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Vandemonians and Rough Justice

Although there are a number of accounts of some diggers calling for the actual lynching of offenders on the diggings, there seems to have been only one case where a man was summarily executed. The most commonly cited account of this event is digger William Hall’s.

Published Source
Hall, William, Practical experiences at the diggings of the gold fields of Victoria, Effingham Wilson, London, 1852. Details


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    Keesing, Nancy (ed.), Gold fever : the Australian goldfields 1851 to the 1890s, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1967. Details



Two freed men from Van Dieman’s Land … on dividing their gold, quarrelled over a nugget, and one of them struck the other with an axe and killed him…[T]he occupier of one of the adjoining tents…looked into the tent and saw the unfortunate victim lying weltering in his blood…He called for assistance and the ruffian was secured. A number of the diggers had by this time collected…and resolved to hang him. The culprit evinced the greatest fear on this occasion, and begged for mercy and to be taken to the Commissioner in the most abject manner; but the stern reply was 'You shall have the same mercy at our hands that you shewed your messmate'. A rope was obtained, and thrown over a branch of a tree, and he was soon dangling between heaven and earth.