The SANDS OF TIME Collection – 9. Eureka Stockade

9. Eureka Stockade
Charles Hotham & Peter Lalor — 935 x 685 mm
© Robert Morgan

CHARLES HOTHAM (1806-1855)

Charles Hotham was born 14 January 1806 at Dennington, Suffolk, England.  Charles Hotham entered the English Navy in 1818, three years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  He served in the Mediterranean and was promoted rapidly, possibly because of good social connections.  His ability for languages led him to see a good deal of service in South America.  In 1845 he commanded a squadron against Argentine insurgents, and in 1852 he negotiated a commercial treaty with Paraguay.

In 1853 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria.  The post was a difficult one, with State seized by gold fever, but Hotham would have preferred and in fact would have been better suited to the challenge of the Crimean War.  He applied for a ship but was refused and arrived in Melbourne in June 1854.

He proved unequal to the task.  He was secretive, refusing to delegate authority, leading him to antagonise the ruling classes and his most able officials.  Commanding a naval vessel was not the same as running colony of individuals.  He overreacted to the Eureka crisis partly as a result of being ill informed and partly because of his authoritarian attitude.  By 1855 he was widely unpopular and under criticism by the Colonial Office.  He tendered his resignation but on 17 December 1855 while opening the Melbourne gasworks he caught a chill which led to his eventual death on 31 December.

PETER LALOR (1827-1889)

Peter Lalor was born 5 February 1827 at Raheen, Queen’s County, Ireland.  Born into a family of radical political activists, Peter Lalor was educated at Carlow College, Dublin and was trained as a civil engineer.  In 1852 he left Ireland and emigrated to Victoria where he worked on the Melbourne-Geelong railway before trying his luck at the Ovens and Ballarat diggings.

At Ballarat Lalor became involved with the Ballarat Reform League and on 30 November 1854, after some diggers had been arrested for the non-possession of licences, he led about 1500 diggers to Bakery Hill where a stockade was built.  On 3 December Lalor led the forces at the stockade.  They were quickly overrun.  Lalor managed to escape.

In November 1855 Lalor entered politics as the representative for Ballarat in the Victorian Legislative Council.  The following year he was appointed to the newly established Legislative Assembly.  In parliament Lalor supported the rights of diggers but by 1859 he was becoming increasingly conservative.  In later life he adopted an idiosyncratic political stance and by the 1870s seemed more interested in his mining companies than in his constituency.  He renewed his commitment to politics in the election of 1875 and was subsequently appointed Commissioner of Customs.  In 1877 he was promoted to the position of Victorian Postmaster-General and in 1880 he became Speaker in the Legislative Assembly.  He resigned from parliament in 1887 and died in Melbourne on 9 February 1889.

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