One of the treasures in the State Library’s collections that fascinates family historians is the Bendigo Goldfields Petition.

Hundreds of thousands of eager diggers arrived in Victoria in the early 1850s from across Australia and overseas. In the height of the gold rush in 1852 about 5,000 were arriving in Bendigo each week, seeking their fortune in the diggings such as the famous Eaglehawk Gully.

In mid 1853, a petition listing 12 grievances was signed by over 5,000 diggers.  It was presented to Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe in Melbourne but failed to change conditions on the goldfields.  The miners’ resentment culminated in the Eureka uprising at Ballarat in December 1854. The Treasures and curios section of our website provides further information about this 13 metre long petition as well as other special items in our collection.

You can easily check to see if your ancestor added their name to the miners campaign to improve life on the goldfields of Victoria, including Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, and Stawell. The Library took 2 years to painstakingly transcribe the names of signatories on the petition as part of a Life on the goldfields exhibition.

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

The petition forms part of our amazing manuscripts collection and you can read a more detailed description of it in our online catalogue.


This article has 24 comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Did you ancestor sign the Bendigo Goldfields Petition? « Family Matters | State Library of Victoria --

  2. was searching my son inlaws family caseys of ballarat and found my own great grandfather william waters had signed same petition.

  3. My great grandfather, James Millane signed the petition. Looking for any reference as to where he was at the time he signed it as he was a short time in Geelong in 1852 and then he and his wife and kids went to the diggings. A year later, he apprears on this petition~!!! Not sure where he was at the time. Anyone have any clues…?

  4. My gggg-grandfather, John Usher and his son John Usher Junior are both signatories although like John Millane, I don’t know where they were located. Very excited to find my family played a small part in Victorian history as they all ended up in NSW mining of a different variety, in Newcastle.

  5. Christopher Mayor

    My great grandfather James Desbrowe Annear necame a quartz miner after arriving in Bendigo February 1852. Not sure if he signed the petition . Has anyone any information?

  6. I found My G G grandfather had signed the Petition it was C.S. Crane or Crow in the record .
    Charles Samuel Crane arrived in Adelaide in 1852 and with in months sailed to Melbourne. He was just 18 at the time he went back to South Australia and became a successful farmer at Craneford South Australia.

  7. I found the listing of J Franz reading through the article at the Victoria library, is there any way I can find where his signature is located ? Have tried but could not find. I purchased the Red Ribbon Rebellion by Geoff Hocking very good, thanks Robert Franz.

  8. John Franz signed this petition, how do I find location on petition

  9. Hi Team,

    I read the original document shortly after it was discovered (on microfilm, I think) and noted that one of my oldies had signed. From long memory, Robert Stone had signed in large bold handwriting at the very start of the signature list. He does not appear to get a mention as a signatory these days. Can that be corrected? I speak on behalf of thousands (!) of descendants.

  10. My Great great grandfather is James Palmer and was a gold digger at the right time and place. There is one James and several J Palmer on the petition. I have an example of my James Palmer’s signature. If I sent it to you could someone compare signatures for me. I live is WA.

  11. Dear Sirs,
    My g-g-g grandfather Thompson Martin who was born in Barbados in 1813 he was a goldminer and he signed the Bendigo petition on 1853.
    I am very proud of the fact that my ancestor signed oe of the most important documents in Australia’s History.
    I would like to know where he signed the petition if possible.

    • Hi Malcolm, Thanks for your interest in our blog. I will log your question with our deferred inquiry service and one of the librarians will get back to you. Sarah

  12. I am researching my gr grandfather Joseph Hunt who arrived on the Aberfoyle in December 1854. The Aberfoyle is listed as one of the ships that brought out immigrants from London as supported by the Eureka & Gold Fields Agitation. Is this agitation the Red Ribbon Rebellion? If so, where can I find information relating to this and also if the immigrants went to the goldfields upon disembarking?
    Thanks for your advice.
    Regards, Rae Hunt

    • Hello Rae,
      Thanks for the question. We will look into this for you and a librarian will get back to you.

  13. I believe the John Humphreys who signed the petition was my great great grandfather.
    He and wife Julia were born in Cornwall and emigrated to Australia arriving in Adelaide on 29/10/1847 on the Duchess of Northumberland.
    This marriage is from where my family line commences in Australia
    They had 7 children – 1 Sophia died at Creswick in 1857 another Julia was born at Sandhurst in 1857 and was from a Cornish mining background
    This places them in the area at the time of the Stockade.
    I had often been told by an uncle (now deceased) that John was involved in the Stockade but we have never had that confirmed
    In the past i have been searching under the spelling of our surname as Humphries but from family research in Cornwall the name was originally Humphrys
    Would therefore appreciate any insights you may have into John’s involvement in the Eureka Stockade

  14. Monique Nicholson

    My great grandfather John Muncaster Nicholson signed the petition as Jono M Nicholson. His obituary said he fought alongside Peter Lalor at the Eureka Stockade and later ( comment) cleared the Ovens District of the Chinese. He was born in 1833 in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England and died in 1888 in Brisbane. I was told he followed the diggings and the developing railway lines, setting up a temporary grog and grocery shop from a tent. He was known to drink a bottle of whiskey for breakfast. He had 10 children and my own grandfather was born on the back of a bullock dray.
    I would love anymore information you have, particularly where he was when he signed the petition.

    • Dear Monique, thanks for your question. I have lodged it through our online Ask a Librarian service, and one of our librarians will get in touch with you soon.

      Kind regards,

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