Blencowe Gold Diggers in Australia

When gold was discovered in Victoria in the 1850's the elder children of John and Mary Blencowe left their home at One Tree Hill in South Australia. George and wife Ellen Green, John with wife Emma Scown along with Selinda and husband, John Westerland travelled by sea and land to seek their fortunes at the Bendigo gold digging.

There is a story that when John and Emma’s first child was born on the gold fields, they were living in a tent and before the birth John lined the tent with green baize. (A course felt like woollen material, typically green and used for covering billiard tables). Romantic touch?

Their success was limited but did enable the couples to set themselves up for their futures. I found a record of one consignment sent after Ellen had returned home. BLENCOWE G consigned 2 oz of gold to BLENCOWE Ellen which arrived by escort 2 on 5-5-1852. That 2 oz in today's prices is worth A$2516, USA$1504 and £1874. This would have purchased quite a lot in 1852. George and Selinda established farming properties whilst John went into the hotel business.

However, a report on the economy of the diggings states, 'Every digger on the goldfields dreamed of striking it lucky, but the dream came true only for the few. In February 1852, goldfield commentators reckoned the average rate to be "5 making their fortunes, 45 making good wages, and 50 starving out of every 100." Toward the end of the year, estimates put the proportion of diggers starving closer to 90 per cent.