playing a leading part, but while denying the questions he was standing before the troopers with the banner stuffed in the back of his shirt. In those days shirts were voluminous in size, and with the addition of a coat it could effectively hide the bulge. However it happened, the banner remained in possession of the McCarthy family for a hundred years.

Young’s Roll Up banner is widely accepted as an item of great National significance and is held on a comparable level of importance as Ballarat’s Eureka flag.

On Sunday June 4 1961, Frank O’Neill, in a Mirror newspaper article had revealed that Mr. A.H. Chisholm, eminent historian and editor-in-chief of the Australian Encyclopaedia, had said that the flag was an important relic which should not be in the possession of a private family. ”It essentially belongs to the nation,” he said.

With the generosity of the Young Services and Citizens Club, the Young Historical Society was able to acquire the Roll Up Banner in 1964. This was brought about by the S & C Club making a loan to the Historical Society and allowing it to repay the loan over time.

The Young Historical Society and the citizens of Young will be forever grateful for the generosity of the Young Services and Citizens Club. If the Young Historical Society had not been able to obtain the money to buy the banner from the McCarthy family, it would possibly have been sold to commercial interests, and lost to Young forever.
The famous Roll Up Banner carried at the head of the procession of the anti-Chinese rioters at Lambing Flat in 1861, is on display in the Young Historical Society’s Museum in Campbell Street.

The banner was first brought back to Young in 1938 for the “Back to Young Week” by Mr. McCarthy, a descendant of T. F. McCarthy, one of the men who carried the banner at the head of the procession in 1861.

Mr. Jack Giuliano, of the Young Witness, in early 1961 got wind from a Sydney friend that a Commercial Art Gallery owner in Sydney was trying to get the banner for display or purchase. Mr. Giuliano went to Sydney to discuss with the owner the possibility of the banner being brought to Young to be displayed. He revealed in a feature article in the Young Witness in July 1961 that the banner would be displayed in November 1961 at Young. Should there be enough interest, Mr. McCarthy would consider the disposal of the banner to the Historical Society. Mr. McCarthy’s expenses to bring the banner to Young were paid by the Young Witness.

Tom McCarthy, a storekeeper, was somewhat of a business figurehead at the time of the disturbances. On June 3 1861, Donald Cameron, William Spicer and Tom McCarthy called a public meeting of miners, and from that emanated the famous NO Chinese ultimatum.The banner is made from sail-cloth or some similar material, probably brought to the gold field for a tent. It has been painted by an artisan who used seven colours. The banner is six feet square and carries the lettering No Chinese Roll Up Roll Up. Four segments of a Maltese Cross each carry a star, and there is a fifth star in the centre. Over time the colours have faded - the blue of the Maltese cross, the black of Roll Up and the reds and blues of No Chinese.

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