SAMUEL MADDER 

 Small gold minehead without shelter and seven miners ca. 1875, by AACP   Wet plate negative ON 4 Box 43/18

DARED TO DREAM

1826 – 1872

 Samuel Madder dared to dream. He was a risk taker, a nonconformist and these characteristics took him from the small Norfolk village of Horsham St Faith to the Victorian goldfields. It was with a lust for this elusive gold that he combed the Golden triangle from scrubby creek beds to the depths of hastily constructed mineshafts. He was consumed by the promise of untold riches and threw caution to the wind. Despite calls from other “diggers” he always wanted to search just a bit deeper and just a moment longer.

Born in 1826, Samuel was the fourth child of William Madder and Sarah Woodstock. His father was an agricultural labourer who moved in the area north of Norwich from Spixsworth, to Horsham St Faith and then south to Catton working the land.

 (Figure 1: Registration Districts of Norfolk in 1836)

The area was fertile and work was plentiful. The Madder children went to school and then followed in their father’s footsteps working on the land from dawn ‘til dusk.  Norfolk had been London’s larder but during the 19th century life for farm workers began to change.  The use of machinery, fertilizers and improved crop rotation techniques meant that land owner could achieve higher yields with fewer agricultural workers.

Samuel left the family in Catton and moved to Norwich.  He began work as a brewer’s servant. The brewing industry was one of the most important and lucrative industries in Norwich's past, with its success stretching over hundreds of years. It is said that Norwich once had a public house for every day of the year although it is possible that there were many more than this, for in 1845 it is claimed there were over 500 such buildings in the City(1) . It was in Norwich that Samuel met and married Harriet Barlow who lived and worked with a family of weavers. The marriage took place on 30 November 1845 at the Parish Church, St James with Pockthorpe, Norwich. Samuel signed using the surname Madda. The surname Maddy was also frequently used by the family before 1850.

 

Norfolk Parish Records show that by 1850 the young family had grown to five with the birth of Samuel Arthur in 1847, Harriet Elizabeth in 1849 and my great grandfather William Ernest on 14 March 1850. Then life began to change for the Madders. Samuel’s mother Sarah died in late 1850 aged fifty four. His younger brother James left England for Australia in 1852 and arrived in Geelong on board The Helen in November 1852. He was joined a month later by Samuel’s father, his brother William, his sister Mary Ann with her husband William Shorten and their children, and sisters Sarah and Ann(2) . Samuel was the only member of his immediate family left in Norfolk.

The 1851 English Census shows us that Samuel remained in his job as a brewer’s servant. The family continued to grow with the birth of John in 1852 and James in 1854. 

"By the middle of the 19th century expansion of the major brewers in Norwich had reached such a height that not only did they provide for the local market, but they also began supplying on a larger scale. In 1845, when Norwich was connected to London by rail, some of the city's brewing firms had success in capturing some of the capital's market. There was a general rise in living standards, creating a position conducive to growth and successful trading on the part of the brewers."  (3)

Despite the prosperity of the brewing industry in Norwich there is no evidence to suggest that Samuel’s position was anything but that of a brewer’s servant which generally involved little more than heavy lifting and manual labour.

By 1857 the Victorian goldrush was in full swing. People from all over England were flocking to Australia. Reports in newspapers throughout England told of ships arriving laden with gold arriving from Victoria. Letters from Samuel’s family in Geelong would have told of gold arriving on coaches from Ballarat just over 50 miles to the north. Geelong was also the closest sea port to the goldfields. During the early 1850’s thousands of emigrants passed through Geelong on their way to the goldfields. Samuel’s father, a carter, would have had a thriving business. 

 Samuel, his heavily pregnant wife and five children boarded the Black Eagle in March 1857 and embarked on a journey in search of a new life in a new country. Within a few days the family had grown to eight with the birth of Sarah, named after her grandmother. The journey for emigrants, not only on the Black Eagle but on all ships during the 1850’s, was uncomfortable and sometimes hazardous. 

“All assisted immigrants, and most of those paying their own fares, travelled in steerage, a low-ceilinged space beneath the main deck. This was divided into three sections, separated by bulkheads: single men and youths at one end; married couples and young children in the centre section; and single women at the other end. In each section, the accommodation consisted of a double tier of bunks on each side and a long table with fixed forms down the centre. Commonly, the bunks were three feet wide and were shared by two people. It was cramped and noisy, and in the tropics it was stifling. There was little privacy.”  (4)

 

All 481 emigrants arrived safely in Geelong on 6 June 1857.The Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871 records the Madder’s arrival as follows:

FAMILY NAME

GIVEN NAME

AGE

MONTH

YEAR

SHIP

MADDER

----------

0

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

ARTHUR

8

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

HARRIET

7

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

HARRIET

32

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

JAMES

3

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

JOHN

5

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

SAMUEL

30

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

MADDER

WILLIAM

6

JUNE

1857

BLACK EAGLE

 

Samuel and his family were reunited with his father and the growing families of his siblings and settled down to a new life in Geelong. Samuel joined the family business working as a carter. From an 1890s photolithographic facsimile of the 1857 original edition of 'Victoria Illustrated' published by Sands and Kenny of Market Square, North side Geelong 1857 we see Geelong as it was for the Madder’s.

 

Tragedy struck just three months after the Madder’s arrived. Baby Sarah, aged just six months, died on 5 September 1857.  Twelve weeks later the grieving family lost a second child. Five year old John was buried near his baby sister on 27 November 1857 at the Geelong East Cemetery. Birth records show arrival of a new baby, Charles, in Newtown, Geelong in 1858. Soon after Charles birth, Samuel took his family and joined the throngs of men in search of gold. By the time the next child, John, arrived in 1861 the family were living in Bendigo. Over the next few years birth records indicate that the family moved throughout the Golden Triangle from Bendigo, to Malmsbury and then on to Ballarat. Two more sons were born, both named Walter. The first died at just a year old in 1864 and the second born in 1865 lived just eleven months.(5)  The family eventually settled in Maryborough where the younger children attended school. 


Figure 2: Harriet Madder outside the family home in Maryborough probably during the late 1860’s.

Throughout the late 1860’s Samuel continued in his quest to find gold. The Government Gazette for 21 August 1868 lists Samuel Madder as having a title deed for Section 109 Allotment 14 at Ballarat East. The area of the land, for which he paid £15 was 2 rods and 16 perches. In metric terms this is an area of just over 50 square metres. This land was mined by Samuel and his older sons. 

 

Figure 3: Victorian Goldmining Towns (6)

Samuel was strong, enthusiastic and undaunted by the backbreaking work of a miner. He often  worked side by side with the Cornish miners who were a significant group on the Victorian goldfields, not only because of their number, but because of the mining knowledge they brought with them and introduced into Australian mines. He became friendly with a family of Cornish tin miner’s from St Ives, Cornwall named Richards. The majority of Cornish people in Australia were Methodists or Wesleyans.(7)  The Madder family abandoned their Church of England roots and embraced Wesleyan Methodism. Samuel’s son William was later to become a Methodist missionary. 

Travelling from place to place in search of gold led Samuel and the Richards to the Victorian town of Linton, situated on the Springdallah Creek, approximately 34 kms south-west of Ballarat. Gold was discovered at Linton on the northern portion of the Emu Hill pastoral run in 1855 and within months, there were hundreds of men and women of many different nationalities there, including many Chinese, digging holes, felling trees, erecting tents, and creating a settlement where before there had just been a forest of eucalypts. This became known as 'Linton's Diggings' (8)

Samuel mined in a small co-operative party of eight who had been working at the foot of Nuggety Gully for about six weeks.  The shaft was thirty two feet deep and the drive was about eight feet high and four feet wide. As the reef was so hard the men used only limited supporting timber. On the morning of Friday 7th June 1872 Samuel and his usual mining partner Henry Richards took turns working at the rock face. There was only room for one at a time due to the limited space. After lunch the men descended in the cage and observed that water was coming through into the drive and also that the cap-piece was broken. In mining terms a cap piece or cap block was a flat piece of wood inserted between the top of the prop and the roof to provide bearing support. Henry Richard’s father had surveyed the land that morning and, despite concern from the other miners, did not believe that the drive was under the dam. The miners made adjustments to the timber and capping which was not level and looked dangerous. The timber near the rock face began to bend and a loud “Crack!” was heard. Henry moved the tools away from the rock face and shouted, “Let us both go to the surface or we’ll be smothered.” Samuel replied, “Don’t you be frightened. Nothing will hurt us. We’ll put the prop in.”

Samuel was reluctant to leave pushing aside concerns for safety and common sense. He had a dream. Unfortunately the prop was now too long as the cap had bent. Samuel tried putting the prop further along but there was a crack like the sound of a gun going off. The men were now in dire trouble. “Run!” shouted Henry, “or we’ll both be buried.”

Henry later recounted the chilling events which unfolded.

“I ran to the cage. Samuel walked backwards and towards the cage looking up the drive watching the timber breaking. It was cracking like guns going off. He got to the cage. I pulled him in and called to the engine driver to heave us up. The cage was drawn up about three feet six inches. Samuel was looking up the drive. The candles were still burning. He called out for the cage to be lowered which was done. He stepped out and looked up the drive. I put my hand up the rope to climb up it and tilt the cage. I had caught the rope pulling myself up when the shaft was filled in an instant with water and sludge. I had enough sense to keep pulling myself up the rope and then became insensible.” (9)

It seemed that Samuel was mesmorised by the collapse of the drive and failed to realise the imminent danger. Was there gold in the falling rock? Henry’s father Thomas Richards continued the story from his perspective as the engine driver.

“I heard a noise, a roaring noise coming from the shaft. I heard a call of “Heave up”. I got the cage up two or three feet and could not get it any further. I then ran to the shaft and found it full of water to about eight feet from the surface. I slid down on the rope to the water expecting someone might come to the surface. I observed a head come up. I caught a hand with the assistance of Richard Eddy. We got Henry, my son, to the surface. He was insensible. I watched him and when he recovered I went to the shaft.” (10)

 Although much bruised and shaken Henry was able to walk home. With the assistance of nearby miners the men continued to work to free Samuel Madder. One man was sent to the Madder home and returned with his son, William, my great grandfather. The men worked all night and all of the next day. At about 5 o’clock on Saturday they found Samuel Madder’s body on top of the cage. William testified at the inquest that his father was not disfigured or bruised. He had been smothered with dirt and water.

The body was taken to The Royal Standard Hotel in Linton where an inquest was held the next day. The verdict was as follows – “We find that the deceased, Samuel Madder, was accidentally killed in a mine at Nuggety Gully, Linton, on the 7th June, by the water rushing into the mine and suffocating him.”

Samuel left a wife, four sons and a daughter to lament his untimely end. His death was widely reported in newspapers throughout Victoria. Samuel was buried on 11 June 1872 at the Ballarat Old Cemetery. A dream dashed. His passion for life cut short. He didn’t make his fortune but did give his family a future in a new land. The Madder family grew and prospered. Samuel Madder is remembered as having a lust for life and a pioneering spirit. 

Notes:

(1)  www.heritagecity.org/research-centre/industrial-innovation/brewing. date accessed19 Nov 2012
(2)  PROV, Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871
(3)  www.heritagecity.org/research-centre/industrial-innovation/brewing. Date accessed 19 Nov 2012
(4)  www.collgenealogy.com/ date accessed 19 Nov 2012
(5)  Digger Pioneer Index Victoria 1836 – 1888 for all births and deaths of children in Australia
(6)  www.gold-net.com.au/maps1vicdetail.html date accessed 19 Nov 2012
(7)  www.egold.net.au/biogs/EG00089b.htm date accessed 20Nov 2012
(8)  www.lintonhistory.org.au/ date accessed 20 Nov 2012
(9)  PROV, 1872/511 Male Inquest Deposition File
(10) www.lintonhistory.org.au/ date accessed 20 Nov 2012

 

 MY PLACE IN THE MADDER FAMILY TREE

Samuel Madder (1826 - 1872)
Son of William Maddy and Sarah Woodstock

William Ernest Madder (1850 - 1927)
Son of Samuel Madder and Harriet Barlow

Nellie Beatrice Madder (1890 - 1966)
Daughter of William Ernest Madder and Catherine Richards

Betty Marie Dawson (1931 - )
Daughter of Nellie Beatrice Madder and Thomas Terence Dawson

Jillian Maria Nunn
Daughter of Betty Marie Dawson and Wallace John Nunn

 

BIBLIGRAPHY 

BOOKS
Gill, S T 1857, Victoria Illustrated, Sands & Kenny, Melbourne and Sydney

CD’s
Digger: Pioneer Index Victoria 1836 – 1888, 1998 CD-ROM The Register of Births, Deaths And Marriages, Melbourne

NEWSPAPERS & JOURNALS
Country News, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Thursday 13 June 1872 p 7
Title Deeds, The Government Gazette, 21 August 1868

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS
PROV VPRS 24/P0000/273 Inquest Deposition Files 1872/511 Male

WEBSITES
Ancestry Official Site – Discover Your Family’s Past viewed 17th – 24th November 2012

Macdonald J & Dash K, Isle of Coll Genealogy viewed 18th November 2012 

Gold Net Australia, Gold Maps, viewed 19th November 2012 

 Cultural Heritage Unit in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Electronic Encyclopedia of Gold in Australia, 2011 viewed 20th November 2012 

Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust, Brewing in Norwich, viewed 19th November 2012 

Linton & District Historical Society, A Brief History of Linton viewed 20th November 2012