Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Australian Gold Rush - a Daglish story

The Australian gold rush of the 1850s had a big impact on Australia, and in particular the newly formed state of Victoria.

In 1851 the Australian population was 437,655, of which 77,345, or just under 18%, were Victorians. A decade later the Australian population had grown to 1,151,947 and the Victorian population had increased to 538,628; just under 47% of the Australian total and a seven-fold increase from ten years earlier.

Many of those arriving in Australia at that time were from England, particulary from the mining communities - and the following account of the life of Matthew Storey Daglish has been kindly sent by Jenny Clark, who is his great, great granddaughter.

Matthew Storey Daglish, the son of James and Mary Daglish, was born on 30 December 1828 in North Shields, and christened at Christ Church, Tynemouth (pictured above).

He married Mary Chambers in 1851 in Easington, County Durham, and their two eldest children, James and Margaret, were born there. Some time between 1854 and 1857, the family emigrated to Australia. They went to Ballarat in Victoria where Matthew mined in the new Victorian goldfields.

Gold had been discovered in Ballarat in 1851. At first this was alluvial gold, found on the surface or in creeks and rivers; gold pans, puddling boxes and cradles were used to separate the gold from the dirt and water. When this ran out underground mining began; this was much more difficult and dangerous.

Six more children were born in Ballarat – but in 1867 Matthew was killed in a mining accident, leaving Mary with 7 children aged under 13 (the eldest son James had died in 1864, aged 12), and another on the way. The family moved to Chiltern where the last child, another James, was born. This last little James Storey died the following year aged 8 months.

Many Ballarat families moved to Chiltern in the late 1860s as a new goldfield opened up there. It may be that Mary had other family or close friends who were moving – otherwise why would she relocate 250 miles?

These are Matthew and Mary Daglish’s children -
James (1852), Margaret (1854), Mary (1857), Elizabeth (1859), Thomas Brown (1861), Matthew Clark (1863), Robert (1864), Ann (1866) and James Storey (1868).


Elizabeth married Thomas Arthur Robert Skerry in Chiltern in 1883. Thomas Skerry was also the child of an immigrant gold miner who had moved from Carngham near Ballarat to Chiltern in the 1860s. Elizabeth and Thomas had six children; after Elizabeth’s death in 1910, Thomas remarried and had three more children, the last born when Thomas was 62 years old! Mary Maud Skerry married Alfred (Dick) Lappin, the youngest in the large family of immigrant Irish farmers in 1906. Dick was a mining engineer who began his career in gold mining but moved on to earthworks associated with dams in Victoria’s irrigation schemes. They had 14 children between 1907 and 1930, 11 of whom survived to adulthood. The youngest, Norman Richard (Dick) Lappin was my father.

Jenny Clark, Hamilton, Victoria.


For reasons of space, this is an abbreviated account of the article that Jenny sent to me. If you are interested in more details of Matthew Storey Daglish and his family please e-mail me.

Some further research has found that Matthew had a sister Mary Ann and two brothers, James and Abner.

Sadly James also died in a mining accident, this time at Percy Main colliery, near North Shields (see watercolour above painted by Thomas Hair). An article in the Newcastle Journal of 15 September 1849 which reads:

The same coroner (J.G. Stoker) held another inquest on Thursday at Percy Main on the bodies of Thomas Pattison aged 29 and James Daglish aged 23. The deceased were pitmen at Percy Main Colliery and it appeared that after the had got into the corf to descend the pit the chain broke and they were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft and killed. The jury ... are of the opinion that the chain was not of good quality and recommend that in future the chains be properly tested to ascertain their strength before being put into use".

Matthew's other brother Abner married Elizabeth Kears and had 12 children. His eldest daughters married and emigrated to Australia and New Zealand, and there are descendents of Abner's family living today in the UK.

The National Archives of Australia has recently added a section to its web site entitled A Gift To The Nation which makes available WW1 services records online, with free access - an excellent resource. There are only two Daglish entries – Roydon (Roy) Oliver Clark Daglish and Henry William Daglish.

Roy was the grandson of Matthew Storey Daglish, and the son of Matthew Clark Daglish and Malinda Keat. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force to serve in WW1 as soon as he turned 18. There are twenty pages of Roy's service history available on the site, with high quality scans -see extract below. Roy returned from overseas service and married Mary Gertude Kavanagh in Albury, New South Wales. Their son Reginald James Daglish died in 1966.


There is also an interesting site for the Chiltern Athenaeum Museum, which records the births of the family after the move from Ballarat to Chiltern.

As a footnote, gold production ceased in Ballarat in 1918 – but the last few years has seen mining begin again, in deeper mines and using the latest technology.

2 comments:

Robert Daglish said...

Nice read. My web site shows the family connections.

Victorian Gold Mines said...

Nice post on Australian Gold Rush........