Adjudication on the Gold Fields in New South Wales and Victoria in the 19th Century

Adjudication on the Gold Fields in New South Wales and Victoria in the 19th Century

By John P Hamilton


Cedric Flower (Australia, b.1920, d.2000)
Before 1980
oil on board, 30 x 37 cm
Private collection of John Perry Hamilton, Sydney
Purchased 2004
Photo: Rebecca Shanahan
© Katy Horan, Estate of Nicholas Charles Stapleton


This book deals with the inception and development of adjudication systems on the gold fields in New South Wales and Victoria in the 19th century. The sudden onset of the gold rushes in New South Wales and Victoria in 1851 created an immediate necessity for a system of resolving disputes among gold miners. Despite a large literature on the gold rushes generally, virtually nothing has been written on the adjudication systems.

The aim of this work is to examine what these systems were, to discover what records of them have survived and to expose samples of those records. The work concentrates on the period from 1851 to 1875 when the adjudication systems were at their most active. It records the changing legislative provisions relating to adjudication in that period. It explores and contrasts the success of the early system in New South Wales with its failure in Victoria.

The book explores what records survive of adjudications in both colonies and incorporates samples of them. It examines in some detail the career of Thomas Alexander Browne (who was the novelist Rolf Boldrewood) as the Commissioner at Gulgong in the early 1870s and who, atypically of Gold Fields Commissioners, was at odds with his community. It also examines the reported cases in the Supreme Courts concerning gold fields adjudication. The work thus presents, for the first time, an account of these adjudicative systems.


Published 3 December 2015
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760020309
Australian RRP $135.00
International Price $125.00