Digger Hunts and the Eureka Hotel

Thomas Pierson observed the activities on the goldfields with a critical eye, and offers a valuable description of the burning of Bentley's hotel and the Eureka uprising.


Thomas Pierson, Diaries (2 volumes). 30 September 1852 - 12 April 1864


Accession number: MS 11646


From the State Library of Victoria's Manuscript Collection.


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October 10th 1854
It is most disgusting to see the Governor's emisarys comit themselves forth from their camp five days in the week to hunt down the diggers and others for their Lycense.  In front is 16 Bullys on horseback with muskets loaded and a sword - and about fifty on foot each with a loaded club and soon as they find any one without a lycense he has either to follow those with the club - or the horsemen, whitchever happens to catch them. I have seen poor fellows who were unable to buy a Lycense compelled to follow after a horse half a day - wherever they went - exposed to all on the diggings.  It is a criminal offence here to be poor, sutch a sample of liberty speaks for iteself - needs no comment, and yet they will tell you they are the freeest people in the world "Rule Britton, Rule the slave, Till Liberty points you out a grave".

Monday Oct 16th
Last night and today a hot wind lots of dust flying - Summer set in in earnest - last Friday the proprietor of the Eureka Hotel here, Mr "Bently" was tried by the Coroner's jury for the murder of the man found dead near the hotel. Part of the evidence went to show that the person killed was in the Hotel and by accident broke a window.  Bently followed him out, struck him with a spade and killed him - his bar keeper and others swore he was "Bently" in bed at the time, the jury verdict whitch I heard delivered was that there was not a particle of evicence against him - it gave general dissatisfaction and is supposed Bently Bribed his servants and others - he is a ritch man and what they call here an old lag - he was sent out here some years ago for life, for some crime committed in England.  The Inhabitants of Ballaratt call a General meeting tomorrow to consider the whole of the Circumstances and from symptoms whitch exhibit themselves I should not wonder if his whole house was raised to the ground tomorrow.

Thomas Pierson