Australia

The 1853 Petition of the Bendigo Goldfields:
The Start of the Australian Democracy.

Prospecting for Gold
The Roman Poet Virgil asked, “To what dost thous not compel the minds of mortals, accursed greed for gold?”

The Eureka Centre at Ballarat is situated close to where the Victorian Goldfield uprising took place.
On the list of names on the Petition, are those of John Cory and William Corry.

The first major discovery of gold was in 1851 in the state of Victoria at Buninyong  followed by discoveries at Ballerat and Bendigo. Thus by 1853, 60,000 diggers and their families had arrived in the state of Victoria with 23,000 of these at Bendigo. Conditions were tough and they were expected to buy a  monthly licence fee costing 30 shillings.  To enforce this licence the Government employed armed men, many of bad character so although the penalty for working a claim without a licence was a £5 fine, some of the law enforcers handed out their own form of rough justice.

In June 1853 an Anti-Gold Licence Association was formed and a petition was presented to Lieutenant Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe on 1st August 1853. As most of their demands were rejected, the diggers continued their protest with many also evading payment and finally at Ballarat in December 1854 came the violent Eureka Uprising. The Eureka Stockade was attacked by police and military forces and during the short battle, 22 diggers and 7 military were killed. Many diggers died later from their wounds and dozens of the rest were arrested. We do not know if either John or William played a part in this for their signatures on the petition could have been collected at any of the diggings. During the following year licences were abolished and the Miner’s Right was introduced. Two of the diggers’ leaders were elected as their representatives to the Victorian Parliament and this is now seen as the start of Australian Democracy.

In 1997 information came through our Newsletter (No 12) about a Cory family living in Ballarat. This was news of Thomas James Cory and his wife Lucy Ann Mellett née Lake, whose children, Maud Amelia, Frederick James and Lilian Mabel were born in Ballarat between 1878-88. The family moved frequently because Thomas was a Bible Christian minister and the births of the other children reflected this; Theodore Horatio was born at Sandhurst; William Henry and Herbert were born at Numurkah; Ruby Christiana (died at 18 months) at Carlton; and Evangeline Christiana was born at Clumberdown. After a lot of searching the Rev. Thomas James Cory (1850-1921) was discovered to be the uncle of  Eli Cory.


William Cory – Cornwall and Tasmania

William CORY was baptized in Jan 1805 at Tresmeer, Cornwall, the second son of William Cory & Thomasin Herring.

On 15th July 1823 a William Cory was committed to Launceston Gaol charged with stealing flour, the property of Henry Blewett. He was discharged “Ignoramus” (insufficient evidence for a conviction). We have no evidence that this was the same William Cory.

William CORY and Loveday BURDON (bapt 1806 Warbstow) were married on 25 Mar 1824. They had a son Richard CORY bapt 31 Oct 1824, but then Loveday died on 18 Jan 1826 in Jacobstow.

In 1830 William CORY was working (sojourner or journeyman) at Cordova Green, Lezant,where he met Elizabeth VENNER. They were married on 2 Dec 1830 in Lezant, by license. The 1841 census shows the family comprised of William Cory (35) agricultural labourer, and Elizabeth (25), William (10), George (8), Mary Ann (5), John (2), and also a Catherine Corry (12, niece) at Helson, Tresmeer. Only two years later, the Transportation Quarter Sessions list William Cory of St Stephen, labourer, charged with stealing wheat, barley, flour etc., from a James Blake. He was 38 years old when he appeared in court and was sentenced for 7 years and transportation to Van Dieman’s Land, leaving his wife and children in Cornwall.

In 1830 William CORY was working (sojourner or journeyman) at Cordova Green, Lezant,where he met Elizabeth VENNER. They were married on 2 Dec 1830 in Lezant, by license. The 1841 census shows the family comprised of William Cory (35) agricultural labourer, and Elizabeth (25), William (10), George (8), Mary Ann (5), John (2), and also a Catherine Corry (12, niece) at Helson, Tresmeer. Only two years later, the Transportation Quarter Sessions list William Cory of St Stephen, labourer, charged with stealing wheat, barley, flour etc., from a James Blake. He was 38 years old when he appeared in court and was sentenced for 7 years and transportation to Van Dieman’s Land, leaving his wife and children in Cornwall.

Port Arthur Prison.jpg
The Notorious Port Arthur Prison

After two years in Van Dieman’s Land, in 1846 William was sent to the Port Arthur prison, either because of further offences or because of his physical strength, to join the extensive forestry work felling trees and producing the wooden planks for shipbuilding. William Corry was given his freedom in 1851, after completing his seven-year sentence. As a convict who had received his ticket-of-leave, he was entitled to apply to have his wife and family sent out at government expense. He had to apply through his master, who forwarded the application to the Superintendent of Convicts, who applied to the Governor for approval. Applications were then sent to the Colonial Office in London and on to the Home Office. Depending on the number of available berths on the female convict ships chartered at the time, certain families were selected and, if they wished to go, were notified of the time and place of embarkation. Families had to get themselves to the point of embarkation. William applied for his family to join him and, with the exception of his first son, William (Venner) who was a miller at Torpoint, they all went to Van Diemen’s Land.

On the ship they were fed, clothed and on some ships the children received a rudimentary education. The families were listed separately on the embarkation lists, which often did not state numbers or names of the free women and children, but between 1820 and 1842 at least 297 wives and 643 children were sent out to join their husbands and fathers in Van Diemen’s Land.  It was thought that such a scheme would help to redress the imbalance of gender in the colonies and provide an incentive to good behaviour among the male convicts. In Britain the scheme received support from landowners and the church, who bore the burden of supporting wives and families of convicted men through poorhouses, which were financed by parishes.

The records at Tasmania show that William remained there until his death in 1881. A broken headstone in the Congregational Cemetery, Richmond, reads Elizabeth, beloved wife of William Corry, died Feb 21 1871, aged 58 years.


 Descendants Wanted-please get in touch
Descendants of Henry Cory (1826, London-1859 Kent Town, Australia)

The Cornwall page tells us a little about Richard Cory who had risen sufficiently through society until he was entertaining the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Alfred) at his house in Langdon Court in 1891.  Richard had three other brothers, William, Henry and James. See Corys from Cornwall

Henry Cory (1826, London-1859 Kent Town, Australia) emigrated to Adelaide, SA and married, in 1852, Catherine King (1833-1911). They had  two sons, William Southgate Cory (1884-1903) and Henry Cory (1857-1917). William had 3  sons and 4 daughters; Henry had 3 sons and a daughter. See the new pedigree table Stratton Australia F6 updated with information provided by a recent contact.

If any of the male Corys are still living, they will be the only Cory named descendants of William Cory, the lad from Week St Mary, who went up to London to seek his fortune. We would welcome news of his descendants.

Please E mail: cory@one-name.org


Other Cory lines that arrived in Australia are:

  • John Cory (1832-1913) born Shottery in Warwickshire married Julie Corcoran in Kilanoola Station, Robe, South Australia in 1867. See Shottery Corys in Warwickshire
  • Gilbert Cory (1812-1896) born Holsworthy, Devon, married Charlotte Haines in   East Maitland, New South Wales in 1876. His grandson, Stan Cory was a Cairns barrister who was appointed acting Chief Justice to the High Court of the Republic of Kiribati. ( Extract from the Cairns Post, 2 Mar 1995).  Everill Taylor wrote about Gilbert’s family in The History of the Cory Family. Follow this family via these links:  the English Corys Holsworthy pedigree tables AustralianH1 to H12   Newsletters and  Corys in Devon
  • Professor Suzanne Cory (Awarded Royal Medal in London, 2002) granddaughter of Theodore Horatio Cory (1883-1940) Tree 2 Lifton, Devon.. See Newsletter No 29.