Charles Evans' diary
Charles Evans' diary contains one of the few eyewitness accounts of the Eureka uprising at Ballarat, Victoria in December 1854, in which at least 20 miners died.
Measuring 12cm x 18.5cm, the diary is a vellum-bound octavo stock notebook containing 168 handwritten pages. Evans' entries span 16 months, from 24 September 1853 to 21 January 1855. They recount many of the key events associated with the uprising, from the burning of the Eureka Hotel to the bloody aftermath of the storming of the stockade.
Evans was an articulate, intelligent and lively diarist, who had strong opinions and a wry turn of phrase. His diary not only provides an important insight into a pivotal moment in Victorian history, but also vividly depicts the life of an enterprising young man during the colony's gold rushes. Evans was more often an observer rather than a participant in the events leading up to, and including, the Eureka uprising – during which he was a meticulous, yet judicious observer. While his sympathies were mostly with the diggers, he was also able to objectively assess both the events and diggers' demands.
Charles James Evans was born in Shropshire, England, and emigrated to Victoria in 1852 with his brother. An entrepreneurial figure, he ran a confectionery business in Brunswick which he later sold, and by the end of 1853 had established his Criterion Auction Mart beneath the miner's camp at Eureka. During this period Evans was also a partner in a printing office, and even tried his luck at digging for gold.
The diary was virtually unknown until it came to the attention of a librarian at Cann River in 1982. The original diary was sold to a private collector in 1996. The Library acquired it in 2006. The diary, which does not bear the author's name, was originally attributed to Samuel Lazarus, a nineteen year old from Liverpool who, much later, served as foreman of the jury that convicted Ned Kelly. Subsequent research has disproved Samuel Lazarus's authorship.
This item was inscribed on the UNESCO Australian memory of the world register in 2013.