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Colonial Cases

Commentary, 1874 NT

[The suspension of operation of the Warden's Court on 14 January 1874 led to the following furious responses.]

Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 16 January 1874, p 2

The unexpected instructions from Adelaide, postponing all proceedings in the Warden's Court until after the 1st of March, has been the cause of a great deal of discussion. The Chief Warden speaks of the instruction as illegal, but submits to it, and throws the responsibility on the Government, at the same time allowing Mr. Smith, the lawyer, to make a long speech, denouncing the Ministry for baseness and corruption. This speech might have been very good and applicable if used against any Government setting aside the judgments or decisions of a Warden; but it was scarcely called for as long as the Government merely postponed the opening of a Court from the 14th January to the 1st day of March. The postponement is very inconvenient, no doubt, and the suitors brought from the country ought to be compensated for the loss of time they have incurred; but this is altogether a different thing from coercing judgments, trampling on justice, and violating this British Constitution. As far as we know at present, there may be provisions in the new Act declaring that all litigation shall be postponed to the 1st March; and it is more reasonable to suppose this than it is to believe that the whole of the Government of South Australia want to postpone the holding of the Court on account of some sinister motives of their own. Certainly, the Commission which is provided for in that Act is a better tribunal than a Court, consisting of one Warden, and we do not think there will be much loss sustained by waiting for the change which will then take place. Of course the twenty or thirty people who have been brought down from the country to attend the Court have bitter reason to complain of the delays they are exposed to, and as far as they are concerned it could not be surprising if they expressed themselves strongly on the subject, no matter whether they believed the Government were acting from base motives or not.


It seems that in answer to the request for an experienced magistrate to be appointed at Palmerston, the Adelaide Government have determined to send, to us a Police Court clerk, who it is thought will be just the sort of man to administer law here, after having studied a great many years under Beddome, whose knowledge of jurisprudence is something wonderful. However, perhaps even a clerk from the Police Court may be an improvement on the old plan of mixing law and medicine together, and of throwing all the duties of Special Magistrate on the shoulders of the doctors who, from time to time, are sent here to look after the health of the community. It cannot be very pleasant to have to physic a man one day and fine him the next; and it must be almost impossible to be on good terms with one's patient, when there is a chance of being obliged to give judgment against him on a "little bill," or a trifling case of assault.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 23 January 1874, p 3

Mining Litigation.


Sir-Seeing that there is likely to be a great deal of litigation through the Government allowing miners to trespass on ground already held under lease or miner's right, I beg to call your attention and that of the public to the fact that this piece of business will do Companies a great injury, and be no benefit to the working miner at large. If the Government allow men to encroach one hundred yards on each side of a quartz claim to search for or work alluvial, the public will find that lawyers, not miners or Companies will reap the benefit of the arrangement; and to walk or ride long distances to attend a Court in this country to settle a dispute of encroachment will be no fun, and will give the Government officials a great deal of extra trouble. Why don't the Government divide the present claims and give one half of the alluvial to the miner and the other portion to the rightful owner of the whole. If the Government has made a mistake in granting too large claims, from want of experience in those matters, why should the capitalist and speculator be robbed of the gold within their boundary lines? We want the capitalist and speculator here (or his money) to develop the immense quantity of reefs already discovered; and to encourage him you must give him a reasonably sized claim, and at the same time proper protection; not make a law one day and break it the next. Give every man in the country a share. It is large enough, and it is not altogether the Paradise Mr. Reynolds once called it. It is too warm for some, and in the shade it is not over pleasant; and it is a country where you cannot get all you would like. Adelaide bouilli is very good in its place, especially when you have plenty of other things to mix with it, such as fresh beef, mutton, potatoes, &c., the same as they give miners in other countries similarly situated. Six months on bouilli would cure the most ardent lover in the world. It is a noticeable fact that managers in this country look better than the men under them. I suppose they have a different way of cooking their potatoes.

If the Government would give a respectable reward for the discovery of a payable alluvial gold field (reward according to extent of discovery) and encourage miners to penetrate farther from the telegraph wires, something good may be found. At the present time there are no workings at any great distance from the telegraph line, and it is the alluvial gold in a new country that enables the working man to take a chance in a reef. It is a general rule in every country to encourage prospecting in a proper way; but here they give prospectors 200 or 300 yards along the course of the reef, not to prospect the same, but to look at it and wait till it grows. Is not the extra ground granted for the purpose of discovery and proper working. Not merely to break stones on the surface, but to sink or drive the same and prove it at depth. This would avoid a lot of waste time and prevent the public from sinking money in duffer claims.

Managers cannot expect to get good men for 50s. per week and bouilli, as I see that is the price they advertise for, when the same men can go to a healthy country, get a higher wage, better provisions, and more comfortable sleeping accommodation.

Hoping, Mr. Editor, the New Year will bring about many changes for the best,

I am, Sir, &c.,


Caledonian Line of Reef, Pine Creek.

January 1st, 1874.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 23 January 1874, p 2


YAM CREEK, January 26th.

Warden Frampton read a telegram from the Chief Warden stating that the Warden's Court had been closed by order of the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Several important cases were dismissed (?) in consequence. General indignation prevailed, and petitions to the Government Resident were sent round to the Gold Districts for signatures.





A well attended and very orderly meeting was held last night at Edwards's Dining Room-Mr. J. Jones in the chair-for the purpose of considering the non-reply of the Government to the memorial which was adopted here last week on the subject of closing the Warden's Court. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Adcock and Mr. Mathers, who made very good speeches, which we shall have much pleasure in reporting next week. Two resolutions were also put and carried-one expressing surprise at the non-receipt of a reply from the Government, and the other affirming the desirability of communicating with several members of Parliament in Adelaide, requesting them to support the memorialists in their present movement, and also agreeing to the desirability of obtaining if necessary and possible a mandamus compelling the Government to reopen the Warden's Court before the 1st of March. Subscription to cover expenses was instituted by Mr. Adcock, and £4 14s. was collected from persons in and around the meeting. The proceedings, which closed with a vote of thanks to the Chairman, would have been more complete if both sides of the question had been discussed, and if some of the persons present had explained that the Bill which was being discussed rather elaborately is not the one which is now the Mining Act for the Northern Territory. But the promoters of the meeting seemed well pleased with what they were doing; and those persons who entertained moderate views on the subject of the present muddle, did not come out of their shells, or take any part in the meeting. There is no difference of opinion here as to the folly of the Government in closing the Court without assigning some sufficient reason, and without giving full notice, so as to have prevented the loss and delay which have resulted to a large number of suitors. But beyond this there is a great difference of opinion, the chief point being one as to the construction of the 6th clause of the Bill now here. Mr. Adcock believes that clause will shut out various cases from justice; but we do not think so, even taking the clause as it now stands; and goodness knows what change may have been made in its wording during its passage through the Legislative Council. Many of the clauses may have been greatly modified in that branch of the Legislature, for we believe the authorities here have been kept entirely in the dark as to that matter; and there is nothing in the latest papers about the Bill beyond its progress in the House of Assembly.



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 23 January 1874, p 3

Goldfields Management.

We have received a long letter signed "John Anthony, leader for the North Australian Gold Prospecting and Mining Company, Limited; Certificated Inspector of Mines for the Colony of Victoria, gazetted November, 1867." The object of the writer, in the first instance, as far as we can make out, is to show that he has not jumped any claim at the Stapleton, as stated in our issue of the 12th December by "Special Correspondent." He says:-

"I must most emphatically deny the truth of his assertion. The vestal flag, bearing the charmed number '3' and the name 'Brinkworth,' suspended on its original supporter, a sapling, growing taller every day, still 'floats to the breeze;' and there within its area, bounded by five stalwart 'pegs,' and called (as per regulations) 'an ordinary quartz claim,' it keeps 'watch and ward' over the 12 months' estate of its progenitor. That little estate has never been usurped, or, in mining language, 'jumped,' either by myself or any other person up to the present moment. In fact, had the said piece of ground been abandoned it would, I think, remain a long time on Her Majesty's hands." 

It appears, however, from the same letter that the claim referred to is about to be dealt with elsewhere, for the writer says:-

"Although a person calling himself the 'agent' for the 'Mira' Company has summoned me to the Court to show cause why said No. 3 shall not be restored to him, I hereby tell you and the public that the flag No. 3 north on the Virginia or Barlow's reef, and bearing the name 'Brinkworth,' still flies on the sapling where it was evidently first fastened; and that I never have either jumped or otherwise interfered with in the least the claim on which it floats."

Our readers will no doubt be pleased with this information about the 'flag,' and the beautiful way in which it still floats. But we subjoin further extracts, bearing on the working of the goldfields. He says:-

"We are here only three parties who are having any work in the way of prospecting, and represented by the Virginia Company, the Tumbling Waters Company (also summoned at the suit of the aforesaid agent), and myself. The whole neighborhood is pegged out, and some of the claims are marked by flags, which seem as if borrowed from Greenwich or Chelsea Hospitals, for they expose quite as many rags, and almost as many tints. The owners are on the qui vive for customers in Adelaide. Some of these pseudo-speculators are not very ambitious. One of them told me some time ago that if he could make a clear profit of 10s. on every claim it would pay him very well: and he thought it made no odds to any one else what he did. We would hope that this little game is played out. Here, working hard, we are threatened to be driven off the ground by one of the pegging fraternity-like the working bees by the drones-and the whole district, and its score of claims, be put by safely, like the talent in the napkin, until wanted by the men who are content with a profit of 10s. per claim For the good of the Territory, it would be well if in reference to such easily satisfied camp-followers we could give the affirmation to the query of the elder and immortalised ' Weller,' 'Oh, Sammy, Sammy, vy wasn't there a halliby?' I shall be doing only common justice to Mr. Ifould by saying that he is not the ten-shilling man.

Stapleton Creek will, some time in the future, hold a high place as a quartz goldfield, I have not the least doubt; but it will not be assisted in its development by men who do nothing but peg out claims and seek to monopolise ground, sans work. We have reefs here, which by the strong will and arm of the miner will develop into a prize to the Territory when the best of ephemeri are gone. The importance of the subject I have here attempted to open up is worthy a more able pen than mine; and I hope to see the subject well discussed in your valuable pages, and that to the discomfiture of the men who only seek to hold in durance vile, and not work, our quartz claims."


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 30 January 1874, p 3

South Australian Justice.


Sir-In asking for a short space in your columns I have no intention whatever of entering into any of the particulars of the mining suit in which myself and others are plaintiffs, being perfectly well aware that it is contrary to the practice of journalism to publish circumstances approaching evidence in cases sub judice. My object is simply to show to how much expense and annoyance either plaintiff or defendant may be subject in the endeavor to obtain a hearing, redress, or justice in the present state of the law in the Northern Territory. As far back as the 8th of November, 1872, myself and others lodged an objection to the granting of a certain lease to the Northern Territory Prospecting Company. The Government Resident, Captain Douglas, happened to be absent at the Roper at the time, and Dr. Millner, who acted as locum tenens, replied that a Warden was expected to arrive in a few days who would adjudicate on all such cases. At length the long-expected Warden arrived on the reefs, and, to our surprise, he coolly informed us that he was like our present Government Resident-altogether powerless. He had no authority to act in the case, and we must go to Adelaide to have our objections entertained. Well, I took ship, went to Adelaide, and represented my case to the then Commissioner of Crown Lands-the Hon. T. Reynolds. He shrugged his shoulders, appeared very reluctant to give any satisfaction, and affirmed that we were too late in lodging our objection. Shortly after this the Government was ousted from office, and on the case being placed before the new Commissioner of Crown Lands, he replied that all such matters must be referred to the local authorities in the Northern Territory. Red tape could not go much further; but however disagreeable the instructions were, the orders of the Executive must be obeyed, and at very heavy expense I returned to the Northern Territory. Two years, or very little less, had now been spent in travelling about from post to pillar at the beck of the authorities, with the continued expense of solicitors and barristers, here and at Adelaide. Well, when I returned, the Warden inspected the ground, and appointed a certain day for hearing the case. Surely now delay could be carried no further; the law at last would be permitted to take its course; there would be no interference with the administration of justice, and, galling as official postponements had been, it was a satisfaction to know that the matter was a last to be settled one way or another. I was congratulating myself with these anticipations, when on the very day that the case was to have been heard, the Warden received a Government telegram that the Warden's Court must be closed until the 1st of March. Certainly Government interference with the free course of the law could not go much further. No reason has been assigned for closing the Court, but some suggest that litigation arising under the present regulations is to be determined by the new Act. This could hardly be possible, but it is certain that the South Australian Government pay very little regard to the inhabitants of the far north; home interest seems to receive most attention, whilst the deliberate closing of the courts of justice is an act of executive interference which would scarcely be tolerated in any other British colony. Under such circumstances the residents of Port Darwin are not in a position to boast about the freedom of the subject.

I am. Sir, &c.,


Agent for Plaintiffs.

Palmerston, 29th January, 1874.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 30 January 1874, p 2

Indignation Meeting.

Last night another indignation meeting was held at Barclay's store on the subject of closing the Warden's Court. Mr. Herring, who was in the chair, explained that a telegram had been received from Adelaide, stating that a deputation had waited on the Government, and that in reply to the memorial from this place, the Government stated that they had never instructed the Government Resident or the Warden to close the Court, but only to refrain from entertaining questions of title or ownership until the sitting of the Commission in March next; they also said that the monster meeting represented jumpers, who were not recognised by the law.

The telegram is as follows:

"Deputation, consisting of Murray, Boucaut, Bray, Carr, to-day, attended Commissioner, who said Warden's Court not closed, but Warden only instructed not to adjudicate on titles to claims, reason given by Attorney-General being that new Act would override Warden's decisions, who also hinted Warden no jurisdiction in this matter. Commissioner said fresh telegram sent to Warden yesterday, and also that monster meetings represents jumpers, who are not recognised by the law."

Mr. Smith moved the first resolution as follows:

"That this meeting unite in denouncing the action of Her Majesty's Ministers in South Australia, as disclosed in their illegal, contradictory, and vaccillating instructions to the Government Resident and Chief Warden in the Northern Territory; and take exception to the insulting terms in which the Commissioner of Crown Lands has replied to the deputation of Members of Parliament, who represented the late meeting at Palmerston, in their interview of this date."

Mr. Wells seconded, and Mr. Skelton supported the resolution, which was put and carried.

Mr. Adcock moved the second resolution as follows:

"That this meeting instruct their Committee to request members of Parliament who are interesting themselves in this matter to submit the case to His Excellency the Governor, with a view to the reopening of the Warden's Court immediately; and that His Excellency be advised to obtain copies of all telegrams that have passed between the Commissioner of Lands and the Government Resident on this subject."

Mr. Moore seconded the resolution, which was put and carried.

Mr. Mathers proposed the third resolution as follows:

"That this meeting records its thanks to the independent Members of Parliament who waited upon the Government in furtherance of the object of the last meeting-the reopening of the Warden's Court."

Mr. P. Peters seconded, and the motion was put and carried.

The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the Chairman.


Mining: Litigation.

On Thursday evening, January 22, a meeting, convened by placard, was held at Edward's Eating Room, for the purpose of taking into consideration the non-receipt of a reply from the Government in Adelaide to the memorial which had been agreed to at a previous meeting on the subject of closing; the Warden's Court. There was a good attendance, and Mr. Jones, who was called to the chair, stated the object of the meeting, and hoped that the subject would be discussed in a calm and temperate manner, without abuse or personalities.

Mr. H. MOORE formally moved the first resolution, to the effect-that the meeting; learned with surprise that no answer had been received to the respectfully worded protest against the closing of the Warden's Court, which had been sent to the Ministry through the Government Resident.

The CHAIRMAN read various clauses of the New Mining Bill, at the request of the meeting.

Mr. ADCOCK explained that the Committee, appointed at the previous meeting, waited upon the Government Resident, and handed to him the memorial which the public had seen in print, and respectfully requested that the prayer of the memorialists should be forwarded to the Ministry. On the following Tuesday, the Committee again waited on the Government Resident and asked if a reply had been received. The Government Resident then informed them that no reply had been received, and in fact, he seemed to think that it was scarcely to be expected. (Laughter.)

Mr. PETERS seconded the resolution, which was carried without dissent.

Mr. ADCOCK rose to move the second resolution, and said that although he was not interested to the extent of a farthing in any of the cases likely to come before the Warden's Court, yet as a citizen and a resident in the Northern Territory, he felt very strongly on the present question; for if a Warden's Court could be arbitrarily closed by the South Australian Government, any other Court-a Court of Appeals for instance-could be closed in the same manner; and then, what safety would there be for the public. (Cheers). At present the Warden was completely set aside and deprived of his functions. There he was from day to day at his office, ready to perform his duties; but if any one went to him he could do nothing, because the Government had closed his Court and made him useless. In fact, he could do nothing but draw his salary. (Laughter.) Now, this was a very serious interference with the administration of justice; and before the Ministry would have ventured upon doing such a thing they must have had very powerful reason for it. They must have felt deeply interested in the cases waiting to be tried-if not in their own pockets, at all events in the pockets of their friends. (Cheers.) It seemed very certain that if there were not interested motives at the bottom of it, such an interference with justice would never have been attempted. He saw from letters and articles in the South Australian newspapers that when the new Mining Bill was introduced some months ago, it was pointed out by "Reefer " and "Lex," that there were various points which the Attorney-General had overlooked; and the paper in writing on the subject remarked that whilst the Attorney-General afterwards succeeded in meeting some of those objections, yet he had failed to remove the impression that injustice would be done to a certain class of suitors under the operation of the 20th clause. The words of the clause were as follows:-

"The Commissioners, in hearing and determining upon applications as aforesaid, whether opposition shall or shall not have been entered as aforesaid, shall be guided by the real justice, good conscience, and merits of the case, without regard to legal forms and solemnities, and shall direct themselves to the best evidence that they can procure, or that is laid before them, whether the same be such evidence as the law would require in similar cases or not; and the fact that any person or company claiming a gold mining lease has not strictly complied with the regulations heretofore from time to time in force, respecting the employment of labor or the expenditure of capital upon the land for which any such lease is so claimed, shall not disentitle such person or company to such a lease thereof, provided the Commissioners shall be satisfied that a bona fide attempt has been made by such person or company to comply with such regulations; and the determination of any two of the said Commissioners in any case shall be final and be deemed to be the determination of the Commissioners."

The first part of this clause read very nicely; but the second part would do an injustice to many persons who ought to receive the full protection of the law. (Mr. Reynolds-"Not if you read it properly.") It would shut out claimants who had ex- pended hundreds of pounds on their properly. ("No," and loud cheers.) There ought to have been a clause in the Bill saying that the foregoing clauses should apply except in regard to litigation still pending. But there was nothing of the sort, and therefore great injustice would be done. Influential claimants now in Adelaide could have their own way by interviewing the Attorney General; and it was a notable fact that it was only when that Minister became solicitor for a certain Company, that the insidious provision now objected to was introduced into the Bill, thus preventing certain cases from ever being tried by the Commission. If, then, a few persons in Adelaide could thus interfere with the administration of justice here, where would it end. (Cheers.) If it were allowed once it would no doubt occur again. It was on these grounds that the memorialists had petitioned against the Warden's Court being closed; but no answer had been received, and thus the community at large were treated with insult and contempt. He supposed the settlers in the Northern Territory were not considered worth notice; but were to be treated like those who were sent out into the wilderness to bear the sins of the people. (Cheers.) Their rights had been trampled upon; and the closing of this Court was an arbitrary act such had not been perpetrated amongst British subjects since a period of four centuries ago. (Oh!) The Ministry had done this at the beck of a few people in Adelaide, and not for the benefit of the Northern Territory, whose interests they were willing to sacrifice at a moment's notice. (Loud cheers.) The resolution which he had to propose was that the Committee be instructed to communicate with the following independent members of Parliament in Adelaide-Ward, Bray, Boucaut, Carr, Lake, West-Erskine, and Bundey, requesting them, to urge the reopening of the Warden's Court upon the Ministry; and in the event of this not being successful the Committee to be empowered to obtain a mandamus compelling the Government to reopen the Court. He supposed they were not likely to alter their decision or to admit themselves, in the wrong; and therefore the only way would be to apply to the Supreme Court for a mandamus. That would involve a little expenditure; but a small subscription would meet it, and he would commence it by putting down a half-a-crown. (Loud cheers and laughter.)

Mr. E. EWER seconded the resolution.

A digger named OWEN REYNOLDS next addressed the meeting, and. complained that the Wardens were always interfered with by the Government. There had been three here since his time, and their rules and regulations were constantly being set aside by the Government. (Hear, hear.) This was not the case in Victoria, where the Wardens were allowed to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. He was disgusted with the South Australian Government, on account of their mismanagement, and was now going away as he did not like the place. Mr. Connor was a gentleman Warden who would do justice, and the Government ought not to interfere with him. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. MATHERS next addressed the meeting, and said-I am a stranger in Palmerston, but in rising to speak to the question I do so with the belief that the inhabitants of the Northern metropolis will grant me the usual courtesy extended to strangers-a fair hearing. (Hear, hear.) The conduct of the Government in refusing to reply to a respectfully worded memorial is the subject before the chair; but as in my estimation the conduct of the Government has been almost identical with the rise and progress of most of our large reefing ventures, I may be permitted to digress very slightly in order to deal more fully with the subject under consideration. I said just now that I was a stranger in Palmerston, but I am no stranger on the reefs. There are very few claims in the Territory that I have not visited, and I have been by no means rash in forming an opinion as to the resources of the colony. I am not as some who through personal disappointment leave the colony in disgust, and condemn everything in connection with it. I believe in the resources of the Northern Territory; I believe that its mineral wealth is immense; but I am convinced that our mining operations fell into incompetent hands, and that the stupid, unjust, and unconstitutional interference of the Executive, together with general mismanagement has crushed the efforts of the genuine prospector, and by aiding and abetting a general system of illegitimate speculation, has chained the wheels of progress, brought disgrace on the country, and retarded its advancement for a period of years. (Cheers.) Any one acquainted with reefing and golden quartz, on examining Yam Creek and Pine Creek, must be struck with surprise that they could have created so much excitement and so much enthusiasm; and when I saw the amount of capital which had been lavishly and imprudently expended on these reefs, I pitied the poor shareholders. I was even going so far as to pity the capitalists, until I went into the inner chamber and understood the working of the oracle. (Cheers.) A few of the wealthiest men in Adelaide organised prospecting parties, and they were shareholders with these parties. When the slightest show of gold was found the machinery was set in order; companies were floated; promoters obtained four or five thousand, and as these capitalists were large shareholders they pocketed the promoters money, or their shares, and with this they set the example of unlimited speculation. It was no wonder, under these circumstances, that telegrams were forwarded up here-"Report favorably, we will float." (Laughter.) Then capital is laid out in the wrong end of the work; instead of paying men to sink on the reefs for 100 feet to prove the ground, they despise mining altogether, erect splendid quarters for their managers, forward expensive machinery, and throw away calls without any security of an income. (Cheers.) Many of the managers understand how to prolong the misery. The machinery is slow in being erected, for the stampers are not likely to bring out the returns expected. Three ounces to the ton at Pine Creek, and an ounce at Yam Creek will not pay Companies when 100 ounces to the ton was the smallest Adelaide calculation. (Cheers.) Now I come to the Government action. It is well known that most of the Ministers are large holders of Northern Territory scrip. I do not say that they would act in collusion with Companies. I do not insinuate that they are actuated by personal motives in administering the law, but the manner in which they have assisted Companies to hold large areas of ground without doing any work, their continued suspensions and protections for no visible reason, their direct hindrance of legal proceedings in order to have ground worked, is, to say the worst, worthy of grave censure. (Cheers.) I do no talk of separation or anything of that sort when the half of our population is waiting to return by the Gothenburg. (Laughter.) I would be far from hinting at dissatisfaction and rebellion. The time will come when the golden cord will be cut, but it is distant yet. But if the colony boasted a large population the action of the Government generally, and the refusal to answer memorials would create an antagonistic feeling which must ultimately work mischief. (Hear, hear.) If there was swindling on our gold fields I do not think the blame is to be placed entirely on the shoulders of the promoters. It has been nursed to a large extent under the Verandah, and, although it is well known that the reefs on which large Companies are formed will not for a long period yield dividends, yet the Directors and Secretaries have no wish to hear the truth. They want to postpone the day of reckoning, and even now the insinuating telegrams which are sent to managers are outrageous. The hidden meaning generally is-"Keep sending good reports-say you'll crush at a certain time," and so on, evidently showing that they want to bleed the shareholders a little longer. Take the Princess Louise. In that case the Captain, who is one of the most straightforward of men, found that the rich vein of gold,in his claim ran out and came to nothing. He therefore said so. He informed the Directors immediately. But what was the result? Why he was called all the hard names that were possible, because he did not keep the gold in the ground, where it no longer existed. (Laughter.) All this injures the district; shakes confidence in mines; and prevents the proper application of capital. And to add to this we have the Government acting as a clog on the wheel. (Hear, hear.) Work is now not to be resumed to the 1st of March, and, therefore, legal proceedings are to be stayed till then, as if a wrong done; under an old Act can be supported under a new Act, as if Acts ought to be retrospective and interfere with existing rights. The whole affair looks suspicious, and the insult offered by refusing to reply to a petition is highly calculated to provoke irritation. However, with all these difficulties to contend against, the Northern Territory must still succeed. Any one who has visited the Union Reef and seen the masses of quartz standing out of the surface, with gold visible in the stone, must conclude that there will be some rich reefs discovered here yet; and although our alluvial is scarce as yet and limited; although we need not hope for extensive leads such as would create a rush-we have sufficient to encourage the hope that many very rich patches will be discovered in the immediate vicinity of reefs, and that many prospectors will yet become rich men through their own exertions. By individual enterprise the colony will rise from the present depression. Its progress will be slow but certain; so much so that in the course of a few years it will become the connecting link between the east and the southern portions of Australia. Our progress, however, will not be attributed to the fostering hand of the South Australian Government. (Cheers. )

Mr. ADCOCK addressed the meeting again, and expressed his gratification at the way they had received the resolution. He again complained of the Ministry and also objected to the appointment of Mining Boards being, as proposed in the Bill, given to the Government Resident, instead of to the miners themselves. All this showed the incompetency of the Parliament and the ignorance of the Ministry.

Mr. MATHERS said it could not have been ignorance; for he was in Adelaide at the time, and pointed out to the Attorney General all those objections in the Bill which were now complained of.

Mr. ADCOCK had no doubt of that; and he also when in Adelaide pointed out many things, but was told in reply that the Commissioner of Crown Lands had just returned from the Northern Territory with his brain full of proposed reforms; and now they saw this abortion of a Bill was the result. (Cheers.)

A subscription was opened, and the meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the Chairman.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 30 January 1874, p 3

own Talk.


Palmerston in arms! and loud and bitter condemnation of the action of the Government in closing the Warden's Court. To Englishmen possessing the feeling of loyalty inherent in every true British heart, this unparalleled and unconstitutional action on the part of responsible Ministers of the Crown is most

monstrous. I am utterly in the dark as to the reasons which led to this unheard of interference with the course of British justice (I had nearly written South Australian). A gentleman is appointed as Chief Warden under the full conviction that he enjoys full power-such as a Chief Warden has a right to expect. The Government endorse this by making the appointment, and yet in the most summary manner now virtually cancel the appointment by suspending the Court, thereby implying their want of confidence in the integrity of the Chief Warden in deciding the cases at issue. A gratuitous insult is thus offered to the Warden by the powers that be, and that in the most cowardly manner it is possible to conceive. The Warden has the confidence of the litigants; may I say as much for the Government? The answer is patent-No, a thousand times no! Mr. Connor has been tried and found all there when wanted. Honor and justice have been dispensed with with no sparing hand. Right has conquered might since justice has been administered by a man of honor, and by one who is not afraid of rendering justice where justice is due. The question arises, where is this to end? Are we to have law and order in this province, or is Lynch law to be proclaimed and Vigilance Committees to be appointed?

Already the effects of closing the Court are exemplified by the fact that "jumping" is rife. We hear sundry rumours that men have jumped Winn's claim at Yam Creek, and the Royal Standard at Pine Creek. What is there to prevent violence being used in resisting the encroachment of jumpers since we are told there is no law in the land? The balance of justice is overturned, whilst the scales are trodden under foot by our law-makers. Such is the issue.

"Exult ye proud patricians, the hard fight is o'er;

We strove for honor--'twas in vain-for freedom, 'tis no more.

We are Englishmen-Britannia's boast and pride-and yet we live to see the day in an English speaking colony, a dependency of the British dominions, where the majesty of British law, the bulwark of her fame, is set at nought, and contemptuously ignored by those whose duty it is to see the honor and integrity of that law carried out in its spotless unstained purity. Well may we ask-

"Shall the vile fox earth own the race that stormed the lion's den?

Shall we, who could brook one Lord, crouch to the wicked ten ?

Oh for the ancient spirit that curbed the senate's will;

Oh for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill.

In those brave days our fathers stood firmly side by side;

They faced the Marcian fury-they tamed the Fabrian pride."

Had there been five thousand determined miners in the country when this most iniquitous stoppage of justice occurred, it is probable that riot and bloodshed would have been perpetrated. Fortunately, instead of thousands we number our population by hundreds only; but the worm will turn when trodden upon; and if the Government still persist in their suicidal policy, utterly regardless of the laws of right and wrong, they must be prepared to encounter the strongest opposition by the people of the Northern Territory, even as the men of Ballarat successfully resisted the tyrannical and vexatious laws then in force, causing Eureka to become a by-word among the miners of the Southern hemisphere. It is well to bear in mind that miners are not to be trifled with-

"Lest when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair,

And learn by proof in some wild hour how much the wretched dare."

In a former issue I gave a snake story from Yam Creek, and at the commencement implied a doubt at the accuracy of my information. In this I have been taken to task by the individuals in question, both of whom are now in Palmerston. I am assured that the story was a positive fact, with the exception of the length of the snakes-the large one being 6 feet 4 inches in length (not 4 feet 4 inches, as I stated), and the other, which was found inside, measured 6 feet 2 inches by actual measurement. Therefore I hasten to make the amende honorable, and trust the heroes of that hard- won fight will receive it in the spirit in which it is offered.

I read official documents occasionally, and was much amused on perusing the instructions given to the Protector of Aborigines. I trust our worthy doctor is progressing in his Larrakeeyah, and hope he will ere long lab-bab with the best of them; but I'm a doubtest. The poetical and euphonious language of our sable brethren of Port Darwin is not to be picked up so readily as our law makers would have people to believe; whilst gratitude for favors done is not a remarkable trait of the noble savage, who would as soon accept your peace offering of a bag of flour, and ten minutes afterwards send his spear on an exploration tour through the human form divine. Such at least is my opinion of these children of the woods. However, clause 7 of the Regulations is necessary, and I would call the attention of the Protector of Aborigines especially to that clause, and think that beneficial results would accrue if the medical officer paid a visit occasionally to the black's camp.

A pugilistic encounter among the fair sex is an event in Palmerston, and a confused image of broken plates, handfuls of hair-dishevelled tresses, &c., &c., rises unbidden, even like Banquo's ghost, to haunt my midnight dreams. The famed Kilkenny cats was nothing to it. That policeman was a bold man when he interfered to save these fair ones from themselves. Even Mr. Smith felt awed by the Amazonian spirit which animated at least one of the fair combatants; and the look of haughty defiance thrown at the legal gentleman seemed to stupify him, and meant, "Don't insult me, or I'll serve you even as the fisherman of Palmerston was served.'" And when in cross-examination he sought to gain a point or extract a laugh by praising the beauty of her eyes, he was quietly taken down by her remarking, "Sir, I did not come here to hear about the beauty of my eyes, but for justice, Sir, for justice," a most extraordinary statement, I should think in any Court of justice, but extremely so in this part of the world. Bravo! Yam Creek! I'm glad to see that the people are fully alive to their interests, although stuck in the mud in this glorious country during the wet season; yet they come forward and endorse the action of the Palmerstonians in re the public action with reference to the closing of the Warden's Court. By the way, who is going to pay the expenses of witnesses, &c., during this delay. Of course the Government having arbitrarily stopped litigation, will no doubt arbitrarily insist upon paying expenses, more especially when there is a large surplus. Tremble, ye mining managers! the vengeance of the mighty ones of Adelaide is about to overtake you for all your misdeeds done in the Territory.

Have ye not failed in sending sundry tons of pure metal to the bloated aristocrats of the farinaceous village, and now will your blood atone for the lavish expenditure in " bottled beer and panjammas."


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 30 January 1874, p 2

The stupid blunder of the Adelaide Government in closing the Warden's Court without assigning sufficient reasons and without pointing out under what provision of the new Act they took such an unexpected step, is still causing discussion and irritation. The last position, we believe, which the Ministry take is that they never intended, when they sent their first telegram, to absolutely close the Warden's Court, but only to postpone the trial of all cases involving questions of ownership and title until the Commission should come into operation on the 1st of March next. But the truth is that every case coming before a Warden's Court does involve a question of title in some form or other. If a man jumps a claim, for instance, the Warden cannot hear the dispute without entertaining the question of title. There must be two parties to every case that is brought forward, and unless the Ministry can show that it is possible to consider the ownership of property without considering the title, they cannot believe it possible for the Warden's Court to do any good by sitting whilst the prohibition contained in the first telegram continues in force. All that the Warden can do at present is to issue miners' rights and register claims. He can-not adjudicate upon titles of any kind without disobeying the orders he received from the Government, who we suppose, rely upon some provision of the new Act for their authority in thus postponing the holding of the Court. But as there is no copy of the Act in its amended form to be obtained here, and as the Government have not thought it worth while to send its provisions by telegraph, the public it seems must re- main in the dark on the subject until the arrival of the Gothenburg, unless indeed the Adelaide lawyers take compassion on the Northern Territory, and obtain the much talked of mandamus for us free of charge and expense.

At the meeting last night Mr. Smith complained that he had been misreported in this paper on the subject of what he said some fortnight ago concerning the receipt of a telegram by the Special Magistrate, dictating to him what course he should take in the event of certain cases of appeal coming before him. But there are plenty of people who heard him make the statement, which he spoke of as a matter of undoubted fact, and nothing which he can say now as to misreporting will help him out of his difficulty. Our report was a fair condensed account of what took place; and whether Mr. Smith's exact words were given or not, there is not the slightest doubt whatever as to his having made the charge which he now attempts to wriggle out of, and which the Special Magistrate declares to be a deliberate falsehood.

Another misstatement made by Mr. Smith last night was that this paper had not expressed disapproval of the closing of the Warden's Court. But he will see that in our first article on the subject, and on numerous occasions since, we condemned the closing of the Court as a great injustice to suitors, and stated most distinctly that their expenses ought to be paid by the Government, though we did not agree with Mr. Smith in imputing base and corrupt motives to the Ministry without a full knowledge of all the circumstances. We still hold the same opinion, and shall not be turned aside by Mr. Smith or anybody else.

It will be seen from an advertisement in another column, that Mr. Mathers will give a lecture in Mr. Barclay's store to-morrow evening, on the subject of the Northern Territory, and its "reefs and alluvial." Mr. Connor, Chief Warden, will occupy the chair. According to report, nearly all the mining Companies are now at a standstill, and very few men are being employed by any (except, perhaps, Winn's). We understand, however, that Captain Siebes, Captain Paul, and Captain Ford are about to return to Adelaide.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 30 January 1874, p 3

Indignation Meeting.


Sir-As an admirer of "Grumbler's" taste in the indignation line, and believing that his appeal to Mr. Bogle will be met by a negative, I would beg to make a suggestion, and one which I think suitable. The Warden's Court is closed by a fiat of the wiseacres, and until reblest with the dulcet intonations and persuasive eloquence of the Modern Demosthenes, of under the verandah celebrity, why let it be dubbed "Indignation Hall," and used for the public good. Then might the public have their fill of thumpings and stampings on the entrance into the arena of such men as denounce "hanging Jeffries;" wipe their eyes over the musty parchment called "Magna Charta;" or, like Punch's friend Libby, allow the full weight ot his eyeglass to fall on its little twist suspender on the least allusion to a breach of the British Constitution by anyone but himself; or patting the hide of the old lion through the bars of his cage, with a sharp look out at his paws.

In their own house the people would have a right to applaud whom they liked, not whom they are told; or they might get up a little pantomine, or the farce of Plaintiff v. Defendant, with Sergeant Smuggins for "both your Worship." Mr. Caldwell's monkeys would now and then give the Palmerstonians a bit of fun, and teach the young idea "how to shoot." Southport would now and then exhibit an alligator, or some specimens from their Township Reef. A panorama of the Territory from Tumbling Waters to River Katherine, with the goldfields tinted yellow: and Captain Newman in buggy being drawn across the Adelaide Plains by fourteen bullocks; and Mr. Westcott cantering down Paqualin's Hump on an emu, with the latest monster nugget on his head, and a bouquet of "scrip" in his buttonhole. Do please, Mr. Editor, exert your powerful influence in furtherance of this object; and whether you go home by the old Gothenburg, or remain one of the citizens of Palmerston, the people will bless you. Nothing that I know of would contribute so rapidly to the Hospital Fund.

I am, Sir, &c.,



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 6 February 1874, p 3

Disputed Claims.


Sir-Are our rulers going insane, or is the Northern Territory in so flourishing a state that they can afford to drive the bona fide miner away, and stultify all private enterprise ? The action of the Commissioner of Crown Lands in shutting the doors of justice by the suspension of the Warden's Court, places a deadlock upon all mining, renders titles of every description totally unprotected, and at the mercy of the lawless if they have strength to carry out their designs. In fact, we are reduced to the law of might, and the weak go to the wall. The consequence will be that the orderly and law-abiding, in the absence of redress, will leave, and the Territory will be immensely retarded in its development.

The system of certain Companies' representatives in the holding of large areas of auriferous country, simply by miner's rights, and mostly those of absentees, is felt as a sore grievance by, the individual miner. A dozen or so men peg out as many miles of country

and register. Not contented with their extensive reef holdings, it has been ruled by the ex-Wardens that they could hold the alluvial as well on these so called claims, which has been one of the chief causes of driving many from our shores, and deterring others from coming. When the the Head Warden was here we thought a new era was inaugurated, and that our grievances were about to be redressed; particularly when the present resident goldfields Warden was giving great satisfaction by the promptness of his decisions without fear or partiality, not putting us of with-"I cannot do this or that," which has been the case heretofore, assuming none of the responsibilities. We have so far been a quiet community, but there is a point beyond which forbearance is no virtue. We have a head Warden in Palmerston and a Warden on the fields, each holding co-equal powers and jurisdiction. At the same time parties to suits have been summoned to town at great expense in the wet season, at a time when all traffic on the road was stopped, and at danger and risk of man and beast. This is not only unjust, but a want of consideration amounting to inhumanity, besides debaring the man of small means from justice altogether.

There are men-and a good number on the fields-just getting into work, whose means are limited, and cannot afford to leave, and who if down would not be able to return, and would probably take first chance of leaving altogether. If this course is persisted in, it is likely to place the mining community at variance with their arbitrators, for which the Government will be held responsible

There is no reason that suspension of the labor clauses should be further extended; it has been a clog and incubus upon the progress of the Territory. There is no longer any excuse for its application, and the sooner it is abolished and the claims represented by labor the better for the working man, the owners, and the country. From this hydra of many heads all the evils and grievances of which we complain have sprung.

I am, Sir, &c.,



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 13 February 1874, p 3

Warden's Court.


Sir-It is with surprise, consternation, and disgust that we, the mining community of the Northern Territory, view from various points the present suicidal policy of the Executive. First in having fixed the Chief Warden's Court at Palmerston; and secondly in having closed said Courts until the 1st of March. It is perfectly in keeping with the usual display of wisdom manifested by our Parliament, generally, I am bound to admit, to open a Court 130 miles distant from the diggings. They might as well established a Court in Adelaide, or at the antipodes, and order suitors there to have their disputes settled.

Can anything be imagined or devised more tyrannical and cruel than dragging suitors such a distance through a tropical sun, and worse than that, even in the middle of the wet season-some perhaps on foot, not having the means to procure the easier mode of travelling? It is hard, indeed, even for those that have means to be put to such unnecessary expense, and cruel in the extreme to those that are less fortunate.

Were it not that our far-seeing South Australian Executive is always endeavoring to immortalise themselves by carrying out brilliant conceptions of their own, for which neither precedent or experience can be found, or would warrant, they might have done themselves and their country service by having adopted the forms and practices of the sister, colonies, with respect to goldfield regulations and management, many of which they would have discovered to be more applicable to the Northern Territory than any measures they were likely to divine or invent during the next half century, if we may form an estimate based upon that exposition of talent displayed in the compilation of the Acts 72 and 73; and now certainly not improved by the action taken by the present Executive.

All that at present was required was one Warden, with clerical assistance, which Warden should also have been appointed S.M. He might then have held his Local Court, Police Court, and Warden's Court, thereby saving suitors an enormous money, cost, and tax upon physical energy and strength. But it not being my wish to censure the Executive for having appointed a second or Chief Warden, but only to complain of his Court being established at such a great distance from the suitors, I will point out what, in my opinion, should have been done did the Parliament deem it expedient to open a second Court.

The appointment should not have been that of Warden, but of visiting Judge, whose Court would have been a Court of appeal, and extended jurisdiction held quarterly at the Resident Warden's Court.

These Courts would, I am satisfied, meet the requirements of the Northern Territory goldfields for a considerable period, and would have given general satisfaction; and I remark that these officers should have been well paid.

Unfortunately for us a precedent can be found for this mode of goldfields government, and would ill accord with the pompous and pretentious views of a South Australian Executive that has barely left the first form in the school of a polished arena-"Aut caesar, Aut nullus!" being, I fear, their motto; and their arrogant self-esteem preventing their profiting by past experience and practices of other Governments, which would assist them to ascend the political ladder gradually but surely, terminates in their discovering "Aut nullus" the inevitable result.

But, Sir, it is not to be presumed that a suffering public will allow a Government to continue their blundering, ad infinitum, and sit quietly under the lash. The voice of the people will make itself heard, and I trust every voice will exercise its prerogative respecting the late action of the Government, which may cause them to repair the injuries already enacted, and may lead to prevent a recurrence of the same.

Trusting these few lines may invite abler pens to advocate our cause,

I am, Sir, &c,



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 13 February, 1874, p 3

Leasing Law.


Whether true or not it is the general impression on the goldfields that the suspension of the Warden's Court, and placing us in the position of a ship at sea drifting for want of rudder and compass on the shores of anarchy, is owing to the head Warden attempting to adjudicate upon the rights of lessees. It is but reasonable to expect that shareholders who have invested their many thousands should expect, and will compel the Government to fufil their obligations, and also that a Government fully aware of their position in regard to receipts for rentals, both before and after the 23rd of November-which latter they are responsible for the acts of their servants, who were not duly informed by the then Resident of the alteration of the law-they have received the money, and the receipt promises the quid pro quo. 

The rights of lessees are clearly defined by common law. The Government being in the position of an individual, and if one case is taken before the Supreme Court whose mandates it must obey, they might, by any further illegal exercise of power on the part of their representatives, be mulcted to the tune of half a million. When properly viewed these are bearings and results of momentous importance. So far as the alluvial miners are concerned the Warden's cases are nearly nil, and as nearly every alluvial miner has his quartz holding all are interested; and there are no old miners and reefers who have a good show but know the difference between the safety and security of tenure of a lease and miners' right title, and the facility of obtaining the assistance of capital for the first, and the difficulty in the later.

In the case of the Commission the Government do not possess the power to make their decision final regarding lessees rights, as a case in equity can at any time be instituted.

I am, Sir, &c,



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 27 February 1874, p 3

Justice in Palmerston.

To the Editor.

Sir-Under the above heading in your last issue Mr. Anthony (we beg his pardon, Captain Anthony) becomes indignant. He labors under a heavy grievance, and he is determined that the public shall hear his complaint, whether they sympathise with him or not. It may be natural for him to growl; old age is peevish, and we willingly submit to his whims and caprice; but when he exceeds the bounds of social propriety by terming us dishonest workmen and perjured villains, or insinuates as much, and wishes these remarks to be published here, and circulated in Adelaide for the information of the Directors and shareholders of the Company he represents, we consider it necessary to make a few observations in our own defence. We are, however, placed under the difficulty of being rough hewn miners, more accustomed to handle the pick and shovel than to wield the pen, and are no match for a giant in literature who supplies the Adelaide papers with glowing reports of his own achievements, and who apparently prefers to edify the people of Palmerston with theoretical essays in the Times & Gazette on golden country in urbe rather than to convince them of the existence of the precious metal in the distance by practical demonstrations in the claim he assumes to prospect.

The case to which he refers was certainly against one of your subscribers, but as the circumstances applied to us both alike we have undertaken to reply jointly, and in doing so we shall be as brief as possible, and trust that our remarks shall be free from the spirit of animosity, so that the judicious use of your scissors well be unnecessary.

We believe, at the same time, that whilst we defend ourselves from unwarranted attack we represent the working man as opposed to the genus manager, and consider two signatures necessary, because in some parts of South Australia it would take two miners' words to be as good as one manager's. We shall take very little notice of his assertion that he only owed 18s. 3d., because, although it is a stretch of a few shillings, it refers merely to the five shillings a week part of the agreement, and the case hinged on the payment of 15s. per week; or, in other words, on who first broke the agreement. Now, the agreement states that we shall be paid our wages in "sterling" money, and on the 20th December we refused to accept cheques as being contrary to agreement. Captain Anthony then said he would write "sterling" in the body of his cheques, and that would make them "sterling" money, but we could not be got to believe in the metamorphosis, and resolved to sue for the wages due. We did not run away from the work; we pointed out that we required to be paid, and the Captain told us we were "free men and could act as we liked." He actually gave us provisions for the road, and a cheque for three pounds in payment for a dog he purchased. It would have been better for us pecuniarily if he had kept his cheque and we had kept the dog. Surely this looked like giving us permission to go to Palmerston. It must be remembered that our want of faith in the cheque business was not altogether unjustifiable, for we took down with us a cheque given by Captain Anthony to one of our mates Hobby.

We cannot say in what case this cheque was drawn; all we know is that we wanted the money, and that although the cheque was drawn on the 20th, and presented on the 30th December, our reply at the bank was three very significant initials, but three very unsatisfactory ones. This cheque was handed in to the Court (not foisted on it), and it was evident that it had not been cashed. With reference to his interrogative insinuations that we are culprits in making misstatements, we most positively deny that any misstatements were made on our part, and we further deny that the evidence he quotes is correct. We swore only in strict accordance with the agreement, afterwards handed in to the Court, and all that we wanted was to prove that we were not the first to break that agreement-all we sought was to be paid for our labor in current coin. We have done our duty to the Company, and wish the Company to understand that we did so.

We have borne many grievances without making complaint; but we have no wish to be called dishonorable by the manager. We acknowledge that our manager is no ordinary one; he left in Adelaide assurances that his exploits would be something marvellous. He was to have penetrated the interior 100 miles further than any who had gone before him; and he was to have discovered reefs revealing enormous wealth. Certainly, he has not yet started for the interior, because he is probably desirous of solving the question of the existence of rich lodes within a short distance of Palmerston. This will probably account for the fact that out of six months' residence in the Territory he has been only about two months on the Stapleton. His anxiety to discover a fountain of wealth without risking the danger of exploration, probably, induced him to despise the menial labor of overseeing the work of taking the property of the Company from the ship as far as the Tumbling Waters.

It could not be supposed that a manager with extraordinary capacity would stoop to take inventories of pots of jam and bouillie. We admired him so much that we never murmured when we saw those medical comforts mentioned in the agreement as intended for our [?] consumed for the gratification of the stranger; we looked passively on while the passer by and the visiting stars from Palmerston cried "long live the Captain," and demolished vociferously those camp comforts, which in Hibernia are known as drops from the "crater." We submitted to this deprivation because we served under noble auspices. But the period of admiration has gone; the tide has changed, and our confidence is shaken. We sought for gold and found paper; we asked for an equivalent and it was not forthcoming; but we applied for justice and obtained it. And now with other miners who have been compelled to visit Palmerston in order to obtain redress, we can exclaim "Depart from us ye shades of panjammas and bottled! Indulgent Directors! bleeding shareholders! deliver us from the ghost of Anthony!"

We are, Sir, &c.



Palmerston, February, 1874.

[Any further correspondence on this subject must appear in our advertising columns.--Ed.]


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 6 March 1874, p 2

NOTHING can be worse for mining men, both employers and laborers, than to have their disputes concerning wages and agreements brought down to Palmerston, instead of being disposed of by a Warden's Court sitting on the goldfields. A great many cases of this kind have occurred lately, and it is just possible that a great many more will occur, when it is found that the Court in Palmerston will readily pay plaintiffs' expenses for the long journeys which they are compelled to make, and for the loss of time arising from adjournments whilst they are in town.

It is true that the men in a considerable number of the recent cases had a good excuse for coming to Palmerston, because they could not ascertain as long as they remained in the country how far the money which was due to them had been paid into their accounts. The Company had left them in ignorance on this point, and it was scarcely to be supposed that men would continue comfortably at work whilst they were receiving telegrams from Palmerston that orders for previous wages were being refused at the Bank. They felt it necessary to come and look after their money, and it would be hard to make them bear all the cost of this trouble and delay.

But in ordinary cases there ought to be no necessity whatever for an application to a Court sitting in Palmerston; and both Companies and men ought to be spared the expense of such an application. The object of a Warden's Court is to carry justice to the very centre of the mines, and it is a farce to see a large body of working men living idle about a town, and managers brought down from the country hundreds of miles, to obtain decisions which the law intended should be given on the spot where the disputes arose.

To the men themselves the hearing of cases in Palmerston is a great loss, because it involves a considerable expenditure in lodgings, food, beer, and other luxuries, besides keeping them a long time from their work; and to the Companies it is a loss, because managers cannot leave their mines without sacrificing a great deal of time and money. Whatever reasons, therefore, may have existed for such a practice during the past week or two, we hope that in the future, litigants will take the hint which was thrown out by the Chief Warden on Monday last, when he told one of the plaintiffs that there was a Warden on the goldfields who was -competent to try all questions of wages, and that he would hold his Court, when requested, at any place necessary for the convenience of parties, whether it happened to be his usual place of residence or not. The only matter for surprise is that this has not been fully made known before, so as to have prevented the coming down of a great many of the cases for which summonses have now been issued.

Another question which arises out of these mining disputes is whether there ought not to be a Branch Saving's Bank established in Palmerston as soon as possible, where the "men could have their earnings deposited with some advantage to themselves. Mining is now likely to become a steady industry here, and there will be a large number of men anxious to place their wages in safe keeping where a little interest can be obtained for its use, as there will be no means of expending it at the reefs, even if the owners were disposed to expend it. At present too many of them wait till they can come down to Palmerston, and then begin to throw away their earnings recklessly in drink. This will occur always more or less, probably; but there is no doubt that the inducements to throw away money in this manner would be lessened if a Savings Bank were established here, and some kind of facilities adopted for enabling miners in the country to pay their wages into this establishment through agents of their own or of the Companies residing in Palmerston.

SINCE the departure of the mail which was sent by the Pioneer there has not been much doing here, though confidence on the whole has increased, owing to better reports from the alluvial diggings, and to the reanimated state of affairs at some of the Companies' workings.

The excitement which arose in consequence of the "closing" of the Warden's Court, and the postponement of all cases of title, gradually subsided when it was found that the Government in Adelaide did not intend that the Court should be altogether closed; but that questions of title should not be tried until the Commission sat on the arrival here of the new Mining Act.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 13 March 1874, p 2

The excitement which arose in consequence of the "closing" of the Warden's Court, and the postponement of all cases o{ title, gradually subsided when it was found that the Government, in Adelaide did not intend that the Court should be altogether closed ; but that questions of title should not be tried until the Commission sat on the arrival here of the new Mining Act.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 13 March 1874, p 3

Public attention has of course been drawn to the excitement which was caused in your settlement by the action of the Government in closing the Warden's Courts-as it was at first said-or "in simply restricting the powers of the Wardens," as is now stated. We learn that indignation meetings have been held at which indignation speeches were made, and that strong and denunciatory telegrams have been sent to Adelaide-telegrams which resulted in a deputation going to the Commissioner of Crown Lands to represent the state of affairs to him. Of course until full reports of the proceedings arrive we are not in a position to judge of the merits of the of the question, but so far as I have learned the Government are supported in the action they have taken.

The new Northern Territory Gold Mining Act will come into operation on 1st March, and under that "jumping" is not permitted, it being provided "that if any objector substantiates his objection the claim in dispute shall revert to the Crown.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 20 March 1874, p 2

On Tuesday the Senior Warden, at the  close of the proceedings in the Police Court,  stated that the cases entered for trial in the  Warden's Court as to disputed claims were  now all handed over to the Commission, in  accordance with the provisions of the Mining Act. 


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 24 April 1874, p 2


Mr. J. Hogan's letter, explaining the particulars of his wages' case before the Warden's Court, is too long. Thirteen closely written pages would fill two columns of our paper. If he can send a short letter we will publish it.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 24 April 1874, p 3

People who have recently returned from the Northern Territory give amusing accounts of the way in which things are managed in that tropical region. What would you do without Courts of Law? 'They seem to be the great source of public recreation. But of course that cannot continue if population goes on decreasing' at the present rate. In that case there will not be much room for litigation; and the Government Resident will no doubt have to do the duties of Stipendiary Magistrate. However, the question of coolie labour will soon have to be dealt with, and then I suppose, it will be decided whether the Northern Territory is to be established as a prosperous settlement, or whether it will fall back once more into the limbo of insignificance. The public feeling here is certainly not favourable to the Northern Territory, unless it can be shown to be very rich in gold. Merchants, bankers, politicians, and others do not want to see any of the resources of South Australia drained away to North Australia, and therefore they are not likely to encourage the settlement, except as a means of benefiting themselves, which they would do if the quartz reefs were full of the precious metal.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 1 May 1874, p 2

"Our Criminals," we are afraid, will soon become a standing subject with us. They are cropping up in a most disagreeable manner, and are becoming far too numerous. Each serpent brings forth seven other serpents. And what are we to do with them?

It is the case, generally speaking, in districts far removed from long established communities, that the criminal law is obliged to be sharp and decisive, because lawless men are numerous and means of escape are plentiful. Hence it is that Safety Committees have often been tolerated by orderly people. Other tribunals have failed, and therefore these novel methods have been found useful. But we have not come to that state of things yet in the Northern Territory, though we are certainly beginning to feel some of the bad effects of being unable to deal fully with our criminals.

As no prisoners can be tried here excepting for minor offences, there is naturally a feeling abroad to look upon all offences as "minor," so that they may be disposed of without the great delay, expense, and uncertainty of sending them to Adelaide. Of course, there are some cases which cannot be twisted into minor offences, and which must therefore be sent to trial when they come before the magistrates-that is, supposing there is sufficient evidence to justify a committal. But here again the evil shows itself; for Magistrates are apt to feel (and quite right, too) that the evidence ought to be most complete and conclusive in order to justify the sending of a prisoner, with witnesses and constables, all the way to Adelaide. It is therefore not improbable that criminals are walking about in this settlement, who, if they had been nearer to the Supreme Court at the time of their examination, would have been committed, and afterwards tried and convicted.

Then, when cases are committed, look at the delay-to say nothing more of the expense! Justice ought to be swift and sure-not slow and indecisive; because nothing so tends to bring the law and all its machinery into contempt as a general belief that when a man commits a crime the chances of his escape arc greater than the chances of his punishment. He should be smitten as he stands. But compare this promptitude with the roundabout way of taking the whole affair to Adelaide-prisoners, troopers, witnesses, and materials for evidence, including in one case, a wretched old horse. Time, accidents, chances of death-everything are in favour of the criminal, and it is a mere lucky hit if in the long run he should arrive safely at the Supreme Court, and there enjoy the glorious principle of trial by jury.

A few of these cases arriving in Adelaide must open the eyes of people to the necessity of extended powers being given to the Courts here-that is, if we are to continue to have any population at all in the place. And in the meantime the gaol accommodation is a matter which must be pressed forward. Six prisoners-Chinamen, Englishmen, and all sorts, have been recently huddled together in one small cell, where, in addition to other evils (some of which are showing themselves) the want of fresh air must be something deplorable. Even in cold countries prisoners in gaols are supposed to require about 2,000 cubic feet of air per man; yet, with the accommodation which is provided in this warm climate, each prisoner cannot get more than 150 cubic feet of air! This is really something like murder.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 22 May 1874, p 3

Local Court Expenses.


Sir-Having been summoned to attend at the Court as a witness in a case in which Mr. Kaufmann was retained for the plaintiff, I attended three several times, the case having been postponed twice. The first time I had to appear I had to pay a person to perform my duties, for whose services I paid 10s. The second time of attending the case was again postponed. The third time I was called, and gave my evidence. Several days afterwards I spoke to the Clerk of the Court about the expenses, and he told me Mr. Kaufmann had the money and would pay me.

I saw him last Wednesday evening, and was informed that the Court only allowed one-half expenses, and he gave me the munificent sum of 5s. for my three days' attendance, which I think is a very golden (or rather silvery) bait to entice witnesses to attend.

One witness who went away shortly after the case was concluded, told me that Mr. Kaufmann paid him £1 for his attendance; and why he should get 20s. and myself only 10s. is a matter I cannot at all understand.

I am, sir, &c.,



Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 5 June 1874, p 2

The want of efficient means for administering justice in this settlement is still severely felt. Cases are now frequently occurring in the criminal Court which cannot be dealt with under the Minor Offences Act, and which must therefore be sent for trial to the Supreme Court in Adelaide. At the present time there are one or two prisoners and numerous witnesses who will have to make this journey; and to some of the witnesses it will be a considerable inconvenience. Besides, the probability is that cases are sometimes dealt with here in a summary manner, which ought to be sent to the Supreme Court, and which would be so sent if the distance were not so great. This is not a satisfactory state of things, and ought to be remedied as speedily as possible.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 3 July 1874, p 3

Public Meeting.

On Saturday evening, June 27th, a meeting was held in Barclay's Room, to consider questions relating to Government interference with Wardens' Courts, the non-administration of the Waste Lands Act of the Northern Territory, and "other grievances." The meeting was called for 8 o'clock, but did not commence till nearly 9, when there were from 30 to 40 persons. Mr. Caldwell was voted to the chair.

Mr. W. V. Smith moved the first resolution as follows;

"That this meeting deplores the fact that the unconstitutioned course of interfering with the administration of justice in the Wardens' Courts, by the Executive in Adelaide some months since, has been repeated by the Government Resident and the Special Magistrate, sitting as Commissioners for determining titles to gold claims in the Northern Territory; and protests against a procedure so calculated to destroy confidence in the integrity of the legal tribunals in the Territory."

He then referred to an article in the Northern Territory Times, which blamed Mr. Connor for making a statement as to a decision of two of the Commissioners on the subject of claims dated prior to March the 1st; but, the fact was, he would show that it was the other two Commissioners, Messrs. Scott and Price, who had made a mistake-a fatal mistake-in coming to a decision and publishing that in the form of an instruction to the Wardens. There was no ground for such an interference by the two Commissioners; and it was monstrous and abominable that any Government, or any Government officers should interfere with the judicial functions of a Warden, who was bound by law to receive all cases brought into his Court; and who ought to be protected from all attempt at coercion. The proper way was to let a case go before the Court, and if the Warden took a wrong view suitors had their remedies. They could appeal; and there was the Supreme Court of South Australia. But for the Government to say that such and such cases must not come on, and that a Warden must not dare to entertain them was a gross injustice. A Judge could not be dictated to or coerced, and it could be only through sheer ignorance that the Government of South Australia were not aware of this. They knew not what they did. But why was there such great anxiety to instruct officials? Why had the Government, all at once, expended pounds of cash in telegraphing and publishing instructions to Government officers out of an old Gazette? Why were they so anxious to keep Government servants in check; and who had told them in what way the Wardens were going to decide? Very likely the Warden's decision might be different from what was expected. At all events, the Warden should be trusted; and it was a sign of weakness for the Government to send these Gazette instructions at the present moment. Why, they were afraid of letting even a subordinate attend a public meeting. That was a proof that they believed they were not acting quite right. But the present action was of a piece with their former proceeding in closing the Warden's Court, an act admitted to be illegal, but was sought to be excused on the ground that a small illegality might prevent a large wrong. That was all the excuse they could find for it. And now they rushed eagerly to send along a telegram to the effect that no cases arising prior to March 1st could be heard by the Warden. Fancy Mr. Melville, the Secretary to the Commission, running in haste with this message, and blowing like a porpoise, to get it inserted in the Northern Territory Times at the moment of its going to ' Press. (Laughter). And what did this wonderful opinion of the law officers of the Crown amount to after all? Why, of course, cases prior to March 1st must be dealt with by the Commission. Anyone could have told them that. He should be ashamed of Jim even-(laughter)-if he could not have given that opinion after reading the Act. But this was not the point at issue, as would be seen by an examination of the clauses of the Act. He would describe that measure and its intended objects; and from this explanation they would see that although claims taken out before March 1st must be brought before the Commissioners in order to obtain titles, yet, in the meantime, the holder was bound to work the ground, and if he did not do so it was open then for any person to bring the question before the Wardens. The holder may delay in applying to the Commission, but, in the meantime, he must work the claim, and if he did not do so it was for the Wardens to decide who should have possession. He had examined the Act carefully, and he was certain that his opinion would bear the test of even the law officers of the Crown in South Australia. And who were they that they should interfere with a Court? Their opinion would be of no value before a recognised tribunal. Even the opinion of Sir Roundell Palmer would never be quoted in a Supreme Court, because Courts construed Acts of Parliament for themselves. It was to the Courts, then, that suitors must appeal, and no Government should dare to stand in the way. If they did they would be taught better. A prohibition could be got to restrain them. It was the duty of the Wardens, as provided by the 69th section, to sit and hear every complaint brought before them. They must entertain questions of ownership in all these cases, and that was his firm opinion after mature consideration; though he should not feel offended, and should not quarrel with the Northern Territory Times, if in its next issue, it declared that his law was all wrong, and that he knew nothing about it. He would repeat, then, that it was an unheard of thing for any Minister to tell a Judge how he was to decide, or how he was to hold his Court. Every man had a right to go to the Court, and to demand that the law should be administered. But an Attorney-General in South Australia might be nothing more than a small practitioner acting as attorney for a lot of mining Compauies, and taking their six and eight pences. If he agreed with those Companies, then, who could be surprised? But this was sorry work for one who represented our Sovereign Lady the Queen, as Attorney-General for a part of the British realm. It was an unfortunate state of things. But, nevertheless, people must stick to their rights, and insist upon their being respected.

Mr. Mather seconded the resolution. He agreed with the last speaker in his view of the law, and was anxious that the working miner should have a fair chance. There ought also to be a good road to the diggings, and less money expended on mere official matters.

The resolution was put and carried, without dissent.

Mr. Adcock moved the second resolution as follows:

"That in the opinion of this meeting the Northern Territory Land Act, 1872, providing for the free selection of lands and purchase after survey, or by special survey on application, has been rendered a dead letter by the action of the Government; inasmuch as all applications under it have been either refused or unattended to, and that the effect of such non-administration has been most injurious to the Territory by preventing settlement. Further, that the non-consideration of tenders for the pastoral lands at Coburg Peninsula and Melville Island, whence an immediate supply of cattle could be obtained, has been most detrimental to the well-being of the settlement; and this meeting, therefore, protests against the setting aside of the provisions of the Land Statute of the colony."

At the present time the Land Act here although a very liberal measure-was a dead letter, because the Government would not give effect to its clauses, and enable persons to take up the land which they required. And, then, with regard to Melville Island and Coburg Peninsula there was plenty of proof that those places could be occupied with great advantage, and that persons were anxious to occupy them, yet for some reason the Government refused to let any portions of that country. The public were bound, therefore, to remonstrate, and to point out that the Government were interfering with the rights of the people. The 24th clause of the Act declared that all country should be open for selection (subject to the provisions of the Act), and should be sold upon credit at 7s. 6d. per acre. Thus there was no limitation. The public were entitled to apply for any of those lands, and the Government were bound to grant the applications; yet, in the face of all this, it appeared from telegrams received by the Government Resident that no land could be disposed of at present, because "the land policy of the Government had not yet been settled." Now, what was this but an evasion of the law-a deliberate setting aside of the will of Parliament that had passed the Act. That Act was a good measure, arid ought to be in full operation, though he could not clearly understand why 7s. 6d. per acre was retained as the price for land under both circumstances-when taken oh credit, and when paid for in cash. However, it was this setting aside of the law which did so much harm to the place; and if there were competent Courts here the people would be able to insist upon Acts of Parliament being carried out in their integrity. It was the same in this matter as in the Mining Laws. The Government interfered where they had no right to interfere. The consequence, as regards land sales, was that persons coming here to settle were; driven away again; for there was no land to be obtained except from original purchasers, who would ask about £3,000 for what cost them 3s. This showed that the provisions of the Act ought to be enforced-that land ought to be surveyed in the country and that the upset price ought to be fixed in respect to suburban lands. He knew of three applications which had been made in vain. One gentleman wanted to invest £1,000, and could not. He himself had wanted to take 4,000 acres of land, and was ready to deposit 6d. per acre, but the answer was that the Government Resident had no power to alienate land at present. This was a great evil; for it ought to be in the power of every man to obtain a homestead for himself and family; and the Ministry should administer the law, as they were paid for doing. Most persons came here with the idea of gaining some advantage, and it was an injustice to them to hold out liberal laws which were afterwards withheld, and made inoperative. All that the people wanted was their rights.

Mr. M. J. Solomon seconded, and said he knew of several cases in which applications had been made, but without any good result. But he hoped that the two matters before the meeting would be kept distinct, and not allowed to clash with each other. Many persons would sign a memorial about the land who might not sign a memorial about the Warden's Court.

The resolution was agreed to. Mr. J. Jones moved the third resolution as follows:-

"That this meeting desires to record its surprise that the respectful representations heretofore made to the Governor of the Province and the Honorable the Commissioner of Crown Lands through the Government Resident have received no notice or acknowledgment; and deeply regrets that it may be inferred from such neglect that the just requirements of this community need not hereafter be sought for by the usual or legal methods."

He supposed our rights were overlooked and neglected because we were so far off as to be beyond the reach of law. He did not wish to impute motives to the Government, but their inaction was very much to be deplored. As to the Government Resident, he was quite sure that he would not be biassed by any one. He had known him as Magistrate for many years in the South-East district of South Australia, and it was a fact that fewer appeals were made against his decisions than in any case, and that fewer of his decisions were upset when they were appealed against. With regard to the Commissioners here, the Northern Territory Times had pointed out that two Commissioners could hear cases as well three, but it must remembered that in case of a difference of opinion the third Commissioner must be present or there could be no decision. In the present case two had given an opinion, and the third was opposed to that opinion, and this interfered with the Wardens. But the fact was, we required a Judge here, who should he competent to hear appeals, for then the laws could be administered, and the trouble and expense of having to go to Adelaide would be remedied.

Mr. J. V. Smith seconded the resolution, which was then put and carried.

Mr. W. V. Smith then proposed the adoption of the memorial, which he had prepared, embodying the foregoing resolutions, and also complaining (a matter which had come before the Committee) that the Government in the Northern Territory did not purchase their supplies in a satisfactory manner; inasmuch as they obtained them from private hands instead of calling for tenders. He had drawn up this memorial with care, and with every desire to keep within bounds. No one, he was quite sure, wished to impute bad motives to Mr. Scott or Mr. Price. They were no doubt most conscientious, but he wished them to know that they were wrong. They had told a judge that he must not hear such and such a case, and this was more than any Government had power to do. As to what people said about bribes, he did not believe such things. He had a very high opinion of Mr. Scott as a man of honor, and also as a man of sense, but in this case he had shown no discretion whatever, and the same could be said of Mr. Price.

Mr. Wells said if the Warden was a judge, raised above all Government instruction in matters of law, how was it that Mr. Connor had, with the two other Commissioners, consented (each one sending a separate telegram) to ask the opinion of the law officers of the Crown on the question now at issue, and which the law officers had decided against Mr. Connor?

Mr. Smith was not aware that Mr. Connor had sent such a telegram, and should be inclined to doubt it. Mr. Wells said the fact was so reported in the proceedings of the Commission, where the President (Mr. Scott) announced the circumstance publicly.

Mr. Adcock seconded the adoption of the memorial.

Mr, Solomon moved that the two matters be separated.

Mr. McIntyre seconded.

The question was put, and the original resolution was carried.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman closed the proceedings, and the meeting separated.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 17 July 1874, p 3


(From our own Correspondent.)

Adelaide, June 3.

The unsatisfactory condition of affairs in your settlement connected with the administration of justice is a master which urgently calls for the immediate attention of the Legislature. The absurdly cumbersome, expensive, and inconvenient method of bringing prisoners and witnesses to Adelaide in cases of committal to the Supreme Court, cannot be allowed to continue. The operations carried on there will be rendered too uncertain if men placed in positions of trust and responsibility are liable to be removed from those positions when they are most required and compelled to come to Adelaide to give evidence against some lawless fellow who might be dealt with on the spot, and they may as well be abandoned altogether as be left in the present precarious condition. I have reason to believe that very strong representations have been made to the Government, and it is to be hoped that these representations will make the Legislature fully alive to the urgency of the demand that there should be some adequate machinery provided for dealing summarily with offenders in the Northern Territory.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 24 July 1874, p 2

PHYSICAL force and bunkum were largely in the ascendant at the meeting on Wednesday evening. But talk about, revolvers, guerrillas, and "good right arms " are all "sound and fury signifying nothing." As to interfering with Warden's Courts, it was Mr. Frampton who asked the Commissioners for their advice; and it was Mr. Connor who afterwards submitted a case to the Law Officers of the Crown. This should be borne in mind by those who talk so glibly about "interference."

Appeals have now been entered on the cases heard by Mr. Frampton, and as this is the proper legal mode of proceeding, we suppose it will be allowed to go on, and that there will be no bloodshed just at present.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 24 July 1874, p 3

Public Meeting.

On Wednesday evening, a meeting called by placard, was held at Bieber's, for the purpose of discussing the question of the Warden's Court, and for agreeing to a telegram to be sent to the Government in Adelaide. Mr. Adcock was in the chair, and the room in which the meeting was held, and which was provided with seats, was nearly full of people.

Mr. W. V. SMITH moved the resolution which had been agreed upon by himself and others. He said previous complaints and remonstrances had not been attended to, and now, therefore, in order to ascertain whether the Northern Territory was to be given up to-he would not say the perfidy and wilful disingenuity but the ignorance of those administering the Government here-it was necessary to take further steps. But in doing this he felt great pain with regard to the Government Resident, who had always treated him with courtesy and kindness, though he did not know him till he came here, and had never heard his name mentioned before. It was not pleasant now to have to turn round upon him. But as a public duty it was necessary to say that either wilfully or through ignorance the Government Resident had committed a grievous error, and must therefore be told of it. All persons were interested in this. He did not pretend to be a philanthropic Man of Ross himself; but was anxious to see that his own interests and the interests of others were duly respected, because what affected one affected all. Their chief grievance, of course, was in reference to mining matters. He had lately been up the country, and he must say, a more barren country God had never made. In fact, he was doubtful if God had made it. Still, the people whose energy had brought them here were in the country, and the difficulties caused by nature must not be added to by the officials who were in power. Lately, as they were aware, the public had made repeated complaints, through the Government Resident, to the authorities in Adelaide. But no answer had been received. Now, however, as there was a new Minister appointed, they would make another attempt and would send down a telegram direct to the Governor through the Minister; for although the petition which had been prepared was being signed by nearly every one in the country, it would not do to wait for that, as it could not reach Adelaide for the next two months. In the meantime the interests of the country might be absolutely destroyed, unless something were done, and therefore it was necessary to send a telegram to the Governor, showing that this part of the province of South Australia was in utter disorder. At Sandy Creek, where there was the greatest body of men in the Northern Territory, the diggers, consisting of men from the diner en t colonies of Australia, were quite disgusted at the way in which things were going on, and were most anxious that true representations should be made to the Governor. Those men, he hoped, would have no necessity to resort to force, as was the practice in the dark ages. All that sort of thing he hoped was past and gone. But still they would not obey decisions which were unjust to them; and if Mr. Melville, the new Warden, should interfere with their rights, they might very likely put him into a hole of water, and then tar and feather him; whilst as to the police, if they interfered, the diggers would soon duck them in a horse-pond. There was not a better armed force in the world than the men at Sandy Creek. They all had excellent revolvers, and they would make a capital guerrilla force. They had asked him if they were wrong and he had told them no; they might use force to defend their property if force were used against them. It was necessary to warn the Governor, then, what might be done. The men were law-abiding men, and the officials were to blame for putting the law aside. They did not want rebellion; but the people must be protected from the illegal interference of the local authorities. He would now recapitulate the circumstances which had occurred in reference to the decision of the two Commissioners, who wanted to close the Warden's Court in reference to the hearing of certain kinds of claims. In fact they wished to do what the whole power of England could not not do. The Chief Warden was therefore compelled to announce, as he did, that he did not agree with the two Commissioners and was not present when they came to their decision. It was his duty to do that; yet on the Government Resident making this known in Adelaide, the Attorney General wanted an explanation from the Chief Warden-yes, the it was Attorney General, who was also attorney for a dozen, or so, of those petty, miserable mining Companies that had starved their men who said that Mr. Connor, the Chief Warden, was wrong. He (Mr. Smith) would not say that he was influenced in this case by fees; but he had sent such a message as no other officer in Her Majesty's dominions would have sent. He would rather lose his tongue first. No doubt there was a large quantity of gold in the Northern Territory, but diggers would not send for their friends, whilst their rights were trampled under foot; for they saw that directly a warden did anything, along came a message or a telegram to interfere with him-closing Courts, accepting resignation, or something of that sort. Having been engaged in several cases recently up the country he made enquiry and was told that the Warden's Court would be held on the 14th inst. Three cases were then heard, and in two cases the jumpers, as they were called, gained the cases; but in the other case it was not so. At that time it was known at the Shackle that people were telegraphing down as to now the cases were going, and it was generally believed there as a positive fact that Mr. Scott and Mr. Price were offered and promised a good fat share of all the claims that they were wanting to protect. It was stated that Mr. McMinn and others were offering this; but he could not believe it himself. Messrs. Scott and Price were no doubt reasonable sensible men, but their kindness and good nature towards friends outweighed their justice and good sense. He said this publicly because it was best to do so. However, the closing of Courts was in this case, perfectly illegal and the Courts would go on nevertheless, for the law must prevail in the long run, as in the case of appeals sent home to the Privy Council by the South Australian Government, where as was shown by the Northern Territory Times in its last issue, there had been £77,000 lost. No mountebank trick oí closing courts or accepting resignations would therefore do any good; for the Courts must go on in spite of Mr. Scott's overflowing good nature and desire to serve his friends. Besides, all this interference really injured the parties whom it was intended to serve, for it was the jumper who was in possession, and who remained in possession if the Courts were closed. The others were not shielded, but a coffin was thrown over them. Mr. Scott was therefore damning his friends whilst trying to serve them. It was not to be tolerated then, that a gentleman so atrociously ignorant should interfere with the Courts of law. They would send down a telegram direct to the Governor through the Minister for the Northern Territory, and see if they could not get an answer, or know the reason why. The voice of the people was the voice of God, and was always right and honest. Whilst it was the few who conspired to do harm it was the many who combined to do good. After expressing a very favourable opinion of the quartz reefs, especially the Union (there was no alluvial gold properly speaking); and after dwelling on the evil of allowing the Government cutter to remain unemployed, and also on the evil of not allowing the vegetables oí the public garden to be sold to anyone who liked to purchase them, Mr. SMITH concluded by reading the proposed telegram, which he said would be sent direct, as they had now done with Mr. Scott; and if the telegram were not answered, then there would be nothing but force-the good right arm-left for the people of the Northern Territory to trust to. The telegram which was prepared set forth particulars as to the accepted resignation of Warden Frampton, when he was ordered to give up his papers to a constable-a "bobby," and when the Court was closed although four cases were waiting to be heard; and concluded as follows: "We have no confidence in local authorities, who have put law at defiance. Many other grievances. We respectfully demand appointment of impartial and qualified officer from Adelaide to enquire into our complaints against local authorities. We respectfully warn your Excellency great portion of our small population threatening to resist constituted authority who are setting law at defiance. We respect law and order, but we will, under God's protection, preserve our rights as law-abiding citizen's [sic]."

Mr. W. S. MATHER (delegate from "Sandy Creek rush") seconded the adoption of the proposed telegram, and remarked on the orderly conduct of the meeting at Sandy Creek, where the miners were all good, useful men, and not like those who were gone away after serving a short time with the Companies. He disagreed with Mr. Smith as to there being no alluvial gold here, and said that the 120 men at Sandy Creek were probably getting more gold than the same number of men on any of the Australian diggings. Four hundred people could do well very.  Recently a small ravine had been opened out of which 73 ounces had been taken; but this trenched on Companies' claims, and Mr. Ford wanted the diggers to pay 1s. per head for being allowed to work there but he (Mr. Mather) advised them not to anything of the sort. On the subject of quartz reefing, it was wrong for speculators in Adelaide to say that half-a-million of money had been squandered away here; for the swindle was amongst themselves in Adelaide. They swindled their very servants by selling them shares, and sold their old stores for shipment to the Northern Territory. In fact, they pocketed the proceeds oí the swindle themselves, and now they talked of the Northern Territory as a "white elephant" and a "maelstrom." He proceeded to argue in favor of miner's rights as opposed to leases, and said that the claims on the Union were jumped before the ist of March, and not recently. As to sending in oppositions to claims before the Commission, a working man could not go to the expense of lodging £30 because he had not got it. The local authorities, he thought, were getting from bad to worse. They clung to a few people in Adelaide, and prided themselves on such paltry things as seeing whether a man was doing his work, or in looking through Bieber's public-house window to see who was drinking there. They had no large views, and cared nothing about settling the country, or assisting in its being opened up and and prospected. With regard to suspensions, the Commissioners had no right to grant suspension: yet they said there was suspension all over the country. It was the Warden, and the Warden only, who had the power to grant suspensions. In his opinion, there would be more Union reefs found yet, and therefore he had great confidence in the country if its affairs were properly managed.

The resolution was unanimously carried, and a collection was made for defraying the cost of the telegram.

Mr. SMITH, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman, remarked that he was glad to see bankers and merchants present; and said he hoped the diggers really would not duck Mr. Warden Melville, or tar and feather him; and he hoped, also, that they would not serve Mr. Scott in that way if he went up the country shortly. But there was Mr. Knight-who always went about with him-perhaps there would be no harm in tarring and feathering him. (Laughter and loud applause.)


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 24 July 1874, p 3

Up-Country Jottings.

(From our own Correspondent.)

Sandy Creek, July 18.

There have been great works here during the last week, and excitement has run high. It first commenced with the Warden's Court on Tuesday morning, when several cases were heard before the Warden, but there not being time to finish them, they were adjourned to the next day, when the Warden, after delivering judgment on a case postponed from the previous day, announced that he had received a telegram from the Government Resident, intimating that his resignation had been accepted, and that he was not to hear any more cases, and so he must close the Court. This caused great indignation, as some of the cases had been of long standing, and every one had all the witnesses quite prepared to settle these troublesome cases, and they were annoyed to find that they were to be disappointed a second time by the closing of the Warden's Court. Immediately Mr. Frampton made the announcement, Mr. Smith rose, and in a neat speech complimented him on the straightforward and just manner in which he had carried out his duties since he had been Warden. Dr. Kaufmann endorsed the sentiments of Mr. Smith, and wished him every prosperity. Mr. Sebbes and Mr. Griffiths, on behalf of the miners, assured him that he had earned the respect and goodwill of the miners, and that nothing would please them better than to see him reinstated in his former position.

On Wednesday the affair was the talk of the place, and the diggers seemed determined to do something in the matter. 

On Thursday Mr. Frampton rode through the diggings, and the diggers assembled, and one or two of them acting as spokesmen, expressed the high opinion the diggers had of him and his actions during his wardenship, and asked him if he would act as warden again if he was reinstated by the Government; and he answered that as they seemed so anxious, he would do so conditionally; and so the matter stands.

On Tuesday night a meeting was convened at the Diggers Arms Hotel, for the purpose of explaining to the diggers the oppressions and grievances with which they had to contend.

Mr. Villeneuve Smith led off by stating how the community had to deal with a great many grievances caused by the action of the Government and the Government representative; how the meat preservers of Adelaide were making rare little fortunes out of the country; how the managers had neat villa residences, on which the money had been expended which ought to have paid the miners' wages, and on the general prodigality of the managers or captains. He then spoke of the bad policy of the Government in closing the Warden's Court. The country had been put to great expense and its development impeded. Then there was the interference with the Warden's Court, which was most unwarrantable, and showed distinctly that the Government were determined to impede, instead of aiding, the development of the place. He alluded to the Land Act, again blaming the Government for their conduct. He also alluded to Bishop Bugnion's mission and said he came to get land for his countrymen; but it was locked up by the Government; and the same with other applicants who wanted the land, and could not get it. Another grievance was that although it was customary to advertise tenders for Government wants, yet this practice had been ignored here, and the merchants of Palmerston had to see goods sent from Adelaide .at a much higher price than what they could supply them at. He then read the petition, which the meeting in Palmerston had recently compiled, and which is to be forwarded to Adelaide.

Mr. Mather followed. He first informed them that he was "One-Eyed Bob," and that he had convened that meeting for the purpose of letting them know what was being done in Palmerston, and to give them a chance of signing the petition. He meant to say more, but Mr. Smith had saved him the trouble. He also condemned the action of the Government generally as being an hindrance to the development of the country; abused the Press for taking the side of the Executive, and ended by promising to come round and get signatures to the petition.

Both the speakers were very vehement in their denunciations of the Government, and were frequently and loudly applauded. About 150 diggers attended and were very orderly, but seemed to concur with the speakers. Mr. John Gunn was chairman.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 15 August 1874, p 2
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The Wardens'Courts, the Authorities, and the Public.
SIR-With regard to the advertisement signed "Wm. McMinn" (which-as well as what you call the "Reefs Memorial"-appears to me to have been instigated by Mr. G. B. Scott, the Government Resident), I need only point out that it is based upon an absolute misstatement of facts, in so far that it imputes to me insinuations I never made, as may be seen by reference to your report of the Palmerston meeting in your issue of 24th July-which report I admit to be a fair, though necessarily very condensed, resumé of my remarks. I repeat that it was publicly stated both at Palmerston in June last, and at Yam Creek, that shares had been offered to Messrs. Scott, and Price in some Union claims under litigation; and I also repeat what I said both at the last meeting and the preceding one of the 27th June, as well as to those repeating the assertion, that I looked on such allegations as not worthy of belief and simply absurd; and that I only alluded to them to show the impropriety of departing from the strict law among other reasons-that it gave a colorable handle for the propagation of such scandals. I have reason to believe that the very ridiculous action of "Wm McMinn," and the promoters and signers of the "Reefs Memorial," is operating to confirm the belief of those who gave any credence to the scandals. I received a letter a day or two ago from as intelligent and moderate a miner as there is in the Territory, referring to this "Memorial," to which he was requested to put his signature by three or four individuals, who made the most bare- faced misstatements. He says:- "I told them that McMinn was the only one to blame, as he stated he did not care about Wardens' decisions, as two of the Commissioners would decide in his favor-thus implying an understanding between them." Further on he says-"There are some that will sign anything. Some of them said they did not know what they signed; others, if there were a contra one, they would sign that as well." When this is the mode in which "memorials" are manufactured, there is generally "something dark" on the part of the manufacturers-especially when, as is the case in the present instance, some of the signers apparently do not know their own Christian names. For example, "Zebulon " and "Weihish;" in addition to which I am told there are many other apparent evidences of forged signatures throughout the document.
Compare the 122 signatures so manufactured, apparently forged, or obtained by misrepresentation of facts, with the 240 signatures every one voluntarily appended autographs of bankers, merchants, miners, and others, after mature discussion at public meetings-of the petition to Parliament. That petition contains by inference the same caution I gave at the last meeting-and which the "Reefs Memorial " takes exception to-namely, that if the local authorities continue to ignore the laws, the people will be provoked to take the law into their own hands; and-in the words plagiarised by the "Reefs Memorial" from my own remarks, as reported by you-notwithstanding they are "a law-abiding people." In conclusion, Sir, as I regard Mr. G. B. Scott, the Government Resident, as the instigator, if not the concoctor of the two documents referred to, I would like that gentleman to explain whether or not he ordered, by telegraph, the late Warden, Mr. Frampton, to deliver up all his warden's books and papers at one minute's notice to a constable, and so close his Court while sitting, because of a telegram he received the night before from Mr. McMinn, expressing discontent with a decision given by the Warden that day? Whether or not he did not appoint, in direct contravention of Section 68 of the Mining Act, Mr. Melville (who held office as warden when the gross blundering in mining affairs originated) to be Warden, knowing him to be both directly and indirectly "interested in gold mining enterprise in the Northern Territory?" I will say nothing here of the scandalous waste of the public money on and about the Government Residence-the absurd folly and waste on the "submarine jetty," fancy fowl houses, and other utterly useless works; nor the profuse and unnecessary outlay on the Public Gardens, which I am reliably informed costs the country some £500 or £600 a year, and which are used only to supply the Government Residence with fruit and vegetables, and to give Mr. Scott the assumed right of doling out the "leavings" thereof to some of the Civil servants. Nor to the consumption of expensive horse-feed--provided, as I understand, for the troopers' horses-in sustaining Government horses for his private carriage, notwithstanding the Parliamentary Bluebooks represent Mr. Scott's salary to have been fixed in lieu of all expenses and allowances. I will remark, however, that if in addition to flagrant maladministration, there is any further attempt to deprive the miners of their legal rights, I still doubt not those miners will--as many have asserted, and still assert they will-protect their property by all legal means, and if molested by force, defend themselves, as they have a legal right to do, by an appeal to the strength God has given them-notwithstanding the late laughable exhibition of "cavalry drill and sword exercise."
One parting wotd of advice to Mr. G. R Scott. Let him not continue to practise the mistake he has evidently fallen into, i.e., that he is a quasi-Governor. He has demonstrated to us himself that he is but a sort of "Mandore" (a term made familiar to us by the late coolie influx) over the Civil servants here. He has shown he dare not even order a window to be cut in a weatherboard shanty, to save our Special Magistrate and all who must attend Courts from suffocation, without spending large sums in telegraphing for permission to the Ministry. If he may not cut an aperture in a wooden wall for a useful and sanitary purpose, he surely ought not to "knock a hole" in an Act of Parliament to serve his friends or himself. Your expensive mode of allowing a correspondent to explain must, Sir, please my excuse for any obscurity arising from conciseness.
Your obedient servant,
The Palmerston Meeting.
SIR-ln the course of Mr. Villeneuve Smith's rigmarole at the meeting held at Palmerston on July 20th, the following occurs:- And it was generally believed there (the Shackle) as a positive fact, that Mr. Scott and Mr. Price were offered and promised a good fat share of all claims they were wanting to protect. It was stated that Wm. McMinn and others were offering this, &c. No one has ever dared to make such a statement in my presence; and it is singular that none of my friends-and I have a large circle-have ever heard such a rumor breathed, I have questioned a large number of those who were present at the Shackle on the day (by Mr. Smith's account) the matter was so generally circulated, and all deny having heard anything to the effect stated. The evidence is therefore strongly presumptive that the whole statement is the offspring during excitement of Mr. Smith's fertile brain. His whole speech at the meeting referred to betrays a disposition when in want of facts to draw on his imagination to supply their place.
Great stress is laid by Mr. Smith on the presence of merchants and bankers at the meeting. It is a well-known fact that the individual who enjoys exclusively the former appellation happens to be the Secretary and Treasurer of the Association of Jumpers of Palmerston, and is, therefore, directly interested in the support of the views enunciated by Mr. Smith.
I am, Sir, &c,

We the undersigned have read with feelings of disgust the published account of the meeting held at Palmerston on 22nd inst.
The statements made thereat, purporting to be the sentiments of the mining community of the Northern Territory, we entirely repudiate, and have no sympathy with. We have implicit reliance on the integrity of the Government Resident and of Mr. Price, and consider the remarks made, reflecting on their honor, as disgraceful and beneath the contempt of every respectable person.
Finally, we claim to be a law-abiding community, and as such are prepared to support the authorities in any measures calculated to repress ruffianism, should such be resorted to-a most improbable contingency, although so extensively speculated upon by the principal speaker at the meeting referred to.
Edw. Cartwright, J. K. James, Patt. Lewin, J. May, Fredk. Phillips, J. Gunderfinger, Wm. Samson, William Jeffs, R. Webb, Reuben Atkinson, E. Allen, J. Marriott, Alex. Robinson, Aug. Daglish, Thos. Gilmore, Thos. Harvey, James Shakes, W. L. Summers, Charles Kerr, J. P. Goubler, Thos. Cornelius, A. Mackenzie, Otto Gibson, Wm. Phillips, Wm. Geo. Goodchild, J. Brown, E. Hopewell, A. Fergusson, William Shakes, George Williams, M. Rosenbroam, M. Littlefield.
The above names are in addition to those published last week.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 15 August 1874, p 2
WE believe there is some probability of a Judge being sent to the Northern Territory at an early date. The public will be glad of this, if it is only with the hope that a change may be commenced in the manner of conducting the business of our Courts.
The "scenes" which take place at present between counsel and Magistrates are most discreditable, and are calculated to bring the administration of justice into contempt. In fact, the evil is likely to cure itself, unless the authorities interfere, by the refusal of the Justices to sit on the Bench. Even at present it is a very difficult matter to make up a Full Court without summoning a Government Officer (who is, therefore, to neglect important work in the Land Office), and when he goes away, it will not be easy to get sufficient Justices of the Peace willing to perform the unpleasant duties which are now connected with the sittings of the Local Court.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 22 August 1874, p 3
Palmerston District Council.
Present-J. Jones (Chairman), and Messrs. Caldwell, Salomon, and Fiveash.
Minutes of last meeting confirmed.
Correspondence-... from Councillor Caldwell tendering his resignation on account of the verdict given against him in the case Badman v. Caldwell at the Local Court.
Resolved-That Councillor Caldwell's resignation be not accepted.
The Council being of opinion that Mr. Caldwell was not cognisant of the fact of unwholesome meat being exhibited for sale on his premises, and they are of opinion that if the evidence brought forward at the hearing of the appeal had been given in the first instance that no conviction would have been made...


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 29 August 1874, p 3
The storm in a teapot, which we have had here on the subject of the wardens and their Courts, may now be considered to have terminated. Some inflammatory speeches were delivered at one or two public meetings, but the community took an early opportunity to show that they did not sympathise with the speaker, and so the matter ended. But things of this sort are sure to occur occasionally in young settlements, for the people have no amusements beyond talking about grievances and going to law with each other. This latter proceeding is a very favorite one, and nobody can escape it; for though a man may have lived forty years without having ever appeared in any Court, either as accused or accuser, or as plaintiff or defendant, yet it is impossible for him to live in the Northern Territory for even a few months without becoming mixed up in some Court affair-libel, manslaughter, or something of the sort. In fact, the rage for litigation is so great, that if two tradesmen have a dispute about a debt of 12s. 6d. (as in a case last week), they cannot settle it without going to their lawyers and bringing it before the Court. They like law, and they look upon the Special Magistrate as "their guide, philosopher, and friend" in all the troubles and vexations of this mortal life.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 29 August 1874, p 2
THE Adelaide papers seem to be fairly puzzled over what they call the "embroglio " of our Wardens' Courts; and no wonder, considering the conflicting statements which they receive on the subject-one correspondent flatly contradicting another in the most delightful manner. As to the chief point at issue-whether quartz claims registered before the 1st March are subject to Warden's decisions the newspapers apparently lean to the opinion that all such claims were intended to be dealt with by the Wardens, just the same as others, if the working conditions were not observed. But no reasons are assigned for this opinion, and the writers admit that they are not well acquainted with the merits of the cases in dispute.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 5 September 1874, p 2
It may be supposed that a country without an Insolvency Court ought to consider itself in a very enviable position. But Insolvency Courts are necessary evils where any amount of business is carried on, and where people are in the habit of giving credit to each other; for either through fraud or misfortune, traders will be sure to collapse occasionally, and then it is for the benefit of everybody concerned that some authority should be able to step in and distribute the estate. At present there are no means of doing this in the Northern Territory, excepting the very expensive plan of making a declaration through the telegraph wires, which would swallow up everything, and therefore when a trader is in difficulties his property is likely to be seized upon by one or two creditors to the exclusion of all others and what is more, he may be guilty of all kinds of frauds without incurring punishment.
To remedy this undesirable state of things and to put traders in as good a position as they are elsewhere, the Parliament ought to give the Stipendiary Magistrate of this place jurisdiction to deal with all cases of insolvency up to amounts of at least £500. Probably no expense would be incurred by this change, beyond, perhaps, the salary of an assistant clerk, whilst the advantage would be very great, not only to creditors, but also to those insolvents who might be desirous of honestly dealing with their estates and distributing them fairly.
Along with this insolvency jurisdiction there ought also to be proper means of registration in this settlement. At the present time a man may mortgage land, or effect a bill of sale over his property for the purpose of raising money, and yet the transaction is not valid until it is registered; and therefore after raising money here he might make fresh mortgages in Adelaide, and by taking care to register them might altogether exclude the persons who had lent him the money in the Northern Territory. It will be seen that the door is thus open to very serious frauds, and that people in trade here are deprived of many of the protections which are enjoyed in other communities; yet there is no reason why this should be the case. The Local Court machinery which is in existence here could be well made to take the place of an Insolvency Court for a very long time to come; and it is probable that the additional clerical assistance which would be required would be more than paid for by the fees which would be received under the provisions of the Insolvency Act as it now exists in Adelaide.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 12 September 1874, p 3
Correspondence on the Warden's Court.
Amongst the Parliamentary papers which we received by the Gothenburg's mail there is the correspondence between the Govermcnt Resident and the Commissioner of Crown Lands on the question which arose in the beginning of the year on the subject of the Warden's Court. We subjoin a portion:
Closing of Warden's Court.-Notes taken by the Secretary.
This morning (15th January), a deputation appointed at a public meeting held yesterday to protest against the closing of the Warden's Court, waited upon the Government Resident by appointment at 12 o'clock to present a memorial on the subject to the Government Resident for transmission to his Excellency the Governor at Adelaide.
The members of the deputation were Messrs. W. V. Smith, Adcock, J. Jones and Moore.
Mr. Moore, as Chairman of the Committee, handed in the memorial to the Government Resident.
The Government Resident, after perusing the document, called attention to the fact that it contained a quotation from a telegram-of which he had given a copy to Mr. Warden Conner for his guidance-and inquired who authorized the Committee to make use of information which was not intended for the public.
Mr. Smith, in answer, stated it was through Mr. Conner he obtained it; he came to him as a professional man tor an opinion upon certain clauses of the Mining Act, and said he did so in consequence of receiving a telegram from the Government Resident. Mr. Smith added that being put in possession of certain facts set forth in the telegram, he felt himself free to use them as a public man for public purposes.
It was stated that there were seven cases pending yesterday; that about 40 witnesses were engaged, and that £200 at least had been paid in costs. Mr. Scott promised to forward the memorial to his Excellency.
The deputation then withdrew.
(Signed] J. G. Knight,
Chief Warden's Office,
7th March, 1874.

Sir-May I respectfully request you to enclose this letter to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Adelaide.
In the telegram which you showed me on 3rd inst, I perceive, to my regret, that I am censured by the Government for some observations which are reported in a newspaper to have emanated from me on the day I closed my Court. I deny that in any way I said anything reflecting on the action taken by the Government. My position was a very peculiar one: I had, in the performance of my duty as Warden, issued summonses to try certain cases; much interest attached to these cases from the fact of Wardens never having decided cases before, and a crowd was assembled, composed of a number of Victorian miners, who are a difficult class to deal with; and I was compelled to state that the action was not mine, as also upon your authority, read that portion, and that only, which referred to the Warden's hearing and determining these cases.
It is true that on the evening of the day when you informed me that you would suspend me if I did not obey the order you gave me, I showed the telegram in its entirely to the lawyer here for legal advice, and with it showed my commission, as I may say I did not think the power lay with any one to suspend me, except the power that appointed me. He (Mr. Smith), as I think, wrongly used the information derived in a legal point of view, and made it public, but without my knowledge or sanction.
I regret much that anything should have led the Government to consider my act improper; and beg to assure them that the fault was a most involuntary one on my part, as I trust by attention and zeal to give them the utmost satisfaction, and justify the steps they took in appointing me as Chief Warden.
I have, &c,
M. L. Conner.
To G. B. Scott, Esq., Government Resident.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 26 September 1874, p 3


The Validating Commission.

Subjoined is the portion or Mr. M. J. Solomon's letter which was held over last week;--

"I am given to understand that the decision of the Commission against the recommendation to the Government Resident for the granting of a lease of No. 3 south, Unions was founded on the fact of no Work being done (a fact which the applicant freely admitted) and I therefore think it a duty I owe to all concerned in mining and in the welfare of the Northern Territory to point out what I consider a serious error, and a grave injustice (o one of those persons for whose especial advantage the present Act was passed by the Legislature, and forwarded here at a heavy expense (viz., a special charter of £1,000 paid to the Tarama) so as it should be here by the ist of last March.

"Another matter of serious complaint is the manner in which the case referred to was conducted; Firstly, the Clerk to the Commission called on the case, and stated there was no opposition. An attempt was made by an attorney present to appear for a person in opposition who had neither complied with clause 11 nor paid the £20 required to beso paid under the third schedule; This was not permitted, but the said attorney, and others in the Court who were interested against the applicant, were allowed to tender evidence, which was not only irregular but extremely unfair and ultra vires for clause 12 distinctly points out the proceedings of the Commissioners when no opposition is entered, and clause 15 the proceedings when opposition is entered. The Commission adopted the course laid down in clause 15, although no opposition was entered, where they should have been guided by clause 12. If the proceedings ot last Tuesday are to become a precedent, I should strongly advise persons who have entered notice of opposition, and have paid their £20, to withdraw the same, and to get their respective moneys returned, as they can by offering themselves as witnesses, carry the object of opposition quite as far as they could by adopting the course laid down in the Act; besides which they have the advantage of being £20 better off. In fact it appears that witnesses can spring up during the enquiry without any previous notice to the unfortunate applicant, who comes into court believing there is no opposition, and therefore not prepared to meet any. Hence the injustice.

"I must again refer to the judgment given in consequence of no work being done (granting for the sake of argument that the views of the Commission upon the point are correct), and remark I am then still at a loss to understand how the Commission arrived at their decision, having as they did before them a document signed by Warden Frampton, suspending the claim in question from all work, pending the decision of a dispute which has not been settled to this day."


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 3 October 1874, p 3

The talk is that the House of Assembly seems to have passed the whole of the amount proposed for expenditure in the Northern Territory, which is a very good thing; and that there is also to be a Circuit Court established without delay. But if a Judge is really coming up by the next steamer we must look to our reputation and not allow his Honor to suppose that we cannot produce any more business for him than the miserable Ah Kim case. Let our criminals rush to the rescue, or the circuit court will be a failure.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 10 October 1874, p 2

The new Local Courts Act, which was laid before Parliament a short time ago, proposes to make considerable changes in the existing law, and is, therefore, deserving of some attention on the part of our readers. In the first place, we find that the new Bill no longer declares that all matters coming before Local Courts shall be decided "according to equity and good conscience, and the substantial merits of the case." These words, which really meant nothing, though they sounded like something good, have been omitted, and in their place, it is stated that all actions coming before the Local Courts shall be determined "according to the principles which govern courts of equity." This is something definite. Local Courts are courts of equity under this clause, and nobody will be any longer misled by the words about good conscience and the substantial merits of the case.

The new Bill extends the jurisdiction of Local Courts, and makes a large number of amendments, which at present we have no room to notice. It also contains a clause, the 71st, which

says, "No person shall be appointed judge of the Local Court of Adelaide, or any other Local Court-the jurisdiction whereof shall be extended in manner hereinafter provided except of the Local Court of Palmerston, unless he shall be a practitioner of the Supreme Court of the said province of at least seven years standing."

From this it appears that what has been called "stringybark law" is likely to be perpetuated in the Northern Territory; for, although the Local Court of Palmerston may have the extended jurisdiction, and, although the Special Magistrate may be called a "Judge," yet it shall not be necessary for His Honor to be a practitioner in the Supreme Court as long as he presides in Palmerston.


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 10 October 1874, p 3

Pine Creek is at present nearly deserted, and not likely to be attractive for some time to come; yet they keep two troopers stationed there; and would put the Warden there also. The pockets, loss of time, and inconvenience of the mining population is about the last thing considered in any arrangement made tor this Territory, in no other part oí the world would they be compelled to undertake a journey of some 300 miles to attend a Warden's or Commission's Court before they obtain an unopposed lease for a piece of land that (under the present uncertain and complicated Mining Act and Regulations) they are not sure of getting, and if granted they are not certain of holding a week. The "Wardens and officials convenience and comforts alone appear to be studied. As long as they can remain at home, receive their salaries, and not be troubled, the diggers may complain and all leave the Territory if they like.

Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 19 September 1874, p 3

The Gold Mining Commission.

To the Editor.

Sir-As a "Friend of the Court" may I be permitted through the columns of your valuable journal to refer to the decision given by the Commission on the application for a lease of No. 3 south, Union Reef, which, as your readers are aware, was given against the applicant, although there was no opposition entered. And I will, I think, be able to show that the course adopted on Tuesday last was in direct opposition to the Act now in force; in fact, that the intention of the Legislature by the decision in this case has been completely frustrated, and another case of bungle has been added to the numerous attempts to legislate for the gold-mining interests of this remote portion of South Australia.

From the various questions asked by the Commission it is evident to me, and must have been patent to every one who has any knowledge of the mining laws, that those gentle- men cannot have studied the Act, or have given much attention thereto.

I am sorry to have to make this statement, but when one gentleman, whose especial duty is to be thoroughly conversant with the Act, publicly states from his judicial seat, "That the application for a lease of the above-mentioned claim was informal, and could be not granted because the miner's right holding such land had expired some few weeks;" and the Commission, as a whole, seem to think that because work has not been done applicants are not entitled to a lease, I think I am justified in making the above charge.

By reference to clause 6 it will be found that there is no necessity for persons to hold miners' rights for claims taken out since the 29th of November, 1872, and prior to 1st of March, 1874, to enable them to obtain a lease from the Commission; and, further, the latter portion of clause 23 distinctly states, in words as clear as language can convey, that an applicant tor a lease before the Commission need not be the holder of a miner's right, the exact words used being, "Provided always that nothing in the Act shall incapacitate any person or Company from enjoying or availing himself or themselves of the provisions contained in Part 2 of this Act (the especial part relating to applications for leases to come before the Commission) notwithstanding such person or Company is, are not, or shall not have been heretofore the holder of a miner's right." I therefore think I am justified in saying that the Commissioner who made the statement relative to miners' rights cannot have paid that attention to the Act that his position in the Government Service should demand of him.

Relative to the question asked by the Commission as to the work done on the claim applied for. I state, without fear of contradiction, that there is no clause in the present Act that requires work to be done prior to a person being entitled to a lease for land taken up before the 1st of March, 1874, and further that in the Act of 1873 (under which all the claims on the Union line of reef that are to come before the Commission were taken out) there is not a single clause requiring holders of claims to do one hour's work.

The Ninth Schedule refers to applications for gold mining leases and limits the quantity of land comprised in one lease to 4.0 acres, after which clause 3 leads thus: "There shall be employed, and kept continuously employed, at least two men on every ten aces or portion of ten acres of land contained in any such lease, who shall work the same subject to the regulations hereinafter contained." This clause distinctly points out that two men must be continuously employed on every ten acres after the granting of a lease, but not prior thereto.

I am, Sir, etc.,


[We have been compelled to omit a part of this letter owing to its length.-Ed.]


Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 19 September 1874, p 3


The memorial which was prepared here in favor of a Warden being stationed at Pine Creek or the Union was signed by 80 or 90 people.

It is as follows:

"We the undersigned inhabitants of the Union and Pine Creek reefing district beg to point out to you the early necessity of a Warden being appointed to reside near to the Union or Pine Creek.

"The distance to the Shackle is very great, and the present Warden is very far away. And as this is likely to become a prosperous and permanent mining centre your petitioners beg that you will see the necessity of taking action in the matter."

This was addressed to Mr. Scott, the Government Resident, and entrusted to the care of the Hon. T. Reynolds, who presented it, and who has since received a favorable reply.

One of the Wardens, at an early date, is to be stationed at Pine Creek.

The answer to the memorial is as follows:

"Palmerston, 16th Sept., 1874.

"Sir-In reply to your letter of the 11th instant, together with memorial from the miners, asking for one of the Wardens to be located either at the Union or Pine Creek, I have now the honor to inform you that I have given instructions to the Chief Warden to prepare to leave for the goldfields as soon as he can be spared from the sittings of the Commission. I intend one Warden to live at the Shackle, and the other at Pine Creek. This arrangement will, I hope, suit the convenience of all persons engaged in gold mining.

"I have the honor to be, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"G. B. Scott,

"Government Resident

"The Hon. Thos. Reynolds, &c."

Another correspondent, writing from the Union, says that a great deal of interest is being taken in the new alluvial diggings, about 10 miles from the Union, and that there will no doubt be a rush, to that place as soon as there is a supply of water available, it is also complained that applicants are obliged to attend the sittings of the Commission in Palmerston.

A correspondent says:-" I wish you could inform me if there is any possibility of our avoiding being dragged down to Palmerston when our application for leases is to be heard by the Commissioners-opposition or no opposition-for it will be a most serious loss and inconvenience to our party if we must attend personally, merely to swear that we have complied with the regulations of putting pegs, &c., in; and many will abandon it altogether rather than undertake so long a journey and incur the heavy expenses, it is almost more than any of us can do with the present scarcity of labor in the Territory, dearness of provisions, cartage, wages, &c, to work our claims and raise stone ready for the batteries when erected even now; and if we are dragged down to Palmerston and the Shackle on every little occasion to the Wardens, in place of their holding Courts once a month on the principal reefs and diggings, no man will be able to stop and work the country out of its present depressed state. A rough memorial to the Government Resident was taken round for signature last week, asking that a Warden might be appointed here or at Pine Creek, or that he should attend here and hold Court once a month, so as to do away with the loss and expenses incurred by going to the Shackle (30 miles) on every little occasion. But now it is known that in all the applications for leases before the Commissioners (opposition or no opposition to their leases) we must attend personally, great excitement and indignation are expressed and shown by all here, and an indignation meeting and memorial will no doubt be the result if this regulation is enforced. I trust it will not, but that agents might be allowed to appear for us instead; and that if sworn evidence is required the Warden from the Shackle may be instructed to attend here once a month to take evidence required, hear complaints, &c, so as not to entail all the heavy expenses and fatigues of long journeys in a country like this on the poor but bona fide, digger or reefer. If something of this sort is not done it will cause dissatisfaction, and drive the best of the few men left in the Territory out of it.

"It is now almost impossible to comply honestly with the labor clauses of the Act: for if a man has a claim, and has the means to employ assistance to open up and prove his claim (at present high rates of wages, &c.,) it is almost impossible to obtain men to do it They are not in the Territory, and what few there are prefer getting what they can by alluvial digging to working reef claims, and have all expense, trouble, and inconveniences attending them under present regulations."

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School