John Powell 1820

Place of migration:
Migrated to/Born in Australia

John POWELL was born about 1820 in the small townland of Affick near Tulla in County Clare, Ireland.  He was the fourth son of Cornelius POWELL and Mary MARONEY. When John was about 20, he and his older brother, Cornelius, left London for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on the 'Neptune' and arrived on 29 March 1841.  On the voyage, they accompanied Connor POWELL, a blacksmith, emigrated to Australia from Tulla, County Clare, with his then spouse, Ellen POWELL (nee CAHIR) and 6 children (Michael (15 & 1/2), Patrick (13), Dennis (11), Martin (3), Maria (6) and Margaret (6 mths)).

John met and married Catherine DONOHUE (c1832-1909) on 27 June 1847 at St Mary's Catholic Church, Geelong.  Catherine was from County Galway and she arrived in Australia with her parents aboard the 'Frankfield' on 7 June 1841. Her parents were among the first settlers at Barrabool Hills, now Highton, a suburb of Geelong.

After his arrival in Victoria, John POWELL's occupations changed. He was a miner at the Ballarat goldfields in the early 1850s and later a labourer and blacksmith. He was labouring when he died in 1899.

The following extract was taken from an article published in The Camperdown Chronicle in 1932.  In the article, John POWELL (1848-1933), the eldest son of John POWELL (c1820-1899) and Catherine DONOHUE (c1832-1909), reminisces about his life in the Camperdown district.  In the course of doing so, John mentions his father's involvement in the Eureka Stockade.

 'His parents spent several years in Geelong after coming out to Australia from County Clare, Ireland, before going on to Ballarat soon after gold was discovered at Golden Point in October 1851.  His father followed up mining pursuits and was doing so when the riots between the police and miners occurred in 1854.  It was the first conflict arising from political causes between a section of the Australian people and constituted authority.  John Powell's father became actively interested in the turmoil and it was while going to work one morning that he was met by the police and arrested.  His home was within half a mile of the Eureka Stockade that had been erected by the miners, and the mother and large family were very much upset at the imprisonment of the head of the house.  The Ballarat riots were brought about by drastic action by the police, acting under authority from the Colonial Secretary, Leslie Vesey Foster Fitzgerald, in inflicting a heavy toll for miners' licences.  The riots reached a climax on 4 December 1854 [should read, 3 December 1854], when at daybreak that morning, 100 mounted men and 176 foot of regular troops and police stormed the Eureka Stockade held by the miners, who are believed to have been about 250 strong, many half armed only, and led by Peter Lalor and an Hanoverian named Vern.  In twenty minutes all was over, the discipline of the attacking force soon prevailing.  The troops lost two officers and six men killed and twelve wounded, while the insurgents had 26 men killed and many wounded, amongst whom was Lalor, who lost an arm.  Of 125 miners who were arrested, all but 13 were acquitted and these latter were subsequently liberated.  Peter Lalor was subsequently made Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria and knighted.  A Royal Commission was appointed regarding the trouble with the miners and the fee exacted for permission to dig for gold. And the recommendations made by the Commission formed the foundation for the goldfields legislation of all the colonies.  Although only six years of age at the time, Mr John Powell can remember Peter Lalor whom he saw before the riots and afterwards when he was getting about minus an arm'. 
A quick check of Eureka Stockade websites confirms John POWELL's involvement.  For instance, <>, provides a list of some 20 prisoners, including John POWELL, who were discharged before the Police Court, Ballarat, on 8 December 1854  'there being no evidence against them to warrant a committal'.  John Powell's name is also listed in 'Arrests at Eureka: Witnesses at the Eureka Trials' at   <

'POWELL, JOHN He was a miner and was arrested on 3 December 1854 after the storming of the Eureka Stockade.  He was subsequently released by the authorities without being charged.' 'The Eureka Encyclopedia' by Justin Corfield, Dorothy Wickham, Clare Gervasoni, Ballarat, Vic. : Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004, at page 434.  According to  'Eureka Stockade: a pictorial history' by Geoff Hocking 2004, John POWELL was 'arrested after the battle.'

1856 Electoral Roll has John POWELL living at Duneed, Victoria.  Occupation - farmer.

4 Dec 1856 - miner (Ballarat) (as per birth certificate of John's son, Dennis Powell)
10 Jan 1899 - labourer (as per John's death certificate)
7 Nov 1931 - labourer (as per death certificate of John's son, Dennis Powell)

Additional Information
Date of Birth 1820  
Date of Death 10th Jan 1899 VIEW SOURCE
Place of Death Cornelius Powell Mary Maroney Born Affick, Tulla, County Clare Married Catherine Donohue 27 June 1847 at St Mary's Church, Geelong, Victoria Died 10 January 1899 at Geelong, Victoria, Australia VIEW SOURCE



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