Charles Nevins

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Charles Nevins was a quartz-crusher associated with gold mining ventures in Victoria and Tasmania.



There are indications that Charles Nevins was in Victoria as early as 1855[1] and may have been practising as a "Broker for the sale of Ships, &c."[2] prior to involving himself in the formation of the Alliance Quartz-Crushing Company, for which he was one the two people chosen "to select the ground on which operations would be commenced.".[3]

An article in the Mount Alexander Mail of 30 May 1856 names him as a shareholder, but not a partner, in "the first association for mining purposes formed under the limited liabilities Act."[4] The Limited Partnership Act was assented to on 21 December 1853, but:

There was no great rush to form this new type of partnership. The first published in the Government Gazette was in April 1855 when Henry Chown, Christopher Kearton and E. Steinfeld and Company advertised their intention to form such a partnership to operate the Freemasons Hotel in Ballarat. The second was for an auctioneer and commission agent, while the third lodged in 1856 was for William Brown and eleven others to form a partnership for quartz crushing and gold extraction at Mount Egerton. Only fourteen such partnerships were formed, and the act was rescinded in 1864.[5]

Of the fourteen partnerships formed under this act before it was repealed in 1864, six were mining partnerships.[5]

One or more unclaimed letters arriving by ship are listed for "Nevin, Chas" on 29 September[6] and 17 October 1856[7] and for "Nevins, Chas, Mount Egerton" on 30 October[8] and 1 November 1856[9] in The Age.

At a meeting called to discuss the problem of mining leasing in Victoria in June 1858, Nevins' name is included as a member of a committee charged with forming "a Society called the 'Victoria Mining Society,' to be established for the purpose of encouraging... mining and commercial interests..."[10]

The Victoria Mining Society does not appear to have ever got going. Perhaps events overtook it. At about the same time, the Bendigo Mining Board initiated a conference in Melbourne which ran from 26 July to 4 August 1858 to discuss a number of issues relating to mining approvals, particularly leasing. The Ballarat board did not attend as it was already allowing large leases. Before long, responsibility for approval for leases was taken away from the boards and was undertaken directly by the government.[5]

Nevins travelled to Tasmania in late June 1859, where the Launceston Examiner, caught up in the frenzy of excitement regarding gold prospects in Tasmania, described him as a "quartz mining celebrity", and reported he was on his way to Fingal "to examine and report upon the quartz reefs of the district".[11]

Nevins may have been involved in a quartz-crushing venture at Bullarook in early 1859.[12]



June 11 SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. ARRIVED (HOBSON'S BAY). June 9... 1 package, model of schooner, Charles Nevins...[1]

June 29 A letter from a Charles Nevins "Broker for the sale of Ships, &c." is presented to a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce.[2]

October 12 Alliance Quartz-Crushing Company.—A preliminary meeting was yesterday held at the Hall of Commerce with the view of establishing a company for crushing auriferous quartz. Mr. S. Masters was called to the chair. The meeting was addressed by the Chairman, a Mr. Brown, Mr. Nevins, and Mr. J. T. Smith, the secretary. It was stated that the capital would consist of one hundred shares, of £60 each and that thirty-six shares had been taken. The meeting resolved to proceed with the company, and Messrs Brown and Nevins were appointed to select the ground on which operations would be commenced.[3]


May 30 MINING PARTNERSHIP.— LIMITED LIABILITY. "We extract from the Gazette the official certificate or declaration of, we believe, the first association for mining purposes formed under the limited liabilities Act. A Certificate to be registered pursuant to an Act of the Lieutenant-Governor and Council of the Colony of Victoria, in the seventeenth year of Queen Victoria, number five, intituled An Act to legalise Partnerships with limited liability. We, the undersigned, hereby certify that we intend to form a partnership with limited liability under the said Act, to be conducted under the style or firm of "William Brown and Others," in which partnership William Brown, of the Moorabool River, near Mount Egerton, in the Colony of Victoria; is to be the general partner under the said Act, and Andrew Sutherland, Charles Ferdinand Bradley, William Dale, Alfred Horton, Thomas Holme Davis, Thomas Martin, Patrick Phelan, William Watson, Henry W. Lowry, Charles Nevins, Thomas Cotton, Japhet Fletcher, George Massey, Arthur Dobree, Thomas Callender Campbell, Samuel Mesters, and William Crosbie, all of Melbourne, in the Colony of Victoria; and George Collins Dobles, and George Lee, both of Belfast, in the said Colony; and Thomas Denton Clarke, of Portland, in the said Colony, are to be the special partners under the said Act; and we hereby further certify that the respective amounts of capital intended to be con tributed by the said partners are as follows... by the said Charles Nevins, Fifty pounds... [4]

September 29 Unclaimed letter(s) arriving by ship is/are listed for "Nevin, Chas"[6]

October 17 Unclaimed letter(s) arriving by ship is/are listed for "Nevin, Chas"[7]

October 30 Unclaimed letter(s) arriving by ship is/are listed for "Nevins, Chas, Mount Egerton" [8]

November 1 Unclaimed letter(s) arriving by ship is/are listed for "Nevins, Chas, Mount Egerton"[9]


June 9 MINING LEASES. A meeting of gentlemen interested in the settlement of the question of mining leases on the gold-fields of Victoria was held yesterday afternoon at the Criterion Hotel. The object of the promoters of the meeting was to impress upon the merchants and capitalists of Melbourne the necessity of co-operating with them in urging upon the Government immediate action upon the subject. Mr. Langlands, M.L.A., was called to the chair; and amongst the gentlemen present were Mr. Kinnear, Mr. J. G. Francis, Mr. J. M. Solomon, Mr. Macredie, Lieutenant Amsinck, Mr. Henry Smith, &c. The CHAIRMAN expressed his readiness to preside at a meeting which had for its object so important an end as that in view, and stated that although his desire was to make himself more fully acquainted with the intentions of the promoters, he was not prepared with any observations upon the subject, as his attention had only been directed to it within a short time of the hour appointed for the meeting. He would call upon Mr. Kinnear to explain his views. Mr. KINNEAR rose to propose the first resolution, which was as follows : "That the present system of working our gold-fields, without the security of leasehold tenure, is an obstacle to the introduction of machinery and capital, is contrary to the custom of all mining countries, and is productive of results alike injurious to the working miner, the storekeeper, the merchant, and the agriculturist, and this meeting is of opinion, that by a judicious system of issuing mining leases the production of gold would be prodigiously increased." He was desirous of conveying to the gentlemen whom he had the honor of addressing the result of his experience on the gold-fields of Victoria; and he might state for the information of those who did not know him, that he was the chairman and general manager of the Clunes Quartz Mining Company, a company which was remarkable in its character, as being the only one carrying on practical operations upon actually leased land in the colony. Those operations were conducted upon private land, and the conditions upon which that land was held by the company were a payment of royalty to the owner, and an arrangement by which their operations were carried into effect through the agency of the Port Phillip Gold Mining Company, who were paid an agreed price per ton for crushing - a price which produced to them a very remunerative result, and which, although it drew very heavily upon the profits of the Clunes Company, still left a handsome margin. He had found, to his surprise, from a conversation with the merchants of Melbourne, and others in any way commercially interested, an extra-ordinary amount of darkness with reference to the working and practical results of operations of this nature - the gold-fields and their ramifications in this respect seemed to be a dead letter to them. (Hear, hear.) They had no idea of what were the existing local regulations, nor could they form an estimate of what regulations were best fitted to the development of the resources of the gold-fields, bearing in mind the undeniable fact that panics and marvellous, unexpected successes were frequently simultaneous. The regulations enacted by the Legislature were of a most defective character: he did not say that they were not the result of the best motives - but whilst matters of detail had been legislated upon, the members of Parliament had, in fact, been entirely in the dark. (Hear, hear.) He did not make this remark in censure, because he was sure that these subjects had been dealt with according to their information; but the real light which had shone from the gold-fields had certainly not illumined them. If the object set forth in the resolution was carried through, he had no doubt that not only would it be productive of benefit to the working miners, but that the country would have resources enough to absorb the labor of a population of a hundred times that at present employed. He had had much leisure for directing his attention on the gold-fields to the subject now before the meeting. He had struggled for many years, talking very much perhaps, and doing very little, until a friend suggested the desirability of doing less of the one and more of the latter. Upon that hint he made his first experiment of initiating a new system of working the gold-fields of the colony. He selected White Flat, a spot upon which many attempts at mining had been made, and every one of which had failed. He applied for a lease, and although the law allowed the application, the lease was refused him by the local authorities. The miners were, no doubt, under the mistaken impression that a great capitalist had come among them, who would swamp their interest; but he (Mr. Kinnear) knew that the same operation which had been so successful in another portion of the gold-fields, would be equally so at the spot which he had selected, and that there was material enough on that small area to employ from 200 to 300 men at a daily wage of something like 30s. He was allowed to take a part of the land he applied for, and began engineering operations. The drainage of the land was effected, and he succeeded in convincing the practical miners that the experiment which he initiated was a good one. Out of that enterprise, he maintained, might spring from 50 to 100 of the same character. His next operation was upon the quartz veins and he knew that they were such illimitable length, that it was not within the possibility of calculation to say at what time they would become exhausted, or at what point they would cease; and if worked by co-operative labor, where every man not acting in the capacity of a mere slave might feel a personal interest in the employment which he was engaged, the result would afford a profit which would induce participators in the speculation to believe that the business of a miner was not such as ought to drive him away from the colony, but, on the contrary, was one which at a comparatively very moderate expenditure of labor, would secure to him the comfort and enjoyment of English cottage life. He had seen this state of things in existence at Clunes, and he therefore spoke from experience upon the subject. The operations there were circumscribed by an area of a mile in length by a quarter of a mile in width. That space was traversed by four quartz reefs, all of which exhibited undoubted indication of the existence of gold, although in no greater or richer degree than was observable on 10,000 spots throughout the country which were at once palpable to the eye of the practical miner. The result of the last week's operations at the Clunes was, that 537 ounces of gold had been produced from 340 tons of quartz crushed, being an average of 5 ounces to each man employed in works on the Company, from quartz which yielded only 1 ounce 10 dwt. to the ton. The week ending 27th April, had given 546 ounces of gold crushed from 364 tons of quartz. The average annual yield of the Clunes' operations had been 26,000 ounces of gold, that is to say, in round numbers, £100,000; and a hundred such operations, which could all, upon the same calculations, be comprised within an area of 26 square miles, would produce an annual result of ten millions. Although the Clunes Company had commenced its operations with little or no capital, the profits which had accumulated - notwithstanding the expense of their co-operation with the Port Phillip Gold Mining Company - rendered it able to compete with any undertaking which an ordinary mind might suggest. It must be remembered, also, that £3,000 had just been expended in sinking a shaft on the works. In addition to £2,000 for an engine and other machinery for working it; by means of which operations at a depth of 270 feet could be carried on with the same amount of labor, producing twice the result hitherto obtained. Opposite to the ground occupied by the Clunes Company, there was an area of Crown land worked, at different times, miners under the old system. The land was of exactly the same character, being divided simply by a rall fence, and yet, although several parties had worked upon it, they had lost their all - a circumstance which, he argued, was a convincing proof of the advantages of the co-operative principle he was now advocating. The miners required a positive and substantial letter of identification. The men who devoted their time to the pursuit, and who were to take up an area of ground, were entitled to something more tangible and valuable to them than the mere fact of holding a miner's right. In the last gold-fields regulations the power of leasing the lands was enacted, and the miners were told to apply to the Governor, and that they could lease any quantity they required on certain conditions to be drawn up and decided upon; but when he (Mr. Kinnear) applied for the privilege of working, and redeeming an abandoned and useless waste, he was told, on application to the Wardens, although he paid his £50, that there were no forms prepared. On the 1st of February he again applied, on behalf of the company whom he represented, for a square mile of waste ground opposite to the claim at present in their occupation. His application passed from one department of the public service to another, and ultimately found its way into the office of the Solicitor General. He had not the slightest desire or intention of imputing anything like censure to that officer, because he was well aware that he was already overworked; but he wished to express his conviction that it was necessary to make a separate department for the control and management of all affairs relating to the mining interests of the colony, which should be presided over by a Cabinet Minister, who should occupy such a position that he would be politically responsible for the shortcomings which could not now be complained of, for the reason that the duties were attached to an office with which in fact they should have no connexion. That state of things, he argued, would not be submitted to if the commercial men of Melbourne had any practical acquaintance with the nature of operations on the gold fields of the colony, and therefore it was that he asked them to support the resolution which he had submitted. (Hear, hear.) Lieutenant AMSINCK seconded the resolution, and stated that, in a series of letters which he published in Melbourne two years ago, under the title of "A Voice from the Gold-fields," he had advocated every principle which had been placed before the meeting by Mr. Kinnear. He was happy to say that the prejudice which for some time existed in the minds of the practical miners against those principles had in many instances been overcome, and he was assured that commercial and social prosperity could only be permanently secured by the settlement of the gold-fields and their working by means of such co-operative enterprise. The resolution was put, and carried unanimously. Mr. HENRY SMITH, O.E., proposed the second resolution, as follows: " That the mining interest, in consideration of its comparative extent and importance, is entitled to be governed by a distinct and responsible department, presided over by a Cabinet Minister." Mr. MACREDIE seconded the motion. Mr. THOMPSON supported the resolution. It harmonised with the opinion which he had long maintained, that a mining board ought to be formed. Some practical knowledge ought to be brought to bear on any legislation on that subject. It was useless for a gentleman like Mr. Ireland to bring in a Bill, without first obtaining the fullest information from gentlemen who had devoted themselves to mining pursuits. Mr. FRANKLYN also supported the motion. They required, he thought, to turn their attention to large questions like that, instead of appointing boards on matters of trivial moment. He believed that had a department for the superintendence of the gold-fields been formed long ago, there would have been no outcry about the unemployed, but the goldfields would have been made the centre of attraction to new comers, who would thus have been removed from Melbourne, instead of vegetating there in a state of idleness. The CHAIRMAN said he had spoken to members of the Government on this subject, and he might say that they were all - Mr. Ireland included - very anxious to promote such a reform as that now contemplated. The Solicitor-General by no means looked upon his Bill as a final measure, but as the session was drawing to a conclusion it was deemed better to introduce it than not to legislate at all on the subject. Mr. HENRY SMITH desired to remark that they were not in want of capital from a distance to work the gold-fields. There was capital there freely offered, although, of course, assistance from Melbourne would be welcome. Mr. FRANCIS expressed his opinion that the country would probably recognise a more Important officer in a Minister who was head of the Mining Board, than in a Postmaster-General; but, at the same time he feared the proposed change would introduce into the administration a species of class legislation which he considered inadvisable. He did not wish for a moment to depreciate that important interest, but he thought the making a member of the Cabinet head of the Board would introduce a political element to the detriment of the proposed plan. He suggested that the words referring to a Cabinet Minister should be omitted from the resolution. Mr. HENRY SMITH expressed his willingness so to alter the resolution, if it were the wish of the meeting. Lieutenant AMSINCK suggested that that important matter having been opened, should be postponed, to be considered by a fuller meeting. He had long maintained that a Mining Board was an absolute necessity in this country, and should be glad to have the subject ventilated. He alluded to the differences of opinion which frequently occurred in the mining courts, and the great want of some centre of reference. Mr. FRANKLYN still contended that it would be well to affirm the desirability of the mining community having a responsible head in the House of Parliament. Mr. LOADER said, that as that meeting could only be looked upon as a preliminary one, it mattered little how that resolution was passed, and he suggested that it be put in the form proposed by Mr. Francis, for the sake of unanimity. Mr. FRANCIS desired to explain that he did not so much oppose the appointment of a Minister for mining purposes, as be objected to the increase of the number of paid officials sitting in the House. He saw no reason, for instance, why a Postmaster-General should sit in the House. The resolution, amended as suggested, was put and carried. Mr. LOADER moved: "That this meeting is of opinion that it is desirable to form a Society called the 'Victoria Mining Society,' to be established for the purpose of encouraging the mining and commercial interests by obtaining the best information for the successful association of capital and labor with mutual advantage and security, and that a preliminary Committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, be now appointed, with power to add to their number, to bring up a report to a future meeting;—Messrs. Langlands, Francis, Franklin, Loader, Martin, Kinnear, Nevins, Froomes, G. Levey, Lieut. Amsinck, Langwill, Macredie, and H. Smith." It would be readily seen that the establishment of an institution of the kind would afford some central and well-known place for persons interested in mining pursuits to attend, to obtain or impart information. He was persuaded that capital could be introduced into mining pursuits with benefit both to capitalist and miner. That system had been established in the White Flat and at Clunes. The mining associations worked well there, and would, he doubted not, work well in Innumerable places in the colony. They wanted a union of labor and capital before the gold-fields could be worked with that amount of profit of which they were capable. Such a system would render what were now unproductive gold-fields, flourishing mining districts. In California there were places where they crushed far more quartz than was now crushed by the Clunes Company, through which, however, at present about £100,000 a year was circulated. It should be remembered that this was got out of a quarter-section of land which 18 months ago was lying barren. It now realised for the Government in export duty £8,000 per annum; and yet when they asked for grants of land for such purposes, they were met with postponements and rebuffs. Such an institution as that now proposed would, he believed, have considerable influence for good; and he had, therefore, much pleasure in moving the resolution. Mr. FROOMES, of Castlemaine, seconded the motion, and alluded to portions of ground on that gold-field which were worked by machinery and capital. He was aware that the Mining Boards were opposed to such changes as that now contemplated, but maintained that it would be a bad day for the miners if the opinions of men elected from a few residents in the district were allowed to override the wishes of a whole community. The resolution was put and carried. After a vote of thanks to the Chairman the meeting separated. It was arranged that a meeting of the above-mentioned Committee should be held at the Criterion Hotel, at 3 o'clock this day.[10]


February 2 The veins in the Bullarook district are looking up and some speculative spirit is brought to bear, inasmuch that Messrs Harrold, Wallace & Nevin have erected a machine of a few stamps, and Chilian Mills to match for a crushing business. The quartz is looking well for yielding a return equal to some on these veins, that of three to four ounces per ton, with a broad vein of 8 or 9 feet. The Mount Egerton alluvial workings are paying but meanly...[12]

June 28 THE FINGAL GOLD REEFS. —Mr. Nevins, of quartz mining celebrity, arrived from Melbourne on Saturday, and left town on the following day for Fingal, to examine and report upon the quartz reefs of the district —the Black Boy in particular.[11]

June 29 TOWN TALK AND TABLE CHAT. The "town talk" of the week is undoubtedly the progress of the gold discoveries. Mr. Russell, of the great Sydney foundry, has been residing at the Club Hotel, having been inspecting the Quartz Reefs, of which he speaks with the greatest confidence. And the Vallentine Company have closed with him for their new extensive and powerful machinery. A quartz company has been established at Evandale, of which one gentleman has taken no less than £1000 worth of shares. A steam engine hitherto used for a flour mill, is to be taken to the reef, and the stampers are to be procured from Melbourne forthwith. Mr. Nevin, the Manager for the new Launceston Company, arrived by the Black Swan, and will give in a report of the most favorable spot for immediate operations. It will be seen by our correspondent's report that thirty-one and three-quarter ounces is the result of four days crushing last week. The company regret the inefficiency of their machinery, for without a doubt, if the stampers were sufficient to properly crush the quartz, one-half more gold would be taken from the retort. [13]

June 29 OUR GOLD FIELDS: THE RICHEST IN THE AUSTRALIAN COLONIES. WITHOUT a doubt the discovery of gold at the Forth mentioned in our last, will lead to the great certainty Tasmanian colonists have been so long looking forward to, of rich ALLUVIAL gold deposits. We have seen that at Fingal, at George Town, and at other places whose locality is known to us, gold has been proved to abound in the soil, in those smaller particles which have been conveyed thither from sources where of course it exists in abundance. We have seen that Quartz Reefs abound North, South, East, and West — but we have not yet been fortunate to stumble upon it, as did the Victorians in the early days of their gold discoveries, in masses a few feet beneath the soil. But we have to see results such as our luckier neighbours had showering upon them in the early stages of their gold era. Mr. Smith's discoveries at the Forth are pregnant with such splendid results. Wherefore can we speak with so much confidence of them? The Reverend W. B. Clarke, the geologist of the colonies, has made certain remarks as to the gold bearing qualifications of Tasmania. He has stated distinctly, and confidently, that Tasmania is a gold bearing colony, and he has indicated the region wherein we may expect to find the precious metal. He has always looked upon the Fingal country as auriferous, and in his report under date 9th August, 1856, has gone into considerable detail as to that district. The truth of his report has been abundantly verified already. But his views regarding a rich gold field have ever had reference more particularly to the Westward. The following is his opinion thereon expressed no later than December last: — "Explore in the parallel running "from Port Davey to Emu Buy, commencing on such exploration not much "further south than the Frenchman's "Cap, and examining the country "closely to the north of that locality, "especially on the streams and head "waters of rivers running to the north," AS THERE IS EVERY PROBABILITY OF THERE FINDING ONE OF THE RICHEST GOLD FIELDS IN THE AUSTRALIAN COLONIES!!! Is Mr. Smith the Hargraves of Tasmania, in announcing he has discovered gold at the Forth "a river running to the North?" Has the Reverend W. B. Clarke prophesied truly? We await the result of the present exploration with considerable anxiety. But confess that we have every confidence in Mr. Clarke, and in the discovery of Mr. Smith. Meanwhile we turn to the energetic and truly patriotic efforts of the Fingal Gold Company, which, we think, should be called the "Vallentine" Company, for undoubtedly to Mr. Vallentine will that company be indebted for the great success seemingly promised it. Mr. Russell, of the celebrated Engineering Establishment in Sydney, has received instructions to complete Machinery upon the most extensive scale for this company, to be completed in a few months at no less an expense than seven thousand pounds! This speaks volumes for the confidence the Vallentine Company have in the gold resources of their reef. Mr. Russell, who has had great experience in quartz reefs, expressed himself as perfectly satisfied that a better reef could not be found in any of the Australias, and stated his willingness to take shares in the company. But we need not expatiate upon what must be apparent to all. If any one doubts the genuineness of the reef, let him visit the Bank of Australasia and inspect the beautiful gold, its product — that lays there for exhibition. Mr. Nevins, the Manager for the embryo Launceston Quartz Company, mentioned in a former issue, arrived from Melbourne on Saturday by the Royal Shepherd, and has, we understand started upon a tour of inspection to Fingal. Upon his report it is said, depends the formation of extensive companies of Melbourne capitalists. These are the fellows that will turn out the Tasmanian gold in quantities. Before we conclude our article, we must join with our contemporaries in drawing the attention of Government to the Police Magistrate at present located at Fingal. He is reported to be an official of the old school. A compound of old Fogyism, Road party beakism, obstructiveness, and incapability. This description of administrator of justice will never do for a go-a-head diggings. Besides plunging the place into confusion and disorder, such a man as Mr. Stewart, at Fingal, will be productive of endless difficulties to the government. We therefore have no hesitation in speaking out upon the matter. We have had numerous letters from correspondents thereon, and trust we shall not have to mention it again, feeling assured that a position more fitting for the gentleman will be at once found him by the Premier — one more consonant with his sympathies. A magisterial appointment at Tasman's Peninsula, where he can inflict his sentences of solitary confinement, flagellation, or hard labor in chains, to his heart's content.[14]

June 30 DELORAINE. —When Mr. Nevins returns to town, Mr. Scott, the surveyor, has proposed to conduct him to an auriferous quartz reef, near Doloraine, where he can without difficulty, take away a cart load and test its productiveness.[15]


October 3 It is true there are men of sound discretion and large experience amongst ourselves, who have still unshaken faith in the auriferous resources of Fingal. As the summer weather becomes settled, the number of diggers on that ground will increase, and our banks and merchants will again begin to receive their remittances of gold. A strong impression prevails too, that the quartz at Fingal has never yet been adequately tested. Until the fatal mistake committed by the Midland Company in the erection of machinery which, notwithstanding its costliness, was of a character that had been condemned on all the gold fields of New South Wales and Victoria, the quartz was found to yield a fair return of gold by the use of comparatively rude and simple apparatus. The fatal mistake of the Midland Company was followed by the mismanagement of the affairs of the Southern Tasmanian Association—owing chiefly to the unfortunate engagement of Dr. OTWAY, a mere charlatan, who has just got into the same disrepute in connection with the new silver mines of Moruya that he fell into here. It will be seen from a telegraphic despatch we published yesterday, that quartz crushing operations are about to be resumed under the superintendence of Mr. NEVINS, with the old machinery. And hopes are not unreasonably entertained, that these resumed operations will establish beyond doubt the fact of the existence of paying auriferous quartz in the Fingal district.[16]

October 27 FINGAL. [From our own Correspondent.] Fingal, Oct. 27, 1862. I have been absent some time, but now have the pleasure to communicate the latest news of the gold-fields. The information I now give you is strictly true, and may be confidently relied upon. Nevins supported Mr. F. A. Downing of Hobart Town has put the small machine (formerly used by Dr. Otway,) to work, and are crushing quartz from 'Mo's Reef.' The utmost the machine can crush is from 6 to 8 tons per week, and the week ending 19th instant, (the first week), produced 2½ oz. 6 dwts., and last week 3½ ozs. This you will perceive will pay — only four men being employed.[17]

October 30 GOLD AT FINGAL. Reports are again afloat respecting gold at Fingal. It is said that Mr. Nevins, assisted by F. A. Downing, Esq,, of Hobart Town, has discovered an auriferous reef on some land belonging to that gentleman, and with the imperfect machine formerly used by Dr. Otway has succeeded in extracting nearly 3 ounces of gold in one week. A gentleman who passed through Fingal on Tuesday states that the intelligence was not then known on that township, though this does not necessarily prove it to be untrue. Should it turn out to be correct, with the best appliances the yield may be estimated at half an ounce to the ton, which under proper management would prove highly remunerative. It is to our quartz reefs we must look if Tasmania is to be a gold-producing country.[18]

December 20 Nothing very positive is known as to the actual success of the great crushing operations now being prosecuted at Fingal. The parties under whose auspices this renewed experiment is being conducted, are desirous of ascertaining the average returns for a period of some three months or so, that the data obtained may be reliable as a guide to future operations. They are unwilling that the exact yield of gold should be stated - not, we believe, that they are dissatisfied with the result so far as it has gone, but that they believe the varying returns from week to week must fail to constitute anything like a safe guide. If some of the statements published on this subject represent a higher average yield than has yet been obtained, it is certain on the other hand that a great deal of misconception has been allowed to prevail, as to the scale on which the enterprise has been conducted, and the kind of machinery that has been in use. We find that we have ourselves unwittingly contributed to the propagation of error on this subject. In common with many others we had supposed that it was the old machinery of the Midland Company that was being used. The facts however are these:—that an arrangement was made with the owner of some land through which what is known as SEDDON'S reef runs, to work this reef: and for this purpose the use was obtained of the portable engine brought up and used at Mangana by Dr. OTWAY. To this stampers were applied and a very ingenious mode of amalgamation adopted, but still on the smallest possible scale—as may be supposed from the fact that the engine is only 4 or 6 horse-power, such as is employed for working threshing machines. With this very simple contrivance a correspondent—on the accuracy and moderation of whose statements we can place implicit reliance—assures us that speaking within the mark, seven dwts. to the ton have been averaged.[19]


March 20 In an opinion piece about the prospects of finding and extracting payable gold in Tasmania, there is a reference to a "mere pretentious charlatan" which is likely to be Otway. The piece focuses on then-current efforts at Fingal which appear to indicate the reefs there may be payable at low levels of return.[20]

April 8 Charles Nevin, who states he is currently conducting experimental crushing at Fingal using the crusher that Otway had been using in 1860, clarifies and corrects several matters of fact in the March 20 opinion piece, and states that he believes the gold at Fingal could be payable at a rate of 4 dwt to the ton.[21]

See also

Chronological table of Victorian mining laws

Port Phillip and Colonial Gold Mining Company @if more detail is brought out about the meeting



  1. 1.0 1.1 SHIPPING INTELLIENCE. (1855, June 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2017, from
  2. 2.0 2.1 COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1855, June 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2017, from
  3. 3.0 3.1 DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1855, October 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved December 2, 2017, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 MINING PARTNERSHIP.--LIMITED LIABILITY. (1856, May 30). Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 - 1917), p. 6. Retrieved December 2, 2017, from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Birrell, Ralph W (1998). Staking a claim : gold and the development of Victorian mining law. Melbourne University Press, Carlton South, Victoria
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Further Reading

External links

--Neil Huybregts 16:37, 2 December 2017 (AEDT)

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