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Monday, March 2, 2015 Montagu John Felton Durnford m Margaret O'Connell in Australia Their timeline until 1874

Montagu John Felton Durnford was born in 1831 on Christmas Day, while the family were living in London.  He was christened on 25th January 1832 at St Cuthbert's, Carlisle in North West England.

In 1841 he and his sisters and brother were living in Windmill Lane in St Giles Camberwell.

St Giles' Church, Camberwell, is the parish church of Camberwell, a district of London which forms part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is part of Camberwell Deanery within the Anglican Diocese of Southwark in the Church of England. The church is dedicated to Saint Giles, the patron saint of the disabled. A local legend associates the dedication of St Giles with a well near Camberwell Grove, which may also have given Camber-well its name.

 An article on the church from 1827 states: "it has been conjectured that the well might have been famous for some medicinal virtues and might have occasioned the dedication of the church to this patron saint of cripples".[1]

On 7 February 1841 a devastating fire, caused by a faulty heating system and fuelled by the wooden pews and galleries virtually destroyed the medieval church. The heat was so great that stained glass melted and stone crumbled to powder. Immediately after the fire, a competition to choose the architect for the new church produced 53 designs and was won by the firm of Scott and Moffat. St Giles' was the first major Gothic building by Sir George Gilbert Scott, best known as architect of St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial.

At the time of his mother's death he was 8 years old.  He appears to have gone to school with his step brothers, and in 1848, he was described as a student. His father and two brothers visited his maternal grandmother's home in Canal St Wolverhampton.

In 1851, he was the centre of attention , along with his father in Lancashire, in England.

For weeks on end, they entertained the residents with their carryon, and obtaining goods by unlawful deception.  At the time, he and his three sisters, Sarah, Amelia and Caroline were at the residence with him.

Mystery surrounds both Sarah and Caroline from that point.  Birth certificates have been difficult to locate, however it would appear that Sarah was born in Tipperary in Ireland in 1836, while her father was attached to the 3rd Foot Regiment.

Unlike his nephew, Col Anthony Durnford, and his brother Anthony Durnford's family, unfortunately Montagu John Felton Durnford was a compulsive liear

Perhaps the terminology today would be of a either a pathological liar or a compulsive liar.
And if you think that make researching family history difficult, you would be very correct.

So after spending so long with Anthony's research, and he being very honourable, his uncle Montagu's story is just the opposite.  They were poles apart.  Montagu was the epitome of dishonesty.

 Compulsive Liar

The individual may be aware they are lying, or may believe they are telling the truth, being unaware that they are relating fantasies.

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit.  Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions.  Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small.  For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right.  Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary.  For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (unlike sociopaths), rather they simply lie out of habit - an automatic response which is hard to break 

So when did all this lying begin?

It began in 1851, when he was charged on several counts, along with his father.  Now Andrew his father, seems to be displaying signs of dementia during this period, and perhaps young Montagu thought his behavious quite normal.


For obtaining Goods by False Pretences.

Montagu John Felton Durnford was then indicted for having, at Lancaster, obtained by fales pretences, a gun and two pistols, the property of James Shaw – The prisoner pleased not guilty, and was defended by Mr James.  The prosecution had been entrusted to Mr. Segar.  

The latter gentleman being engaged in the other court, Mr Justice Cresswell waited a few minutes, and then said it must not be understood that one court only was to sit at a time, as it would be very inconvenient for the administration of justice. Mr Clark, the attorney for the prosecution, then returned with a message that Mr Segar was engaged in the other court.  

Mr Justice Cresswell” That is the answer, I suppose, and it is a short mod of saying” and you must wait”. It is not consistenant with my office that I should do any such thing.  Let the case go on – Mr Cross then tookthe brief for the prosecution and called

James Shaw, wo deposed as follows:  I am a plumber in this town and I know the defendant, Montague John Felton Durnford.  He came to my shop on the 27th January and said he had come to order a single-barrelled gun, with a flint lock, and a brace of pistols.

  He said that he was a commissioned officer in the Rigle Brigade.  I said to him that I thought he was very young to be a commissioned officer, and he replied that babies sometimes had commission bought hem, and their pay was going on; and that his “pa” had bought him one four or five years since.  He gave a description of the gun he wanted making.  The pistols were to be flint ones.

  In consequence of that I ordered the  gun and pistols to be made for him.  I did not let him have any gun at all.  He said he was an officer in the Rigle Brigade. 

 I should not have let him have them had he not described himself as such.  Cross-examined:  The young gentleman I believe was residing with his father at Carnforth Lodge. 

On the 23rd of January I let him have a gun on hire without any difficulty.  He continued in the shop some time after he had ordered the gun.   –

 By the Judge: I can’t say whether it was before or after this talk about the commission that the order was given.  By Mr James: I had not the gun or pistols in my possession, but they had to be made.  By the Judge: I can’t say whether I asked him any question when I took the order for the gun.  He asked the price, and I told him that it would be £2 10s or £3.

Mr Roberts, a clerk from thw Ar office, was called to the box, when his Lordship, addressing the jury, said there really had been no fraudulent representations within the meaning of the statute, and directed an acquittal. 

 Mr James applied for the discharge of the prisoner, but was informed that there were other indictments against him.


Andrew Montague Issacson Durnford, 77 and Montague John Felton Durnford, 19, were then charged with having obtained, at Lancaster, by false pretences, one couch, one table , three sets of bedsteads, two beds, seventeen chairs, and other articles of furniture, the property of Samuel Bond, on a conspiracy to defraud.

Both the prisoners were defended by Mr. James.  As Mr Segar was still engaged in the other court, Mr Cross then took charge of the brief for the prosecution.

Samuel Bond was then called, and said: I am a furniture broker in Lancaster.  On the seventh of December last, the elder defendant came to my shop, with a young person whom he addressed as his daughter.  He said he had been recommended to me to purchase some furniture.  He said he was a lieutenant-colonel, on half pay in the royal artillery.  He took out a letter from his pocket and showed me the direction, and said, “that is my address.

 I have taken Carnforth Lodge from Mr Gregg.”  He read the letter, and said, :Yes it from Mr Gregg.”  The address was, “Lieutenant-Colonel Durnford, Carnforth Lodge.”  He said he wanted very few articles of furniture, and he merely wanted a few goods till his own arrived from London.  At this time he handed me a list with ten or twelve articles upon it.  He selected the goods upon the list, and a great many more. 

I asked him to leave me his address, as the man that brought the goods would require his name.  He pulled out an envelope, which appeared to be written in a female hand, and left it  with me.  I gave it to the man, and he took it with him to Carnforth Lodge.  He stated that he would pay in two instalments, but nothing was said as to the time they would be paid.  He said that he had a very poor pay, taking into account his long services. 

He did not say anything about the amount of his pay, but that he was on half-pay.  On the Monday following, I sent the goods to the amount of £23.  On the Tuesday afternoon I went to Carnforth Lodge and saw both the prisoners there.  They both ordered different article to be made.  I found nothing at all in the house. 

 The younger prisoner came over between the 20th and 23rd of the same month.  He told me that his father could not give me any more security than he had given me.  I told him that he had given me none, and he said I thought he said he would pay you at two instalments.  He told me, also that his father was a person of very poor means; that he had only twelve shillings and sixpence a day, but that he himself had some little property that had come through his mother.  He said their pay was due at the end of March. 

 I then said, if that was the case, he could accept the bill I had sent him.  He said his father would sooner cut his hand off than do it, but he would send him over.  The father called in the course of a few days alone.  He told me that he would not give me any more security than he had done, and I again told him he had given me none. 

 He said he had promised to pay in two instalments, and I told him that in an account like that, one-half ought to be in cash.  He said he was not able to pay so large an amount at once, but he would pay at three instalments, and added, “If you are dissatisfied with that, you may take  your goods back.”  I said, “I’ll take them back.”  He then said, “You won’t leave me without a bed in the house.”  I said I would certainly remove them at once.  I afterwards went over to Carnforth Lodge, and told him that I had come over to make arrangements for the removal of the goods.  He requested me to allow them to remain until the Monday, as by that time he should have his goods from London and others which he had ordered from Mr Townley, of Lancaster. 

 He offered me some compensation for the carriage of the goods out.  I left him with the understanding that I was to come on the Monday.  On the Sunday the younger prisoner came to  my house and said that his father had consented to accept the bill, but he wished the bill altering to meet the date of his pay.  

The bill     produced is the same.  He wished me to alter it from 23rd to the 28th, as his pay then became due.  If the representation had not been made in the first instance, I should not have let him have the goods.  I got the half-pay list, and found that there was a “Lieutenant Colonel Durnford, Royal Artillery,” on it.


If he had represented himself as an ensign, I should not have sent the goods until I had ascertained the amount of his pay.  He said he was a person of very small means.  His expression was, “I tell you candidly I am a person of very small means, and have recently retired for the army,” or words to that effect. 

The old man said he did not like bills, as he had got into difficulties with giving bills for brother officers.  I did not commence the charge before the magistrates and never of such a thing.  I sued him on the night of the second examination.

David Symthe said, I am a tea dealer, in Lancaster.  On the 7th of December the prisoner came to my shop, and introduced himself by saying, “I am Lieutenant-Colonel Durnford, and I have taken Carnforth Lodge in this neighbourhood, for three years. 

 I wished to be supplied with goods, and shall pay for them quarterly.  I am receiving a lieutenant-colonel’s pay quarterly, and on the receipt of that settle all my accounts.” He ordered 11/4 lb of tea, 1lb of coffee, and six pounds of sugar. 

 I did not see the younger prisoner at that time, but sawy him on the 28th of December.  He called to say that he wished to have some more sugar for his father Lieutenant-Colonel Durnford, which he obtained. 

 I was induced to lend him the goods upon his representation that he was a lieutenant-colonel, and in receipt of the pay.  He said he was receiving the pay of lieutenant-colonal during the conversation.


Both are acquitted, where they went or how they lived remains a mystery.  Perhaps they moved in with one of the many other children.  But they are not recorded on any census records for the year.

Montagu by now must have made a decision to go forth and make his fortune in the gold fields of Australia!

How did he leave England?  Obvious answer - A ship!  But no money, what other option?

Perhaps he signed on as crew.  -  Free meals, free transport, and then jump ship at the destination!

However his sister Amelia was looking for him in 1879, and she provided some information

She states that he arrived in Australia on board the ship "Cossipore", and was working in the Mounted Police Gold Escort.

Gold Escort?  That was something new.  

To safely transport gold from the diggings to Melbourne and Geelong, gold escorts were established. With bushrangers and thieves roaming the roads, many miners paid – a shilling for each ounce of gold – for the government-run escort service to Melbourne, where they received higher prices for their gold than on the diggings.

Much of the gold escorted, though, was the property of the government, and was revenue generated by licence fees. Once it reached Melbourne’s Treasury, most of the metal was shipped to England.

When the gold reached its destination, owners reclaimed their deposits by showing a receipt, describing the gold, and by proving their identity. The last two steps were necessary as receipts were sometimes stolen, and the gold fraudulently claimed. If claimants couldn’t satisfy the three requirements the gold was forfeited to the government.

A continual source of bitterness for miners, the government neither acknowledged liability, nor provided compensation, if the gold didn’t reach its destination.

Prior to the government escort service, gold was sent to Melbourne with the mail run. As the amount of gold dramatically increased, this service became too dangerous, and had insufficient capacity to cart the larger quantities, so more advanced systems were implemented. In September 1851, the first gold escort was established, from Ballarat to Melbourne’s Treasury, and Geelong. A month later, a second service was established from Mount Alexander.

 The first gold escort, from Ballarat to Geelong, comprised of a party of mounted police, two troopers, two Native Police and the Gold Commissioner. Yet this, too, soon proved inadequate. In July 1852, three tons of gold was escorted to Melbourne in seven drays, accompanied by seventeen soldiers on foot and six on horseback.

In March 1852, an escort service was established from Forest Creek to Adelaide, after the colony found itself dramatically short of funds. In the first year of the escort, a fifth of Victoria’s gold went to South Australia. In December 1853 escorts to Adelaide ceased, after eighteen runs.

Soon a few enterprising people followed the government’s lead and established private escort companies. For many miners, the government escort was unpopular. Not only did it refuse to guarantee the safe passage of the precious metal, and entail quite rigorous requirements to reclaim it, but also it was slow, travelling an average of only six kilometres an hour. In December 1851, the Melbourne Morning Herald foretold the future when it noted, ‘the Government will have to look sharp in improving their escorts, or this profitable branch of trade will soon pass into private hands.

We are informed that it is the intention of one of the insurance companies to start an opposition escort to Mount Alexander, and guaranteeing the safe passage of the gold.’ In early 1852, Dight’s Private Gold Escort Company was established, consisting of twelve men. In June of that year, the Melbourne and Mount Alexander Escort Company was formed, and guaranteed the miner against loss.

Two major factors influenced immigration to Australia in 1850's:  The discovery of gold in 1951, and the Irish famine.  Both Montagu Felton Durnford and Margaret O'Connell arrived in Australia due to those two events.   The immigration numbers into Victoria were staggering, and it is amazing that with such high numbers of immigrants that records were kept.

He arrived on the Cossipore and landed in Victoria in October 1852, as M. Danford.  


 1852 He arrives.  Did he join the Gold Escort? perhaps you might like to make up your own minds.

In 1853, he was living in Victoria, as his name is recorded in the Victorian Government Gazette as having mail waiting collection at the Melbourne Post Office.

The Gold Rush

The Journey from the United Kingdom to Australia

With the discovery of gold, in late 1851, Victoria entered a period of intense immigration. By the end of 1852, some 94,000 immigrants had flocked to Melbourne. Between 1852 and 1860, nearly 300,000 people emigrated (either temporarily or permanently) from Britain and Ireland alone, many of them lured by the yellow metal.

Although news of Victoria's gold first reached Britain in January 1852, it was not until April of that year that the frenzy for the colony's gold reached excitable heights. Prior to April, people were sceptical of the news, and found it hard to equate the stigma of the colony's penal history with wealth and opportunity.

Yet when, in April, the Hero arrived from Melbourne with its cargo of gold, scepticism gave way to feverish excitement. In April and May alone, some eight tons of gold arrived in London. In July and August that year, about 5,400 people sailed from the United Kingdom to Melbourne. Two months later the figure was 15,941.

Eager to meet the labour needs of its antipodean colony, Britain assisted people to immigrate to Victoria. Under a government assistance scheme financed by the sale of Crown land, governments paid for the ticket, which would otherwise cost between fifteen pound and twenty-five pound.

Crammed into three ships, which normally carried half that number of passengers, one group of government-assisted immigrants arrived in Melbourne in September, minus the 174 people who had died during the journey.

On board, government-assisted immigrants were supplied with rudimentary supplies that included a mattress, bedding, eating utensils, and a canvas bag. Those paying their own way on private ships were required to bring their own supplies.

As the quality of the water was generally very poor, passengers were advised to procure their own supply, together with a selection of food that could supplement the monotonous and, at times, unpalatable seamen's diet of salted meat and  sea biscuits.

 On board the SS Great Britain, one passenger noted in his diary: 'Our dinner today, as far as the meat was concerned was quite uneatable, so desperately salty and tough. Many jokes passed about it at table, some asking the steward whether it was post horse or cart horse and all agreeing that he must have been cruelly overworked.'

Sailing from southern England, the voyage's route was down the western coast of Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope, and across the Indian Ocean to Melbourne. Initially the ships took seven or eight  months to reach Melbourne, but with the advent of the faster clipper ships, the voyage was reduced to about three months. In 1854, the SS Great Britain reached Melbourne in a record sixty-five days.

The Mounted Police Gold Escort was terminated in 1853.

Gold Escorts

To safely transport gold from the diggings to Melbourne and Geelong, gold escorts were established. With bushrangers and thieves roaming the roads, many miners paid – a shilling for each ounce of gold – for the government-run escort service to Melbourne, where they received higher prices for their gold than on the diggings.

 Much of the gold escorted, though, was the property of the government, and was revenue generated by licence fees. Once it reached Melbourne’s Treasury, most of the metal was shipped to England. When the gold reached its destination, owners reclaimed their deposits by showing a receipt, describing the gold, and by proving their identity.

The last two steps were necessary as receipts were sometimes stolen, and the gold fraudulently claimed. If claimants couldn’t satisfy the three requirements the gold was forfeited to the government. A continual source of bitterness for miners, the government neither acknowledged liability, nor provided compensation, if the gold didn’t reach its destination.

Prior to the government escort service, gold was sent to Melbourne with the mail run. As the amount of gold dramatically increased, this service became too dangerous, and had insufficient capacity to cart the larger quantities, so more advanced systems were implemented.

In September 1851, the first gold escort was established, from Ballarat to Melbourne’s Treasury, and Geelong.

A month later, a second service was established from Mount Alexander. The first gold escort, from Ballarat to Geelong, comprised of a party of mounted police, two troopers, two Native Police and the Gold Commissioner. Yet this, too, soon proved inadequate. In July 1852, three tons of gold was escorted to Melbourne in seven drays, accompanied by seventeen soldiers on foot and six on horseback.

In March 1852, an escort service was established from Forest Creek to Adelaide, after the colony found itself dramatically short of funds. In the first year of the escort, a fifth of Victoria’s gold went to South Australia. In December 1853 escorts to Adelaide ceased, after eighteen runs.

Soon a few enterprising people followed the government’s lead and established private escort companies. For many miners, the government escort was unpopular. Not only did it refuse to guarantee the safe passage of the precious metal, and entail quite rigorous requirements to reclaim it, but also it was slow, travelling an average of only six kilometres an hour.

 In December 1851, the Melbourne Morning Herald foretold the future when it noted, ‘the Government will have to look sharp in improving their escorts, or this profitable branch of trade will soon pass into private hands. We are informed that it is the intention of one of the insurance companies to start an opposition escort to Mount Alexander, and guaranteeing the safe passage of the gold.’

In early 1852, Dight’s Private Gold Escort Company was established, consisting of twelve men. In June of that year, the Melbourne and Mount Alexander Escort Company was formed, and guaranteed the miner against loss.

Post Offices and the Mail

 Post offices were important institutions on the goldfields. Letters provided news ‘from home’, and information from family, friends or other contacts in Melbourne or on other diggings. If the recipient lived at a fixed address they could arrange for the post office to have it delivered. If this was not the case, then a post office would be given as the address and the recipient would pick up the mail themselves. Post offices were thus responsible not only for sorting mail, but for collection or distribution as well.

By 1856 only 11 post offices were run by the state government, although many others were operated privately. Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Sandhurst (Bendigo) Castlemaine, Belfast, Creswicks Creek, Portland, Beechworth, Warrnambool and Williamstown were all serviced by government-run post offices. The single government post office in Melbourne had difficulty coping with the increase in patron numbers the gold rushes bought. Those wishing to post or collect letters were forced to wait in long queues, with some waiting more than an hour to reach the clerk’s counter. One plaintiff complained of a ‘letter trap’, convinced that the shortage of staff at the beleaguered Melbourne Post Office was responsible for his letters taking months to reach him.

For those living on the goldfields the inevitable wait for mail was hugely increased by the length of time it took to travel from Melbourne to the diggings. Poor roads made transport of all types difficult and the mail was no exception. It wasn’t until Cobb & Co began a run between Bendigo and Melbourne in 1854 that the delivery of mail began to improve. In 1856 monthly delivery of sea mail (via steamship) further added to the improvement of the postal service.

Those post offices not run by the government operated as private businesses. It is extremely difficult to know just how many private post offices operated on the goldfields and elsewhere (very little research has been completed on this topic), but there must have been rather more than the 11 government post offices. One such post office opened at Fryers Creek in March 1852. According to an advertisement placed in the Argus it was situated ‘at the Spring, near the sheep station hut’. It’s unlikely that the post office was little more than a tent or wood and bark construction.

Running a post office was often a form of additional business and was generally partnered with storekeeping. Those who ran the post office did not receive any direct form of remuneration for their efforts, although they did receive a commission for the stamps they sold.

The establishment of a post office, such as the one at Fryers Creek, made life more civilised for miners and others on the diggings. Firstly, it meant that people did not have to travel for miles in order to post or collect their mail. Secondly, it reduced the time it took mail to reach recipients.

The establishment of a post office at Fryers Creek in 1852 meant that letters directed to Fryers Creek or Upper Loddon diggings were sent direct from Kyneton, rather than ‘going round by Forest Creek’.
While the Melbourne Post Office, by virtue of its long establishment (1835) was a stone construction, regional post offices were often far less substantial. Until the wealth of the gold rushes began to filter through, even government-run post offices were often canvas or wood constructions.

The wealth generated by the gold rushes generated a public building boom throughout the late 1850s and 1860s and post offices were no exception. Beechworth’s first purpose built post office was built in 1858, and residents were purportedly disappointed that it was only a single storey construction. The following year they contributed to a fund to pay for a clock imported by a local jeweler.

The clock cost ₤150 and was duly added to the modest post office building. The addition of the clock and the townsfolk’s disappointment at their less than grand post office illustrates the enormous pride that residents often took in public buildings and institutions

. Many of the first regional government post offices constructed during the late 1850s and throughout the 1860s are still standing (albeit with some alterations and additions) and remain a physical embodiment of the enormous wealth the gold rushes bought to Victoria.

 The Police Force

When gold fever struck in 1851, the police force suffered as a majority of men left to go digging for gold – in Melbourne all but two of 40 police resigned to join the rush. Initially it was difficult to recruit new police and men of dubious character (those with convict backgrounds and military pensioners from Van Diemen’s Land) were accepted into the force.

 But recruitment problems were temporary. The force was centralised and there was extensive investment in infrastructure and manpower. Wages were raised, policemen were recruited from England and Ireland, and a novel scheme to recruit a limited number of gentlemen as fast-tracked cadets proved remarkably popular

. As  immigrants poured in and luck ran out on the diggings, applications to join the police rose dramatically. By March 1852 the Melbourne force was at full strength. By mid 1853 there were 875 police stationed in Victoria and a year later 1,639 – establishing the relatively high police to population ratio of 1:144 in the colony.

Historians studying the police have examined the way in which the colonial force was influenced by two traditions of law enforcement: a crime-preventative ‘civilian’ style of policing epitomised by the London Metropolitan Police; and the paramilitary style of the Irish Constabulary, whose function it was to check social and political disorder and dissent, as much as crime. In his history, The People’s Force, Robert Haldane suggests that while the first model of policing was adopted in colonial Melbourne, the more militaristic style of Irish policing was applied to the goldfields

Manpower and arms were disproportionately deployed to the diggings – for example, at Castlemaine in 1854 the ratio of police to population was 1:56. This strategic concentration of resources was not, Haldane argues, an attempt to contain increased crime, but a conscious attempt to control the civilian population on the diggings. A primary responsibility of this heavily armed police force was administrative – to regulate and enforce the gold licensing system.

Rather than combating crime, the police operated essentially as a repressive tax gathering and surveillance force. When giving evidence to the Gold Fields Commission of Enquiry in 1855, Chief Commissioner MacMahon admitted that police at Ballarat were used primarily as tax gatherers, and could not be respected or function efficiently as law enforcement officers while this remained their role. The enquiry determined that far too many police were stationed on the goldfields and that the ‘proper duty of protecting the people’ was not carried out effectively.

The repressive, inefficient policing policy on the goldfields was compounded by the government’s decision to grant half the proceeds of fines for evasion of licence fees and sly-grogging to the individual policeman responsible for the conviction. This kept most police intent on securing licence fees and fines (rather than combating crime) and led to widespread corruption. It also did nothing to curb the powers of some brutal and corrupt individuals.

Many police, some accustomed to a system of convict discipline, were contemptuous of the diggers and performed their duty in a rude, bullying manner. Others, like Superintendent David Armstrong, were sadistic thugs. Armstrong’s habit was to burn the tents of suspects and beat those who questioned his modus operandi with the brass knob of his riding crop.

He was eventually dismissed, but left boasting that in two years at Ballarat he’d made £15,000 in fines and bribes.

This policy and practice of policing generated hatred, contempt for the force, and ultimately rebellion from the diggers. They were angered by the lack of policing of actual crime and outraged by a system that cast them as criminals – one that took a digger who couldn’t pay his licence fee for a serious felon. As J.B. Humffray observed:

Honest men are hunted down by the police like kangaroos, and if they do not possess a licence, too often for the want of means of paying for one, as poverty is the lot of many a digger, they are paraded through the diggings by the commissioners and police . . . and, if unable to pay the fine, are rudely locked up, in company of any thief or thieves who may be in the Camp cells at the time; in short, treated in every way as if they were felons.
If he was in the Gold Escort,he would have had to work somewhere else when it was disbanded.

He could have been working on the Gold Fields, and may even have been involved in the Eureka Stockade.

Another Historical Event  -  Eureka Stockade 1854

The diggers who rushed to Victoria’s goldfields from 1851 are key players in the story of the development of democracy and responsible government in Victoria. This story is closely linked with the history of gold licences in Victoria. The hugely unpopular decision by Governor La Trobe in September 1851 to introduce a monthly licence fee sparked agitations on Victoria’s goldfields, which carried the echoes of international campaigns for democratic reform.

La Trobe’s proposed doubling of the licence fee from January 1852 was the catalyst for the Monster Meeting held at Forest Creek on 15 December 1851. This gathering is widely hailed as the beginning of the European diggers’ movement for political change. Other famous events are the meeting at Agitation Hill, Mount Alexander in May 1853, and the Red Ribbon Rebellion, centred around Bendigo later that year.

The most famous, and violent, demonstration of the miners’ struggle for reform of the goldfields and their administration is the uprising at Eureka on 3 December 1854. The battle at the Eureka Stockade is now widely hailed as a crucial event in the story of how democracy flourished in the young colony of Victoria, even the birthplace of Australian democracy itself. The historian Weston Bate describes Eureka’s aftermath as Victoria ‘taking democracy to the world’.

The introduction of the miner’s right in 1854 was a watershed for diggers, and for democracy – not only did this new licence (at 20 shillings annually) cost less than old hated monthly licences, it effectively gave diggers holding a miner’s right the right to vote. Male suffrage in Victoria was not achieved until 1857, however, when the property qualification for electors in the Legislative Assembly was finally removed.


In 1856 there was a John Durnford arrested for being drunk and charged at Dalby Court.
In 1857 there are reports of his bringing a watch belonging to a young lady being sued for her preferences in beaus!  Such gossip and scandal took up the entire front page of the newspaper.

This could mean that he was in fact travelling  and following the pastoral trails with stock, and fixing wagons or involved in the gold and mail deliveries.

Earlier in 1857, Montagu may have been working on the Coach Mail Run between the areas of Orange and Stony Creek.  There was a rather "juicy" story being told in the Courts in Orange in 1857, and there is an indication that Durnford may have delivered a watch to one of the parties of the trial.

This story took up the whole of the front page of the local newspaper!

In 1856 there was a report of stock that had strayed onto Durnford's paddock.  There were other Durnfords in the area at the time.


 Not many sheep there today, but plenty of vines and good wines!

The stock routeswere followed by the graziers, and referred to as the Long Paddocks.  My in-laws drove 12000 sheep from Winton Queensland, along the route down to Broadmeadows in Victoria, then brought them back again.!  Many times over.

There are some common threads in this story is gold - and transport.

Stock routes
In the Glenhope area, gold was discovered and the coach ran between the gold fields and Kyneton

In the early 1850s Kyneton developed rapidly as a gateway to and supply centre of the goldfields of Clunes, Castlemaine and Bendigo. It was a major coach stop and the bellies of the goldminers (and those of Melburnians) caused a rapid expansion of local agricultural production. Kyneton became the state's major agricultural town and the general prosperity and development resulted in a building boom which saw bluestone quarrying become a substantial industry.

The regular through-traffic also allowed a diversity of businesses and services to develop. Kyneton was proclaimed a municipality as early as 1857.

Gold was discovered in its own right at Lauriston in the late 1850s and furnished reasonable returns into the 1870s. The rail link from Melbourne arrived in 1862, further boosting the fortunes of the town. In the 1890s the state's first pasteurizing plant was introduced at Kyneton.

December 1857 Montagu Durnford gets married 

On 5th December 1857 he is living on Charles Orr's property in Glen Hope in Victoria, not far from Keynton.  It was on this day he married an Irish immigrant, Margaret McConnell.

While it is written that she is from Leaburn in Scotland, she is actually from Lisburn outside Belfast in Northern Ireland.  It used to be a cotton and linen manufacturing area

Lisburn is south of Belfast, we visited, not knowing at the time that Margaret and her family came from there.

The story of Margaret and her family will follow, but it is important to remember that before being processed to come to Australia, they would have entered the Lisburn Workhouse.

At the time of his marriage he lists his occupation as a "joiner", and Margaret is a domestic servant.

Charles Orr was a pastoralist, and he had taken us leases in the area.  Included in some of his leases was an area known as Durnford's paddock.  He may have had some stock on those lands, or the name may not be attributed to him.  Unfortunately for Charles Orr he was made bankrupt in 1869.

 Charles Orr, Glenhope Station, Dalhousie, grazier. Causes of insolvency, Long continued drought, depreciation in the value of wool and stock, and the loss of the largest portion of station from its having been taken up under the 42nd section, and a portion converted into commonage. Liabilities, £7,880 19s. ; assets, £5,905 ; deficiency, £1,973 19s. Mr. Jacomb, official assigne.

In 1858 Caroline Chisholm lived at Kyneton where her family owned a store and her husband was a magistrate. While she lived here she began to establish a series of inexpensive overnight shelters for travellers on the Mt Alexander Rd (now the Calder Highway), a road which was commonly used by prospectors heading to the central goldfields. A reminder of this scheme can still be seen at Carlsruhe

In 1860 the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition camped just to the north of the township and the only survivor, John King was regaled at a local hotel on his return trip.

Caroline Chisholm (30 May 1808 – 25 March 1877 was a progressive 19th-century English humanitarian known mostly for her involvement with female immigrant welfare in Australia

In 1854 Caroline returned to Australia aboard the Ballarat. She toured the Victorian goldfields and was appalled by the conditions en route. She proposed the construction of shelter sheds about a days walk apart for prospectors and their families to travel to the goldfields, a project that received support from the government. Caroline continued to work in Melbourne travelling to and fro to the home and store the Chisholm’s had purchased in Kyneton. Caroline joined the family there three years later. Archibald was a Magistrate during his time in Kyneton and the two elder sons helped him run the store.

Due to Caroline’s ill health the family moved back to Sydney in 1858. Her health improved and at the end of 1859 beginning of 1860 Caroline gave four political lectures in which she called for land to be made available so that migrant families could establish small farms, a move Caroline saw as providing greater stability in the colonies. Caroline also wrote a novelette Little Joe that was serialised in the local paper

Perhaps Caroline helped Margaret cope with her new life.

Montagu and Margaret begin a family.  They appear to have 2 sons and 5 daughters between 1857 and 1862.

Unfortunately not one of those births can be located.

By now Margaret is having to adapt to raising children in very difficult circumstances.  From the birth records it is obvous that the family were continually moving from one area to the next.

The housing was nothing more than tents, or sometimes wattlebark shacks.

By 1860's bushrangers were preying on the gold mail coaches.

Escort Rock is the site of Australia’s biggest and most famous gold robbery when Frank Gardiner’s gang held up the gold escort coach, travelling from the Lachlan goldfields at Forbes to Orange on 15 June 1862.

Tent Life

Many a hearty laugh do I get at the ridiculous figure cut by some of these young fellows when officiating in what I may term the woman department …
F. Hobson
Of course, diggers hardly made their new homes in pristine wilderness. Newcomers often compared the mining-ravaged landscape to a battleground or graveyard – ‘a burying ground with all new graves just opened.’ But the land was also teeming with life, ‘like a country fair’ or ‘the races’, as miners worked and set up tent. In an attempt to maintain some sanitary conditions, tents had to be pitched twenty feet apart and the same distance from a creek.

 Tiny single-digger tents with barely enough room to sleep in could be found next door to tents that housed groups of five or six and were high enough to stand up in. There were idiosyncrasies and, sometimes vast distinctions created by wealth, but tents were typically canvas thrown across a timber-frame and then pegged to the ground over a dirt floor.

Open-air fires were initially used for cooking and warmth. Autumn rains and the first winter (of 1852) caused many diggers to re-assess their living conditions. Some added mud-brick fireplaces and chimneys to their tents and/or clad them with slabs or bark, and a few constructed crude huts.

For diggers, the sort of living conditions depicted in von Guerard’s sketch was a great improvement, but newcomers had a different perspective. In 1854, Emily Skinner was dismayed when first confronted with the basic bark hut she was to ‘keep’ for her husband on the goldfields, but admitted ‘it was unusually good for the time and place, as most people lived in tents.’

It was noted by contemporaries that women added a certain level of ‘civilization and womanly refinement’ to domestic life. However, early goldfields households were commonly exclusively male and men had to perform what was traditionally female work. The men of a party often took it in turns to cook and keep tent – to do ‘all those nameless things that one never thought of at home, because they never come under our notice’ as one male contemporary observed of this novel situation.

The European woman in a long layered dress in the Australian landscape has become one of the iconic images of Australian folklore.

These brave and resourceful women encountered conditions which would test their resilience and resourcefulness to the utmost: relentless heat, dust and isolation; and no doctors. Many women lived in wooden huts or tin sheds with earthen floors, cooked on wood-fired stoves, and knew nothing of even the basic domestic appliances we have today.

Women have been an influential and hardworking part of Australia since the first fleet landed. They shaped and created Australia’s rural towns just as much as men did, working alongside them in the goldfields and on the farms, managing homes and businesses, raising children and educating families.

The reality of life in colonial Australia often meant that upper class women had to perform physical labour and hard work for which they were ill prepared.  Women of social standing found themselves in the harsh, surrounds of outback Australia where they frequently struggled to build lives for themselves and their families.

Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife is a short story that tells of the lonely, exhausting and dangerous existence of a woman whose husband has gone droving. She is left alone in a remote bush hut with her children, waiting months for his return. During his absence she endures floods and bushfires, threatens swagmen who try to take advantage of her situation, nurses her sick and dying children and fights off frequent snake attacks.  If you have never read it, you are not Australian!


Their life from 1857 is unclear, however by following the births of the children, they were not living in one place but moving around.

In 1860. there is a very sad story in the local newspaper.  This may or may not be one of their children.

Sandy Creek was on a coach line to Melbourne, and is part of the Tarnagula area.

Once again, the link is between gold and coach deliveries.

This book is sub-titled The Boom Years - 1858 to 1868, and embraces a very exciting era in Tarnagulla's history. It is the period when Tarnagulla's gold mines were at their very peak, when the town quickly escalated from canvas tent to solid brick and when the population numbered in the thousands

The original Bunyip township site (now Tonimbuk) had been surveyed in late 1857, and that was where David Connor located his "Buneep Hotel" around 1858 to cater to the travelling public undertaking the arduous coach journey between Sale and Melbourne. A new road, eventually to become known as today's "Old Telegraph Road", was surveyed in 1859 to skirt around some of the worst parts of the original track, but by 1860, "there were further improvements made for coach traffic with the opening of the Old Sale Road three miles (5 km) to the south of "Buneep Village" 

In 1860 there is a child born in  N.S.W.

Marion M M Dunsford    Birth:Denilliquin, NSW. Reg.No.6622/1860


Denilliquin may have been the District, and they may have lived anywhere in the vicinity.

As Deniliquin was established on the convergence of major stock routes between the colonies of Queensland, New South Wales and the Victorian gold rush centres of Victoria, it soon became an important river crossing and the first bridge was built over the Edward River in 1861. 

In the 1860s, Deniliquin was the centre of a short-lived campaign by wealthy pastoralists including Peppin, George Desailly, Robert Landale and William Brodribb for secession from New South Wales and the creation of a new Riverina colony.

In 1862 the family were in Queensland.  But where is not known.  Their son Montagu is born and the birth recorded at Brisbane.

Over the years when trying to find the births of these children, I have wondered why none could be found.  Pre 1959, the birth details were sent to Sydney, but when Queensland became a separate colony in 1859, the birth records were sent to Brisbane.


 The report explains why, and reveals that people did not register children, even though they were supposed to, and the district officers report that sometimes the children are born on sheep stations and isolated places and the family never even gets into the town.  Besides, Queensland is a pretty large area and there were only 11 districts.  One only north of Rockhampton.

So it is back to the theory.  What made them come to Queensland, via Denilliquin?

Was it gold? or was it Coaches

Queensland was the only Australian colony that commenced with its own parliament instead of first spending time as a Crown Colony. By this time, Western Australia was the only Australian colony without responsible government. Ipswich and Rockhampton became towns in 1860, with Maryborough and Warwick becoming towns the following year.

In 1861, rescue parties for Burke and Wills, which failed to find them, did some exploratory work of their own, in central and north-western Queensland. Notably among these was Frederick Walker who originally worked for the native police. Brisbane was linked by electric telegraph to Sydney in 1861, however the first operating telegraph line in Queensland was from Brisbane to Ipswich in the same year.

Although smaller than the gold rushes of Victoria and New South Wales, Queensland had its own series of gold rushes in the later half of the nineteenth century. In 1858, gold was discovered at Canoona


M. C. O’Connell, Esq., C.C.L., to The Colonial Secretary.
27 September, 1858

I have received this Mr. Elyard’s letter of the 18th instant, (No. 58-435,) intimating to me, as well as to the Bench of Magistrates at Rockhampton, that had been considered expedient, in consequence of the numbers of persons now proceeding to the Fitz Roy Gold Diggings, at once to proclaim this place as one for holding Petty Sessions; and that a Clerk of Petty Sessions, who was also a Gold Receiver, and who had a deputation from the Customs, had likewise been appointed.

2. I was also informed that a mounted inspector, 3 mounted troopers, with 1 sergeant, 4 foot police, and 1 detective, had, under instructions to the Inspector General of Police, been ordered to proceed to this district.

3. I have now to apprise the Government of the arrival this afternoon of Mr. Maxwell Hutchinson and the detachment of police above- mentioned at their destination; and I have to express my thanks for the aid which has been provided for this district under the trying circumstances under which it now is placed.

4. Within the last few days there have arrived here, by eleven vessels – five of which were steamers – about 1,043 persons (according to the best information I can obtain), and I understand about 700 of these have already proceeded to the Canoona Diggings – distant thirty-five miles from hence.

5. In addition to the numbers I have given, there may be computed about 300 as arrivals overland, who are also at the diggings; and the distribution of the populating in this neighbourhood may be said, at the present moment, to be situated thus, viz:- 1,000 at the diggings, and between three and four hundred at Rockhampton.

6. I must remark, however, that of the 1,000 persons supposed to be at the diggings, 700 are about arriving, or have been there only one or two days.

7. But I am given to understand that some thousands of persons are already on their voyage hence from Sydney, and that considerable numbers may be expected from Melbourne and other ports.

8. This is an announcement which, I confess, causes me considerable anxiety for the peace and good order of the district, as the pressure of such a vast increase of population on its means of subsistence must, inevitably, in the first place cause much inconvenience, and, no doubt, much individual distress. 

9. I am also bound to take into consideration the fact, which is notorious, that many have come up into this newly located country with but trifling means of support, under a vague hope that gold is to be obtained without that expenditure of time and labour which its very value ought to teach them is necessary to its production.

10. There has yet to be solved also the problem whether the Gold Field which has been productive to the few who as yet have been working it, will prove equally profitable to the much larger numbers who now appear inclined to look to it for a means of livelihood, and this is a question, momentous as it is, which nothing but experience can resolve.

11. There are elements of disorder here which induce me to ask you for an increased force of police, of 1 sergeant and 6 men mounted, and 4 dismounted men.

12. I propose to station the Inspector and all the mounted men together, with three dismounted men, on the diggings, the remainder of the dismounted men being at Rockhampton.

13. I am happy to be enabled to state, that up to the present moment I have received no information of any outrage having been committed, wither here or at Canoona, beyond an assault which occurred on board one of the vessels in the river this morning, and which I have to inquire into to-morrow.

14. The cause from which I apprehend most discontent at the present moment is from a possible scarcity of flour, through the difficulty of obtaining a sufficiency of carriage for goods hence to the Gold Fields; but as I trust, from the best inquiries I can make, there is a sufficiency of this necessary article here, or on board the vessels in the river, I hope some means will be devised of transporting it, either by land or by water, to some point within reach of the consumers.

15. I add a few memoranda on a separate paper upon some points which appear to me worthy of immediate consideration, should the present influx of population to this district continue. And I beg to assure you that no effort on my part shall be wanting to secure, as far as practicable, the peace and good order of this district.

I have, &c.,
C. C. L.
The Honourable
The Colonial Secretary,

MEMORANDA upon some points which appear to me worthy of consideration, if the present influx of population to Port Curtis should continue. A Harbour Master ought to be appointed, with jurisdiction extending from Port Curtis to the head of navigation on the Fitz Roy. 

He would require a crew, with a decked boat of twelve or fifteen tons, as well as a whaleboat. A Custom House should be established at Gladstone, to compel all foreign vessels to call in there. Vessels of large tonnage, or drawing more than nine feet six of water, cannot easily navigate the Fitz Roy; and for foreign vessels to unload in Keppel Bay, where there is no settlement, nor much probability of one for some years to come, would, it appears to me, open the door to many frauds upon the revenue. 

Moreover, there are several dangers about the entrance into Keppel Bay, and large vessels with passengers would lose very little in time, and gain much in comfort to their people, by transhipping them in the harbour of Port Curtis, instead of in Keppel Bay.

 I fear there will be some sad loss of life if passenger vessels continue to use the entrance by Keppel Bay in bad weather. There ought to be a lighthouse erected – I think on Gatcombe Head. The Fitz Roy River and the inner passage between Keppel Bay and Port Curtis ought to be surveyed and buoyed off. Two different townships on the river might be laid out and sold at once, in addition to Rockhampton, which, as it is surveyed, ought to be offered for sale as soon as possible. 

The townships I allude to would be one at the crossing place of the river nearest to Canoona, and the other on the north bank of the Fitz Roy, some eight or ten miles below Rockhampton – at least this latter place is worth examining, to discover whether it offers any advantages over Rockhampton itself. 


In 1862 there is a child born in Queensland

As per the entry:   Montagu Adley Felerton Birth: 25 Mar 1862 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 


But when this birth was recorded, he signed his name as the father and his occupation as a builder, and his name JOHN  FELERTON!

How on earth he came up with that nobody knows, was he on the run? using a deritive of Felton?  Any wonder it is so hard to find records for the children.

He also said he had 1 son alive, 1 daughter alive, 1 son and 4 daughters deceased.

The two alive are Mary Ann and Edward.

The next record for a child is in NSW where:

Mary M Dunford death: 14 June 1863 Sydney. NSW Reg.No.745/1863   Dies.

Now given we cannot find a birth for Mary Montagu Isaacson Dunford and we cannot find a death for Marian M Dunford - the assumption is that they are the same person.

  She is buried in a Pauper's Grave at                   Camperdown Cemetery, she died 14 June 1863

 There is not even a grave marker at the site.

The death certificate indicates she was born in Queensland.  He gives his occupation as a Ship Joiner.

The Camperdown Cemetery was established in 1848 on about 13 acres of the 240 acres granted to Governor Bligh, known as the Camperdown Estate. This was the main cemetery for Sydney from 1849 to 1867. Sale of plots was terminated in 1867 but a trickle of burials continued until the 1940s. The cemetery was reduced in size in the 1950s when Camperdown Memorial Rest Park was established. 

The number of burials is not clear, because pauper's graves often had many people buried on top of each other and the government prohibited such graves from having a headstone.
All headstones from the resumed area were placed where ever they could fit within the reduced cemetery and the remaining placed against the sandstone wall that was built to separate the parkland from the cemetery. This massive relocation of graves makes locating a headstone today a challenge. Also, sandstone being soft in nature has meant that there are only about 2000 headstones remaining, and many of those are not readable.

On 29th November 1863, a John Dunsford, a ship joiner of Broadside-street Balmain has some tools stolen from the cabin of a yacht "Annie Ogle". Value 2 pounds.

Given Mary's death is 1863 and his occupation then they must have been living and working in Sydney.

In 1864 the next child is born in New Suth Wales, again recorded as Dunsford,

Francella Matilda Maria Dunsford Birth: Sydney NSW. Reg.No.1371/1864

Name: Francella M C Dunsford
Birth Date: 1864
Father's name: John Dunsford
Mother's name: Margaret B
Birth Place: New South Wales
Registration Year: 1864
Registration Place: Sydney, New South Wales

They then go to Bathurst region and another daughter is born at Hill End. 

In 1867 Charlotte Louisa Caroline Dunsford is born.

Name: Charlotte Dunsford
Birth Date: 1867
Father's name: Montague Dunsford
Mother's name: Margaret
Birth Place: New South Wales
Registration Year: 1867
Registration Place: Bathurst, Hill End, New South Wales

Hill End was among the greatest of Australian goldfields and in its heyday more than 200 companies worked fabulously rich reefs. At the time of the gold discovery in 1851 Hill End was known as 'Bald Hill' and named 'Hill End' in 1862.   

 In 1872 what was, at the time, the world's largest specimen of reef gold - the 'Holtermann's Nugget', weighing 285 kg and measured 150 cm by 66 cm with an average thickness of 10 cm. 

After this the town grew to over 8000 people, making it one of NSW's largest inland towns with a kilometer plus of shops, five banks, two newspapers, a brewery, 27 hotels - all doing well - now the Royal Hotel (1872) is the only one remaining.

Hill End is an important historic site being a well-preserved goldmining ghost town. Most local buildings are managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service as a ‘Historic Site’ of national significance.

The school
At the start of the year though, the news was all of the copious rain and the effect this was having on mining. Hill End was in the midst of a building boom and not an inch of street frontage was to be had in the main part of the town.   Meanwhile at Gulgong, news of the northern El Dorado was still being treated with scepticism by a mining community that had heard such claims many times before.

Then in 1868  He deserts Margaret and the Children.

On 6th May 1868 there was a warrant out for his arrest, on a charge of deserting Margaret and the children.

He is described as 5ft 7in tall, fair 
with fair hair, a beard and a moustache, a native of British America, with a shot gun wound on one wrist!

British American?

A shot gun wound!, wonder what sort of a fight he must have been in, but there are no police records at all for him under Durnford or Dunsford or Dunford.

Perhaps that is why he needed to be called John Felerton!

He is missing for the period May 1868 - to the beginning of 1871.

By 1871 he must have returned home, but where was he, inbetween and what was he doing?

You probably will enoy the following information!

From the Mussellbrook Newspaper of 1871.

 Isn't that priceless?  He is an American from Boston, and he fought in the Civil War, for four years, and received an injury which he wears with pride and retains as a memento of his patriotism!

I really laughed when I read that.  But it gets better.  He advertises for work as per the ad.

Lewis Downing, a wheelwright from Lexington, Mass., arrived in Concord on a mild May morning in 1818 with a set of tools and $60 in his pocket. Downing was “endowed with courage and optimism,” and made his first carriage for Benjamin Kimball. Downing prospered as a wheelwright, setting up a small factory that had more than a dozen employees.  He joined forces with carriage builder J. Stephen Abbot in 1826, and the first Concord Coach was built in the following year.     (Abbot died 1871)

The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy

Then in 1871 Harriet is born again with the surname Dunsford

Name:Harriet A Dunsford
Birth Date:1871
Father's name:John Montague F Dunsford
Mother's name:Margaret B
Birth Place:New South Wales
Registration Year:1871
Registration Place:Muswellbrook, New South Wales

Harriet was born in October 1871 and died in December 1871, registered as Harriet Dussford

By 1872, he is declared Bankrupt.

Then guilty of assult and spends a bit of time in jail, again.

Hope you are also following the surname changes - take your pick!
In 1872

He is bankrupt, but how did he get the money to start his coach building venture?
Did he strike it lucky on the gold fields?

Did they then go to the town of Gulong?.  Since his arrival in Australia he has followed the gold, either as a contractor, or with coaches.


1872 stands as the defining year of the NSW goldfields - the year that cemented their place forever in the annals of the world's richest gold discoveries and the year that also contained the imminent seeds of demise for the NSW gold mining industry.

The iconic image that captures the mayhem and madness of that 12 months will always be that of the massive specimen of gold and quartz removed from the Beyers and Holtermann claim on Hawkins Hill in late October.

Bernard Holtermann had been the former part owner of the mine prior to it being floated as a public company earlier in the year and he retained a key role in its management. It was however, no more his big rock than any other of the company's many shareholders. He was just flamboyant enough to claim all the PR rights.
The school in 1872
 Gulgong is in the Mudgee District, 340km by rail from Sydney, and has a population of between
2-3 000 people.

The township is 472m above sea level and situated upon the northern end of a low range of hills which form the watershed between Wyaldra and Cooyal Creeks on the east and the Cudgegong River on the west.

Prior to 1870, the site of the Gulgong township was a sheep-run owned by the late Mr R. Rouse.
The discovery of rich alluvial gold leads in April 1870 brought a great influx of prospectors and
Gulgong, Canadian and Home Rule became important gold-producing centres, supporting a
population of 18-20 000 people.

The alluvial leads in the district were among the richest in the State.
Within the first four years of discovery, over 300 000 ounces of gold were recovered.

The Gulgong Goldfield produced £2 175 000 of gold, most of which was won from old stream gravels as much as 60m below the surface several kilometres from Gulgong. This deep ground was discovered by tracing the ordinary shallow gold of the present-day streams at Gulgong itself to points where they dip gently under the basalt. The richest gold deposits were found in the upper parts of the old buried water-courses

Chain of Ponds Inn Coaching stop
Based in Gunnedah, Robert John Nowland began his career as a one-horse mail contractor in the 1860s, carrying mail to small settlements and isolated farms across the Liverpool Plains.

 Soon he was able to introduce a coach on the run to Walgett, and by the early 1880s, he owned a nexus of mail contracts and passenger lines that stretched 400 kilometres north to St George in Queensland, and some 350 kilometres west to Goodooga, beyond Lightning Ridge

However in the 1840’s and 50’s, it was a coach-stop along the Nowland route, which extended almost to the Qld border. 

Or was it the coaches and the mail delivery contracts.

In 20th August, 1873, a bundle of letters addressed to him is found at Stony Creek and handed into the Orange police.  He collects those letters in October, 1873.

That indicates he may have been driving coaches.

The coach containing the Bourke, Dubbo, and Wellington mails was stuck up last night near Stoney Creek

In 1874 there are two boys and two girls.:

Edward Andrew Felton Hadley Durnsford      b    not known     maybe 14 years
Montagu Hadley Isaacson Felton Durnsford   b    1862                        12
Francella Matilda Maria Durnsford               b   1864                          10
Charlotte Louisa Caroline Durnford              b   1867                          7

And once again the family is missing.

Where were they living?
Did Margaret die in Childbirth?
Did he leave them all in Gulgong?
Is he now working for Cobb and Co?


The Coaches

After 1862 Cobb & Co had all the Government mail contracts  and the contract time for the journey from Bathurst to Weatherboard  (Wentworth Falls) was fourteen hours. At the nine post offices it had to service,   two and half hours stoppage was  reserved with 15 minutes each stop to allow the postmaster to receive and deliver mails.  Passengers were allowed  thirty minutes  for supper and breakfast  and  ten and a half hours was allowed for travelling the  70 miles  which the average rate being seven miles an hour.

James Rutherford who took the Cobb & Co  business to great heights  was born August 1827 at Erie, New York County  and came to Australia in 1852 aged 25... he started out as a horse dealer  travelling through NSW, QLD and VIC, during this time he survived a 8 day walk of 180 miles mostly without food.

He transferred the coaching operation to Bathurst from Melbourne on 28th June 1862.   In 1867 it was running a daily  line between Penrith and Orange via Bathurst after buying out Crane and Roberts who held the Government Mail Contracts up till 14th July 1862, the Mail contracts were worth £4606 a year.
Coaches left the Cobb & Co’s Booking office at Bathurst carrying Her Majesty’s Mail and Gold Escort
            for Penrith and Sydney on Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7am
for Penrith and Sydney on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 12 noon
for Paramatta Daily (Friday excepted) at 10pm.
T. G. Markwell was the licensee of the Rose Inn and involved in a coaching service.  In 1864 Perry, Elliot, Markwell & Co took action to prevent Cobb & Co from interfering with their runs and inserted a large  notice in the local paper in July 30th  “Coaches on Bathurst line not to be bought off!”

However  it was not a successful attempt to thwart the expansion of the Cobb & Co monopoly for just 2 years later in 1866 the NSW Gazetteer advised that passenger travelling with Cobb & Co would spend the night at Rose Inn.

There is often no road and the coach is taken at random through the forest… But the great miracle is the sudden pinches, looking as if they were almost perpendicular, down which the coach is taken – and then the equally sharp ascents – not straight, but at a sharp angle, up and around which the coach is whirled.
Anthony Trollope, Australia and New Zealand, volume 1, 1873

Anthony Trollope was describing the Cobb & Co coach trip on the track between Brisbane and Gympie, but he could have featured most tracks in Queensland. Cobb & Co’s horse drawn coaches went the length and breadth of the colony, from Cooktown and the Palmer River Goldfields to Thargomindah in the southwest, and from Cloncurry in the northwest to Tallebudgera in the southeast.

 The company started running coaches in Queensland in January 1866, although Cobb & Co had been on the tracks of Victoria since 1854, in New South Wales since 1862, and even in New Zealand since 1861. Cobb & Co was the biggest coaching company in Australia. Cobb & Co drivers and their American style ‘thoroughbrace’ coach with leather strap suspension, journeyed over all extremes of terrain.

Cobb & Co coaches went through dense rainforest in coastal areas. It took many months to cut a track through the forests between Brisbane and the Gympie goldfields in 1868. Further north the tracks inland from Port Douglas and Cooktown negotiated mountain ranges as well as tropical jungle. Out west around Boulia, Windorah and Thargomindah coaches lumbered over arid, sun-scorched and seemingly endless plains. Finding enough fodder and water for the horses at remote change stations was often a challenge and during the long drought in 1902 Cobb & Co nearly went broke because of the cost of buying and carting fodder.


The Gold Rush Days

Immigration and Ethnicity: Overview

When we talk about the Victorian gold rushes, that occurred from 1851 onwards, we are really talking about people, specifically the movement of people. During the gold rushes, people moved on a small scale: trying their luck at different locations on the diggings, or shifting from one town to another. Many people moved from the city of Melbourne into the centre of the colony, leaving certain industries and businesses desperate for workers. There was movement between colonies too, for example hundreds of workers abandoned the copper mines in South Australia and switched to gold seeking in Victoria. Many folk in Melbourne were appalled to see Vandemonians streaming into Victoria from Tasmania to look for gold, fearing increased crime and social unrest.
Truncate text

But perhaps the most significant population movement was the migration of thousands of people from overseas countries to the Victorian goldfields. The influx led to dramatic changes in Victoria’s population, and more importantly, to its society and culture. This group of people is described as the ‘gold generation’, a generation that left a profound and lasting impact on the colony and on the Australian nation.

Population growth

The population of Victoria rapidly tripled as a result of the gold rushes, growing from 77,000 in 1851 to 237,000 in 1854. During 1852, the peak year of the rushes, 90,000 people arrived in Melbourne. Victoria had a population of 411,000 by 1857.

Intra-colonial migration was the source of some of this population growth but it is difficult to measure how many people overlanded from other colonies to the Victorian diggings. Shipping records tell us that 14,000 people from New South Wales, 19,000 from Tasmania, and 15,000 from South Australia and Western Australia arrived in Victoria in 1852 alone.

 Those who were thought of as the Melbourne ‘establishment’ from the pre-gold days were particularly concerned about the number of ex-convicts migrating from Tasmania. Their protestations led to the Convict Prevention Bill of 1852, although this had little effect on the influx of ‘poor types’ from Van Diemen’s Land.

A predominance of single men

Others in the colony expressed their concern about the male to female ratio in the rapidly growing Victorian population. Victoria had an unusual age-sex distribution in the 1850s – the 1854 census showed a population of 155,887 men to 80,911 women (or 1 woman to every 1.92 men).

Despite schemes to boost female immigration, in 1861 the ratio was still only 1 woman to 1.46 men. Caroline Chisholm was a strong advocate for female and family migration to Australia, and she worked in New South Wales and Victoria to help female immigrants on their arrival. Famously describing women as ‘God’s police’, Chisholm believed that raising the female population in the colonies would provide a solution to many of society’s ills.

Sources of immigrants

During the gold rushes, the majority of the international arrivals were from Britain. Between 1851 and 1860, an estimated 300,000 people came to Australian colonies from England and Wales, with another 100,000 from Scotland and 84,000 from Ireland. Gold seekers from Germany, Italy and North America also made the journey to Australia in search of gold. Just over 5,000 people from New Zealand and other South Pacific nations, and at least 42,000 people from China, also arrived in Australia during the 1850s gold rushes. During this period, the colony of Victoria received 60% of all immigrants to Australia.

'The gold generation'

Who were the people who became the gold generation? Broadly speaking, they were young: half of the international arrivals in the 1850s were aged between 21 and 35, and two-thirds of the migrants were male. Most of them paid their own way to Australia (although roughly a third of them were assisted in their passage). A good number were educated – by 1861, Victoria had the lowest illiteracy rate in the world.

Most were skilled as well – only a third of British male immigrants to Australia were unskilled labourers, compared with two-thirds of migrants to the United States. In the words of Geoffrey Serle, the migrants from Britain during the first years of the gold rushes were ‘something like a cross-section of Britain with a thin slice off the top and a thick slice off the bottom’.

 As time passed and these young men grew older, the members of the gold generation went on to be hugely influential in the development of cultural and political institutions in Victoria. Serle points out that nine out of thirteen premiers of Victoria from the 1860s to the 1890s were members of this generation.

The enduring impact of the gold generation was largely due to the fact that, regardless of their intentions before making the trip to Australia, the majority of these migrants stayed in the country. Many of the migrants during the gold rushes would have dreamed of making their fortune on the diggings and returning to a better life in their home country, but the statistics show that about two-thirds of diggers from continental Europe, and about 80% of the British migrants, remained in Australia.

Chasing the gold

Despite the high proportion of people who stayed on in Australia, there were many who kept moving beyond the initial journey from their home country to the goldfields. Some followed the gold rushes to New Zealand, where digging had commenced in 1861. Others did manage to return to their home country; Joseph Jenkins, known as the ‘Welsh swagman’ during his time on the Victorian diggings, returned to Wales in 1894, four years before his death.

There is a popular misconception that Chinese migrants who came to Victoria in search of gold were sojourners, who returned to China (prosperous or otherwise) after their time on the diggings, and who left little impact on goldfields society except for racist measures of exclusion such as the Poll Tax. Certainly, many Chinese did return home to China, and others continued to travel after their time in Victoria, tracking gold rushes elsewhere in Australia and beyond. However, in recent years, more and more researchers are uncovering the history of continuing Chinese participation in daily life on the Victorian goldfields.

During the 1850s and 1860s the Chinese comprised between 8 and 10% of the Victorian population. Far from quickly fading from the scene and returning to China, as conventional histories suggest, this population provided an antipodean epicentre supporting subsequent migration during the 1870s and 1880s to: the Otago goldfields in New Zealand; the Palmer River goldfields in Far North Queensland; the tin and gold prospects in northeast Tasmania and, as well, to a host of subsidiary and fugitive gold settlements across Victoria, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory.

These subordinate migrations also provided the conduit for Chinese entry into rural and agricultural pursuits in south-eastern and northern Australia. The histories of Chinese diggers in Victoria in the 1850s and their patterns of migration and settlement sit uneasily beside the traditional figure of ‘the digger’ and the Chinese ‘sojourner’.

'Push and pull'

We can conceive of the movement of people in different ways. With international migration, it is common to hear talk of ‘push and pull’. The decision to leave one’s country for another is a significant step – this decision is prompted by ‘push’ factors in the home country, as well as ‘pull’ factors in the host country. The discovery of gold in Victoria certainly represented an irresistibly strong pull factor for many people, but there were also a number of push factors that cannot be ignored. In Britain in the nineteenth century, for example, emigration was seen by many as a solution to growing problems of poverty, overcrowding, and unemployment. Industrialisation was at the root of many push factors in Britain and Europe, as was famine – potato crops failed in the 1840s, not only in Ireland, but also in Germany and Cornwall.

To mid-nineteenth century societies struggling with the effects of industrial and agricultural upheaval, the power of Victoria (where more and bigger deposits of gold were being unearthed from 1851) to attract large numbers of migrants is easy to understand. The public in Britain waited eagerly for news from the colony, and for the arrival of ships from Victoria carrying cargoes of gold. Members of the gold generation who were optimistic and eager to advance themselves saw emigration as a way to escape the problems and hardships of their home country.

But as historians such as David Goodman have pointed out in recent years, we all too readily accept the ‘pull’ of Victoria’s gold in the 1850s as irresistible, and in doing so, miss a lot of the complexities in the story of human movement to Australia during the gold rushes. As Goodman observes:
The existing historiography naturalises the decisions to seek for gold … as though it were the most natural thing that men should leave all that was valuable to them in one part of the world, to seek for precious minerals in remote regions about which they knew little.
Accepting that the migrants of the gold generation were simply pulled here by the power of gold obscures just how remarkable and extraordinary it was for thousands of people to move across the world to a tiny fledgling colony like Victoria.

A continuum of human movement

Perhaps the movement of people is better conceptualised as a continuum, rather than in terms of push and pull and linear journeys. This range of movement does not have clear beginnings or endings. Settlement in a new country is not the end of the story of human movement.

The continuum model has room to accommodate such phenomena as return migration, and the movement of diggers around the Pacific Rim (from the 1840s to the 1860s) following the discoveries of gold in California, Australia and New Zealand. Within this continuum, migrants stayed connected to their home country in many ways – personal correspondence and newspapers played a major role in maintaining communication between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ countries.

The enthusiastic letters home from migrants – particularly in the first years of the gold rushes – had a profound effect on patterns of human movement to Victoria’s gold diggings. Personal correspondence functioned as an information-exchange, and was often a major factor in people’s decision to migrate. One letter sent by a Scottish migrant home to Inverness resulted in 120 people leaving for Victoria within a week. Family correspondence was not so personal in the nineteenth century – letters were shared amongst family members and then amongst other people in the town or village.

Commonly, letters were also published in newspapers, communicating their messages to a huge audience. These published letters, along with press reportage from Victoria’s goldfields and the advertisements of shipping agents, were a significant factor in unassisted migration to Victoria during the gold rushes. The communication processes between Victoria and other countries through correspondence and newspapers help to explain how migrants gathered the information upon which they based their decision to move to another country – which perhaps did not seem as far away or alien as we might imagine.

People in the continuum of movement also stayed connected to their home country by the cultural baggage that they carried with them on their journeys. This cultural baggage played a major role in shaping the institutions that grew up in Victoria to serve the new generation of migrants who arrived throughout the 1850s, many of whom stayed to create a new ‘Australian’ society. The different migrant groups who came to Victoria during the gold rushes attempted to keep a part of ‘home’ alive through the communities they formed, the churches and schools that they built, and the religious and cultural customs that they continued to follow. Their observance of these practices created new ‘national’ cultures on the goldfields, such as those of the Scottish, the Cornish, the Chinese and the Swiss-Italians in Australia.

Gold-related migration led to profound social and cultural change, not only in Victoria but also at other locations within the continuum within which so many people moved. The discovery of gold put central Victoria ‘on the map’ for thousands of people around the globe, and transformed the colony within a short period of time. We can talk broadly about the gold generation and the legacy it left to Victorian society, but when we probe further, we discover multiple and diverse histories of cosmopolitan and dynamic communities that sprang up all over central Victoria in the middle of the nineteenth century. The stories of the individuals, families and communities that were transformed by immigration to Victoria can be found in the records, objects, images and landscapes that have survived.


Prior to the establishment of hospitals, medical treatment on the gold fields of Ballarat and Mount Alexander was rudimentary. Doctors – many of whom were untrained – or quack physicians, tended to the medical needs of the community. A tent, with a flag bearing a snake encircling a sword, served as a surgery, with a sign outside advertising ‘Dr ___’. In 1853, some 22 qualified doctors and countless more medical charlatans resided within a population of 15,000 at Mount Alexander. Sometimes, patients travelled to Melbourne or other large centres for hospital treatment, a costly process that required travel on difficult roads, far from family and friends. Local newspapers advertised hospitals near Melbourne where diggers could convalesce or seek medical treatment. An advertisement in the Ballarat Times in September 1855, advised that ‘sick miners will find a comfortable home, advice and a good nursing, at Dr Brownless’ Medical Hospital, near Melbourne. Full particulars may be obtained at the Times Office, Ballarat.’

As the diggings swelled with an increasingly permanent population, the establishment of hospitals became a more pressing issue. The increase in mining and travel accidents, fires, and illness and disease, called for more advanced medical treatment and better facilities. The cramped and unhygienic living conditions, together with poor water and inadequate diet, meant illness and disease – especially dysentery – were commonplace. After suffering a bout of the intestinal infection, one miner wrote: ‘I rose from this sickness after many weeks, the shadow of my former self, hair fallen out, teeth loosened and a figure shrunken and bent with weakness.’

In February 1853, a meeting was held at Mount Alexander to establish a hospital for the local community. Three months later, a small wooden hospital was opened in Gingell Street comprising of a central ward (measuring thirty feet by twenty feet) with secondary rooms leading off it. In 1868, the hospital was demolished and a more substantial two-storey brick building was constructed on the site.

Following the Eureka uprising, the appalling state of Ballarat’s basic medical facilities became evident, and a meeting was soon held to raise money to build the town’s first hospital. The unrest highlighted the town’s inadequate medical capabilities, as there were simply not enough resources to treat all the wounded. A joint venture between the government and local residents, the hospital was constructed; its foundation stone was laid on Christmas Day, 1855, on the site of the present hospital. Opening in 1856, the medical institution was known for many years as the Miners’ Hospital and provided free medical treatment that was funded through voluntary subscriptions and government grants.

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