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The above documents represent Lieutenant Governor Hotham’s narrative of the period between his initial visits to the goldfields, in August and September 1854, through to the findings of the Gold Fields Commission of Enquiry in March 1855.
Following the resignation of Charles La Trobe in April 1853, former Naval Officer Sir Charles Hotham was appointed Lieutenant Governor in December. His eventual arrival in June 1854 was celebrated in Melbourne and gold diggers from across the Victorian goldfields waited anxiously to see what reforms their new governor would support.
Shortly after his arrival, the Lieutenant Governor and Lady Hotham visited the goldfields, where they were generally well received by the diggers, who voiced their concerns with the hope that the new governor would make beneficial changes to the licensing system.
In his despatch on 18 September 1854 to Sir George Grey, the colonial secretary in the English Cabinet, Hotham played down the severity of these grievances, praising the character of the people of the goldfields, and declaring them to be devoted to order and good government. It is clear from this narrative that Hotham’s idea of good governance was markedly different from the one fought for by the men of Eureka.