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Further Unrest

Additional events inflamed the politically charged atmosphere in Ballarat. On 6 October 1854, the Scottish miner James Scobie was murdered at the Eureka hotel. Ten days later between 5,000 and 10,000 miners gathered at the Eureka Hotel to protest that James Bentley, the hotel owner and key murder suspect had not been charged. Bentley was a business partner of one of the Gold Commission officials and his acquittal was seen as government corruption. Bentley’s hotel was burnt down and he and his wife fled the gold fields.

On 23 October 1854 as result of the arrests of miners, McIntyre and Fletcher for the Eureka Hotel fire, a mass meeting assembled which attracted 4,000 miners. The meeting established a “Digger’s Right Society”, to uphold their rights. Nine days later, 1 November 1854, 3,000 miners met again at Bakery Hill and were addressed by key speakers, such as the Chartists, Thomas Kennedy and Henry Holyoake. The miners were further incensed by the arrest of another seven from amongst their ranks for the Eureka Hotel fire.

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