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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Meeting of the Convention

Meeting of the Convention.

On the evening of the 15th of July, accordingly, a large number of Delegates, who had been appointed at public meetings in various districts of the colony, as-assembled in the Long Room of Keel's Parliamentary Hotel, Melbourne. On this, first evening, sixty-seven Delegates were present. This number was within a few days increased to eighty-eight.

The following are the names of the eighty-eight who ultimately assembled, and the places which they represented :

Names of Delegates.

  • Ballarat—Alfred Arthur O'Connor, Member of Local Court
  • John Yates, Do.
  • Duncan Gillies. Do.
  • John Cathie
  • Bendigo—Robert Benson
  • G. E. Thomson
  • Beechworth—R. F. Smyth, Member Local Court
  • Bacchus Marsh—James Watt
  • Henry James
  • James Crooke
  • Brighton—J. H. Thompson
  • John Houston
  • Castlemaine—Michael Prendergast, Chairman of Municipal Council
  • Dr. Davies
  • William Hitchcock, Member of Municipal Council
  • Collingwood—James Galloway
  • J. R. Gibson
  • James Cattach
  • James Thomson Macminn
  • Henry D. Riley
  • John Harrison
  • Pierce Joseph Murphy
  • John Westhorpe
  • Colac—Joseph S. Miskin
  • Carisbrook—L. Laskie
  • —Richardson
  • Dunolly—W. H. Winfield, Member of Loral Court
  • Francis Quinlan
  • Emerald Hill—William H. Short
  • Robt. Mills
  • Allan Leitch
  • Fryer's Creek—Samuel Scotson, Member of Local Court
  • Geelong—Thos. William
  • William Clarson
  • Theodore Hancock, Member of the Legisla tative Assembly.
  • George Craib
  • Henry Fyfe
  • Gisborne—J. Morris
  • Heathcote—James R. Sloane, Member of the Local Court
  • Heidleberg—D. A. McGregor, M.D.
  • Robt. Pridham
  • Kyneton—Archibald Chisholm
  • Benjamin Kenworthy
  • Melbourne—John Hood, Member of the Legislative Council
  • Thomas Loader
  • C. J. Don
  • Wilson Gray, Barrister-at-Law
  • J. J. Walsh
  • Sir George Stephen, Barrister-at-Law
  • Benjamin H. Dods
  • Michael Keeley, City Councillor
  • Peter Sherwin
  • James Warman
  • Henry Hayden
  • John Patterson
  • James Doyle
  • Stephen Donovan, City Councillor
  • North Melbourne—Frederick Calvert
  • William Richardson
  • Robert Hayes
  • Francis Strickland
  • William Strickland
  • Mount Blackwood—Frederick H. James, Member of Loral Court.
  • J. B. Garland
  • Nine-Mile, Ovens—George W. Kennedy
  • Prahban—J. B. Crews, Member of the Municipal Council
  • William J. O'Hea
  • George M'Kay, L.L.D., Barrister-at-Law
  • Richmond—Christopher Cutter
  • G.H. Batten
  • Henry Johnson. Member of the Municipal Council
  • Philip Johnson, Do.page 4
  • St. Kilda—F. Spicer, Member of the Municipal Council
  • A. E. Sutherland, Do.
  • F. Quoin
  • —Woolcott
  • T. Hales, Member of the Municipal Council
  • Seymour—Peter Tiernan
  • South Bourke—Robert Hepburn
  • T. Brooke
  • H.Johnston
  • Sebastopol.—Thomas Mooney
  • Tarrangower—John Ramsay, Member of the Local Court
  • Thomas Gainford, Do.
  • Templestowe—William Malcolm
  • Williamstown—M. Verdon, Chairman of Municipal Council
  • William Whyte
  • Woolshed, Ovens—John Strickland
  • Wangaratta—Henry Parfitt

On this first evening, Thomas Loader, Esq., as Chairman of the Committee of the Land League, the body which had been instrumental in calling the assembly together, took the Chair as preliminary to the inauguration of the Convention.

The Chairman said that the meeting, for the present, would be considered as a Committee of the Land League. As Chairman of that Committee, he would lay before it a short report. The Committee would then disappear, and leave the Convenation to organize itself, and shape its own proceedings.

The Chairman then read the following report :—

To the Delegates appointed by the several districts of Victoria to assemble in Couvention at, Melbourne, on the 15th July, 1857.

Gentlemen,—The present Convention has been specially called into existence by the following advertisement and circular letter issued by direction of the Central Committee of the Victoria Land League.

[The circular and advertisement will be found above.]

The Committee of the Land League rejoice in their pleasant duty of receiving you upon this occasions, and unite in offering to you. Gentlemen Delegates, a hearty welcome to the city of Melbourne; and, further, respectfully tender their great admiration and satisfaction at the noble, unanimous, and energetic manner in which your severe districts responded to the call from the Land League; and to you, Gentlemen, in particular, for your patriotic conduct in placing yourselves so punctually in personal communication with the League.

The Committee will furnish you with a short report of their past proceedings, preparatory to committing to your consideration the vast interests of the people in the public lands of Victoria.

The Land League, during the past eight months, has been acting within the immediate reach of a very large proportion of the population of the colony; and having communicated with, and endeavored to ascertain, as far as possible, the views of that population, the Committee have taken the liberty of inviting the several districts of the colony to send Delegates to Melbourne, in order that the judgment of the country might be pronounced upon the Land Bill which is now before the House of Assembly; and, also, that the opinions of the country might be collected, for the purpose of framing the outline of a Bill which would embody the experience and desires, and satisfy the rightful expectations, of the colonists in general.

The Committee, without presuming to do more than suggest, respectfully solicit the attention of the Convention to the principles which are advocated by the Victoria Land League.

The Committee, in conclusion, would suggest that the Convention should at once petition the House of Assembly to stay the further progress of the Land Bill now before the House, until the people are fairly represented in the Assembly.

Wishing you, Gentlemen, every success in your noble and most important mission,

We have the honor to remain, &c.,

Thomas Loader, Chairman.

One of the Delegates inquired whether it was understood that the Delegates came pledged to the principles of the Land League.

The Chairman said the Delegates came pledged to no principles, save as they might have pledged themselves to the districts from which they were delegated. He would now vacate the Chair, and this would become a meeting of the Convention.

Mr. William Henry Wingfield, one of the Delegates from Donnelly, was then called to the Chair, and the Convention was declared opened. Mr. J. J. Walsh was appointed Secretary pro tem.

At this meeting the Convention organized itself in the following manner. It was resolved that it should meet in Committee of the whole every forenoon, at eleven o'clock, when all the business, to be afterwards presented to the Convention in its evening session, should be prepared : and, that the Convention should page 5 meet in session at seven o'clock each evening, to discuss and decide upon this business in full Convention.

Before the Convention separated this evening, the following resolution was submitted by Sir George Stephen, and unanimously adopted:—

That this meeting of Delegates represent the opinion of an immense majority of the inhabitants of the colony, and that such opinion is, that the Land Bill now before the House of Assembly is, in every respect, adverse to the best interests of the colony, and is so erroneous in principle that it is incapable of any amendment, so as to satisfy the just expectation of the colony; and, therefore, it must be at once and for ever abandoned.

On the next forenoon, Thursday, the Convention, at its meeting in Committee of the whole, elected the following gentlemen, whose names should be submitted to the full session to be officers of the Convention : Wilson Gray, Esq., as President; Sir George Stephen, and Michael Prendergast, Esq., as Vice-Presidents; Thomas Loader, Esq., and Michael Keeley, Esq., as Treasurers; and J. J. Walsh, Esq.. as Honorary Secretary. These names were subsequently approved of by the full Convention.

It was also determined that the business of the first two evenings should be to call upon all the Delegates to express the opinion of their respective districts on the subject of the Land Bill then before Parliament—and the principles proper to be embodied in such a bill as would meet the wants and wishes of the people of the colony. And it was resolved; that the Convention should afterwards adopt a series of resolutions in accordance with the opinions then expressed, and embodying the principles on which a land law suited to the colony should be framed.