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John Lees and the Leg of Mutton Nugget

A cartoon of 1853, drawn by George Cruikshank and including
        Wild's Globe exhibition
A cartoon by George Cruikshank including Wild's Globe and the exhibition of the Nugget

"The largest gold nugget discovered at Canadian Gully, Ballarat during the Victorian Gold Rush, the Leg of Mutton or Canadian was found on New Year's Day 1853 at depth of around 60 feet (18.3m). Weighing in at 2,144 ounces (60.8kg), it went on to sell for £5,532, which is about $892,000 (£690k) in today's money."  -  accessed 28/12/19

The information below was unearthed while researching my family history, John Lees being the brother of my ancestor Isaiah Lees of Glodwick, Oldham.

1. The discovery of the Leg of Mutton Nugget

2. Letters from John Lees to his father


4. The Nugget and the Street

5. Sailings - Sarah Sands, Mirzapore, and Blue Jacket Clippers

1. The discovery of the Leg of Mutton Nugget
accessed 26/12/19

Australia's 134 Pound Gold Nugget
Last Updated: 9th Jan 2009
By Daniel Russell

The Leg Of Mutton Nugget:

The Discovery of Australia's Famous 134 Pound Gold Nugget (1853)
by Daniel E Russell

On June 2nd, 1852 John Evans and his cousin Daniel Evans, natives of Oldham in Lancashire, England, set sail from Liverpool on board the ship Lady Head. Like the other nearly 400 men and women on board the ship, they were headed for Melbourne, Australia, eager to seek their fortunes in the newly discovered gold fields of Australia. Unlike most of the passengers who would find only disappointment and deprivation, the two cousins would strike it big by uncovering one of the single largest gold nuggets in Australian history: the “Canadian Nugget”, also known as the “Leg of Mutton Nugget”.

The journey to Melbourne took 83 days on board a cramped ship. When the ship finally disgorged its passengers, they discovered that the town was bursting at the seams with people caught up in the frenzy of the gold rush. Food prices were grossly inflated. The streets of the town had been reduced to quagmires. Shelter was scant, leaving many to sleep in the streets even in driving rains.

One anonymous writer described the arrival of the Lady Head in Melbourne:
I may give you an instance of the utter destitution which some of these people are thrown into on their arrival here. When the Lady Head arrived here from Liverpool the weather was most inclement; wet pouring down in bucket-fulls, and the dirt, slop, and mud more than knee-deep, not only the thoroughfares, but in every spot where it was possible for human beings to set foot. In this state of affairs I saw more than four hundred poor people thrust upon our wharves, without food or shelter, but what their scanty bedding supplied. In this state of affairs Mr. Cole allowed the poor sufferers the use of the sheds on his wharf; but which, from the traffic upon them previously, were wet, damp, and muddy, to an inconceivable degree, under foot. Happening to be there in the early part of the night, I was informed, and subsequently ascertained for a fact, that a young woman, the wife of an intelligent Scotchman, gave birth to her first-born child. And, oh, such a plight! such a situation for an anguished mother to be in! Porters roaring, carters swearing, men, women, and children clamouring and screaming, and none, no not one, but the faithful husband and partner of that poor afflicted woman, to render either medical aid, or to minister the slightest consolation under the circumstances. It is melancholy to reflect on the increased amount of human suffering, which is patiently endured by new-comers here. (Earp, 1853)

Daniel Evans would himself recall of their first days in the chaos of Melbourne:
We found hundreds of people without shelter; many lay in the streets, and many in the watch-houses. We found out a fellow townsman, and he let us sleep on the floor of his kitchen. We didn't stay long there; just enough to see about. Things were very high then, but the diggers spent money like dirt. Almost the first man we met on shore was drunk, and swore he'd spend £500 before he left the spot. We saw the man who found the big nugget. He was drunk, too, on horseback, and shouted out "I'm the boy who sold the nugget for £4000." They told us he was always drunk since he found it.
The “big nugget” which Evans mentions may have been discovered near Bathurst as there is mention of the discovery of a mass of gold in quartz worth £4000 shortly before they arrived in Australia.

Both Daniel and John were eager to begin their search for gold. They bought a tent, a blanket and some tools, and poked around a few of the diggings to the north and east of Melbourne. They moved with a loose-knit band of fellow argonauts for mutual protection. John Lees, who would later partner with John and Daniel Evans, described the appearance of the gold-seekers as they set out for the diggings -
“...dress'd in colonial style blue flannel slops, belts and billy cocks, some arm'd with revolvers, in fact all arm'd up to the teeth, with revolvers, double barrel'd rifles, pistols double and single, daggers &c all looking and feeling volumes of valour, bidding defiance to, and predicting the probable fate of any bushrangers that might interrupt our progress, we were like so many beasts of burden loaded with weapons of defence blankets tools et cetras and grub... I reckon this as romantic a scene as I have ever seen, the river the beautifully wooded and slopeing sides of the valley, the numerous fire, with here and there a tent scatter'd along the valley, the groups of fortune hunters standing round the fires, and spinning yarns cracking jokes, speculating upon their doings at the diggings, a scene not to be forgotten in a day ” (Anon, 1978)

In a placer field known as Sheepshead Gully the two Evanses were allocated a 16 foot square claim to work. In six weeks they had managed to recover a fair showing of gold, but the physical conditions of the site made further work impossible. There was no clean drinking water available, and soon both men were crippled with dysentery.

When both were well enough to travel, they heard of a new gold rush at Ovens and decided to try their luck there. They were joined by John Lees, a fellow native of Oldham who had possibly emigrated to the gold fields with them aboard the Lady Head (accounts differ). The relationship between the Evanses and Lees was clearly close. Lees would write that Daniel and John “behaved like brothers to me.” When Lees was short on cash, one of the Evans cousins loaned him the 11 shillings he needed to pay for his digger's license. Lees was beaten nearly to death by a drunken digging partner and abandoned in the bush, and managed to stagger into the Evanses' camp where his injuries were tended.

Pooling their money, they purchased a horse and cart for £84, guns to both protect themselves from highwaymen (“bushrangers”) and to hunt for bush meat, and a three month supply of provisions. Flour cost 1s 6d a pound and salt cost 2sd 6d a pound; butter was a luxury item at 5s 6d a pound. After a 225 mile trek into the wilderness, they decided that Ovens held little more promise than the earlier diggings had offered and returned to Melbourne.

At Melbourne, William Poulton Green joined the party as its fourth member. Green had been a railway clerk for the London and Northwestern Railway at Wolverhampton in the UK before emigrating to Australia, and upon his arrival in Melbourne discovered that there was little demand for clerical staff. The four men heard rumors of good diggings opening up near Ballarat, west of Melbourne, and decided to try their luck there.

On November 17th, 1852 Daniel and John Evans, John Lees, and William Green caught the first steamboat across Melbourne's Harbor for the port town of Geelong. Throwing their blanks and rifles over their shoulders, they walked the 65 miles through the bush to the new diggings. Daniel Evans would later recall “We had hard work here to get food. We couldn't obtain any for love or money. We had no flour or damper, no salt; and for two days we lived only on what we shot, and very awkward it was to cook it too.” (Damper is the Australian name for an unleavened soda bread cooked in the ashes of a campfire – a variant of this rustic staple appeared on the dinner plates of prospectors world-wide under a host of different names.)

They arrived at Ballarat on the 20th of November, and pitched camp just outside the diggings. At the time, the government of Victoria demanded that every gold hunter purchase a license to dig from the local gold commissioner or his agent, at the outrageous price of 30 shillings a month. The policy would, a little more than a year later, result in an armed insurrection by a group of Ballarat miners.

The four men spent the next ten days exploring and taking in the lay of the land. In the Ballarat diggings, the rule of thumb for gold mining was to sink a shaft downward through the barren earth until the gold-bearing strata of sediment was reached, then begin to tunnel horizontally to mine out whatever gold was present. Both John and Daniel Evans had practical experience as miners, having worked in the collieries of Lancashire. Their technical knowledge would stand them in good stead in the months ahead.

a gold digger
A gold digger in 1854, Victoria

Daniel Evans would later recall:
I was out one day and I thought I would have a look at some of the old holes, and I went down many of them between 30 and 50 feet deep. I liked the looks of two of them, and we set in to work and got about 11 lbs. of gold in about a week. We marked where the dip in the strata was, and began driving a level tunnel. The first day we got gold. We tried other holes after that. In one of them I went down I found a pillar left for support, so we cut down some trees and made props, took the pillar away, and got more than a pound of gold out of it. Then we thought we would try two new holes, but we didn't like the looks of them we began to sink; so we deserted them, and tried the old ones again till the find began to fall short.

As their small claim played out in December of 1852, the men searched for promising new ground to dig.

Evans later wrote:
One morning I threw my gun on my shoulder, and started off for another ramble, and about three miles off came to a likely place called Canadian Gully. I liked the looks of this amazingly, and went back and reported. Next morning all went over with the tent, and marked out two spaces. We began two shafts, 37 inches in diameter. Cousin Jack and I dug and sunk; Green and Lees hauled and carried. We soon came to good soil, and worked away in earnest at our hole. We found gold very soon, and worked night and day; in a few days we got down 50 feet, and got 8 lb or 9 lb of gold. Then we had a good offer for the hole, and sold it, and set to work upon the other shaft. This was a troublesome one, for the water rose at 20 feet, but we got more timber, cut and cased the shaft, and then got rid of the water, and soon came upon the clay and gold.

When the shaft reached a depth of roughly 66 feet the men hit bedrock, and began to drive a horizontal level. The tunnel was a mere 30 inches high and 36 inches wide, and the Evans cousins worked in rotation digging while Lees and Green carted away the waste earth.

In one area Daniel Evans stuck a patch of ground that yielded some handsome nuggets.
“This is the way to get gold,” Daniel told his cousin as he showed off the rewards of his efforts, then chided him “you don't know how to get it."
The two men switched places. Not long after John Evans had crawled down into the hole, at roughly 5 pm on the 31st of January, 1853, his partners heard a commotion from the tunnel.
“I heard him laughing like mad and calling me,” recounted his cousin Daniel. “I leant over the shaft, and he could hardly speak.”
“What is it. Jack?" I said.
"I've found it!" said he."And it's a big'un."
“Softly... for God's sake, keep quiet,” Daniel begged his cousin, concerned that they would be overheard by other miners and mobbed by a stampede. “How big is it?”
"Three or four hundred weight," John Evans replied, and laughed again. While his estimate of the weight of the mass of gold was high, it was still clearly an enormous nugget by any standard.

I went and called Lees, and took him away from all the tents, and told him Jack had found a big nugget, and we must keep it dark. So I got an old sack, and sent it down the hole, and Jack soon sent up the gold; I slung it over my shoulder, and walked quiet-like through all the diggers till I came to our tent, and then I threw it down outside on the dirt heap, and went inside to consider what was best to be done.

Leaving Lees to watch the massive nugget, Daniel Evans walked the two miles to the ersatz office of the licensing agent for the area to ask for help in protecting their discovery.

Telling the agent that they had found a large nugget, the agent asked “How big, forty pounds?”
"Well, sir," Evans said. "I think it's twice forty."
“Oh, you're romancing,” the agent replied. He did however dispatch three policemen and a mounted rider to return to the diggings with Evans.

News of the enormous nugget had already begun to filter through the camp. At sunset, the policemen slung the sack bearing the huge mass of gold from a pole, and carried back to the government station.

The four men were immediately inundated with offers from other miners to buy the claim. One man offered £250, but they decided to hold out for at least £300.

The next morning John and Daniel Evans went to the government station to weigh their find. It was licensing day and the place was swarming with would-be miners eager to get their first digging permit, and with established miners seeking to pay their monthly fees. The two men waited until the crowd had dispersed before washing off the nugget. They they placed it on an old pair of potato scales to get a proper estimate of its weight.

The nugget weighed in at 134 pounds, 8 ounces.

Cleaned of mud, the giant nugget was roughly shaped like a leg of mutton, and it became known as the “Leg of Mutton Nugget” (other sources prefer to call it the Canadian Gully Nugget, or the Canadian Nugget). It was certainly an unromantic and uninspired choice of name for what was then one of the largest gold nuggets in the world.

While they were at the station, Lees and Green remained at the diggings guarding the claim. The Evans' sent word back to sell the hole if an acceptable bid was offered. A group of miners from Lancashire offered £300 for the claim provided that Lees and Green would allow them to make a trial of it first. One of them climbed down into the hole and began passing up earth. In the second basket, Lees discovered a nugget that weighed a respectable 55 ounces, 8 pennyweights. The Lancashire miners closed the deal on the claim without further hesitation.

Chaos descended on the diggings as news of the discovery spread. The frenzy brought thousands more to the area, and soon the region around Canadian Gully was pock-marked with gopher holes. The gold commissioners for the area sagely advised the four men to take their gold back to England, which they enthusiastically agreed to do. “ we went through the diggings they told us our mates had found another big nugget, but we didn't believe 'em, there's always so many romances flying about there,” Daniel Evans would recall. “But we found 'twas true this time.”

The gold commissioners arranged for the nugget to be carried to Melbourne under armed escort. The four men returned to Geelong, and caught the steamboat back to Melbourne. During the crossing, they were offered more than £10,000 for the nugget. Refusing the offer, they packed the Leg of Mutton and the rest of their gold for transport. The four men set sail for England aboard the Sarah Sands. After a long, but rather uneventful voyage, they arrived at Plymouth. The Leg of Mutton nugget was whisked away to the protection of the vaults of the Bank of England.

The amazing gold specimen was placed on exhibit for a brief time. One of the places at which shown to the public was “Wyld's Great Globe” in London's Leicester Square. This was a rather eccentric structure designed for the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851... a large building which contained a 60 foot diameter spherical chamber, the inside of which was decorated with a scale globe of the Earth. The Leg of Mutton was on display there as early as July 6th of 1853, less than six months after it was discovered (and probably less than three months after its arrival in the UK).

Myles Pennington, a railway officer who had known John Lees before he struck it rich in Australia, recalled that it cost visitors six pence to see the nugget:
"The nugget was so smooth that it could be made to shine by rubbing it with the hand. What struck everyone at the first sight was its smallness compared with its weight, but when attempting to lift it you found that you had got hold of something as regarded weight, that you had never handled before. The nugget was placed on a bench in the best possible position for being lifted and by placing it against my chest I did manage to raise it from the bench. There was on exhibition, at the same time, models of the largest nuggets on record, but they all sunk into insignificance when placed beside the famous nugget of Canadian Gully".

Ultimately, the enormous nugget was sold for its bullion value to the Bank of England, where it was melted down and cast into gold bars.

The Leg of Mutton nugget was not the last gigantic gold nugget discovered in Australia. It was eventually eclipsed by the Welcome Nugget, weighing 184 pounds, was discovered in 1858, and in 1869 the Welcome Stranger nugget weighed in at 190 lbs.

The colony of Victoria had started as a tiny penal colony in 1803, consisting of 308 convicts, 17 free settlers, 51 marines to serve as guards, and 12 government officials. The gold rush that began in the early 1850's swelled the population from 77,000 to 540,000.

Precisely what happened to Daniel and John Evans and William Poulton Green after their return to England is unclear. John Lees voyaged at least once more in search of Australia gold, with mediocre results, then settled in Oldham to a life of financial comfort. His son was Charles H Lees, FRS, a prominent English physicist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Manuscripts: A letter from the Victorian Gold Fields by John Lees, 1852 (internal link)
Latrobe Journal, No 21 (April 1978) pp. 15-16

How The Great Gold Nugget Was Found
Mining Magazine Vol. 1 No. 3 (Sept 1853) pp 285-287

Earp, John Butler
What We Did in Australia: Being the Practical Experience of Three Clerks in the Stock-yard and at the Gold Fields London, 1853

Withers, William Bramwell
The History of Ballarat: From the First Pastoral Settlement to the Present Time
London, 1887

Pennington, Myles
Railways and Other Ways: Being Reminiscences of Canal and Railway Life
Toronto, 1894

2. Letters from John Lees to his father

State Library of Victoria
La Trobe Journal

No 21 April 1978, p 15, Manuscripts:

A letter from the Victorian Gold Fields by John Lees, 1852

In 1976 the State Library of Victoria purchased at a Sotheby auction in London a collection of letters written mainly from the Victorian gold fields by John Lees during the 1850's and 1860's.

John Lees came to the Australian gold fields from the depressed cotton industry of Oldham in northern England in mid 1852. He formed a party with John and Daniel Evans, also from Oldham and staked a claim in Canadian Gully, Ballarat. It was here that Lees and his partners discovered what became known as the Canadian Nugget on 31 January 1853. This nugget, which weighed 1319 oz., was the largest found up to the time and it remained the third largest on record up to the early part of this century. Lees sold the nugget to the Bank of England and returned to Oldham using the proceeds to build some houses known as the Ballarat Buildings in what was to become Nugget Street. It was at these premises that Lees’ second son, the eminent physicist C. H. Lees, F.R.S. was born.

Tiring of his life in England, Lees returned to the Victorian gold fields in August 1856 to once more try his luck. This second attempt at prospecting bought little return and the majority of the letters in the collection describe the persistent hardships and disappointments of this later period before Lees returned to England in July 1863.

The letter published here, dated 16 November 1852, is one of two Lees addressed to his father during his first visit to Australia. Lees’ lively narrative style and his acute observation of the ‘motley group’ of the new gold diggers make this collection one of the most interesting recent accessions in the Library's Australian Manuscripts Collection.

A painting
        of Canadian Gulley
An 1853 painting of Canadian Gulley

"Melbourne November 16/52
Dear Father,
I hope this will find you and all the family injoying good health and every worldly comfort, in may last I told you I was preparing to go to the diggings there were lots of parties made up on board during the passage I was asked to join two or three; but I declined because I thought I had not money enough, there was a man a native of Lincoln about my own age who came to me one day and ask'd me if I would join him. I liked his appearance & conversation so well that I agreed to join him and get a party made up of 5, we managed to make up the party draw up rules and regulations and all signed them, one afterwards left us and we turn'd another out so there remainds when we landed only 3 of us, Benjamin Bell of Lincoln John Woodward of Northwich Cheshire and myself, we spent a week in Melbourne and started for the diggings on the Monday morning, there was a mob of about 80 all met in the morning near this flag staff a motly group we were i can assure you, dress'd in colonial style blue flannel slops, belts and billy cocks, some arm'd with revolvers, in fact all arm'd up to the teeth, with revolvers, double barrel'd rifles, pistols double and single, daggers &c all looking and feeling volumes of valour, bidding defiance to, and predicting the probable fate of any bushrangers that might interrupt our progress, we were like so many beasts of burden loaded with weapons of defence blankets tools et cetras and grub, we travelled about 14 miles and encamptd for the night on the banks of a river in a deep valley, all was bustle and confusion for about an hour, at the end of that time there were at least 20 fires blazing and cracking away, we got our tea &c and then made our beds for the night, there was the two Evans'es and Cambels son from Oldham and I and party agreed to sleep together, sewed 3 sheets together and placed them in a slanting direction to windward, spread some branches bush wood and leaves and our blankets on the top, which finishes both lodging house and bed. I reckon this as romantic a scene as I have ever seen, the river the beautifully wooded and slopeing sides of the valley, the numerous fire, with here and there a tent scatter'd along the valley, the groups of fortune hunters standing round the fires, and spinning yarns cracking jokes, speculating upon their doings at the diggings, a scene not to be forgotten in a day I never slept any during the night, either the novelty of the thing or the thoughts of home kept me awake till 1 or 2 o'clock and then there commenced a thunder storm and very heavy rain so that the upper part of our persons, were enjoying a sorts of steaming and the lower parts a shower bath which continued till daybreak well thinks I to myself if I can stand this I will book myself bombproof, Ineed not give you a detailed account of every days journey as it would be merely a repetition of the first we were too great a number to keep together very long. I kept up with the advance guard about 16 of us. we got lost in the black forest on the 2nd day, and on the 4th one half lost the other half again, I lost my partner Bell, night came and we had nothing to eat, and were all drenched to the skin, we found a deserted sheperds hut kindled a fire and dried our clothes then I went in search of something to eat I had to travel 2 miles then cross a river up to the pockets in water, got a 4 lb loaf for which they charged me 5 shillings recrossed the river again with it under my arm and traveld back to the hut before I had any supper, so much for travelling up to the diggings we arrived or at least I arrived at the digging on the sunday with 24 shilling in my pocket, now the license for digging is 30 shilling so you may be sure I felt a little anxious as to what would be my fate, having lost my partners and not having money enough to commence myself, fortune however did me a turn at this crisis, two passengers of the same ship offerd me the chance to join them one had £11 the other £10 so I agreed to do so if I did not find Bell on the morrow morning, we slept together on one of the hills in the Bendigo diggings I started in morning in search of Bell and who should I meet but one of the Evanses and he told he was stopping with Bell and Dan Harrop and that Jerry Forster was there too. Evans was going for his license, so he lent me ten shillings and got mine at the same time, and I returned with him to see the 2 Harrops and jerry Forster; well they were pretty well thunderstruck to see me I can assure you Jerry said he was as glad as if some one had given him £20 the parties with whom he had been digging had just turn him out of the party, but I did not hear on what account he asked me if I would join him, I agreed in a moment, he had only £10 and he had been up about 6 week. I told him I had only 4 shillings, well says he the £10 will set us a going I then told him about these other partners of mine and he said he would agree for them to join, so I went in search of them and found just commencing digging with 2 others, so I thought I would see how the wind blew with them, so says I well Bell are you going to to stand to your agreements with me, no says he quite haughtily well am I to be turned adrift in this way. yes you must do the best you can I can't help you. well thank God says I dont stand in need of your help and then I told him what I had come to see him for and then left them to do their own, hoping old nick would not be stopt for want of brimstone when their souls were caught, Jerry and I set about purchasing tools and rigging up a crib to sleep in I sewd two blankets together put up two sticks and a 3rd for a ridge tree, threw the blankets over and secured them fill'd the two open ends up with branches and leaves cut a gutter all round to take the water away, the next morning we commenced gold digging, I may tell you just for the sake of the thing I got 32 shillings the first day, the following are the weights we got each week.
oz    dwts    gr
1    week    2   "    9   "    0
2—  do    5   "    5   "    0
3—  do    2   "    6   "    12
4—  do    3   "    5   "    0
5—  do    21   "    5   "    0
34   "    10   "    12
this shows you that we got more on the 5th week than we had got in the 4 previous weeks, and we should have mist this had I not been stupid jerry was so fickle wanting to go to this and that place with much ado he agreed to stick in were I wanted got nearly down the first day and the next bottomed and got 12 ounces, well we were quite uplifted with our success, at the week end we divided and we had each a pound weight of gold, jerry remitted his all to his wife, and then we never got anything after that, I had a presentiment in my mind that this pound of gold I had would be brattled away, so I went to the store keeper who had undertaken Jerrys and begd him to remit to you £40 and I would pay him in gold the same as jerry but he would not, he had only done it for jerry on account of wife and 7 children, my misgivings have proved but too true the same week 6th of my being at Bendigo there was some extravagant news of diggings at the ovans distance 200 mile the Harrops and the Evanses decided to go to them they asked me to go they said they believed it would be for all our good, but I did not like to go, but jerry said he should go wether I went or not, so I was in a fix, he had no money but the others said they would go shares and lend it him, so I had no alternative but either go or be alone, and a man can do nothing alone in 12 feet diggings, so I agreed very reluctantly to go we bought a horse and cart two sacks of flour and other requisites for 3 months costing us altogether £120 I paid my own share and lent jerry £12 being twice the amount and more that he had lent me so I thought that would repay him for any obligations I had been under to him for money I sold my lb. of gold for £39/12/0 the price of gold is always less at the diggings than at Melbourne the average amount per day for time I was there was 21 and a few pence clear of keep tools and license, which may be only small compared to what has been but the ground is all worked up and new comers have but a very small chance indeed, so we all six started for the Ovans travelling over hills through valleys and crossin so all went on very wel a few days, we went a nice easy distance each day and pitched our tent in good time before sunset, and divided the night into 6 watches, each man taking his turn according to the number on his ticket drawn by chance, the first place we encampt at was as beautiful a place as I ever saw, I happn'd to draw the 1 o clock watch. I strutted round the tent with the axe shoulder, the handle of which actually shined with the dew being upon it like a real twist barrel and I actually felt as soadierfied and valiant as if I had been a waterloo hero, things went on in a pretty smooth way till Bill Harrop begun to domineer and bullyrag too much till it came to an open rupture between him and the Evanses and then all was dissatisfaction. We however kept going, although we met hundreds coming back all giving a bad account of the Ovens, on the 8th day out we met Scholes, a native of Oldham, who had been out in these colonies 13 years, he and party had been to the Ovens, and done no good at all, so he advised us to go back, we concluded to do so or rather go to Melbourne and dispose of all we had and have a fresh start, when we were coming through the forest about 40 miles from town the cartwheel happened to go over my toe on the left foot, and I was lagging behind, when I came up to Hill Harrop laid on the ground with a bottle of spirits in his hand he asked me to drink and sit down a few minutes I did so, but never a word was spoken, I observed that he looked very sulky and morose, we went on then and overtook dan and jerry, Bill began to wrangle with Dan and Dan cryed. jerry all the while kept medling between them, I stood aloof myself and told jerry to do the same, jerry at last came away and we walked on togethr, but he begun to blackguard me and at last call'd me a bloody jackass. I then let fly at his nut, he stood to me a moment and then cut. I followed but did not nab him. I had a loaded gun in one hand he stood at a distance gabbering away at me, till I dropped the gun and away after him, I was close upon him when away he flies clean over some fallen timber and pitches sous over-head into the creek, well all my resentment melted away at seeing him there, and I went down and assisted him out, I was just doctoring him along when up comes Bill Harrop and charges me with doing for their dan, and attempts to force, me back in search of him, I refused and he begun to strike? me on the head and face with a stick. I was forced to grapple with him to save myself, I managed to get the upper hand of him and was holding him down when jerry tryd to assist him from under but could not. he then went and broke of the branch of a tree and struck me on the head with it till I went blind and faint Bill then broke loose from me got up and begun to kick me with all his might, while I lay bleeding on the ground, the blood streaming from the wounds on my head, I then endeavoured to get away from them, and find my guns, but it was gone, and I judged they had taken it, so it proved, for Ihad not proceeded far before, they overtook me and stopt me Bill had the gun, he took his stand in front of me cocked the gun pointed it at my chest and swore he would shoot me, jerry stood with a pocket knife open, to make me turn back but I would not move, he might let go if he liked I said I would not move an inch, for neither gun nor knife. Bill then used the butt end of the gun to me, striking every time at my head I protected it as much as I could with my right arm, but I had given myself up for being murthered I never expected getting away alive, the skin was nock'd. off my a part of my right arm with warding off the musket, they then left me and turn'd back through the forest taking the gun with them it was then dark, I proceeded on then, in search of the camp. They had gone on about 3 miles I found them, I was faint with loss of blood, the Evanses and Scholes, when I came up were horrorstruck at my appearance of a blacker hearted pieces of business I never knew. Scholes got the master of a sheep station to dress my wounds. I have concluded not to prosecute on account of the expense time and trouble and having no money to spare. I am going again to try my fortune at the Balarat diggings with the Evanses who have behaved like brothers to me. I have only £15 left of my money, I was put in to sell every thing and divide the money I had to sell my thing at an enormous sacrifice, so there was not much to divide I now conclude this tirsome letter hoping to have something more pleasant to write you than a string of misfortune like this.
NB my love to me granny granfather brothers sister and all my old particks
Your affectionate son John Lees

Other letters

The above letter is one of many written by John to his father from Australia. They are available from the State Library of Victoria as photocopies, and PDF copies can be ordered online. However, it seems that there are 253 (!!) pages in all, which would cost about £50.,contains,canadian%20nugget&offset=0


Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of The Royal Society
accessed 26/12/19 PDF download


VERY few are left with us now of the men of science who were trained in Victorian days and carried out important scientific investigations before the end of last century. CHARLES HERBERT LEES, who died on 25 September 1952 published at least a dozen papers of some consequence in the Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society and in the Philosophical Magazine before the end of the year 1900. Indeed, the work for which he is best known, and perhaps his most important work, was accomplished in days when such innovations as the elementary quantum of action or any serious generalization of Newtonian mechanics were still undreamt of.

Lees was born on 28 July 1864 at ‘Ballarat’ in Glodwick Lane, Oldham, Lancashire. He was the second of the three sons of John and Jane Lees. An elder brother, John Frederick, born on 12 December 1855, became Borough Accountant and Treasurer of Oldham and died on 6 September 1915. The younger brother, Edward Oscar, born 16 March 1867, became General Manager of the Manchester and County Bank and its branches, and retired in December 1931. Indeed, many of Lees’s relatives and forebears appear to have been very prominent about Oldham and that part of Lancashire, in engineering, mechanical construction, commerce, as well as in local municipal affairs and administration.

His father, John Lees, who was born at Lowerfields, near Oldham, on 4 July 1822, was apprenticed to Messrs Garnett, millwrights, in Oldham, and later became ‘job-master’ (sub-contractor) in the works of Messrs Platt Bros, machinists, of Oldham. During 1847 there was an engineering ‘lock out’ and John Lees made use of his enforced leisure to visit Birmingham, Coventry, Hull, York and London. In 1851 it appears that he built several houses and a shop in Glodwick Lane, where later his son, Charles Herbert, was born. In 1852 he sailed to Melbourne, arriving at the end of August, after a voyage of 84 days. He was one of the successful gold diggers of that time, since he (with his three partners) discovered, on 31 January 1853, the famous ‘Leg of Mutton’ nugget of gold. It was found at a depth of 65 feet in their claim at Canadian Gully, Ballarat, and weighed 134 lb. 11 oz.! On arrival in England it was shown to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

John Lees married Jane Ogden on 25 May 1854. In 1855 he built several more houses in Glodwick Lane, and in 1856 sailed again to the Australian and New Zealand gold fields and did not return to England till 1863. His last journey abroad appears to have been to the Paris Exhibition in 1867. He died in 1899.

A cartoon showing
        a bored returned gold digger

Jane Ogden, the mother of Charles Herbert Lees, was born on 8 April 1827, and was the third daughter of David Ogden who farmed his own land in the neighbourhood of Barrowshaw, a small hamlet of some ten houses which he owned and where Jane was born. She died at Oldham in 1901. It is recorded of this David Ogden that he enrolled as a special constable during the Chartist riots of 1838.

Going farther back we learn that one of the great grandfathers of Charles H. Lees, James Lees, was a manufacturer of rollers for cotton machinery. His works, which were in the neighbourhood of Oldham, were operated by a water wheel. Another great grandfather was John Ogden, a manufacturer of beaver hats at Oldham and Royton. Still another, Enoch Dunkerley (1765-1834), was a master weaver and overseer of Oldham. A great great grandfather was Nathaniel Ogden, a pack horse carrier of Oldham, and no doubt the John Lees, an Oldham carrier, who was entrusted with a letter from a certain James Illingworth of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to Colonel Chadwick of Healy Hall, Rochdale, 20 May 1657, was an ancestor, or a relative. Lastly, it is recorded of another remote ancestor, a certain John Lees, that he was summoned to appear before the Archbishop of York’s court in Manchester for sitting in Oldham church with his hat on (18 September 1684).

Lees’s first teacher was his mother, who taught him to read and write when he was about 5 to 6 years old. In 1870 he was sent, as a day boy, to Highfield Academy at Oldham (Headmaster, W. S. Binns), where his elder brother had been a medallist and head boy. In his turn he too became head boy, won the silver medal and passed the Junior Cambridge Local Examination with Honours in 1879. He then entered the office of the Gas Superintendent of Oldham, and, along with the rest of the junior staff, attended evening classes in the Oldham School of Science and Art. Part of his work in the office consisted in testing the illuminating power of the gas from the experimental plant.

In those days, as those of us who are rather old may remember, there was a department of Her  Majesty’s Privy Council, the Science and  Art Department, which conducted  examinations  in  science and  art all over England and in May 1882 Lees was awarded a Platt Local Exhibition on the results of such examinations. The exhibition was tenable at the Owens College in Manchester — later, as is well known, the University of Manchester. In  1883 he attended the meeting of the British Association in Southport with the aid of a grant made to science students by the Mayor of Southport. His career as a student gives one the impression of a triumphal progress of examination successes and academic distinctions. During the session of 1886-7 he read higher pure mathematics with Professor Horace Lamb and Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory with Professor Arthur Schuster, whom some of us still remember as a former Secretary of the Royal Society. At the same time he was occupied with research on electrolysis in the physical laboratory. In  those days it was customary for British and American students to wander out to the German universities to study and work under the distinguished men who made these universities so great during the nineteenth century and we have with us still some Fellows of the Royal Society who were pupils of W. Nernst or W. Ostwald long before the first world war. Lees went to Strassburg in 1887 and studied physics under Kundt, and mathematics under Christoffel. The fame of these great men still endures. One remembers Kundt in connexion with so-called anomalous dispersion, and Christoffel in connexion with the tensor calculus of general relativity. It was in Strassburg that Lees began the long sequence of investigations of thermal conductivity for which he is best known. His work there was concerned mainly with the thermal conductivity of crystals.

In the year 1888 he was elected to a Bishop Berkeley Fellowship at Manchester, and gave a course of lectures on thermodynamics to senior students. He appears to have remained in Manchester and to have continued his work on thermal conductivity and related subjects till 1891, when he went to the Central Technical College at South Kensington. There he was occupied with advanced practical work in electrotechnics under Professor Ayrton and Mr Mather.

In the same year he was appointed Senior Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator in Physics in the Owens College. In 1895 the D.Sc. degree was conferred on him. In 1898 he acted as Secretary of Section A of the British Association and was in charge of the arrangements for the International Magnetic Conference, presided over by Sir Arthur Rucker. In 1900 he was promoted to be Lecturer in Physics and Assistant Director of the Physical Laboratories in the University of Manchester. From 1901 till 1905 he was Recorder of Section A of the British Association, and from 1901 till 1906 Hon. Secretary of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester. From 1902 till 1906 he was Secretary of the Faculty of Science of the University, and during the same period a Governor of the Grammar School at Mottram in Longdale. He also represented the University on the Education Committee of Blackburn. As Recorder of Section A he went with the British Association to South Africa in 1905 (July to October).

In March 1906 Lees was appointed Professor of Physics at East London College — now Queen Mary College — and in the same year was elected into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. In 1912 he became Professor of Physics in the University of London, his Chair being at Queen Mary College. From 1917 till 1930 he was Vice-Principal of the College and in the latter year became Professor Emeritus of Physics in the University. In 1934 he was elected a Fellow of Queen Mary College. He was President of the Physical Society from 1918 till 1920.

Lees was married on 3 July 1902 to Evelyn May Savidge, B.A., one of the daughters of Henry Savidge, a solicitor of Streatham Hill. They had five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom appear to have distinguished themselves at school, university and in later life. His wife and children survive him.

 Lees is best known for his careful and valuable measurements of thermal conductivities, and especially for the well-known disk method. It was his great experience of such measurements which caused him to be made a member of the Engineering Committee of the Food Investigation Board. The production and maintenance of low temperatures in food-carrying vessels is only practicable with materials of extremely low thermal conductivity. His interests were very wide. One of his papers deals with the free periods of a composite elastic column, etc., which was a product of the investigations he carried out at the Safety in Mines Research Stations in Sheffield.

One of the earliest methods for determining the thermal conductivity of metallic conductors was that of Forbes, in which one end of a bar was maintained at a higher temperature than the other. Angstrom modified this by causing the temperature of one end of the bar to vary periodically. This involved a Fourier expansion to express the temperature at points on the bar. Some of Lees’s earlier measurements were carried out by this method, and he was thus led to two further things: the law of cooling, to which the Fourier expression is very sensitive, and the study of Fourier’s series for its own sake. He published a paper on an extension of Fourier’s mode of expansion in 1906, and some years later he noticed the connexion between the method of least squares and the calculation of the coefficients in a Fourier series.

Lees was a member of many committees and public bodies, more especially education committees, e.g. the Tonbridge District Education Committee and the Tunbridge Wells District Education Committee. He took these duties very seriously and one wonders how he managed to get through the enormous amount of work he did. He wrote two books on practical physics which have gone through many editions.

Among the many students whom he taught were several who became very distinguished later: the late Sir Arthur Eddington, F.R.S.; J . W. Nicholson, F.R.S.; Sir Robert Robinson, F.R.S., lately President of the Royal Society; S. Chapman, F.R.S.; and E. E. Turner, F.R.S.

Lees was a devoutly religious man. He was Deacon (1911-17) of Woodford Green Congregational Church, and (1919) Deacon and Vice-Chairman of Tonbridge Congregational Church, of which he became a Life Elder in 1944. He was a remarkable blend of a man of great practical capacity and a theoretician of very considerable mathematical attainments. He will also be remembered, by us who knew him, as a man of rare integrity of character.

I wish to express my indebtedness to Dr E. Griffiths, F.R.S., for showing me the typescript of the obituary notice of C. H. Lees which he had written for the Physical Society.


1896.    (With Sir Arthur Schuster.) Intermediate practical physics. London: Macmillan & Co.
1925.    Exercises in practical physics. Cambridge University Press. 5th    edition.

1887. (With R. W. STEWART.) Electrolytic polarization. Proc. Manchr Lit. Phil. Soc. 26, 95.

1889. On the law of cooling and its bearing on the theory of the motion of heat in bars.
Mem. Manchr Lit. Phil. Soc. (4) 3, 57.

1889. On the law of cooling and its bearing on certain equations in the analytical theory
of heat.    Phil.Mag. (5) 28, 429.

1890. On the determination of the thermal conductivities of bad conductors. Mem. Manchr
Lit.    Phil.Soc. (4) 4, 17.

1892. On the thermal conductivities of crystals and other bad conductors. Proc. Roy. Soc. A,
50, 421; Phil. Trans. A, 183, 481.

1895. On a simple geometrical construction for the intensity of illumination at any point due to a small source of light. Phil. Mag. 40, 463.

1895. Efficiency tests of a colliery electric pumping, hauling and winding plant.  Manchr
Elec. Eng. 9 Dec.

1896. (With J. D. CHORLTON.) On a simple apparatus for determining the thermal con ductivities of substances used in the arts. Phil. Mag. 41, 495.
1897. On a method of determining the thermal conductivities of salts. Mem.  Manchr Lit.
Phil. Soc. 42, v.

1898. On the thermal conductivities of single and mixed solids and liquids and their variation with temperature. Part 1. Solids. Phil. Trans. A, 191, 399.

1899. Some preliminary experiments on the effect of pressure cn thermal conductivity.
Mem. Manchr Lit. Phil. Soc. 43, viii.

1899. On the conductivities of heterogeneous media for a steady flux having a potential.
Phil. Mag. 49, 221; Proc. Phys. Soc. 17, 68.

1899. On  the thermal conductivities of mixtures and of their constituents. Phil.  Mag.
49, 286; Proc. Phys. Soc. 17, 73.

1899. On the electrical resistance between opposite sides of a quadrilateral one diagonal of which bisects the other at right angles. Mem. Manchr Lit. Phil. Soc. 44, i.

1900. On the viscosities of mixtures of liquids and of solutions. Proc. Phys. Soc. 17, 460; Phil. Mag. 1, 128.

1904.    On a simple graphical method of treating the impact of smooth elastic spheres.
Phil.Mag. 8, 215.

1904.    The effects of temperature and pressure on the thermal conductivities of bodies.   
    Part 1. Electrical insulators. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 74, 337;    Trans. A, 204, 433.   

1905.    (With R. E. GRIME.) On a compact apparatus for determining Young’s modulus   
    for thin wires. Phil. Mag. 9, 258.            Mag. 9, 811.   

1905.    On the depression due to a load at the centre of an elastic chain.       

1906.    On an extension of the Fourier method of expanding a function. Messeng. Math.   
    No. 418, 152.               

1907.    (With SIR J. E. PETAVEL.) On the variation of the pressure developed during the   
    explosion of cordite in closed vessels. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 79, 277. Translated and   
    reproduced in    ZeitschriftfurSchiess und Sprengstoffwesens.       
1908.    Bakerian Lecture. The effects of temperature and pressure on the thermal conductivities of solids. Part 2. Low temperatures, pure metals and alloys. Phil. Trans. A, 208, 381.

1908. On the resistance of a conductor of uniform thickness whose breadth suddenly changes and on the stream lines. Proc. Phys. Soc. 21, 329; Phil. Mag. 16, 734.

1909. On a method of comparing an inductance and a capacitance. Phil. Mag. 18, 432.

1910. On the laws regarding thermo-electric currents enunciated by M. Thomas. Proc.
Phys. Soc. 22, 273; Phil. Mag. 19, 508.

1910. On the shapes of the isothermals under mountain ranges in radioactive districts.
Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 83, 339.

1911. On the effect of a narrow saw-cut in the edge of a conducting strip on the potential and stream lines and the resistance. Proc. Phys. Soc. 23, 361.

1914.  On the flow of viscous fluids through smooth circular pipes. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 91, 46. 1914. Note on the connexion between the method of least squares and the Fourier method of calculating the coefficients of a series to represent a periodic quantity. Proc.
Phys. Soc. 26, 275.

1915. On the shapes of the equipotential surfaces in the air near long buildings and their effect on the measurements of atmospheric potential gradients. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 91, 440.

1915. On the effect of the form of the transverse section on the frictional resistance to the motion of an elongated body parallel to its length through a fluid. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 92, 144.

1916. On a general bridge method for comparing the mutual inductance between two coils with the inductance of one of them. Proc. Phys. Soc. 28, 89.

1916. The laws of skin friction in a fluid in laminar and in turbulent motion along a long solid. Trans. Instn Nav. Archit., Lond. 58, 52.

1917. The effect of stretching on the thermal and electrical conductivity of wires. Proc.
Phys. Soc. 29, 203.

1918. On ‘air standard’ internal combustion engine cycles and their efficiencies. Proc. Phys.
Soc. 30, 144.

1920. On the mechanical equilibrium of a sphere of gravitating fluid. Proc. Phys. Soc.
32, 265.

1922. The  thermal stresses in spherical shells concentrically heated. Proc. Roy. Soc. A,
101, 411.

1923. Inductively coupled low resistance circuits. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 103, 79.

1923. On the stresses in cylindrical and spherical bodies due to differences of temperature inside and out. Trans. Ceram. Soc. 22, 241.

1923. (With J. E. CALTHROP.) The effect of torsion on the thermal and electrical conductivities of metals. Proc. Phys. Soc. 35, 225.

1924. Coupled cord pendulums. Phil. Mag. 48, 129.

1924. The ‘diametral plane’ in elementary optics. Proc. Phys. Soc. 36, 294.

1924. (With J. P. ANDREWS & L. S. SHAVE.) The variation of Young’s modulus at high temperatures. Proc. Phys. Soc. 36, 405.

1929. The free periods of a composite elastic column or a composite stretched wire. Proc.
Phys. Soc. 41, 204.

1932. Some improvements in the use of the Lees and Chorlton heat conductivity apparatus.
Phil. Mag. 16, 811.

4. The Nugget and the Street

Letter to the Oldham Chronicle from Charles Herbert Lees

No date (The Hartley Bateson mentioned taught in Oldham after 1919 and published "A History of Oldham" in 1949, so between those dates)

Cuttings from the "Oldham Chronicle" for January 10 and February 7 have been sent to me which mention events connected with my family and the writers of which – Hartlet (sic) Bateson and H.H. respectively – ask for further information  some of which I can supply.

The John Lees of the Ballarat nugget mentioned by Mr. Bateman was a grandson (Ed. In fact he was great-grandson) of James Lees, roller manufacturer, of Cherry Valley, and was born in 1822. His grandfather's mill was run by a water wheel and the lintel of the entrance had a carding engine roller carved upon it. He was apprenticed to Messrs. Garnett, millwrights, and became a "job master" at Platt's machine works. In 1851 he built five houses and a shop in "Glodwick Lane, Greenacres, near Manchester" and in 1852 sailed from Liverpool in the Blue Jacket (Ed. must be an error, see below)  to the Australian gold fields, arriving after a voyage of 84 days at Melbourne on Oldham Wakes Monday. On January 31, 1853, he and his partners, Daniel and John Evans and William P. Green, found at a depth of 65 feet in their "claim" at Cumberland Gulley, Ballarat, the "Leg of Mutton Nugget" weighing 134lb, 11oz, as stated by Mr. Bateson. They brought it to London in the Sarah Sands and exhibited it there to the Queen and Prince Albert and the general public.

It was at the time the largest gold nugget discovered but larger ones have been found since. It was sold to the Bank of England on July 28 and was not brought to Oldham as suggested by Mr. Bateson. Some smaller nuggets were shown by John Lees to the surveyors setting out the by-pass road to avoid the bend in the Lane where the Roundthorn Lane joined it, and which when completed was named Nugget Street. In 1855 he built five more houses and the block of property referred to by H.H. was known as "Ballarat Buildings."

The canal to Hollinwood to which H.H. refers was commenced in 1792 and completed in 1795. On August 31, 1796, it burst its banks, filled the Crime Valley to a depth of eighteen yards, submerging two houses and causing some loss of life.

Dry Hill,
Tonbridge, Kent

5. Sailings - Sarah Sands, Mirzapore, and Blue Jacket Clippers

Precise sailings and ships for the outbound voyage do not quite add up yet (understatement) and are very confusing. Steerage passengers often were not recorded by name, or very scantily. The letters housed in Victoria State Library (see above) would clear it up, but for now…

The Evans' voyage from England on the Lady Head took 83 days, John Lees says his voyage was 84 days, so he may have been on the same ship.

The first (there were at least two) Blue Jacket (as claimed by Charles Herbert) that  I can find running to Australia was not built until 1854 (though the records are confusing) and didn't arrive in Melbourne until 1855, so this may have referred to John Lees' 1856 outward trip or the 1863 return trip, or there may have been a previous Blue Jacket.

Or John Lees could have sailed out arriving in 1852 in the SS Mirzapore (There is a John Lees on the passenger list). If the Mirzapore  sailed from Liverpool on June 5th as advertised then an 84 day voyage would take it to the end of August while the Mirzapore is recorded elsewhere as arriving in October (much more than 84 days)… Charles Herbert's reference to arriving on Oldham Wakes Monday 1852 is a problem, as this should have been at the latest in September.

He was certainly already back in England by July 1853, sailing in the Sarah Sands.

From the London Times of May 22, 1852 an ad mentions the Mirzapore:
The Liverpool Eagle Line of Packets to Australia.—
The following splendid Ships will be despatched as under:--
For Sydney direct, the ASCENDANT, 1,000 tons, to sail May 26.
For Port Philip, the MIRZAPORE, 1,400 tons, to sail June 5.
For Sydney direct, the SERAMPORE, 1,100 tons, to sail June 26.
The above are clipper ships, with very superior accommodation for
passengers, having full poops and lofty 'tween decks, well ventilated.

If she set off from Liverpool on June 5th, 84 days sail would take her to 28th Aug (a more likely date for Wakes, but not a Monday) and not October as the passenger lists show.


The Clipper
        Sarah Sands
The Sarah Sands

was 1,299 gross tons, length 215ft x beam 33ft, clipper bows, one funnel, four masts, iron hull, single screw, speed 9 knots. She carried approx. 300 passengers. Launched in Sep.1846 by James Hodgson & Co, Liverpool (engines by Bury, Curtis & Kennedy, Liverpool) for Sands & Co. Originally intended for the Uk - Australia service, she was instead chartered to the Red Cross Line of sailing packets for an experimental service between Liverpool and New York. Her maiden voyage started from Liverpool on 20th Jan.1847 and she arrived in New York 21 days later. On her third voyage starting on 15th June, she broke some of her valve gearing while 5 days out and returned to Cork under sail for repairs. Eventually sailing on 23rd June and arriving New York after a voyage of 34 days from Liverpool. Her last Liverpool - New York voyage commenced 18th Oct.1849 and from there, she sailed for San Francisco via Cape Horn under charter to Empire City Line and was used on the San Francisco - Panama service. In late 1851 she sailed for Liverpool via Valparaiso and Rio de Janeiro and made two more Liverpool - New York voyages during 1852.

On 18th Sep. 1852 she sailed Liverpool - Cape Town -Sydney for the Melbourne Gold Mining Association and then returned to Plymouth. (NB-Ed-This would correspond with Lees' return to England)

On 21st Jul.1853 she started sailings between Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal and between Liverpool and Portland for Canadian Steam Nav. Co., making eight round voyages on these routes. Taken over as a Crimea War transport in 1855 and in 1857 was used to convey troops from Portsmouth to Calcutta for the Indian Mutiny. On 11th Nov.1857 she caught fire off Mauritius, the troops were transferred to another ship and she sailed home after temporary repairs. Reconditioned as a sailing ship, she was eventually wrecked on 7th Apr. 1869 on the Laccadive Islands, Indian Ocean.
ref. used:
Read more at wrecksite:

Handsome American-built Craft—Brief but Brilliant Career—Her Tragic End.

Notwithstanding the many beauties of her day, the 1,790-ton ship Blue Jacket, stood out in such a marked manner when she paid her first visit to Melbourne in the year 1855, that shipping people took practically a holiday to admire the new-comer. And when one thinks of such boats as the Lightning, the Oliver Lang, the James Baines, the Marco Polo, and the White Star, it means much when we know that even in such company she was admittedly a "beauty." Built at East Boston, United States, for the original White Star line of sailing packets, she was one of the speedy craft that the American builders turned out to the order of British shipping people before the latter had changed their old fashioned methods that were exploded by the experiments made by the Yankees during the struggle for supremacy in the China tea carrying trade. the Blue Jacket arrived at the Mersey on October 20, 1854, after a fine run of 12½ days.

She made her first appearance in Melbourne on May 13th, 1855, under the command of Captain Underwood, after a remarkable run of 68 days from London, whence she sailed on March 6th. One cannot help thinking what a contrast was such a smart passage to the performances of some of the old tubs that were sent out to Auckland and Wellington in those eariy days.

On her return journey to London from Melbourne, the Blue Jacket took only one day longer than her outward passage. She and the other fast clippers I have mentioned above, were put on the Australian trade during the great rush to the Victorian goldfields which started in 1852. And a very profitable trade it was, naturally attracting the best and fastest ships.

During the eighteen months following the discovery of gold at Ballarat, the population of Melbourne jumped from 23,000 to 70,000. Basil Lubbock in writing of this golden era says: "In the five years 1852-57, when the rush to the diggings was at its height, 100,000 Englishmen, 60,000 Irishmen, 50,000 Scots, 4,000 Welsh, 8,000 Germans, 1,500 Frenchmen, 3,000 Americans, and about 30,000 other nationalities of the world, including 25,000 Chinese landed at Melbourne."

The Blue Jacket's passage of 68 days London to Melbourne, was the fastest of the season in 1855, the Lightning coming second with 73 days, and the Red Jacket, third, with 75 days.

After making several successful runs to Melbourne the Blue Jacket was in 1859 diverted to the New Zealand trade. (etc.etc.)

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