[CALVERT, Samuel, 1828-1913, engraver]
Colony of Victoria. Miner’s Right. Ballarat, November 186[3?].
Melbourne : John Ferres, Government printer, . Copperplate engraving on parchment, 138 x 198 mm, dated (in manuscript) 15th November 186[3?], issued to John Ga[…]e (name in manuscript) in the District of Ballarat (location wet stamped in black ink), for the sum of £1, to be in force for one year; signed by John Hall (Receiver of Revenue, Gold Office, Ballarat); original folds, some creasing and foxing, the manuscript entries rubbed in places rendering the miner’s surname and the last numeral of the year only partially legible; the nature and extent of the wear is not unusual for surviving examples of the Miner’s Right, a document which had to be carried on the owner’s person at all times.
The Colony of Victoria introduced the Gold License in 1851. All men working on the goldfields were required to carry the License, the fee for which was one pound per month, payable in advance. The significant expense of the Gold License and the over-zealous enforcement of the law by police troopers led to the formation of the Anti-Gold Licence Association in Bendigo in June 1853 (which organised the so-called Bendigo Petition), and ultimately to the rebellion of miners at the Eureka Stockade, Ballarat, in December 1854. In early 1855 the Gold License was abolished and a new, more just form of taxing the gold diggers, the Miner’s Right, was introduced. For an annual fee (initially of five shillings), the Miner’s Right gave the bearer the right to dig for gold, the right to vote, and the right to own land.
The introduction of the Miner’s Right, with its attendant legal privileges, was a watershed event in the history of democratic enfranchisement in Australia.