Thursday, October 27, 2011

Melting Cheques on the Spree

Bush Inn near Ipswich - note Aboriginal Man and Woman

We’ll have a spree in town,
We’ll live like pigs in clover,
And it’s many the cheque
Poured down the neck,
Of many a Queensland drover.[1]

In 1854, a correspondent to the Moreton Bay Courier lamented the scale of intemperance in Ipswich.[2]

I believe that much of the ill-repute arises from the periodical influx of careless and thirsty fools, who earn their money in the bush, and "melt their cheques" in Ipswich. At the same time there is one practice to which I feel that I ought to call imperatively the attention both of the public and of the public authorities. I allude to the practice of selling liquors on the Sunday, a practice carried to an outrageous extent by the publicans, and disgracefully winked at by the constables.

Nicholas Street, Ipswich (Central Hotel is on the left)

Those “on the spree” continued their debauch even on the Lord’s Day.

The scenes which arise hence are most offensive to all lovers of decency, and especially to all who desire to see the Sabbath day kept holy. One instance, among many, will serve. It was communicated to me by one of the most respected inhabitants of this town, with a special   request that I would make it public. As this gentleman was passing a certain public house in or near Little Ipswich, on Sunday, 17th ult., at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, four or five men turned cut in the street, from the said public house, stripped naked to the waist, to have a fight, and this in the sight of a congregation returning from the worship of God.

The Spree often had much more serious outcomes.[3]

MURDERS AND SUICIDE.--We have just been made acquainted by a bush correspondent with the following particulars of a dreadful catastrophe, which occurred at a public-house. Two men, it appears, have been murdered, and one of the murderers has been apprehended, while the other committed suicide, preferring to fly into the presence of his Maker rather than meet an earthly tribunal.

Roughly Built Bush Hotel
 It would appear that a number of persons had been drinking about the inn, and, on some quarrel ensuing, one of them took up a gun and shot another dead on the spot; another, who was a shoemaker, residing in the neighbourhood, took up a tomahawk, and felled another man (a shepherd), who had been on the spree, to the ground, and knocked out his brains.

The person who perpetrated this cowardly deed went a short distance, and committed self-destruction by cutting his throat, which was so dreadfully mangled by the wound that he died almost instantaneously. The other murderer, who used the gun to affect his dastardly purpose, was apprehended. We have no reason to suppose there was any cause other than a drunken riot to account for the whole affair; indeed, so reckless are our bush people in their cups that it is surprising more murders do not occur.

Others on the spree took advantage of their visit to town to get married and not for the most honourable purposes.[4]

Who is there with any lengthened experience of the interior of the country that has not seen the ill effects of men coming to town and marrying the first young woman who will, at a moment's notice, go with them to church? Many men, reckless of consequences to themselves or others, get married without any intention of living with their wives, or supporting them after the few days or weeks during which they are bent on amusing themselves?

Wedding Party in front of a Bush Hotel

When their "spree" is over they are off up the country again, leaving their deluded victims, most likely not the first they have so served, to a life of misery and shame. This is often the commencement of their career with many of the unfortunate young women who crowd our streets. Then in nearly all the cases brought to trial before the criminal courts, it appears that the female witnesses are married women, but not living with their husbands.

Some characters would go to extraordinary lengths to prolong their spree.[5]

Charles King, an old offender, was charged with drunkenness. This was the same old joker who, some time since, pretended to have been bitten by a black snake and had his thumb amputated, which story, it will be remembered, he told for the purpose of raising means longer to continue "a spree" he was then indulging in.

For those men working in the bush, often alone for long periods, the prospect of a spree was a sustaining thought.  But often the cycle of work and sprees would become their way of life.[6]

The bushman, shepherd, or stockman, has, in numberless instances, to lead a life which renders him almost reckless of consequences to himself, and too frequently does he console himself in his solitude with the thought that he will soon reach the end of his term of service, and then be free to enjoy a few days' "spree" at the nearest public-house, in squandering the proceeds of his labour.

In the majority of such cases, we can well believe that the men would be glad to have a chance of acting otherwise. The better nature which will occasionally exercise its influence in the worst specimens of humanity, recoils with horror from the wantonness in which they are apt to indulge, and, if the chance did but offer for saving either for their own benefit or that of others - some of their hard earnings, they would not need much persuasion to avail themselves of the opportunity.

As a consequence of the sprees, the bushman did not succeed in saving much money.[7]

Bush Hotel
Persons belonging to the working class in the bush are much better off than those who reside in the towns. They receive wages ranging between the extremes of £30 and £100 per annum, with board and lodging, and their necessary expenses need not exceed ten pounds a year. Taking the most extravagant estimate of expenditure, there is no person employed in the bush who could not lay by at least half of his income. But what is the fact?

The servants employed by the squatters, when their period of service is expired, whether three, or six, or twelve months, find themselves in possession of a considerable sum of money, and know of no other way to spend it, except in the public house. The bush publican keeps them in a state of intoxication for three or four days; makes a pretence of charging them nothing for board and lodging whilst they are "knocking down the cheque;" and if he is a liberal man gives them a bottle of rum when they are about to depart, after he has swindled them out of half their money.

The victim then returns to his comfortless life and scanty fare as a shepherd or a bushman, with no other hope to relieve the dull monotony of his existence than the prospect of having, in the course of a few months more, another miserable "spree."

The ultimate spree ended in an all-in brawl as happened in Queen Street, Brisbane in 1863.[8]

STREET DISTURBANCE. - Queen-street was, yesterday afternoon, the scene of one of the most discreditable disturbances that has been witnessed in the city for many a day. About three o'clock a well-known public-house loafer named Roche interfered with a party of seamen who were evidently bent on a "spree" together, and being in a quarrelsome mood he was in consequence very roughly handled. The unfortunate fellow was kicked and cuffed by ten or a dozen able bodied men, any one of whom was a match for him, still he made a show to fight against tho lot.

Brisbane Bridge Hotel
At this stage the police came up and interfered to quell the row; but their interference was resisted. Constable Gallagher was seized by one brawny fellow and held round the body and arms while three or four others punched away at his head and with fiendish malignity tore out his beard and the hair of his head by the roots. Sergeant Gorman soon measured his length on the ground, and was brutally kicked while down.

 A crowd speedily collected, and Mr. Patrick Mayne[9] and a Mr. Thomas came to the aid of the police, and succeeded in at least beating off their assailants. The prime mover in the quarrel, Roche, was taken into custody, and eventually locked up. By the time assistance arrived from the Central Police Station the field was nearly clear of the rioters. However, Sergeant Coffey marked down one man, and, giving chase, managed, after a smart spurt, to secure him in Adelaide-street. 

Queen Street, Brisbane

Contemporary Image of the Ship Inn

Sergeant Lang, later in the evening, apprehended another of the rioters at the Ship Inn, where he had been secreted under a bed. An incipient attempt at rescue was stopped by the appearance of a reinforcement of constables to back up the sergeant. Nothing has been heard of the others at a late hour last night. The two prisoners last named are known to have belonged to the notorious crew of the "Jessie Munn"[10]

 © K. C. Sbeghen, 2011.

[1] Colonial folk song.
[2] The Moreton Bay Courier 7.10.1854
[3] The Moreton Bay Courier 26.5.1849
[4] The Moreton Bay Courier 7.5.1859
[5] The Moreton Bay Courier 12.4.1860
[6] The Courier 21.7.1862
[7] The Courier 23.9.1862
[8] The Courier 14.1.1863
[9]  The infamous murderer - see The Mayne Inheritance
[10] Government Emigrant Ship.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Colonial Brisbane’s Mean Streets

Albert Street is now at the heart of the Central Business District, lined with cafes and book shops.  In the middle of the 19th Century it was home to a different trade as the main red light enclave, frequented by prostitutes and street toughs, and largely tolerated by the police force.  Now and then the local press would receive correspondence from an outraged citizen.[1]


A movement is being set on foot to cleanse the city from the moral cancers which are eating away the very foundations of decency and respectability. The efforts of these good people will be utterly futile - or almost so - if they have not the strong arm of the law to aid them. Vested interests in some of the worst streets are so influential that even law can he made subversive to their powers.

Albert Street

The owners of property in - say Albert-street - are wealthy men; they derive large rents from brothel-keepers and others of ill-fame and it is a notorious fact that the tenants of these places are allowed to carry on their disgusting occupations right under the noses of the authorities, whereas in any other city in the colonies they would at least be sent to a suburb or a back street.

Another correspondent, signing himself “Ratepayer”, found the street scenes confronting for decent citizens and their families.[2]


Sir,-Let us invite the mayor and aldermen to the East Ward, and for the fair fame of the city there should be no delay. Let no personal motives stop them in rooting out this nursery of crime in Albert and Charlotte streets; consult with the Commissioner of Police; indict all the brothels, and scatter the whole mob. Look into these dens, and you may see fat, strong, defiant creatures.

The females are of the lowest, often in a semi-nude state, get drunk, and fight, using the most horrid language, and this, mind you, when people are passing to and from the Gardens.

Dining Rooms on Albert Street

The males are those rascals who hang about Queen-street, from Albert-street to the Royal Hotel, watching people in and out of the banks. These vagabonds say they follow a trade, and have a shop - so they have, but it is a mere sham as regards honest trading.

The worst feature in the case is that there are a lot of children about   these creatures. Only the other night two little girls not higher than my watch-chain tried to stop me. What may we expect as they grow, and what is the temptation to the youth of all classes?

An ugly confrontation took place a year before at the corner of Edward and Charlotte streets, which soon developed into a full scale riot.[3]


Caricature of a Larrikin

Brisbane, like some of the older cities of the south, is becoming notorious for larrikinism. It has its dens of infamy, and unless prompt and severe measures are taken, it will not be safe for respectable persons to walk its streets after dark.

 A most disgraceful affray took place on Thursday evening, at the comer of Edward and Charlotte streets, which makes one feel ashamed of our boasted civilisation. A constable had apprehended a fellow for creating a disturbance, and whilst leading him off to the lockup was set upon by a number of rowdies determined upon setting all law at defiance, and resolved at all costs upon rescuing the offender.

A large number of larrikins had assembled at the place above mentioned, it would seem by arrangement, and a row occurred such as has been seldom witnessed here. At first it seemed as if the rowdies were to have it all their own way, for the two or three policemen present were powerless, and received, some exceedingly rough treatment, one of them particularly, who laboured against fearful odds most pluckily, being treated in an unmerciful manner.

Queen Street from the corner of Edward Street looking south 1883

The telephone, however, was brought into requisition, and speedily a strong force of police arrived from the station, and after some desperate fighting succeeded in locking up about ten or a dozen of the ring leaders of the mob.

The locality where the affray took place is the lowest in the city, and is notorious for its brothels and its disreputable characters. The affair has of course given rise to complaints about the inadequacy of our police protection, and if reports be true that this consists of a solitary policeman for our principal streets it is high time that the matter was stirred up and pressure brought to bear upon the authorities.

Brothels were not the safest of places to frequent.  They were often the scene of robberies, the ladies taking advantage of drunken clients.  This often ended in violence.[4]

Police Courts on Elizabeth Street (note the telephone wires - one per subscriber)


Thomas Herd alias Simmons was charged with assaulting and wounding John Sheen in a brothel. Both men, however, appeared in the dock - one of the nymphs having given Sheen in charge for assault and battery.

Sheen deposed: Yesterday morning about 1 o'clock, a young woman came up to me in George street and asked me to go home with her; I went; defendant’s wife opened the door and we entered; besides Mrs. Herd, who lives in the adjoining house, and the girl with me, I saw a man and woman who were in bed; Mrs. Herd asked me for some money, but I declined, saying that I was going home.

I made towards the door but the girl who accompanied me pulled me back, she said, "Give the missus the money and it will be all right," I replied, "No I am going home," with that Mrs. Herd went out, I was following, when defendant entered at the front door, came straight up to me, and without speaking, stabbed me in the eye with a bread knife.

Defendant then made off, and I went towards the door to look after him, when a girl who was in the house got up and shoved me back into the room ; she then ran to the fireplace picked up either an iron bar or a stick, and came towards me, when I knocked her down, one of the two other women, I cannot tell which, got me by the scarf, but I made my escape, found a policeman in Queen-street, and gave defendant into custody.

Corner of Charlotte and Edward Streets

But then Sheen was also arrested - for assaulting the girl.

Sheen was given into custody by Mary Lee, whom found in the street looking for a policeman, her eyes were nearly closed, and her face was swollen and bloody, she was in her nightdress.

Mrs. Herd deposed: About one o'clock I heard Polly, who was in the next house cry "murder." I jumped up, and, with nothing but my dress on, ran into the next house, where the screaming came from. 

Polly was on the floor, and the man (Sheen) was  kicking her with the heel of his boot on the face and head, I pulled her from under him, and put her into Mrs. Herd's bed, in the next house;    

Mary Lee, who was next called, appeared with her head and face partially bound up; an ugly gash, however, was visible near one of her eyes, she said her face was nothing to her body, Sheen had been the assailant.

At this stage of the proceedings, Mr Inspector Lewis, who had come into Court only a short time before, said that, from inquiries he had made, he was satisfied that Herd did not strike the blow with the knife; he would, therefore, withdraw the charge, he thought there had been blame on both sides -Both cases were then dismissed.

Boarding House, Albert Street

Few brothel keepers were prosecuted but now and then, one was made an example of by the Courts.[5]


Robert Fitt, found guilty of this offence on the previous day, was brought up for sentence.
His Honour, in passing sentence, said the prisoner had been convicted upon the very clearest testimony of the offence with which he was charged.

He (the prisoner) had a business, and could have earned an honest livelihood; but he preferred to keep and harbor women leading the most abandoned life women could live. He had descended to the lowest and filthiest occupation a man could stoop to.

 Out of the miserable and abominable earnings of these wretched women he wrung large sums of money. In his hands they were white slaves, and he was their master.

The punishment which he should inflict should be a severe one, not so much to make the prisoner suffer - far from it. The object of the law was to repress such crimes as these, and suppress such houses as the prisoner had kept open.

The prisoner was then sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment, with hard labour.

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2011.

[1] Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton 18.4.1882
[2] The Brisbane Courier 22.4.1882
[3] The Capricornian 29.1.1881
[4] The Brisbane Courier 22.9.1871
[5] The Brisbane Courier 7.3.1877

Friday, October 14, 2011

Highway Robbery on the Ipswich Road

Colonial Mail Coach

In 1867, The Brisbane Courier published a hostile letter from a correspondent who gave the sobriquet Polly, questioning the mettle of the local male residents.[1]

SIR,-When I heard of the robbery of her Majesty's mail this morning - how eight or ten brave fellows surrendered their liberty and cash, and the mail bag, to a solitary man upon a grey horse - my heart beat with indignation, and I wished I had been there to have taken care of them, and so have prevented the indignity. Really, Sir, I think gentlemen ought not to go alone on such journeys. They ought to have the protection of the ladies.

Masked Bushrangers Sticking Up a Coach

But Polly’s reading of the incident was not quite fair. It was true that there was only one bushranger involved – usually there would be a gang. When the mounted highwayman, brandishing a revolver, appeared on the road to Brisbane, the coachman, to his credit, initially tried to outrun him.[2]

The usual morning coach left Ipswich yesterday for Brisbane at 6 o’clock. When about a quarter of a mile on this side of the Half-way house, and about two miles on the other side of Oxley Creek, a man was seen to ride out of the bush with his face covered up with a piece of sacking, with openings for his sight. The robber rode up alongside the coach, with pistol in hand, and peremptorily called out to the coachman to stop. Mackenzie did not care to comply with this demand, and whipped his horses on to full speed, and proceeded for a quarter of a mile at this pace, the robber keeping up with the coach.

Brisbane Terrace, Goodna

The masked outlaw was not about to be put off, pointing his firearm at head of the lead horse.[3]

The bushranger then fired a shot at the leading horse, and rode to the other side of the coach and presented the pistol he carried with him at the driver, who naturally drew himself back in his seat, as far as he could, to avoid the shot. Tho robber rode round to the other side again and repeated the experiment; and the driver, believing that the horse had been wounded, pulled up.

The driver had not given up yet. He was still reluctant to surrender to the masked bandit.

One of the inside passengers, Mr. Robertson, of the Lands and Works Department, passed up a revolver, which he carried with him, to the coachman, who lost no time in covering his assailant with it, and attempting to fire it. Unfortunately, however, for justice, and fortunately for the robber, who would otherwise have undoubtedly been shot, the pistol, which was provided with a hair trigger - the mechanism of which the driver did not understand, - would not go off.

Bushman with Revolver

The desperado now emboldened by his good fortune, proceeded to relieve the passengers of their cash, following the standard procedure of a mail coach “stick-up".

The robber then ordered the passengers to get out of the coach, and, some of them manifesting reluctance to do so, he presented the pistol at them. All having got out, he ordered them to throw any money they had about them down on the grass, and to be quick about it, which the passengers proceeded to do forthwith. The money which was thus compulsorily contributed, and which was in silver, gold, and notes, amounted to about £10 or £15, or perhaps more.

While this was being done the robber ordered the coachman to turn his horses’ heads towards Ipswich, and to drive back from the road, which he did. After taking the money which had been thrown on the ground by the passengers, the robber took the mail bag in his hand, vaulted into the saddle, and rode off into the bush.

Colonial Police Inspector

The coach continued on its way to Brisbane Town and raised the alarm. A reward of £50 was soon offered and group of mounted police despatched to pick up the trail of the bandit. The description provided of the highwayman was scanty.

The robber was indifferently mounted, and had on long boots, and a flannel shirt.

The driver was exonerated of any complicity and the mail bag soon recovered - thoughtfully left by the robber hanging on a fence, along with his mask.  It was calculated that his haul from the letters was no more than £2.  The horse was found abandoned a few days later without saddle and bridle, indicating the bushranger had changed horses.  It emerged that the horse had been stolen from an Ipswich resident.[4]

A day or two after the robbery of the Brisbane mail, a horse belonging to Mr. Johnston of Little Ipswich and Nicholas-street was identified by several persons as the one ridden by the bushranger. It had been stolen from Mr. Johnston a few days before - was seen in Little Ipswich[5], with a man on it who is known, on the evening of the robbery – and was found next morning without saddle or bridle on the road.

Cosmopolitan Hotel, Warwick

Now identified by Ipswich locals, it emerged that the highwayman was one Bill Jenkins.  He was captured just one week after the robbery, but not before he enjoyed a spree at a hotel in Warwick.  The Queensland Times carried the following report.[6]

It is reported in town that Jenkins, the supposed mail robber, was in Warwick last week, drinking and spreeing about under the very eyes of the police, who did not seem to have the slightest idea that he was the individual whose presence is so much required in this locality. It is also stated that Jenkins has since been apprehended on the borders of New South Wales while making the best of his way towards that colony.

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2011.

[1] The Brisbane Courier 8.1.1867
[2] The Brisbane Courier 8.1.1867
[3] The Brisbane Courier 8.1.1867
[4] The Brisbane Courier 21.1.1867
[5] Now called West Ipswich.
[6] Queensland Times 2.2.1867

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Queensland or Cooksland?

If the Reverend Doctor John Dunmore Lang had his way in 1859, the new colony of Queensland would have been named after the great navigator, Captain James Cook.

Portrait of Dr. Lang
J. D. Lang (1799-1878), was born in Scotland and first came to Australia in 1823 as a clergyman to establish a Presbyterian Church in Sydney.  During his long career in the colonies he was variously an entrepreneur, politician, prolific writer, newspaper proprietor, and lifelong clergyman.  He was an enthusiastic advocate of many causes including the end of convict transportation, assisted emigration, cotton-growing.  He established a mission to the aborigines at the Morton Bay Settlement.

Dr. Lang was a tall imposing man and was possessed of a boundless energy and passion for the issues he promoted. He was a true mover and shaker, fearless and not afraid of a fight. Reportedly a difficult man to work with, he also made many enemies. Writing in his own newspaper in Sydney, one of the targets of his vitriol took offence and he was jailed for libel for four months.

Lang was a prominent and early advocate for the Moreton Bay District to be separated from New South Wales and suggested that it be called Cooksland.  In 1851 he addressed a meeting in Brisbane[1]:

With reference to the name of Cooksland, which was applied in the petition to this territory, he considered that such was only a faint tribute of respect to the memory of England's greatest navigator, Captain Cook, who, in the month of May, 1777, had discovered Moreton Bay.

Title page of Lang's book promoting Cooksland
Lang first mentioned the name Cooksland in a book[2] he wrote on a voyage to England to promote emigration to the Moreton Bay Settlement and the establishment of a cotton growing industry.  His plan was to lobby the cotton barons of Manchester to support his scheme financially. He emphasised the securing of a reliable cotton supply from Australia as an alternative to the slave-produced product from America.[3]

But the circumstance that must render the territory of Cooksland peculiarly interesting, as a field for extensive emigration and colonization, to all philanthropic and Christian men, and especially to a great manufacturing community like that of Manchester, is the practicability of applying European and British labour in that country to the production of an article of prime necessity in the manufactures of Britain, which is supplied to us exclusively at present by foreigners with the labour of slaves.

Some correspondents were of the opinion that Lang was guilty of arrogance in assuming the power to rename parts of the Australian Colonies.[4]

At the present moment there are many places in Australia ready for a population of industrious   persons. The portion of the island which the author, in his wisdom, calls Cooksland is, perhaps, the most eligible; but, before proceeding further, a word or two on the name. To rescue the nomenclatures of Australia from "Downing Street and parliamentary incapacity" our modest author takes upon himself to give fresh names to different portions of the country.

Lang was an enthusiastic spruiker of the attractions of Cooksland, even if he tended to”guild the lily”.[5]

Having shown that Cooksland was at every fifty miles intersected by a river navigable for steamboats of 100 tons, for a distance inwards of from thirty to eighty miles - the average breadth of the territory, up to the range of mountains which skirted it, and which run parallel with the sea, being about sixty miles. All the products of tropical climates might be grown there, including cotton. On the banks of the rivers favourable to steam navigation, there was a boundless quantity of land ready for the plough; and an agricultural population settled thereon would have advantages of soil and climate, and means of communication, such as were enjoyed in no other country on the face of the globe.

Brisbane Town 1862

In 1856 Lang took part in the drafting of the petition to Queen Victoria to create the new Colony of Cooksland.[6]

That it has been suggested from time to time for a series of years past, and with general approval, that the Moreton Bay country should, in the event of its being erected into a separate colony, be designated the colony of Cooksland, in honour of its illustrious discoverer, Captain Cook, to whom, your Majesty is aware, the British nation has hitherto neglected to rear any befitting memorial in the great empire of the future which he discovered for his country and for the whole civilised world.

Your Majesty's petitioners therefore humbly pray that in consideration of the premises, your Majesty will be graciously pleased to separate the district of Moreton Bay from the colony of New South Wales, and to erect it into a separate colony under the designation of the colony of Cooksland.

The general approval Lang assumed for the name Cooksland was not, however, universal.[7]


To the Editor of the Moreton Bay Courier.
SIR, We hope soon to celebrate the annunciation of our new Northern Colony. I have heard an objection raised to the proposed name of "Cooksland" as not being euphonious. Without wholly sympathising with such an objection―one which may be considered insignificant compared with the propriety of perpetuating the name of one of the earliest English discoverers of Australia, I think there is another name which might be equally acceptable. 

It is that of "Eugenia." We have already had Victoria and Adelaide chronicled in our Australian Colonial Records. Eugenia, it seems to me would not be unworthy to rank by their side. It would be a well merited―an esteemed―compliment to the French nation. 

In such names also we have precedents in the old American colonies―Virginia, Carolina, and Florida, are names which have been enrolled in history, and will yet become more illustrious.

Another alternative name suggested was the decidedly unimaginative, North Australia. Dr. Lang was decidedly unenthusiastic.[8]

But why does Mr. Thomson designate that colony North Australia, repeating the same Downing-street absurdity as in South Australia, which is actually considerably farther north than Port Phillip? What designation will there be in reserve for the two colonies—for there will eventually be two—to the northward of Moreton Bay[9], if that designation is already appropriated for a colony to the southward of both? I have myself suggested Cooksland, in honour of the illustrious discoverer of Moreton Bay, as a measure of mere historical justice. Let any person suggest one that shall either be more richly merited or more appropriate, and I shall certainly not dispute about a name.

The much-adored Queen Victoria
Ultimately, in the spirit of the obsession with Queen Victoria throughout the Empire in the 19th Century, the Colonial Office in London dropped the “Cooks” in favour of “Queens” in assigning the name of the new colony in 1859. A local wit suggested that the idea should be extended to other features of the colony.[10]

As the Colonial Office has been pleased to call our colony by the euphonious name of Queensland, we should endeavour to harmonise the names, and make a similarity to prevent misunderstanding. We therefore propose, with all modesty, that the name of the Bay be Queensbay, and that the name of the capital be Queenstown or Queensburgh,   whichever it may please the people to assent to; but that in no wise should we permit the capital of Queensland to retain the name it at present bears.

A friend of ours has been very witty in accounting for the discarding of the name of Cooksland in its application to the colony. He says that name smells too strongly of the kitchen; and that the name given by the Colonial Secretary is far more appropriate.

A patriotic poem praising the name appeared in the local press.  The final verse sums up the poets feelings on the subject.[11]

True, Captain Cook glanced at the Bay,
Where lovely Brisbane winds its way,
And some called this Cooksland;
But we have better still, our Queen,
Than Captain Cook or other men,
It shall be called Queensland.

In his inimitable way, the Reverend Doctor Lang refused to let the subject rest.  The last words on the subject are left to him.[12]

There was a meeting in the Sydney School of Arts last night, for the purpose of making arrangements to collect funds for a statue to Captain Cook, when the doctor indulged his audience with the following interesting personal anecdote and elegant poetical quotation:—

"When he (Dr. Lang) arrived in the colony, that order of things had passed. It was not Sir Thomas Brisbane's name but that of the real Governor in those days, the Colonial Secretary, Major Goulburn, whose name was everywhere repeated. And participating in the sentiments of the two gentlemen he had just mentioned, he (Dr. Lang) wrote a few stanzas, one of which contained a number of native names, and another reprobated the spirit of which he had just alluded in these words :—  
Colonial Secretary Goulburn

I hate your Goulburn towns and Goulburn plains,
The Goulburn River and the Goulburn range,
Mount Goulburn and Goulburn vale;
One's brain's are turned with Goulburn.
Vile scorbutic manage for immortality.
Had I the reins of Government a fortnight, I would give
The country names that should deserve to live.

(Cheers.) And one of the first names he would give to this great south land was the name of the illustrious discoverer of this country, whom they were met to honour. (Cheers.) He (Dr. Lang) once took the liberty of affixing that name as the title of a work he published in London, in 1847, proposing after expressing the usual diffidence that authors are troubled with, that the Moreton Bay country should be called after that illustrious navigator Cooksland. (Cheers.)

Henry Pelham Pelham-Clinton,
5th Duke of Newcastle
And although the proposal had been ridiculed in this country not a little, Lady Franklin, relict of the famous navigator, Sir John Franklin, who had frequent opportunities of hearing the opinions of captains and admirals of the navy, and other official persons in Somerset House, had told him (Dr. Lang) that these naval gentlemen were all highly pleased at the idea of giving the name of our illustrious discoverer to some portion of this Australian land. (Cheers.)

 Even the Times newspaper of the day approved of the idea in one of their leading articles. But the Duke of Newcastle, who had the ordering of these matters in his hand, thought it better that a second of our Australian colonies should bear the name of her Majesty the Queen. He (Dr. Lang) thought, as the name of her Majesty had been already given to one colony (Victoria), that one might be spared for the name of the illustrious navigator; but it was deemed otherwise in high quarters."

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2011.

[1] The Moreton Bay Courier 29.11.1851
[2] Cooksland: The Future Cotton-Field of Great Britain, (London: Longmans, 1847)
[3] The Moreton Bay Courier 7.8.1847
[4] The Moreton Bay Courier 29.1.1848
[5] The Moreton Bay Courier 11.3.1848
[6] The Moreton Bay Courier 26.1.1856
[7] The Moreton Bay Courier 29.3.1856
[8] The Moreton Bay Courier 6.6.1857
[9] Lang was in favour of two other colonies based on capitals at Rockhampton and Townsville.
[10] The Moreton Bay Courier 20.7.1859
[11] The Moreton Bay Courier 30.7.1859
[12] The Queenslander 29.7.1863