THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD AT
CONCLUSION OF THE EVIDENCE.
The select committee of the Legislative Assembly appointed to inquire as to the dis- coverer of the Bendigo gold-field met yesterday at the Parliament-house, under the presidency
of Mr. Bailes, M.L.A.
The secretary read a letter which had been received from Mr. Robert Atkinson, who was connected with Mr. Frencham in 1851. The letter stated that in 1851 Mr. Atkinson was one of a party engaged in gold digging at Forest Creek, Mr. Henry Frencham being also of the party. While at Forest Creek they received information from a one-armed man named Byass that gold had been dis-
covered at Bendigo, and after some
consideration decided to go there. On arrival they found a man and a woman, whose names Mr. Atkinson did not remember, engaged in gold digging, who informed the party they had succeeded in finding some of the metal. Mr. Atkinson was therefore convinced that Mr. Frencham's claim to be the discoverer of the Ben- digo gold-field had no foundation what- ever, although the party might fairly claim to have been the first to utilise the cradle on that field for the purpose of washing gold.
Joshua Norris, South Yarra, said that in October, 1851, he was in company with William Stuart on the Bendigo gold-field. He there met Graham and Bannister, who said they had found gold. That was about the middle of October. Frencham came about a week afterwards.
Mr. Frencham addressed the committee on the evidence that had been given, Atkin- son was his partner, and was sent down to give information as to the discovery, and re- turned bringing blasting appliances. Captain Harrison, who had one arm, or rather a wounded hand, was amongst those who came with the rush after Atkinson gave news of the discovery. Harrison himself never claimed to be the discoverer. He (Mr. Frencham) could not understand Mr. Atkinson's extraordinary letter. The state- ments that he (Mr. Frencham) had made were absolutely true ; and the information possessed by the other claimants as to dates, &c., had been gleaned from his letters pub- lished in The Argus and other papers. He would point out that Mr. Fenton said nothing about his alleged discovery for 37 years. It was stated in evidence that Mr. Fenton sent down a man named Byass to announce the discovery ; but Mr. Fenton was then the owner of a valuable holding, and was it likely he would bring, about a rush there. He (Mr. Frencham) not only first discovered gold, but proclaimed the fact far and wide. He saw no gold till he found it himself, and that once and for all, he would maintain.
Mr. Fenton explained that he had not troubled himself about the mattter until some two years ago, when the question was re- vived in Sandhurst. The statement that he sent Byass down was supported by a statu- tory declaration made by Mrs. Allsopp.
The CHAIRMAN.—Are you aware that Mrs. Allsopp is still alive.
The CHAIRMAN.—I believe she was at one time a servant with you?
The CHAIRMAN.—Can you tell the com- mittee how it is she has not attended to give
Mr. Fenton.—She declined to attend.
This concluded the evidence to be laid
before the committee.