CHAPTER 7: Protestant Fear and Loathing

The level of community in-fighting apparent in this brief account from northern Queensland is similar to that already shown in 1840’s Sydney and Melbourne, but anxiety levels among Protestants appear to have greatly increased, not diminished.

Superficially, the key date is 1868 when an attempt was made on the life of a Royal visitor, the Duke of Edinburgh. (Eric) Turner has insisted that before 1868 Orangeism in NSW, the only State he studied in detail, was quite different to that in Victoria. Using Grand Lodge minute books, he has concluded that NSW Orangemen were ‘less aggressive and overt’, that ‘anti-Catholicism was hardly mentioned and politics not at all.’[dxxxvi]

Although there had been some prefigurement of change during the mid-1860’s, the second stage began the day after the assassination attempt. The incident caused great outrage amongst the great mass of colonists, and the Order was swamped with applications to join.[dxxxvii]

Scholars who appear not to have used such primary sources have yet found raised levels of anxiety behind the mid-19th century struggle over State-aid for education, Irish emigration and in the opportunism of certain administrations. Campbell has suggested that before 1860:

Across much of south-eastern Australia, the formation and ‘working-out’ of new communities, and the inter-dependence of those who settled in them, produced striking levels of religious tolerance and inter-denominational cooperation.[dxxxviii]

He suggests that it was the arrival of a small but hand-picked group of Irish Catholic bishops in Brisbane (1859), Bathurst (1866), Hobart (1866), Goulburn (1867) and Armidale (1869) which ‘promoted a highly visible fission’ and ‘fanned the sectarian embers’ back to life.

Just what levels of tolerance are indicated by ‘striking’ I’m not sure, but it would seem unlikely that the faith-based passion apparent in the decades before the Gold Rushes simply evaporated and that it was only renewed when that mania calmed. It would seem more likely that, whether reconstructed for individuals, families, regions or the nation as a whole, better histories will resemble that just briefly recounted for Charters Towers. If organised appropriately, even the known evidence throws light enough to show up what has previously been invisible – the existence of fraternalism and its ‘re-invention’, especially that section involved with sectarian struggle.

On the one hand, the secret rites and regalia were, from the mid-19th century, in combat with the claimed requirements of ‘modern’ society and, on the other, with dissenting churches. The fraternals, and more importantly their ‘trappings’, for a number of decades, not only survived these conflicts but became ubiquitous, their burgeoning administrations repeatedly referencing the importance of advancing their various causes, not through hurling matches and street fights, but by way of picnics, processions, balls and sports meetings. For example, the Hibernians by the 1880’s could say:

In its processions the Society maintained a vibrantly nationalistic image; it was an age of sectarian bitterness and many attempts were made to discredit the Irish Catholics. The antagonism of the Orange Lodge was reflected in rival..demonstrations.[dxxxix]

When establishing the AHCG much earlier, Catholics had noted the value of re-inventing their societies as a key part of their resurgence. By the 1880’s, under a reinvigorated centralised hierarchy the global RC church had implemented a single strategy which then sent it exploding towards the 20th century. The Protestant societies, for their part, continued socially competitive and politically rancorous with one another, their claimed ‘natural superiority’ making them collectively vulnerable to more subtle operators who opportunistically turned their ‘faith-based politics’ to personal advantage.[dxl]

Through both the strategy of Catholic re-invention and the considerable amounts of Protestant rhetoric run fraternal metaphors, especially of ‘the Light’ and ‘the Temple’. Henry Parkes, editing The Empire in 1851, asked: DARKNESS OR LIGHT – WHICH IS TO CONQUER?, and argued that behind the era’s apparent peace and tranquillity, ‘there is nevertheless even now’ a struggle raging ‘on the issue of which the fate of civilisation itself depends.’[dxli] The same images will feature strongly in the narratives around Federation and mateship, as they were already doing in the ‘marching’ banners, and as they would subsequently in self-serving histories produced by and for the various fraternal societies.

The attempted assassination in 1868, did have extraordinary consequences both in Australia and in England, but already of consequence to Parkes twenty years earlier were the schisms within Protestantism. Perhaps he sensed that behind the Catholic threat was anger but his columns show little sign that he cared that the human situation in Ireland was going from bad to very much worse.[dxlii]


The Irish Crisis Deepens and Intensifies

I began this account with the ‘troubles’ in Ireland coincident with the arrival of a white population in Botany Bay. While that northern crisis persisted, Irishness, Protestant ascendancy and Catholic determination remained issues to be fought over throughout the southern diaspora.

At the seat of the fire, official policy towards Ireland continued to be to blame the victims. As the first deaths from the infamous 1840’s famine had occurred, the relevant Minister had announced:

The great evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.[dxliii]

Though the true situation was pointed out to them, the British Cabinet decided not to supply seed for the planting of food, and not to supply loans which might have allowed tenant farmers to eat something other than their seed stock while preparing their fields for the next harvest. These policies, part of an ideological position designed, among other things, to protect private grain speculators, brought hunger and destitution on an unimaginable scale:

I entered some of the hovels…In the first, six famished and ghastly skeletons, to all appearances dead, were huddled in a corner on some filthy straw, their sole covering what seemed a ragged horsecloth..I approached with horror, and found by a low moaning they were alive – they were in fever, four children, a woman and what had once been a man..

There was plenty of food in the devastated areas. The Irish poor had no money to purchase it, however, and were thus dependent on either the potato harvest, or some welfare system. Both failed them. Irish patriots, inspired by revolutions in mainland Europe, attempted an uprising around Kilkenny City in 1848-9. Put down by police and military, the surviving conspirators added to the wave of Irish flowing to Australia, where their communities were long places where ‘the name of Britain was accursed’.

Rivalry between Catholics and Protestants, then, continued to affect social cohesion and political outcomes, and in more and more parts of Australia. In the 1850’s a number of Protestant spokespeople noted a new confidence amongst local Catholics. Puseyism, ‘that system of ill-concealed Romanism’,[dxliv] was but part of the problem Parkes perceived:

The over-sanguine zealots of the Church of Rome, have, however, attached far too much significancy to the clerical secession from the Church of England…they have too readily mistaken a partial for a general movement…To carry out (their opposition to the national schools) the Romish clergy of this colony have of late been devoting all their energies, and the election just over has witnessed the deep importance which they attached to it.

Lang, Parkes’ ally and secret partner, attacked Caroline Chisholm and the allegedly supine Whig Government in Whitehall over their involvement in her emigrant support scheme:

For Mrs Chisholm is a Roman Catholic, a Roman Catholic of the highest caste, a perfect devotee of the Virgin Mary and the Papacy who would go through fire and water to advance the interests of Romanism in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere; and this measure, of pure benevolence forsooth, is nothing more nor less than an artful Jesuitical device to supply Irish Roman Catholic wives for the English and Scottish Protestant shepherds and stockmen, farm servants and mechanics..[dxlv]

These two men had had at least one eye each on the main chance. Lang survived attacks on his past record when he successfully stood for the legislature in July, 1850, inviting Irish and Catholic voters to support him. Some undoubtedly did, but emergent mine sites and entrepots were gathering reputations as predominantly ‘Orange’ or ‘Green’. Determined missionaries for both sides, at times funded from overseas, reached through mining populations as far as the Chinese component.[dxlvi] Amos has picked up some of the early Orange trail after 1845 in NSW:

Within three years at least four lodges were operating in Sydney, and others at Gladesville, the North Shore (of Sydney), Parramatta, Windsor and Kiama, supported by a total membership of 500 to 700.[dxlvii]

A coal-mining settlement, Kiama is particularly interesting as the village to which Barr decamped from Sydney after ‘the troubles’ there, and which became famous in the 1860’s as the electorate of Henry Parkes and the site of that Fenian figment, ‘the Ghost.’

Port townships did not become totally bereft of fraternal developments when the trickle of new arrivals became a gold-obsessed flood seemingly intent on flowing uphill, into the interior. Nevertheless, Orange pioneer McGuffin reported later that the gold rushes left few of the original lodges operating. An 1853 petition for a Provincial Grand Master for Victoria’s Freemasons [EC] told the London Grand Lodge that:

During the extraordinary excitement which prevailed here in consequence of the discovery of Gold, Free Masonry, in common with other institutions, was subjected to great temporary depression.[dxlviii]

But by October, 1853, this petitioner was able to add:

..but the resumption of their usual avocation by the brethren first engaged in the search for the precious metal and the immense influx of others amongst the new arrivals, many of which brethren have obtained Masonic experience and distinction in the Mother Country…

Edward Hargreaves, successful prospector in both California and Bathurst, NSW where he is credited with the major strike of 1851, was initiated into Leinster Marine, IC, in Sydney in 1854. In a lodge which suffered from very low numbers on occasion, he was subsequently minuted as being amongst the lodge’s ‘hardest workers.’[dxlix]


The Eureka Stockade, 1854

It’s not often remarked in accounts of the Eureka Stockade that the first agitation for an eight hour working day came immediately after this famous confrontation, nor that Dr Lang was in Ballarat village the morning of the key Bakery Hill meeting, nor that the populations of Ballarat and Ballarat East were determinedly separated by religion, the one Protestant, the other Catholic. Of course, Lang may have been attracted to the field because his son was in custody on a charge of defrauding ₤20,000 from the Bank of NSW, he being the manager of the local branch.[dl]

Though few, if any Ballarat records have survived from the 1850’s, it’s possible to see the importance of fraternalism in the immediate area in simple terms – it had over 40 lodges by 1865-66. Of significance too, is that this township saw the birth of both the Protestant Alliance Friendly Society and the Hibernians in their ‘modern’ form, and that it was one of three primary centres of Orange Lodge membership in Victoria in the 19th century, the others being Melbourne and Geelong.

Nevertheless, Bate, local historian, has found no Protestants among the leaders of the miners’ reform movement, just that ‘three of them at least were known chartists and two were Roman Catholics’.[dli] The words ‘Freemasonry’ and ‘sectarianism’ only get into his influential text once each, both on page 260, ‘Hibernians’ once, on p.261, and ‘friendly societies’ not at all. The LOI receives some coverage through notable personalities, such as CE Jones, but not as an institution.

There’ve been many attempts to make Eureka the source of Australian political democracy, and of radical/larrikin values including ‘mateship’, but this has been done by replacing detail with generalisations. Usage among these original ‘diggers’ of the term ‘mate’ includes a story of its ambivalence:

About four months ago, one of my mates in a party of four sold me his shares for ten pounds..(later) my mates all turned against me..[dlii]

The Parliamentary annotation to this evidence shows the same usage: viz, ‘all his mates were against him.’ In other words, having ‘mates’ did not necessarily mean a man had friends. On the other hand, the Ballarat Times reported:

More than one party whose mates have been slaughtered in the late disturbance, is about to demand an exhumation and inquest.[dliii]

The conflict itself would seem to have been extensively analysed, but only the most basic facts have been established. Leadership of the rebellion has been attributed to various national groupings, including ‘the Irish’, but, importantly, it has been attached to all ‘foreigners’, by which, it is necessary to note, was meant anyone who was not an Englishman, as in:

What deserves especial notice in these accounts is that the foreigners [writer’s emphasis] were at the head of these [Eureka] disturbances. It was they who were foremost in the fray, and who chiefly were shot. This is as might be expected..and marks the low red-republican foreigners as a very bad element in the diggings – a class of men far below the lowest English in a knowledge of the principles of moral reform and progress..[dliv]

O’Brien has interpreted contemporary newspaper reports from diggings further north:

Miners divided into and identified with local groupings based on nationality, their mining district and mining methods..(They) paraded in uniforms of moleskins, sashes, boots or similar flash apparel, carried knives and guns.[dlv]

Seeing these groupings as merely nationalistic would seem at best simplistic. The sashes were clearly to distinguish one group from another, but on what basis? Nationality is one but not the only possibility. The relations between the groups have not, as far as I know, been studied. The SMH’s ‘Special Correspondent’ in July, 1853 had reported from Bendigo:

The extensive immigration from California of ‘Statesmen’ will not improve things, and it must be borne in mind too that among these gold fields are scattered many hundreds of malcontents, from Canada, from France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, and the German States, men who have left their country because they made that country ‘too hot to hold them’, in fact expatriated politicians, full of the dogmas of the ultra-radical schools of Continental Europe.[dlvi]

This report, a full 18 months before the Stockade, was in the context of a ‘Bill of Rights’ drawn up at a diggers’ protest meeting for presentation to the State Governor, Hotham. This has been taken by the democracy-advocates to mean that any incipient organisation must have been formal, legal and transparent. On the other hand, Blee notes that after troopers had stormed the Stockade very early Sunday morning, 3 December, 1854, indignation meetings were held in Melbourne, twenty miles away on the coast, and rumours spread that ‘angry diggers’ were marching there to uproot the ‘despotic’ lieutenant governor and his ‘murderous bullies’. Hotham, the despot in question, according to Blee

by January 1855…had convinced himself of the existence of secret societies..plotting to overthrow the government. He wrote to the Colonial Office [London] asking for additional funds to counteract French Red Republicans, the German Political Metaphysicians, the American Lone Star members and the British Chartists.. Surprisingly, he made no mention of Irish secret societies..[dlvii]

JP Fawkner had been appointed to a Committee to examine grievances on the (Victorian) gold-fields and a Bill to give the miners certain electoral rights had already been voted on and sent to London for official approval when the ‘uprising’ occurred.

Fingers of blame directed at any of the national groupings would appear to have been equally under-researched:

* Peter Lalor was Irish and brother to a leading Young Irelander active in the 1848-9 rising, but just who and what organisation was behind the green Irish flag, complete with harp and shamrock, which led a welcoming parade for delegates returning to the southern diggings from Melbourne in August, 1854 is not known.[dlviii] A letter to Freeman’s Journal on ‘a contemptible and profligate Government’ resulted in that paper being censured in September in the NSW parliament, and in The Empire, as a ‘libellous publication’. The first resolution at the confused, riotous meeting on Bakery Hill [Ballarat] on 28 November was:

That this meeting views with the hottest indignation the daring calumny of His Honor, the Acting Chief Justice [of Victoria]…of the brave and struggling sufferers of Clare, Tipperary, Bristol and other districts…[my emphasis][dlix]

* Scotchmen, supposedly incensed at their countryman Scobie’s death going unpunished because of corrupt relations between local officials and hoteliers one of whom was, allegedly, Scobie’s killer, were credited at the time with being the prime movers;

* Testimony to public enquiries afterwards pointed to a group of German inn-keepers being at the centre of a corrupt network of local officials and sly-grog dealers, the ultimate source of much miner dissatisfaction; and then there are

* the ‘Americans’.

In the early 1850’s a mood, merging on a mania for things ‘American’ had swept eastern Australia. Passions roused by the Californian ‘rush’ accelerated with discoveries in NSW and Victoria and suddenly a lot of talk was of connections, two-way emigration and of comparisons. The famed Cobb & Co coach line was founded by Freeman Cobb and some countrymen in 1853, the year after the British Consul at Philadelphia had made known his fear that ‘many Americans going to Australia, ostensibly to dig for gold’ were actually revolutionaries and members of the fraternal ‘Order of the Lone Star’ intent on spreading ‘freedom’, ie American-style republicanism. Exploring what was by the 1850’s a veritable invasion, Daniel and Potts have concluded that the number of ‘Americans’ known to have been involved in the conflict was relatively small, perhaps 25 out of 1,347 believed on the fields, and that evidence as to motives was scarce. They concluded that none of the leaders was ‘American’ and that there had been very little discussion of Australian independence, whether as a republic or not.[dlx]

Churchward, one of the very small number of scholars to have explored their involvement, wrote in the 1970’s that he believed that slightly over half of the ‘Americans’ in Australia in 1854 were on the gold fields. Public criticism of Californian lawlessness and a search by some for examples of similar ‘mob rule’ on the local fields, vied with appreciation of ‘American’ energy, and inventiveness, and in some circles for its republicanism. When Australian chests puffed out, it was sometimes with thoughts that ‘we’ could be as great:

The fact is as clear to our apprehension as the existence of Australia, that in her aspects of society, commerce and individual characteristics, she is – unconsciously it may be, but yet most surely – assimilating herself to an American model.[dlxi]

Victorian Parliamentary records dated after the event show two things:

1) a message in cypher from Governor Hotham to his Gold Fields’ Commissioner insisting that ‘a certain person’ was not to be arrested, despite Colonel Rede, the Commissioner, being sure the man was implicated, indeed that he was ‘very active in the affair’;

2) a letter from Governor Hotham’s Private Secretary the day after the shootout to the Melbourne-based US Consul, informing him that a participant eye witness who, interestingly had reported directly to Hotham and not to the local authorities, had asserted ‘the leader of this movement is a young American..their most active leader.’[dlxii]

The Argus asserted in January, 1855, that one of four ‘Americans’ arrested after an initial skirmish in November had been allowed to go free due to ‘half American, half Masonic influence.’ In a long piece, the writer listed the four ‘Americans’ who had received special treatment as Hurd, Carey, Ferguson and McGill. The last, McGill, was supposedly the Stockade’s ‘chief in command’ at the time of the trooper attack, as well as Commander of the 200-strong, variously-named ‘Independent Californian Rangers Revolver Brigade’. Allegedly warned off very soon after his arrival on the 2nd, he and his corps had left very late the same night. The newspaper commented:[dlxiii]

It is a most singular position for the governor of a British colony to be placed in – currying favour from any power under the sun, to enable him to ride roughshod over the rights of British-born subjects..

Shortly before the Stockade incident Hotham had been feted with a grand procession and huge community welcome to Geelong. Immediately behind the banners and bands of the friendly societies and fire brigade, and immediately in front of the carriages of local dignitaries, was that of ‘the American Consul’.[dlxiv] In a little-known memoir by a Catholic, self-styled ‘lieutenant of Peter Lalor’, Joseph Lynch verified the poor regard diggers held for ‘orators’ Carboni and Vern and the doubts about McGill:

When I joined I was told off to the Californian Independent Rifle Brigade, commanded by James McGill, captain and drill-instructor. He appeared to be a smart, intelligent young fellow..Whatever may have been his prestige before the battle, his behaviour during the contest and afterwards did not add to his lustre. He was absent without leave and had a large body of men away with him..when their presence was most needed. He tried to explain, but failed to convince, and the shadow of suspicion hung over him through life.[dlxv]

The ‘American Consul’ was again feted at a dinner at the Victoria Saloon, Ballarat a few days before ‘the riot’, all press being deliberately excluded. So, not surprisingly, it has been suggested that ‘American Freemasons’, mounted, armed and organised into a recognisable and substantial corps had been warned off by their consul and were nowhere to be seen when the Stockade was breached.[dlxvi] A local historian, Bell, refers to a fifth ‘American’ Freemason, one Brother Kenworthy[dlxvii], who, living inside the Stockade boundary, also absented himself on the fatal night.

The Immediate Aftermath 1854-1868

Almost as the event was occurring, Cr Annand, a Protestant and a Kerr-crony, in a meeting of the Melbourne Council, sought leave to bring about ‘the erection of Victoria into a sovereignty’ with a ‘Prince of the royal family of England as King’ while, just hours before the troopers’ attack, The Age had chosen bombast and rhetoric over analysis to fulminate on ‘The Bayonet Policy of Victoria’:

…Rest, and repose, and security, will be no more amongst us, until the last vestige of the old and worn-out despotism has been swept away. The old leaven is rotten. A new life now animates the people. Intimidation and corruption have fulfilled their fatal mission, and the magnates of the gold fields, and the officials of Downing-street, have had their last warning…[dlxviii]

After the event, The Empire, while claiming to sympathise with ‘the miners’, chose to correct their understanding of an earlier conflict, at Bristol in 1831, and concluded a long editorial, ‘The Riots at Ballaarat’ with:

..and if it unfortunately happens that such affairs as that of Bristol have been remotely connected with political events, a too eager desire is shown to seize the occasion for party purposes. It is on this very ground that we deplore the riots at Ballaarat. If the diggers have any claims for justice to put forth, they will have caused the suspension of those claims to an unknown day..[dlxix]

Impoverishment suffered by US miners after the gold frenzies cooled resulted from their being miners rather than because they were from the USA. Working conditions on the Victorian gold fields in the 1850’s were similar to those at other major mining locations, all of which were increasingly subject to market forces. Unsurprisingly, the first parliamentary representative, from 1860, of the HRD’s coal miners, Tom Lewis, was financed by his ‘brothers’ specifically to insist government fix underground sanitary conditions, or that this move coincided with their first attempt at a ‘Trades Hall Council’. Or that the ‘stentorian carpenter’, Angus Cameron, remained an influential member of GUOOF while his MP’s salary from 1874 was also paid by Hunter miners’ subscriptions.[dlxx]

As at Burra, Newcastle and elsewhere, a mutual aid fraternity not an armed rebellion came out of the miners’ discontent at Bendigo:

Discontent simmered on both fields over police arrogance and inefficiency. It flared openly at Mount Alexander in September. There, at Lever Flat, on 30 September, 1852, a meeting of diggers voted the formation of a Mutual Protection Society..

The diggers..were in militant mood. They proceeded to draw up their own code of laws to protect themselves. If the authorities continued incapable of maintaining law and order, the Society would do so after its own fashion..licence fees would be withheld and instead, used to finance the Society’s own patrols. They were fighting words.[dlxxi] (My emphasis)

And as in the Hunter’s coal townships, various fraternal combinations were tried over the next 40 years at Bendigo, and while in 1882 a resuscitated ‘Miners’ Association’ [AMA] quickly had 2,000 members overall, the local branch

had fewer members than the Pride of Marong Branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters, numerically the smallest of the forty-odd friendly societies in Sandhurst [Bendigo].[dlxxii]

So, in the longer context, Ballarat’s combination of frustrated miners into an armed stockade was an aberration. Less surprisingly, the first agitations for an eight hour working day were organised by Sydney’s operative stonemasons in 1855. Victorian miners, given the right to vote in 1855, boosted Lalor and another of the Stockade leaders, Humfray, into the Victorian Assembly, but neither the claim that Eureka was ‘the birth of democracy in Australia’ nor that it brought about ‘the first secret ballot in the world’, an innovation introduced into the Victorian Parliament in 1856, is tenable. Secret ballots had been standard lodge practice for years, as had been the central democratic notion that those affected by a decision must be able to vote on the decision.

‘Americans’ were prominent on his hate-list, but in 1855 the still influential JP Fawkner actually feared every race but ‘Englishmen’:

I begin to fear for this country – that it is to be given up by Englishmen to be ruled and dealt with by a Sett of Wild Americans..and the Americanised Irish Celts – and even worse – and these two classes will I fear humbug or mislead John Bull – but not if I can help it.[dlxxiii]

That year, Irish nationalist leader and émigré to Victoria, Charles Gavan Duffy was met by thousands of Melbourne’s Irishmen led by O’Shanassy. Such was the level of fear and loathing among Protestants, that O’Shanassy’s leadership of a short-term government the following year, 1856, was regaled by major Melbourne dailies as ‘Rule from Rome’. There were only two Catholics in his centrist Cabinet which included ‘the notoriously shifty..storekeeper’ and very Protestant Odd Fellow Augustus Greeves. Yet, candidate Fawkner could tell his soapbox audience:

Fellow colonists! Reject the overbearing Romanist O’Shannassy [sic]..Protestants.. vote for no bigoted Romanist, for all such men would rob you..of your right to read the Word of God, and of all liberty of action, except the liberty to act as they bid you, and pay money to support the immense mass of idling monks, nuns, etc, the police of Rome.[dlxxiv]

Whether or not any ‘American’ diggers were representing the Order of the Lone Star or Freemasonry, it is certain there would have been Odd Fellows, specifically members of the ‘Independent Order of Odd Fellows’, sometimes referred to as ‘the American Order’.[dlxxv]


As we have seen already, an ‘Independent Order’, which is not the IOOFMU, appears to have made considerable advances in southern Australia during the 1840’s and ‘50’s, but it was also not conflict-free. An 1851 par in the Melbourne Herald noted that three State governors, of NSW, South Australia and Victoria, had agreed to become patrons of the ‘Australian Independent Order of Odd Fellows’.[dlxxvi] In 1854, a Tasmanian Grand Lodge of the ‘Ancient and Independent Order’ claimed to have been delegated by Sydney’s ASGL (see previous chapters) 12 months before to act as a self-governing Grand Lodge for Tasmania. Within that 12 months, four new lodges were opened to join the ‘Tasmanian Primitive’, the ‘Loyal United Brothers’ and the ‘Loyal Kemp Town’ lodges. In December of 1854, just before leaving the island and his Governorship, Sir William Denison, Hobart’s Venerable Archdeacon Davies and His Worship the Mayor were all initiated into this Order, the ‘AIOOF’. The Governor also acceded to a request for land for a suitable Hall, the Order announcing scholarships and schools for the sons of Odd Fellows.[dlxxvii]

US records show that desultory correspondence between Boston and the ‘AIOOF’ in Australia had occurred since the 1840’s. At the September, 1867 ‘Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Grand Lodge of the Ancient Independent Order of Odd Fellows Friendly Society’ at Geelong, delegates complained that entrance fees were holding back the Order, being higher than all others excepting only Manchester Unity. Seven new lodges had been opened in the previous 12 months, taking them ostensibly to 49, but the Grand Secretary had doubts about the health of some:

With reference to (four new lodges in Gippsland) I regret to say I have very little confidence in their stability; the only one I consider has anything like a healthy appearance is the Loyal Mountaineer Lodge, numbering 24 members; they are now…moving the Lodge to the Copper Mines, as the greater number of the population seem to be getting that way.[dlxxviii]

The Grand Master agreed:

..The Mount Useful Lodge, at Donnelly’s Creek, promised to be a very important branch, but the reverses in the mining interest there having caused a great portion of the population to leave, it has not succeeded as I could have wished.[dlxxix]

In 1868, the ‘American’ IOOF accepted the affiliation of this Victorian ‘AIOOF’ and declared that State’s Grand Lodge to be the ‘Australian Grand Lodge of the IOOF’ and from Boston imposed three conditions – membership would be restricted to ‘free, white males of good moral standing’ who were at least 21 years old, and who believed in God. For years thereafter, the Australian jurisdiction sought to have the colour bar lifted by the US Grand Lodge.[dlxxx] Rules set out at the time for Victoria, did not include the qualification anyway, but even its consideration at the time of affiliation caused two Victorian lodges to refuse to sign the necessary documents. After disassociating from the ‘Australian Grand Lodge’ and attempting to stand alone,[dlxxxi] all 16 South Australian IOOF lodges joined GUOOF in NSW in 1873 rather than accept US overlordship.

Another specific society of interest was a local variant on ‘the Buffaloes’. The ‘Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes’ are alleged to have been introduced into Australia, at Ballarat, in 1854 by George Coppin who later became very influential in Victorian Masonry. Bye-laws of the ‘Loyal OAB for the Ballarat District, No 1 Mother Lodge’ were printed in 1860.[dlxxxii] Held in the first instance at ‘Primo WM Brown’s Sir Henry Barkly Hotel, Humffray Street, Bakery Hill’, a lodge was shown to consist of

A presiding Primo, a City Marshall, a City Constable, a City Taster, a City Physician, a City Tyler, a City Barber, and aldermen of Juniper, Lunacy, Poverty, and Suicide..(etc).

These were all positions invented in London in the 1820’s. ‘Missionary Primos’ were to have the power to convene camp meetings ‘at any time or place, in house, or town, or under tree.’ In formal lodge meetings, the Primo was ‘to cause strict examination’ of all parties intending to participate and after the lodge was opened, ‘the City Tyler shall receive the word or sign from every person.’ (My emphasis)


Air-Brushed Masonic History

Explanations of Freemasonry’s dismal Australian showing in its first century begin with the earliest conflict and bickering between jurisdictions but must continue with the need for renewal and re-invention which appeared from at least the mid-century but which administrations ignored. As with the Friendly Societies and the trade-oriented ‘unions’, structural answers – amalgamation and consolidation under fewer ‘heads’ – appeared easiest to achieve. However, Provincial (or District) GM’s were, at-best conflicted, faced as they were with an oath-bound duty to protect a specific Constitution at a time when Freemasonry, the idea and the institution was rapidly evolving with many contending views of ‘correct’ procedure. It is fair to say that local Masonic communities were equally uncertain.

Not long after the ‘Eureka’ defeat, the first Masonic lodge in the sudden community that was Ballarat proved disruptive, and, elsewhere, the first attempts at Masonic independence in Australia were made. Both of these have ‘American’ elements.

Many prominent citizens had already joined the ‘Branch of Gold of Eleusis Lodge’ when reports appeared that it was an outpost of a French Constitution dedicated to the Goddess Demeter, in other words, the Grand Loge des Philadelphes ‘working’ the Rite of Memphis. It was therefore ‘irregular’, and to be shunned, despite it having been apparently acceptable since its establishment in 1853.[dlxxxiii]

This Rite and Order was just one of a number in the northern hemisphere attempting to follow London’s Grand Lodge on its path to legitimacy. Supposedly first established in 1805, it had suffered a split in 1839, and whereas some of its supporters justified the later version as a Masonry for poorer men, it remained ‘strongly suspected’ by English Masonry that having been founded by ‘French political refugees’, politics remained its ‘primary aim’. In 1859, an apparently ‘regular’ Masonic lodge was instituted in Victoria by ‘American brethren’, and in 1864, the Worshipful Master of the Washington Lodge, IC, in Melbourne was accused of creating turmoil by arbitrarily introducing ‘peculiar’ ritual described as ‘a jumble of all’.[dlxxxiv] None of this has been satisfactorially researched.

Even more curious is the fact that the banner announcing the ‘Order of Masons’ at the stone-laying ceremonies in 1859 for the Ballarat Benevolent Asylum and again in 1861 for the Ballarat East Town Hall featured the Eureka or Southern Cross motif, white stars in a blue cross on a white background, which to this day features in official Masonic coats of Arms.

The United States was, of course, developing its own fraternal networks at this time, suffering its own successes and failures, and developing its own mythologies. In the 1850’s and ‘60’s a debate occurred in the northern hemisphere about the relative merits of ‘American’ and ‘British’ Masonry, or at least the practices carried on by the average Freemason. There appears to be evidence to support claims made on both sides of the Atlantic that English and Irish brethren suffered from ‘a woeful lack of Masonic knowledge’ whereas many ‘Americans’ were using fraternal efficiency and ability to recall the actual words used in ceremonies to advance personal and, they seemed to believe, their national prestige.[dlxxxv]

One attempt of English brethren to redirect Craft Masonry priorities resulted, in mid-century, in a totally new ‘branch’ of Masonry. Reformist anger directed at the metropole-centric nature of ‘the Craft’ succeeded in getting the ‘Mark Degrees’ recognised but failed to weaken the English capital’s hold on power, the first ‘Mark Grand Lodge’ being established there.

Lodges representing Mark Masonry appeared in Sydney in 1858, in Melbourne in 1859 and Brisbane in 1869.[dlxxxvi] These ‘advances’ provided further opportunities for personal aggrandisement, and therefore suspicions of fraud[dlxxxvii] or special treatment, not to mention bitter competition.

A strong demand for local Masonic independence is visible in the pages of The Melbourne Masonic Journal and the Australian Masonic News published in Melbourne from the early-1860’s:

..Our brethren, residing in either England, Ireland or Scotland cannot imagine the dissatisfaction which arises here on account of there being three Provincial Grand Lodges; each having its own mode of working, its own code of laws, and its own officers..Victoria seems to be a kind of no man’s land, and each Grand Lodge grants as many warrants as it feels disposed to issue, and the consequence is that a rivalry exists that ought never to be known among Masons; and the Craft is not in as prosperous a position as its friends would desire.[dlxxxviii]

In 1860 a local correspondent asserted that the ritual being used in South Australia was ‘the most worthless of the lot’, precipitating, in 1861, a major walk-out from South Australia’s Provincial GL and Installation meeting because, as one complainant put it:

..The only lodge in the colony visited by the (PGM) from (May to October) is the Lodge of Friendship (No 613) which, in the opinion of all others in the province, works under a ritual believed to be a copy of one of the systems worked in America..(and which) every other lodge refuses to have anything do with..[dlxxxix]

In 1864, England’s United Grand Lodge insisted that it had no financial interest in refusing to hand control to its antipodean lodges. Over the preceding 22 years contributions from Victoria’s EC lodges to London had averaged only ₤63, it asserted, and argued that only 20 out of all 65 lodges in the State and only seven of the 41 EC lodges were seeking change. The UGL correspondent admitted that the ‘three separate jurisdictions and three modes of working’ in Victoria was ‘a grave difficulty’, but argued:

The Grand Lodges of England, of Ireland, and of Scotland would look with great jealousy upon a proposal to give up any of their privileges..(The) difficulty would not be mitigated by founding another and a fourth jurisdiction, as it could not be supposed that all English lodges would join this proposed new body.[dxc]

The English sense of Masonic pre-eminence was now sheltering behind a Masons’ oath of obedience to constituted authority to inhibit a shift in decision-making power. The Provisional Grand Secretary for Victoria’s Irish lodges claimed not to be unhappy with their distant GL, but said they were seeking a local, joint GL because of the refusal by the GL of England to recognise the Masonic rank of those rising in Irish lodges:

(The) unnecessary and illiberal, if not un-Masonic enactments of the Constitution under which English Masons act, and the interpretation of which by the GL of England is even more illiberal and narrow-minded, [fails] the broad principle of universal brotherhood towards all Masons which should guide its decisions.[dxci]

Reports in May, 1864, of a Masonic ceremony to lay the stone for the Brisbane Town Hall and of the installation of the first Master of a German-language lodge in Victoria, accompanied accounts of the removal of the Masonic element in the laying of the stone of the Hobart Town Hall. That State’s Governor had first invited Freemasons to play a central role and then reneged when the Catholic Bishop wrote to say that it ‘would be inconsistent’ for his parishioners to attend any ceremonies performed by Freemasons. The Freemasons thereupon withdrew altogether saying they weren’t prepared merely ‘to form part of the procession.’[dxcii]

Continuing tension within South Australia’s ‘English’ lodges resulted in a number petitioning London in 1865 to complain of the insistence by ‘their’ PGM that he alone had Masonic decision-making power in the State, ie,

..that (District GL) cannot meet except by his sanction; that it has no power to fix the times for holding its meetings; that it ceases to exist on his death or resignation; that it cannot control the mode of working in the lodges, or enforce uniformity; that it cannot hear or determine Masonic complaints..[dxciii]

O’Brien[dxciv] has concluded from his research into rural Victoria, that by 1859 ‘an intense political and Protestant conservatism’ amongst ‘the Beechworth elite’ had united ‘via the Masonic Lodge’ into a formidable coalition to exclude the miners from ‘achieving even one representative’[dxcv]:

Examination of the Ovens poll clerks and returning officers in the (1859) election revealed that of 17 men out of 36 identified, none were Catholic, five were Beechworth councillors, 11 were members of the (Masonic) Lodge of St John, and 12 were committeemen for either JD Wood or Keefer (the conservative candidates) or both, and one was a candidate’s employee.[dxcvi]

He accepts at face value an 1859 ‘Notice’ in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser supposedly from the Beechworth Masonic Lodge endorsing ‘Brother Keefer and Mr Reid’ as ‘proper persons to represent the order in the Legislative Assembly.’ Although not necessarily a fake, the advertisement is not entirely convincing, but where else might direct fraternal influence be found?

By 1859 the Victorian Parliament was unworkable, ‘a mere rabble of political desperadoes’. The O’Shanassy Government fell and the Victorian 1861 election was, according to Serle, sectarian-free, land having become THE cause over which allegiances were forged and dismantled. But, again, the faith-based anxieties and suspicions had clearly not gone away, indeed, they had increased as the population and fraternalism continued to spread. A writer to the Perth Gazette in 1864 was horrified that the first executive of the ‘Perth Workingman’s Association’ contained a ‘strong Popish element.’[dxcvii]

Historians of the gold field around Bathurst have asserted that every election outcome after 1859, by which year secret ballots had been introduced into all eastern States and South Australia, turned on whether Orange or Catholic votes could be delivered in a bloc. Sofala, in particular, was known as a Protestant stronghold.[dxcviii] Holtermann, ‘the ambitious German Jew who had made his fortune in Hill End’ came last of 3 candidates at the 1873 election, and blamed his getting only 25 of the miners’ votes on the existence of ‘a secret society.’ The local correspondent for The Empire agreed: ‘Cooper [Parkes supporter] polled 242 votes at Wattle Flat and Sofala. The Orangemen were to a man in his favour.’ [dxcix]

Further north, pitched battles known as ‘the McIntyre riots’ occurred at Maitland in 1860 when his opponents confronted the Scottish-born, Presbyterian author of ‘The Heathenism of Popery’:

The arrival, on the day fixed for the lecture, of an unusual number of people from a radius of ten or fifteen miles beyond Maitland, led to the apprehension that some disturbance would take place, which was increased as the hour approached, by a crowd of some four or five hundred persons assembling in front of the house adjoining the church.[dc]

A body of constables broke up the subsequent conflict and rescued McIntyre and his brother. Whereupon:

Mr Day, the Police Magistrate, having informed the rioters that the lecture announced would not take place, they were so far pacified that they shortly after left the spot without committing any further violence than smashing all the windows of the church, and breaking the fences as they passed.

Again, no ‘rioter’ appears to have been arrested, and no compensation paid by those responsible for property damage. Lang later denounced McIntyre but admitted that he

was one of the honestest men in New South Wales..although dogmatical and fond of power to an inordinate degree, Mr McIntyre was nevertheless apt to become the dupe of lesser men.[dci]

Leading Ballarat citizens and Freemasons, Dyte, WC Smith and Humffray, the last a prominent Chartist and Stockader, have been indicted by historian Bate for ‘irregularities’ in land dealings in the 1860’s, but Charles Edwin Jones is of singular interest:

(One) of the most blatant adventurers and gifted demagogues ever to operate in Victoria, (Jones) loved notoriety and intrigue. Big and strong, he seems to have had no fear.[dcii]

‘The son of a Welshman’, Jones brought ‘deep anti-Catholic and temperance prejudices’ to the task of breaking the grip of a ‘dominant Irish publican group on the Melbourne City Council’ in 1861. Financially embarrassed from neglecting his tailoring business, he happily moved to Ballarat in 1862 when asked by his ‘Orange Lodge temperance cronies’ to engage ‘the enemy’ there. Bate again:

There was money on the side to reward him for his trouble..Ballarat East was ripe for Jones to harvest. To give spice to his Orangeism, it had a Roman Catholic minority, many of whom were concentrated on smallholdings at Bungaree, an outlying agricultural area, or were carters, splitters and charcoal burners living in primitive conditions in the Bullarook Forest near by.

Jones began his political campaign in the newly-opened Ballarat East Town Hall with the memorable:

Gentlemen and savages, men of Ballarat and FELLOWS from Bungaree..(I) would be strongly in favour of missionaries being sent into Bungaree – under a strong police escort to distribute Protestant bibles to teach the ignorant crowd there to read them.

In this Victorian, allegedly sectarian-free situation, I must now speak specifically of Scottish-born David Syme, himself an experienced miner and engineer. Managing from 1856, and assuming editorship of the newly-established Age newspaper from 1860, he built great personal influence and a large fortune fighting for modest land ownership and rural communities against land monopolies and import merchants. Arguing for protective tariffs to enable Australia to become more than a producer of raw materials, in those days, gold, wool and other minerals, Syme also agitated on behalf of popular suffrage. What goes unmentioned is that he was severely Protestant.

As in the Charters Towers’ and The Empire examples, newspapers were increasingly critical in socio-political struggles. David Syme and his Age newspaper [dciii] appear well-studied, but rarely has it been noted that the paper’s masthead motto was the well-known Protestant call-to-arms ‘No Surrender.’ Future national leader Deakin has contributed to just what this might have meant in the context of, among other major political disputes, the well-known 1879 crisis in Victorian politics:

Mr David Syme was a commanding personality physically and mentally, liable to fits of passionate resentment and indignation, either at what he conceived to be public abuses or at any crossing of his own imperious will.

For the earlier period, Pawsey’s The Popish Plot: Culture Clashes in Victoria 1860-1863, an account of wide-spread anti-Catholic bigotry, is an exception. It is based ‘largely on newspaper sources’ rather than lodge records, not even mentioning the LOI or Catholic societies. Even so, she points out that The Age was ‘openly and avowedly anti-Catholic’. Being politically opposed to the likes of O’Shanassy, Syme could pursue his religious and nationalist prejudices while, like Parkes, appearing to be in pursuit of liberal political goals. His message, nominally democratic, was in reality the need to ensure that the imperial banner floated secure in its new home, and that its readers should actively pursue the creation of ‘an imperial bastion of Protestant civilisation in a heathen sea.’[dciv]

Sadly for all those attempting to keep the issue out of sight, in 1868 a gunman of faith stepped forward and attempted to blow away the British Crown in Australia.


Fenianism, Ned Kelly and the 1868 Attempted Assassination

The attempt by an unstable, alleged Fenian to kill the young Prince Alfred in Sydney early in 1868 was akin to an Australian 9/11 or a Bali Bombing today, if we consider its emotional impact and its short and long term consequences. Its effect was heightened by the near-hysteria surrounding the first visit to the colonies of a ‘scion of Royalty’. Grand Master Fergie of IOOFMU’s Victorian District described Melbourne’s welcome:

We are in the midst of rejoicings to welcome the first scion of Royalty who has honoured Australia with a visit – the Duke of Edinburgh – the like of which has certainly never been equalled at the Antipodes..I enjoyed it amazingly. He landed on Monday, and was received by the various notabilities, Corporations, public bodies, etc, etc; when a procession was formed to escort him to the Treasury of the Colony, I as the chief of the various Friendly Societies, leading the whole, consisting of more than 12,000 persons.[dcv]

Phair, the highest-ranked Orangeman in Victoria, had warned in 1866 that:

It would be folly to deny that the emissaries of Rome are making great efforts to gain power in this colony. Their open aggression cannot but be regarded with alarm by every Orangeman and true Protestant.[dcvi]

Late in 1867, another street disturbance had occurred, ‘the bloodiest Melbourne had known’ and Travis has noted that in Australia the shooting inspired

hundreds of pages of newspaper reporting, dozens of eye-witness accounts, countless words expounded in parliamentary outrage, column after column of indignation expressed in letters, public meetings and petitions, several books, many memoirs and a veritable library of truly awful verse.[dcvii]

Yet, apparently, the ‘terror, confusion and raging passion’ which erupted after the event, had no organised trigger.[dcviii] Amos has agreed with Travis that:

A spirit of Fenianism was widespread but does not appear to have taken any organisational form.[dcix]

By ‘Fenianism’ Amos and Travis both mean anti-British attitudes among the Irish, but why must any organisational form for such attitudes be labelled ‘Fenian’?

The Ned Kelly reality, a decade later, fits neatly into this conflicted fraternal context. His correspondence makes abundantly clear his concern, perhaps his obsession, with Ireland’s sufferings under ‘the tyranny of the English yoke’, while in their slab hut and their grinding poverty he and his family were merely a variant on the Bullerook Forest ‘savages’. The Age described the gang and its supporters as ‘a tribe of hardened criminals’ and an ‘extensive criminal community’ which defied not only the police and the Defence Corps but also ‘our rapid progress in…education and other primary factors of a nation’s welfare’.[dcx]

Neither Ned nor his mates could expect to be invited to join St John’s Masonic Lodge in Beechworth. And yet, the iconic ‘cummerbund’ presented to Ned as a boy and apparently worn by him at Glenrowan is actually a sash denoting fraternal society membership, a fact apparently unrealised by anyone in the ‘Kelly industry’. While one usually has to read the fine print to discover that Aaron Sherritt’s family had Orange connections and while the neglect of records makes it very difficult to pin-point specific memberships, the sash, almost certainly of the HACBS, heightens the likelihood that local rivalries had crystallised into opposed lodges.

Considered important enough to wear at what Kelly knew was likely to be his last, certainly a climactic shoot out, the sash was so naturally an element of the overall 1870’s context neither he nor his opponents thought it required any explanation. Today, it languishes in Benalla Museum, unacknowledged as a key link in the chain running from Ireland’s Vinegar Hill battle of 1798 to Australia’s republican dilemmas of 2009.

‘The new view’ of the episode set out by Jones approaches the reality, involving as it does, Irish Catholic land-hunger, harassment by Protestant Irish police and masculine vanities. His 1968 version included:

The Irishman in (the police) uniform was a hated figure. Police alliance with the squatters alienated them from selectors, as a class. But the antagonism of Irish selectors to Irish policemen reached a level that might best be described as religious war.[dcxi]

In 2003, his focus was on Joe Byrne, gang member, and the mate he murdered, Aaron Sherritt, believing him to be a police spy:

The roots of this story lie in Ireland..(where) two families had their beginnings. The Byrnes sprang from Catholic, nationalistic stock..The Sherrits, descended from French Huguenots who had fled Catholic persecution, were Anglo-Irish farmers, four square for the Crown and the established Church, strongly anti-Catholic.[dcxii]

‘At the most simplistic level’, Jones has argued, ‘Ned and Joe had to offer their supporters..something more than the proceeds of a bank robbery.’

They offered them some hope of relief from the black list, from the hated confederacy between squatter and trooper, from police retribution for loyalty to the Gang. They offered rebellion, and with it the lodestar of those who rebelled against the British Crown. The evergreen rebel dream. A republic.[dcxiii]

Again, one can only wonder what Jones might have done with the story if he’d known all of the truth. He seems not to have known that Sergeant Steele, the most assiduous of the police hunting the gang, was a Freemason.[dcxiv] Nor that the 484 entries in Shennan’s Biographical Dictionary of the Ovens and Townsmen of Beechworth, the title taken from ‘a collection of portraits compiled by photographer Henry Hansen in 1899’, imply that only around 4% of the area’s notables were Catholic.[dcxv] His frustration is clear:

In fact, the militantly opposed Orange and Green allegiances of the two families create a new mystery.

The mystery he was referring to is the two-faced nature of ‘mateship’, exploited so brilliantly yet so cynically by PR flacks in such later ‘entertainments’ as the ‘hate-against-hate, mate-against-mate’ chants of the State of Origin Rugby League matches and the ‘Anzac-against-Anzac’ Bledisloe Cup. But that’s in the future. Here, Jones is struggling with the mateship-gone-bad between two youths who grew up in a despised ‘poor white trash’ community.

Syme’s ‘liberal credentials’ also struggled with these, ‘the Kellys, Guians, Wrights, Baumgartens and numbers of others who pollute the surrounding country’,[dcxvi] and the apparently more upright version of Irish intransigence. Sir John O’Shanassy, insisting that State-run schools ‘persecuted’ Catholics, must be a liar and an unprincipled political strategist intent only on making ‘quite sure of (an) undivided Catholic vote’ at the forthcoming election:

..Of the 200,000 children now attending the State schools, 35,000, according to Sir John O’Shanassy, are Catholics, and the probability is that the number is much larger, for he would most probably understate the case…[dcxvii]

Everyone knew, Syme argued, that Victorian educators treated ‘all children matter what the religious belief’ of their parents. Those readers who agreed with The Age editorials were, of course, the un-qualified ‘public’, those who did not must be motivated by spite, or greed or worse. In 1868, before the attempted assassination, Catholic voters were at best ‘ignorant’, Gavan Duffy was at best ‘a rogue’:

When rogues fall out honest men come by their own. There is a terrible quarrel just now between Mr Duffy and certain of his quondam friends, and the reviling and the cursing is appalling. We always set down the late proprietor of The Nation as a very untrustworthy man..We have always thought that Irish patriotism was very nearly allied with Irish scoundrelism..He is accused of having urged his ignorant and infuriated countrymen to violence, in order to make his paper sell; of having duped and betrayed his party for his personal ends..and of procuring his pension here by deception and fraud. All these things were possibly true, but they would not have been uttered but for the rogues falling out..[dcxviii]

In 1870, the paper railed against Catholic picnics, since ‘(those) who are familiar with contemporary history’ know to what extremes ‘religious zeal forces sensible people’[dcxix]:

The enthusiast in religion when excited becomes a fanatic…Amongst the Easter festivities there was a Catholic picnic, no doubt intended as…harmless and innocent…There can be no objection to that save one.

‘What would happen’ the editorialist asked, if other sects determined to also have a picnic? If there were next year an “Orange” picnic or a “Protestant” picnic would not the result be ‘a counterpart of the Belfast riots?’ The only conclusion must be that:

(Since) the party that would most regret (the results) would be the Catholics themselves..we put it to the more sensible of them, why provoke it? What object can be gained by separating..from the rest of the community for a picnic?..No other class of our citizens adopt such a course..

In the teeth of the full-blown parliamentary crisis of 1878, the expression of any political opinion invoking religion must stop.[dcxx] Any suggestion that religion may have played a part in an election must indicate the presence of ‘the meanest cant and the most transparent hypocrisy’, at least when ‘our side’ won:

It is pretended now that that there was all sorts of foul play in the [recent municipal] contest. The returning officer and the electors are accused..(The Argus) has discovered that “the Roman Catholic vote had great influence”..It is impossible to account for this assertion by any known process of reasoning..(The) offenders who threw stones at The Argus and Telegraph offices [breaking windows] “were a lot of boys and larrikins in no way connected with the election.”[dcxxi]

When there was a chance Catholics would not vote ‘for us’ it was a different matter:

(Sir) John O’Shanassy’s hatred of the Liberal party is very pronounced…(A) general election is looming…and, in order to make quite sure of the undivided Catholic was necessary to parade a Catholic grievance beforehand. Hence the introduction of the Education Act Amendment Bill..[dcxxii]

Unfortunately, the Symesian-solutions to his two problems of Catholicism and the Kellys, were in conflict with one another. On the one hand, the rational ‘State’ would provide all-comers with the same, value-free Education, while on the other:

..Careful enquiry reveals..that six or seven years ago the district now given over to the bushrangers was under complete control..From that period dates the introduction of a system of red-tapeism, and a curtailment of local authority..the local officers gradually became apathetic and disheartened (until) the criminal classes..gained the upper hand..That is the result of the centralisation of authority..[dcxxiii]


Orangemen and the Protestant Alliance:

Protestant-based societies of the second half of the century, faced like the Catholics with a need for ‘re-invention’, appear to have had the easier problem to solve. They could claim to have had a glorious past culminating in the Empire and that it, and therefore Protestantism, was on the brink of an even greater future. But Protestantism was a much more diffuse beast than Catholicism, with many more ‘heads’. And it was, by definition, a religious movement at the heart of non-religious agendas, one of which, material progress, was seeking to deny it, and its passions.

Collectively, Protestants had two further distractions the Roman Church did not have. There was the question of ‘ritualism’ in their churches and in their fraternities, while notions of democracy were making it necessary for memberships to ask: was a new, motivating myth to be about the King or the spear carrier? ‘Head Office’ or ‘the neighborhood’? the centre or the circle? What was a ‘modern’ reinvented fraternalism to abandon of its past and what was it to retain?

Evangelical Christians were enraged by the use of ‘ecclesiastical ornaments and haberdashery’, the so-called ‘Puseyism’, which, making a comeback with High Anglicanism, implied that the officials had a special relationship with God. The non-displayers wanted nothing between themselves and their Creator, and certainly no reminders of Romish rites. Some Methodist clerics refused to officiate at fraternal graves, unless all ‘paraphenalia’ was removed. It was no comfort to know that Catholic clerics were refusing to officiate if funeral paraphernalia wasn’t of the Order they favored.[dcxxiv]

So heated were the internal Protestant exchanges, the Church of England was itself declared to be not-Protestant by anti-ritualists in 1866. The editor of the Standard’s (PS) forerunner, the Australian Protestant Banner(APB), revealed where he stood on the issue in 1868:

We read that in 1866, at the Cork Church Conference, that the Ritualists showed their colours, there was a costly exhibition of vestments and other necessary accessories of a full-blown ceremonial…Ritualism is therefore the danger, or rather this modern Popery WITHIN our body; it is the cancer which has been for some time striking its roots unperceived into the Body, and nothing but extirpation can save the Body itself…[dcxxv]

This was not just a theological issue, fought out between dry and dusty scholars with time on their hands. This touched the faithful everywhere, and had political overtones. In an isolated southern NSW mining village, Araluen, a furore went on for months in 1869 over whether a single monogram on an Anglican altar cloth was ‘the first step towards Ritualism.’[dcxxvi] Three decades later a letter writer to the Wingham Chronicle, the local paper for a mountain hamlet north of Newcastle, NSW, demanded the local C/E cleric be removed because he’d placed ‘heavy maroon curtains’ at the back of the communion table where the Bible stated the Ten Commandments ought to be. A further letter insisted on the upholding of ‘reformation principles’ against the intentions of some C/E parishioners ‘to paganise the British people and bring them again under the feet of the priests and into the house of bondage.’ The Bishop was forced to intervene, whereupon the curtains were removed.[dcxxvii]

In the UK, no less than a Royal Commission into ‘Ritualism’ was set up. A Bishop Hooper was quoted as saying:

..Beware of Ritualism, no less than Popery. Resist it in little things; resist strange dresses, processions, banners, incense, candles and church decorations. Resist them manfully..all are stepping stones to the Church of Rome.[dcxxviii]

Twelve months later, the Standard’s editor pointed to the ‘Brotherhoods, Confraternities, Societies of the Love of Jesus, Guilds of St Peter, and Sisterhoods of Mercy of the Holy Trinity’ all now in full operation within the Church of England so that ‘the reader may understand whither we are drifting.’[dcxxix]

A welcome parade for the Prince in Sydney in January, 1868 included members of the ‘Protestant Friendly Alliance’ and lodges of the IOOFMU, GUOOF, AOF and the Sons of Temperance [OST].[dcxxx] Rules of a ‘Protestant Alliance Friendly Society’ show it was established early in 1868 with ‘Samuel Kippax, Treasurer’, while issues of the 1868 Australasian Protestant Banner shows ‘S Kippax’ as President of ‘The British Association’, later re-named the ‘NSW Protestant Association’.

In NSW alone, Orange lodges had 2,500 active members sometime in 1869.[dcxxxi] Grand Lodge executive meetings increased sharply in number after the shooting and sub-committees were created, including a ‘Political Committee’. Newspapers, such as The Australasian Protestant Banner quickly expanded to 16 pages each week:

Popery, rejected and dying out within her strong citadel of Italy, Spain, Austria, etc, is now making one grand assault on the fortress of Protestant England. She is corrupting by Ritualistic ceremonies and false teaching the Church of our English martyrs…[dcxxxii] (My emphasis)

This newspaper’s header featured a ‘Holy Bible’ and a quote attributed to Queen Victoria: ‘This is the source of England’s greatness, England’s Glory.’ (My emphasis) It serialised ‘Derry’ a ‘tale of the Revolution of 1690’, and asserted that Protestants should not assist in any way the completion of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, firstly, ‘because it is a Romish institution’, and secondly, because ‘the management is secret as well as exclusive’:

They will not do as the managers of the Sydney Infirmary do, submit their annual accounts to public meetings for public criticism and public approval.[dcxxxiii]

Its editorial writer complained, rightly, that while Orangemen were prohibited from parading in 1869, the Holy Catholic Guild was permitted to display a ‘popish’ cross and unlit candles at the funeral of JH Plunkett, long-time NSW State Public Servant. Authorities had warned that more elaborate regalia would not be allowed.[dcxxxiv]

As was his PAFS President, Davies, Kippax was an Orange activist.[dcxxxv] He defended the Political Association (my emphasis) in July, 1868 against charges that it had introduced ‘party societies’ into electoral struggles, along with ‘Orange, Protestant Alliance, Sons of Temperance (and other) Temperance Societies’, by asking what the ‘Celtic Association, the Irish League, St Patrick’s Regatta Committee, and the Association for raising funds for “Irish Patriots”, not to mention the Holy Catholic Guild were’ if not ‘party societies’:

As with the rise of Popery in Christendom, so with the rise of Ritualism in England. Along with it has come the worship of images. The deities of our Popish ancestors are stealing back among us, and setting up their shrines anew, and the land, cleansed from this abomination three hundred years ago, is beginning to suffer a second pollution.[dcxxxvi]

An autonomous Victorian Orange Grand Lodge was confirmed in 1865 and the State’s two ‘branches’ of Orangeism, separated since the ructions of the 1840’s, amalgamated early in 1867 to form the Loyal Orange Institute of Victoria. The shooting produced a flurry of new lodges, including in Tasmania when a visit of the Victorian Grand Orange Chaplain in July, 1868 led to the opening of the Hearts of Oak Lodge, in Hobart as No 11 on the Victorian register.[dcxxxvii] A newspaper, The Leader, supported the LOI and a parallel society, the Tasmanian Protestant Alliance. Orange scholar Davis has noted:

Other lodges appeared at regular intervals, especially in mining areas like Beaconsfield and the West Coast. Royal Black Preceptories of the Institution of Ireland, superior versions of Orangeism whose members were accorded the title Sir Knight, also sprang up in Launceston, Hobart, Zeehan and Beaconsfield ..Tasmania acquired its own Grand Lodge in 1890.

In May, 1868, a meeting established ‘The Protestant Friendly Society of Victoria’ (PFS).[dcxxxviii] The first lodge, eventually known as ‘Loyal Perseverance No 1’ quickly appointed a lodge doctor but it remained, for a time, a doubtful financial proposition. It was a genuine friendly society with provisions for widows and orphans funds, provision of medicines and medical attendance to members, but it had been called into being by John Phair, the first Grand Master of the LOI in Victoria, and few of the first initiates would have disagreed with Henry Knapp, another early member who was determined ‘to crush the Fenian menace’:

It is time the loyal portion of us were up and doing – not by banding together in Orange lodges or societies of that sort, but by joining together in one firm body, irrespective of creed or country, but united in one thing, and that a firm and devoted loyalty to our most gracious sovereign.[dcxxxix]

Ballarat miners in late 1870 appear to have consolidated the PFS and a number of similar initiatives in other locations, in a particularly significant way. Originally named the ‘St Patrick’s Protestant Friendly Society’, the new ‘Order’ emerged from Ballarat deliberations as ‘The Order of Knights of St Patrick Friendly Benefit Society.’ Anyone in agreement with the objects, viz ‘to unite Irishmen generally, and to promote and defend nationality in particular’, aged between 15 and 40 could join, on a sliding scale. Regalia was to be a ‘purple scarf bordered with orange and green, ornamented with a cross of St Patrick’.

No Catholics joined in the first year, and sometime after their first ‘inaugurative ceremony’ in 1871, the Order split into factions of Irish and English-born members, whereupon a grouping calling itself the ‘Protestant Alliance Friendly Society’ appeared and aligned itself with similarly named lodges in other towns.[dcxl] It was immediately labelled an Orange ‘front’, which it was.

Ballarat’s first miners’ ‘trade union’, an accident fund, began to meet in 1870. Its convenor, Richard Baker, was the first Worshipful Grand Master of the PAFS of Victoria, as was its first president, James Vallins, subsequently. It is not surprising, then, that what became the Amalgamated Miners’ Association (AMA) proudly wore fraternal regalia well into the 20th century.

For a time, Ballarat had the largest concentration of PAFS members in Victoria. Its three lodges had over one third of the State’s membership, and in mid-1872, Loyal Britannia was by far the largest lodge of all, having initiated 242 out of 1236. Despite numerous mishaps and triumphs during the next century the grips and signs relating to their ‘secret work’ were never repudiated by PAFS here or in other States.

Reflecting on claims by a member of the Victorian government about bigotry being the child of the assassination-attempt, the editor of the once very-Orange newspaper, The Argus, wrote in May, 1869:

It is only when the Orange lodges of Ballarat pass over from the Ministerial camp to that of an opponent, and ‘better the instruction’ of their former teachers, that these [Ministerials] seem capable of discerning the iniquity of the agency with which they were so recently and reprehensibly allied..The Ministry has been scourged with its own rod, and humiliated by its own disciples.

Further north, as it ‘grew to become a formidable electioneering and parliamentary movement’ with somewhere near 10,000 members, the NSW Loyal Orange Institute consolidated operation of its 3-Degree structure, each level of which required separate, colourful regalia. The flow of ‘new signs and passwords’ continued unabated from all Orange Grand Lodges to outlying lodges. An emigre ‘brother’ from Ireland arriving in Hinton (NSW’s HRD) in 1873 was accepted immediately into the lodge because he

had given the password and the Great and Grand Password of a purpleman and who in other respects had given proof of being an Orangeman.[dcxli]

The even more discreet, multi-degree off-shoots of Orangeism such as the Royal Black Preceptory, and the Scarlet Knights were introduced at this time. The 1874 minutes of Orange lodge, ‘Purple Star’ at Hinton, reflected a related escalation in activism:

The advisability of this lodge taking united action at the approaching election was mentioned by the Secretary. The matter was freely ventilated amongst the brethren finally (moved and seconded) that this lodge pledge itself to use all legitimate means in its power to secure the return of Robert Wisdom, Esquire – carried.[dcxlii]

In 1876, a letter from the Grand Secretary referred to the ‘necessity of looking after the proper revisions of the electoral roll’, and minutes of a subsequent meeting record:

..Bro J McPhie explained that according to instructions the Secretary and himself had attended at Brother Munson’s and with the Morpeth deputation had [gone] over the electoral roll which had been found pretty correct only one or two names being omitted. Sergeant Gordon had promised to have the omissions rectified.[dcxliii]

Two meetings later:

..letter read from Grand Lodge in reference to a closer combination for political purposes and containing advice for future guidance to watch over the political events of the district to guard the Protestant interests.[dcxliv]

An Orange brother from a nearby village kept notes on the 1880 election:

At this time there was a dissolution of Parliament and it was decided by our party that the sitting member must go for the following reasons. First he was a Roman Catholic, second, he was allied to the publicans and had assisted to pack the licencing branch in Sydney in order to obtain a licence for a brother Roman Catholic who built a public house almost adjoining a Presbyterian Church whose Minister at the time..was a red-hot orange-man.[dcxlv]

A newspaper ad appeared in Newcastle in 1880 calling ‘a Mass Meeting’ of all Orange Lodges for the purpose ‘of taking into consideration matters of importance’ in connection ‘with the forthcoming elections’. ‘Every Member’ was ‘expected to attend’. It was signed ‘By Order of the Political Committee.’[dcxlvi] The Hinton ‘Purple Star’ minutes record a visit by the State WGM in May, 1880:

(He) wished to tell of the rapid spread of our Order all over the Colony, especially since the appearance of the joint pastorals of the Roman bishops. At that time our lodges numbered 150, now we numbered 175, and in addition to this the lodges had very largely increased in numbers, very many of them having nearly doubled.[dcxlvii]

In the following month, close attention was paid to the ritual, a Reverend Yarrington writing that he was declining an invitation to attend the 12 July celebration because ‘of the rough and unseemly manner in which Candidates were treated while going through the Second Degree.’ As a staunch Orangeman he urged the WM to use his influence to have the degree ‘conferred in a milder form.’ The same record mentions a

Circular from Grand Lodge in reference to a rumour..that Romanists had gained admission to some lodges and thereby a knowledge of the signs and passwords..(Discussion led to appointment of an) Inner Tyler who should not give admittance to anyone who could not give the passwords and otherwise satisfy him he was an Orangeman.[dcxlviii]

In August, a number of members undertook, at the WM’s urging, to visit the homes of proposed candidates to determine their bona fides. During the 1883 elections, ‘an incident’ was noted at one of the voting booths. Wisdom was re-elected but probably only because Brother Pearse and others had determined on the day not ‘to show the white feather’ to Papists.[dcxlix]

The same minutes show close co-operation with the local ‘Good Templars’ (IOGT) throughout the 1880’s and ‘90’s. One alarmed elector to the Singleton Argus in 1881 thought

Archbishop Vaughan is secretly flooding this country with Jesuits and other sworn enemies of liberty and loyalty. A vessel has just landed about fifty of these black sheep, one of whom has already located himself on the fat pastures of Patrick’s Plains.[dcl]

A remarkable case played itself out the same year in the Maitland court. A local solicitor acting for his wife sought the return of an eleven year old servant from the girl’s Catholic father who had objected to her being brought up as a Protestant and so had ‘kidnapped’ her.[dcli]

Celebrations of July 12 and other ‘sacred’ dates continued behind closed and curtained doors in Protestant Halls around Australia. The Melbourne Protestant Hall, first opened in April, 1848, was replaced with a larger structure in 1883, enabling the faithful, according to Vertigan, ‘to expand in numbers and influence’. Reflecting Low Church influence, such celebrations were likely to be based around tea and coffee.

The Halls meant sponsored lecture tours could be arranged for a variety of anti-Catholic speakers. Pastor Allen, a Sydney Baptist preacher, and former Catholic priest Chiniquy from Canada both travelled extensively in the 1877-79 period. In 1886 in Lismore, NSW, blows were struck and ‘fifty of the district’s best citizens’ arrested as a result of a riot over the visit by an alleged ‘Escaped Nun’ who lectured about malpractices in the Catholic Church.[dclii] Many of the participants were believed to have come from nearby mining villages. In 1878, a Coroner at Palmer’s Island, not far away, heard evidence of a murderous attack by one Patrick Doyle on William Bain, apparently because he was an Orangemen.[dcliii]

The Chairman of the United Methodist Free Churches of Australia, the Reverend Porteus, was famous for his impassioned telling of the ‘Siege of Derry’. On one occasion in the Minmi (HRD) Free Methodist Church to a largely coal-mining audience with all Orange members in full regalia:

Without a scrap of paper he went exhaustedly and vividly into details, showing what gave rise to the siege and defence of Londonderry..(Reaching) the bright climax the audience gave vent to their admiration by loud and continued applause.[dcliv]

The LOI, Fenianism and Henry Parkes

When defeated in the 1874 election, Newcastle power-broker James Hannell claimed bitter disappointment ‘that the Orangemen of the District had let him down.’ He had only joined the local Orange Lodge in 1868. A more successful candidate for a Victorian country seat at the 1877 election was viewed sceptically by a local police observer:

To the Protestant folk on one side (of the river) Mr Graves was a strict Orangeman – no Popery for him. On the Roman Catholic side, he would not deny he was a Protestant (but only because of his forebears) and Protestant bigotry was most contemptible..

..At Jamieson, [further down the Ovens River] where Gleeson the local political boss, was a Roman and rather shy of Freemasonry, the candidate would have nothing to do with secret societies; he was a plain man who always spoke the truth. At Woods Point he was a leading light among the Masons..[dclv]

Questions about both possible Fenian and Orange conspiracies in the 1868 shooting were asked in State Parliaments,[dclvi] and while The Age attempted to blame the local priesthood, in NSW, it was the era’s dominant politician, Henry Parkes, who most conspicuously played upon faith-based passions. After the ‘hotly and bitterly’ contested 1872 NSW election, he boasted to his sister that

the extreme men of the Irish Catholic faction and the extreme among the Orangemen opposed him, the ex-Ministers exploiting “those unruly elements in their wild endeavours” to defeat him. At the nomination I challenged them to do their worst.[dclvii]

In 1874, after a 12 July parade by the Parramatta Company of Volunteer Rifles to St Johns Church, Parramatta, correspondence whistled between a Mr Reynolds, Parkes, Lieutenant-Colonel Richardson and the Bishop of Sydney. Reynolds, complaining of the use of troops to mark an Orange commemoration, asked Parkes, as Colonial Secretary, what he was going to do about this breach of the Party Processions Act. Reynolds wished the Government to satisfy itself

that no oath, or other obligation in the nature of an oath (was) administered or received, or taken individually or collectively, whereby they bound themselves to secrecy and (promised) subjection to the authority and obedience to the orders of the ringleaders of the head centres of Orangemen in NSW.[dclviii]

Before the election Parkes had promised:

to take immediate and effective measures to put down Orangeism and the societies and meetings of Orangemen, whether secret or otherwise, in this colony.

but clearly did nothing. Reynolds complained in the same terms about a further parade of the Volunteers to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in November, and about an ‘Orange Demonstration’ mooted for St Pauls Public School, Pennant Hills, an event advertised in the Cumberland Mercury.

It is rarely appreciated that precisely because of Parkes’ manipulation of the situation for political gain, police investigation of the 1868 shooting was amateurish and easily deflected, nor that later understanding, including of whether there were any organised Fenians in Australia, was impeded then and has been impeded since by concentration on Parkes’ motivation. Without a deeper understanding, questions regarding the old schemer’s inner heart have remained unresolved.

In Henry Parkes: Father of Federation, Travers described his subject as wily, dishonest and pragmatic. Others have not been quite so severe, generally believing that ‘pragmatic’ sufficiently covered his sins. Coghlan, a Catholic, thought the word explained why Parkes ‘closely aligned himself with the Anti-Irish Party’:

(Several) general elections were fought in which the real issue was the exclusion of Roman Catholics from public life.. (Nearly) the whole of the Irish Roman Catholic influence was arrayed against (Parkes). The immediate effect of this condition of affairs was to benumb political action..[dclix]

Most have noted his anti-Catholic strategies, but none, as far as I know, has tied together even all the available evidence and drawn the logical conclusion – that however Parkes appeared to twist and turn, there was a non-negotiable core from which he would not stray. His consistent opposition to Catholics and to Catholicism throughout his political career shows his view of the benefits of democracy stemmed from his cultural/religious inclinations, ie his English Protestantism, and was not separate from them.[dclx] As with JD Lang and David Syme, a trumpeted belief in responsible government and universal suffrage for a new Australian nation is not evidence against bigotry. To illustrate: Lang’s celebratory speeches to his supporters include coded anti-Irish assertions, not ‘progressive liberalism’:

He held that a common language, a common literature, a common law, and a common religion, constituted an infinitely stronger and more binding tie than those which kept them now under the domination of Downing Street.[dclxi]

Similarly, Parkes denied charges of sectarianism hurled at him and proclaimed

(In) this free and enlightened British colony there is a spirit abroad among the people, superior to every species of domination – hating tyranny in all its shapes and under every disguise – and detesting sectarian intolerance above all things.[dclxii]

Wrong in fact, such fine-sounding rhetoric is precisely what an editor keen to sell papers, to advance a political career and to disguise his own biases would say. His inter-changing of ‘English’ and ‘British’ is apparent in many editorials, including this one:

..We are sufficiently matured as a people to be entrusted with the highest franchises of Englishmen, and with a local legislature competent to limit or extend our constitutional rights…We shall be for extending the franchise, so long as there remains an honest-and sane-minded British subject without its limits…[dclxiii]

Freeman’s Journal editorials repeated Lang’s published rabid advocacy which he never mentioned when campaigning, and denounced Parkes’ and The Empire’s attacks on McEncroe as worse than any seen in Ireland ‘(in) the worst days of rampant bigotry and Orange ascendancy.’[dclxiv]

Martin notes in his substantial biography that the breakthrough event for Parkes, his launching of The Empire newspaper in Sydney in 1850, involved Robert Barr as his ‘contract printer’,[dclxv] but does not note Barr’s strong Orange allegiance. In June, 1850, Parkes was Lang’s campaign manager. Almost immediately came the Australian League, ostensibly to advance independence from Britain with a planned membership of ‘eight or ten thousand resolute British Australians’ described as ‘men of the right stamp’ – clearly Irish Catholics need not apply.[dclxvi] They appear to have fallen out at this time, Lang accusing ‘Mr P’ of having betrayed him by launching his new publishing venture when he, Parkes, knew that Lang was working up what was his third, ‘The Press’, and was contemplating a daily to be called The Morning Star.[dclxvii] By reporting English reception to ‘The League’, Parkes made sure that his readers were aware of a separation:

The news of Dr Lang’s proposal for the formation of an Australian League…appears to have created a considerable ‘sensation’…we hereby caution all English journalists. He will not merely fail in originating an organisation for the purpose of severing our connection with Great Britain, but he will pass through many years of life…before he witnesses the first step seriously taken towards the accomplishment of that ‘coming event’.[dclxviii]

Parkes reflected on Lang’s personality then and the following week:

…With the gifts which God has showered upon him, he ought to be the plain, generous, noble Lang of Australia; not as he is now, with the meanest suspicions, jealousies, and antipathies, choking up his heart like unwholesome weeds – the abusive editor of a catch-penny paper…

Parkes then reprinted a piece from the London Daily News which he may have written himself:

..Dr Lang is a man who has scarcely any friends, he never yet came into contact with any man with whom he did not contrive to quarrel, and that bitterly, before six months had elapsed..He has been elected, not account of a personal liking, but in spite of a strong personal distaste.[dclxix]

But while continuing to remind his readers of fraud charges hanging over Lang, Parkes then appeared to change his mind again. He repeatedly features Lang, and, in the process, burnishes his self-proclaimed ‘liberal democrat’ image:

…England will be taught a grand lesson by this election [of Dr Lang]. New ideas will be diffused through her literature, for her emigrants; and a new spirit will pervade and animate her legislation for her colonies. It is the true beginning of a great end…[dclxx]

Since, at this time, Parkes also quotes a letter from Kerr whom he appears to know well and who will soon be made Town Clerk to replace King:

Not many persons who know Mr Kerr will be inclined to regard him as a gentleman to be readily imposed upon…[dclxxi]

it is perhaps not too speculative to suggest a reconciliation with Lang has been effected by close Orange ‘associates’ allowing Parkes’ boosting of Lang to return. During the 1851 campaign, extended to nearly six months because of the turmoil created by the rush for gold, Lang , though in gaol from May to August for libel, has no stronger advocate than The Empire. And WC Wentworth has no stronger opponent:

MR WENTWORTH AND THE CITIZENS OF SYDNEY Among the perversities which afflict this unfortunate colony, there are some…for which we have to thank nobody but ourselves. The second election of Mr Wentworth for Sydney was the result of an infatuation inexplicable, and almost unpardonable.[dclxxii]

Wentworth had taken to describing advocates of an extended franchise as ‘socialists’ and voters who thought to criticise him as ‘rabble’, ‘a mob’ and worse. Parkes affected outrage:

SYDNEY SOCIALISM…No! to claim justice and political enfranchisement for every free-born citizen of Britain is not Socialism. To protest against the despotism which tramples men…as if they never bore the Maker’s glorious image…this is not Socialism: it is Truth, and Right, and Christianity. And this is the creed of the genuine democrat.

Parkes also took to reporting meetings and manifestoes of the supporters of a Catholic candidate as though by highlighting their claims that a representative of their interests was needed he would be showing their political perfidy, which amounted ultimately, he said, to a conspiracy to have Wentworth elected. At least 14 major editorials are directed to these themes, including this which finishes with a direct association of the Catholic candidate, Longmore, dubbed by Parkes both an unfortunate dupe, and ‘a monster of sectarianism’, with Wentworth:

THE ELECTIONEERING MOVEMENT OF THE CATHOLICS…The floodgates of sectarian bitterness are to be opened upon us…If the Catholics of Sydney have no man among them worthy of the distinguished honour now sought, that may be their misfortune, but it is certainly not the fault of any other section of our community…[dclxxiii]

In addition to the attention directed at his group’s opponents, there are, within this short period, at least seven major editorials and many minor items boosting Lang. In August, after attacking McEncroe and Heydon in particular as the arch-conspirators, Parkes was forced into what must have been a humiliating reversal of strategy. In March, 1851, THE TOPIC OF THE HOUR, ‘which so violently agitates the public mind in England just now’, was ‘Papal Aggression.’ Parkes then claimed to be above ‘the bigot-cry of ‘No Popery’ yet blamed Catholics for creating ‘the point at issue’ by confusing ‘the spiritual with the temporal.’ Throughout the long electoral campaign his most savage taunt and charge was that to assert that Longmore was needed because his religion was wrong and viciously mendacious. In August, the paper had to plead:

OUR PAPAL AGGRESSION…To the Protestant portion of the constituency, therefore we do now appeal…to resist the attempted aggression with which we are threatened…(To) the friends of National Education we especially address ourselves…This eminently wise and virtuous system of public instruction, (Longmore) has opposed with as much vigour as some of his brethren have opposed the establishment of additional colleges in Ireland.[dclxxiv]

The Catholic threat was an ‘imperium in imperio’, and both the Irish Synod of Thurles and the Conclave of St Mary’s in Sydney were ‘created by a foreign power and subject to alien direction.’ This was a return to the history of recent centuries, not recent months or even years. The well-known advocate for the indigenes, Rev Threlkeld, thought it necessary at this time to confront ‘the Anti-Christ’ with ‘The New South Wales Christian Conference for promoting the Religious Principles of the Reformation in Accordance with the Word of God.’ [dclxxv] In September, Lang headed the poll, Wentworth was the third elected and Longmore was 4th of five, and thus was not elected.

Alert politicos, including Wentworth, Lang and Parkes, had already realised that the discovery of large and widespread pockets of gold had made miners a key audience. Accompanying his ‘Darkness or Light?’ editorial in October 1851, in which he wrote:

(The) struggle is…between the expansion of that glorious intellect which God has given us, and its extinction – between that grovelling superstition which seeks to fetter and degrade, and that pure religion which tends to liberate and exalt.

was a homily from Parkes on ‘The Search for Gold and its Moral Evils’:

The lust for gold is criminal, essentially, and in all its tendencies…We are at a loss to discover what else (than a spirit-canker) could impel respectable tradesmen, surrounded with domestic comforts, attached to religious abandon all…

Robbery, murder, drunkenness and debauchery, gambling, blasphemy and prize-fighting were ‘making deplorable inroads on the English character’ of the miners, [my emphasis] and where once had been a ‘degree of order and harmony’ there was now ‘serious violation of the peace’ and ‘marked manifestations of vice.’ Viciousness was of course, foreign and alien, and ‘English’ inter-changeable with ‘British’:

Perhaps no other people…could have preserved the same degree of order and harmony…maintained…by that fidelity to the law and that love of justice which are pre-eminently the characteristics of the British race.

Whatever the question, Parkes put Lang above all others:

In connection with these social movements and events, one sees more strikingly the importance of the measures taken, and so far accomplished by Dr Lang, towards planting a free colony in North Australia…[dclxxvi]

His ‘own correspondent’ on the Turon Diggings (perhaps Lang himself) was equally selective:

In a former communication I mentioned that his Grace the Archbishop [Broughton] had visited us. His Grace was received with every demonstration of passive respect…but for him no ringing ‘huzzas’…How differently (fared Dr Lang). ..The Rev. John Dunmore Lang was no sooner recognised at the first crossing place than..a burst of acclamation poured upon the ear..(etc)[dclxxvii]

The miners supposedly penned and presented an address, beginning:

We, the gold miners, in public meeting assembled, most respectfully and cordially beg to congratulate you on your first visit to the Turon diggings…

Unlike any of the hypocritical leaders of that base and grovelling faction of obstructionists (now fast falling into decay) your name will henceforth be associated with human progress – it will be a watchword for liberty…

To your immortal honour, you have been the first to promulgate the principles of self-government…You are the apostle of the independence of Australia…[and so on]

to which Lang gratefully replied:

Gentlemen – I cannot but feel exceedingly gratified…(etc)

I have simply obtain Political Justice for my fellow-colonists…(etc)

(While) I thank you most cordially for your kind wishes on my behalf, as well as for the specimen of the produce of your district with which you have favored me…(‘Great cheering’)

Not surprisingly, then, during the 1872 election, in Traver’s opinion:

(Parkes) scarcely had need to campaign, the Gulgong miners and the Mudgee Protestants forming a sufficient majority to make his return inevitable.[dclxxviii]

Mudgee, in 1874, was the location of the first attempt to establish a ‘Ladies Only’ Orange Lodge.

Though correctly castigated by Dalley[dclxxix] and others for his treatment of the 1868 shooter and for his manipulation of ‘sectarian hatreds’, Parkes remained unapologetic throughout. Indeed, whereas Prince Alfred had refused a month before the shooting to meet with a delegation from the Victorian Loyal Orange Grand Lodge, Parkes, throughout his career, was happy to meet with and to accept the public adulation of NSW Orangemen. He was first thanked by the Orangemen of NSW with a Testimonial in 1869[dclxxx], when publicity about his claims that the shooter, O’Farrell, was part of a Fenian conspiracy was at its height. He managed to win the East Sydney seat that year, despite many of ‘his faction’ being defeated, only, according to The Freeman’s Journal, because the Orange Order circulated rumours of a secret Catholic society:

The Catholic organisation, which these political scoundrels asserted to exist…proved to be as complete a myth as ‘the Kiama Ghost’ and the well-organised Orange faction triumphed accordingly in the rejection of Mr Cowper and the return of Parkes and Buchanan.[dclxxxi]

He received another testimonial from the NSW Orange Order for his ‘championship of the Orange Cause’ in April, 1883[dclxxxii], and in September, 1884 was welcomed back from overseas by the same society with an ‘illuminated address’ presented at ‘a very large public meeting convened for the purpose’. The gathered Orange multitude specifically thanked him for the Public Schools Act and for his steadfastness:

The members of the body which we represent have additional special reason to welcome you to our midst again because while you have ever contended for the just and equal rights and liberties – civil, political and religious – of all classes you have on several memorable occasions in the teeth of bitter opposition and contumely resisted to the utmost those who while they claimed and asserted those liberties for themselves sought to wrest them from others.[dclxxxiii]

Although ostensibly Premier, Parkes had almost lost his position in Parliament altogether in the 1880 election, finishing 4th out of 4 candidates for East Sydney. Travers commented:

Parkes blamed the Catholics and he was very likely right…It was just as well, perhaps, that he [Parkes] had not stood in a small town constituency for even in sober, Protestant East Sydney there were enough of Irish blood to vote down the man who hanged O’Farrell and insulted their prelate.[dclxxxiv]

A little later, as McMinn has written:

The Premier [Parkes] was concerned to do something – anything perhaps – to conciliate the ‘wowser’ vote, an important political consideration now he had earned the almost universal enmity of the Roman Catholics; a gesture in the direction of ‘local option’ was an obvious move.[dclxxxv]

In 1887, as (Eric) Turner has established, the NSW Orange Order had 28 members as MPs out of 124, nearly 23% of the total, plus another 21 allies or ‘clients’. By 1895, he has claimed, Orangeism in NSW was a spent force. ‘It revived later, but never to its previous strength.’ Parkes died in 1896.

The simple number of subscribing Orangemen does not explain the electoral successes, and loss of numbers does not necessarily mean a loss of Protestant vigour. Rather, the pressures for re-invention were bringing about a diffusion of effort across many fronts, at the same time as a loss of focus, internal disunity and the Protestant’s own creed of tolerance kept insisting that Roman Catholicism should at least be allowed to co-exist. Turner quoted the markedly liberal oration of newly-installed Orange Grand Master, Neild, to the NSW brethren in 1893:

It is your duty to remember and to show by your conduct that Orangemen have no other feelings than goodwill for their fellowmen no matter what religious faith they may profess; that Orangemen are not narrow minded bigots..but are lovers of liberty, soldiers of freedom, ever on the alert..fighting and suffering under the banner of Protestantism.[dclxxxvi]

This statement was not new. In that year, a financial committee analysed the previous 10 years’ figures and concluded State membership had peaked in 1883, that from 1887 to 1892 2,000 members had discontinued, and that total numbers of operating lodges had declined by approx 25% in the same period. Even more critically:

During the years of prosperity viz, 1882 to 1887, the general working expenses would seem to have been economised whereas during the years from 1888 to 1892 while the institution is suffering in strength and finance the expenditure is more lavish.[dclxxxvii]

All of the Committee’s reforms were challenged and Turner contends this division between the leaders and the members was a measure of the fraternity’s weakness. The Orange-leaning Protestant Standard newspaper ceased in 1895. But as he also points out, it was during the 1880’s that simple anti-Catholicism – regard for the Sabbath, hostility towards nunneries and irritation over ‘party processions’ – expanded into less-obviously faith-based concerns. He doesn’t note that politicians such as Neild continued their LOI membership, and presumably their views, when later campaigning for such concerns as old-age pensions.

In 1889, Parkes again raised for electoral effect ‘the Kiama Ghost’, ie a Fenian he alleged had been shot by his own group in 1868. In June, 1890 Parkes was once more presented with an illuminated address by the Loyal Orange Institute of NSW:

..As in time past, so in the future, they [ie the petitioners] believe you will ever be found on the side of Protestantism, Liberty and Loyalty.[dclxxxviii]

Separately, these testimonials might be interpreted as minor items in a long list of rewards he received over time and not indicative of a close connection with Orangeism. The response has to be that pragmatism alone would require the changing of sides at some stage, rather than consistent advocacy of just one. For public consumption, Parkes insisted in 1884:

As many of you know I am not an Orangemen. I have never belonged to any sectarian society of any kind..

Neither he nor the Orange Grand Lodge disclosed that he had been listed as its ‘client’ since 1865, the year he became Member for Kiama. He was still being endorsed and actively supported at the hustings in 1894 the year of his last election campaign.[dclxxxix]

There are no records of Catholic spokespeople thanking him for his help over the 5 decades of his career.

Catholic Re-Invention

Of the two ageing bishops who had bumped heads in the 1840’s, Polding remained in place the longer and, in (Naomi) Turner’s analysis, continued to direct Catholic attitudes on major social issues, in favour of State aid, towards the squattocracy and against Robertson’s Land Bills.[dcxc] McEncroe, a Polding-supporter, remained vigilant and active, issuing circulars and chairing electoral meetings at which Catholics were told who to support. Some Catholic newspapers objected to blatant attempts at direction but their opposition was selective and directed at detail rather than broad issues.

Neither entirely free of internal conflict nor external enemies, global institutional Catholicism in the last decades of the century gathered itself and leaped forward, devising and implementing an extraordinary, two pronged strategy of re-invention. In Australia the outcomes were massive. Firstly, the Church applied itself assiduously to building a physical presence in schools, colleges, cathedrals and churches, so that by the end of the century ‘triumphalism’ was not inappropriately applied by friends and foes alike to describe the results.

Simultaneously, such an extensive network of guilds, confraternities, sodalities and brotherhoods was established the local hierarchy could justly claim that there was a society ‘suitable to every age and locality’. An 1886 ‘Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of Australasia’ made it plain that after just 100 years, in (Naomi) Turner’s words, Roman Catholicism felt ‘it was a church on the march’:

At a date, so recent as to be quite within the life-time of men still moving amongst us, there was not one priest, not one single altar, in all these Southern lands..(Now) the priests in the colonies number several hundreds; the churches are among the most beautiful in Christendom..Every town has its convent and Catholic schools..Such a contrast between the beginning and the close of a century is unexampled in history..[dcxci]

The emphasis on materialism is marked. The bricks and mortar identified a presence which could not thereafter be denied, and as both cause of the ‘blessings of fruitfulness’ and the result, the faithful were urged to further multiply and apply themselves to the getting of wealth. The increasing number of Catholic societies, newly-confident in themselves, provided individual members with the necessary identity to ensure continuing support.(Naomi) Turner has the best, albeit still incomplete, audit of these societies. After the Total Abstinence Society and the Holy Catholic Guild established in the 1840’s came a multitude of groups, purpose-built and mostly modest, for picnics, sports days, balls and concerts, local lending libraries, spiritual advice and sustenance services, investment and building loans, self-improvement, hospitals, asylums and refuges. A partial list includes:

St Josephs Investment and Building Society

Boys Altar Association

Young Mens and Young Womens Societies

Associations of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Apostolate of Prayer

The Association of the Perpetual Adoration

The Purgatorial Society

The Society of the Holy Childhood

The Christian Doctrine Confraternity

The St Vincent de Paul Society

The Sacred Heart Society

The St Francis Guild Brothers of Temperance

The Women of Nazareth

The Theresian Club.

There were two other new societies, deliberately fraternal and deliberately national in scope, which initially experienced the same ‘growing pains’ as their Protestant counterparts.


The Hibernians and the Irish National Foresters

Whether the second, explicitly Catholic benefit society which 1868 brought to prominence, ‘the Hibernians’, was directly connected to its contemporary and very controversial ‘Ancient Order of Hibernians’ in the United States of America, is uncertain. Both used green regalia but the collars and sashes have quite different styles. The ‘official’ history has only that Hibernian Benefit Societies in Launceston and Hobart in 1854 published Rules adapted ‘chiefly’ from Sydney’s St Patrick’s Benefit Society. Subsequently, in the period 1869-72, Ballarat and Melbourne Hibernian Societies assisted New Zealand ‘lodges’ into existence before combining with the Irish Australian Catholic Benefit Society and the Albury Catholic Benefit Society to produce the ‘Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society’ [HACBS], an association centred on Melbourne but with national aspirations.[dcxcii]

A more interesting account has a committee-man of the Ballarat Benevolent Society in 1866 visiting needy families and finding a number who were not members of any friendly society, because they said of the antipathy of Melbourne’s Bishop Goold towards any society which bound members to a form of secrecy. The committee-man, Mark Young, was himself a member of Grand United Odd Fellows, but recognising a need he set about organising what by 1870 was recognisably the HACBS.[dcxciii] One version has the ‘Ballarat Hibernian Society’, reacting to the long-running debate over education, and operating by St Patricks Day in 1867, bringing about the temporary crippling of local Foresters’ and Odd Fellows’ lodges as Catholic members switched allegiances.[dcxciv]

The Ballarat Hibernians were certainly strong enough to hold an 1870 St Patrick’s Day parade, sports day and concert, and to be accused by local IOOFMU lodges of swamping a later, joint Boxing Day event. In February, 1871, they attempted to explain to the visiting ArchBishops of Victoria and NSW that their use of passwords was to distinguish paying from non-paying members, but were told there was no place for secret signs or passwords of any kind, and that the Church would never recognise them. They adopted subscription cards instead,[dcxcv] their 1871 Rules insisting that:

The question of passwords and signs has been definitely settled in the Society and their absence has been one of its fundamental principles…The ecclesiastical authorities have prohibited all such matters, and the HACBS…is bound to conform…[dcxcvi]

Claiming 110 branches in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand by 1875, the HACBS was unable to prevent autonomous jurisdictions from forming, the NSW Society dating its independence from 1880.[dcxcvii] The ‘South Australian Benefit Society’ appears to have been autonomous from its inception which it claimed to have been as early as 1863. Certainly, by 1871 it had branches throughout settled areas of that State.[dcxcviii] The Catholic editor of The Irish Harp noted the more general mood:

Provident institutions are becoming so numerous as to mark the era. A large proportion of the working men of our time are in some way or other connected with benefit or economical societies, and it will not be long ere the habits formed by mutual association and co-operation will tell upon the general tone of society.[dcxcix]

This same editor used the catch-cry ‘Union is Strength’ to urge Catholics into yet-more associations to oppose ‘the secret, and anti-Catholic societies’ such as the Freemasons which were clearly on the increase, especially in Europe. Garibaldi’s entry into Rome had resulted in the Pope being confined and Catholics world-wide were extremely agitated. Published objects of the ‘South Australian Catholic Association’, established in October, 1870 show that it intended to be a lobby group on all political, civil and religious issues affecting Catholics.[dcc]

According to leading Catholic scholar, O’Farrell, the Holy Catholic Guild was not at all sanguine about its most threatening rival:

(Sydney’s Archbishop Polding) urged that Propaganda [Vatican theology inspectorate], as a matter of the highest importance, ‘should write to the Irish Bishops regarding the so-called Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society, which is nothing but Fenianism, and to say it bluntly, Freemasonry under another name. In a colony made up of a mixed population, such a Society does nothing else than create controversy, animosity and party splits.’

The concern of the affronted clergy seems to have been with secrecy and sedition, not with ritual or regalia. But there were definitional issues compounded by conceptual confusion. Hibernian Branch Rules were being rejected by Melbourne’s ‘Lord Bishop’ if they did not contain a section ‘defining who is a Catholic and who is not.’ Irishness, yes or no, was a clearable hurdle but ‘a living Catholic’ must be attending Holy Communion ‘regularly’. Certain clergy also wanted to insist that:

…members of secret societies are not members of the Catholic Church.

The Bishop’s correspondence with a branch-officer shows him asserting, presumably on the basis of secretly-gathered intelligence:

I am to point out that at least, in some places, members of secret societies have found their way into the Hibernian Australian Benefit Society, and that it has reached His Lordship that at a funeral on last Sunday, several members, wearing the green sash, and walking in the procession, wore also the apron of a secret society.

Melbourne’s ‘Lord Bishop’ insisted that the Rules stated any members of secret societies would be disqualified. The branch officer’s response allowed that Odd Fellows were in the funeral procession, being friends of the deceased, but ‘not one…was a Catholic’ and they wore ‘black sashes and aprons’. He said it was already clear to members that any Catholic who wore any other regalia than that authorised by ‘our’ laws would be heavily fined. One branch, which was perhaps unique when it began in 1871, is noted in Warwick, inland Queensland. A Catholic medical doctor and two Protestant friends set it up ‘after an Ulster-style riot in which supporters of an Orange candidate had attacked an all-too-triumphal’ Catholic procession.[dcci]

The Irish National Foresters (INF), an 1877 breakaway from the AOF ‘for political reasons’, quickly became the largest friendly society in Ireland on the basis of its support for Irish nationalism. It also spread abroad. Its Constitution called for: ‘Government for Ireland by the Irish people in accordance with Irish ideas and Irish aspiration’, though an 1896 editorial about a newly-established ‘Charles Parnell’ Lodge at Kalgoorlie (WA) placed its financial benefits first, before politics and religion:

The motto of the Order was ‘Unity, Nationality and Benevolence’. They were banded together in a noble brotherhood for the purpose of relieving one another in times of distress and affliction. They were national inasmuch as all its members must be Irish or of Irish descent. The principle of Home Rule dominated the working of the Order and all were anxious to see Ireland take her place among the nations of the earth. The Society embraced Irishmen without distinction of creed…[dccii]

Kalgoorlie’s miners, incidentally, showed the same belief in fraternal benefit societies as their counterparts elsewhere. Only three years after gold had been discovered in 1893, the Kanowna and District Miners’ Sick and Accident Association had 402 members in funeral, sick and accident tables, was employing a doctor and a matron and had found a site for and erected a hospital.[dcciii] Setting up ‘lodges’ there alongside the Miners’ Association and the INF, were the ANA, HACBS, Druids, AOF, and IOOF, and others, a number having female-only lodges.

These were no flashes in pans, successful early then quickly dropping away – the Kalgoorlie branch of the IOOF boasted that at its usual fortnightly meeting in January, 1900, it had 25 members awaiting initiation and six others proposed. Competition was severe – Brother Dowd of the INF’s ‘Charles Parnell Lodge’ was awarded a gold medal in the same month for introducing the most new members in 1899.

In hindsight, it’s possible to see that the Roman Church had recognised the need for re-invention, had not dithered about its heritage, and had embraced not renounced it. The results did not achieve Suttor’s ‘rediscovery of the mediaeval city tradition’ nor a re-invention of the ‘Temple of Civil Rights’ as McEncroe urged in the first issue of the Freemans Journal in 1850, but an integration of its past with its future. As a result, it prospered and was enabled to maintain a combative edge into the 20th century.

Suttor’s is a sometimes entertaining, always partisan account of the struggle for Australian Catholicism during what he saw as the critical period:

(The generation-long crisis..between 1840 and 1865) was the critical period, not only in the formation of Australian Catholicism, but in the formation of Australian civilisation as a whole..[dcciv] (My emphasis)

Pre-empting Gascoigne’s effort in 2005, he located the hierarchically-inclined Benedictines of Polding, and the more locally focused Irish priests and laity such as Duncan and Heydon, in a much longer sweep:

In the century or so beginning 1776, European communities..were politically recast in the mould of Enlightenment thought..(This) democratic development was congenial to Catholic thinking..In 1800 however, the Catholic West had to rediscover the mediaeval city tradition – the diffusion of responsibility under the aegis of natural law – after the centuries of practical and theoretical authoritarianism introduced by, and in response to, the Protestant revolt.[dccv]

‘Rediscovering the mediaeval city tradition’ is a very big claim, and remained a still-born idea at least in Australia, but it is neither an accidental nor an arbitrary metaphor. It appropriately connects the original fraternal societies with their rapid and widespread expansion in the 19th century. It also helps to explain one further consequence of the post-1868 debate, the elevation of ‘this sunny Australia’ as a metaphor above the failed idealism and murderous realities of Europe, and the re-shaping of the myth of ‘Britishness’ into a new, nicer form. Done on the back of a claimed antipathy for an outmoded, secretive model of fraternalism for which societies associated with Ireland could be made to stand, it was an extension rather than a denial of the old jingoism.

‘This sunny Australia’ was but the latest version of the old fraternal metaphor. In this case it made possible a melding of ‘the light’ with deliberately fanciful, air-brushed colonial history, such as in ‘the light on the hill.’

Trade-oriented certificate of mid-19th century.
Trade-oriented certificate of mid-19th century.