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 Henry Ross,
Canadian leader at the Eureka Stockade
3 December 1854, Ballarat, Victoria.

 

'I wish that Henery's name be put on the the monement in the Necroplas with the rest and his time of death. James first and Thomas and then Henery and when he was killed in that fattle cuntrey. ER'.

This was how Elizabeth Wells Ross recorded the death of her son Henry Ross (also known as Charles Ross in Australian official documents) in her husband's journal. According to the journal, Ross had gone 'to the California Gold Rush, then to Australia, killed in the rebellion in the Ballarat Mines'. Apparently, Henry's involvement in a rebellion embarrassed his mother. She always said he had 'just died'.

But Henry Ross thus became the third generation of his family to have taken up arms.

His grandfather, John Ross was a Sergeant (then Quartermaster) in the 26th Cameronian Light Infantry Regiment who, in 1787, went to Canada with his wife Elizabeth (nee Brooks) and their two children. After being posted to eight border forts during the revolutionary war of the New England Colonies, and accompanied on harrowing marches during this time by his family, the Rosses later decided to stay on in Canada when the Cameronians were recalled to Scotland.

James Ross, John and Elizabeth's second son, later married Elizabeth Wells. He was a tailor and supplied uniforms and other material to the Military. When the US attacked Canada in the 1812-1814 War, James and his wife's brothers joined the Citizens' Militia for the Defence of York (Toronto). He was briefly taken prisoner by US forces during one of the battles. He and Elizabeth had 12 children. Henry Ross was born in 1829, the second last of that dozen. His photograph (included above) was probably taken around 1849, prior to his departure for California.


Above information kindly provided by Maude Arundel-Ross, great-grand-daughter to Joseph Ross, a brother of Henry Ross.


HENRY ROSS AT THE EUREKA STOCKADE

Henry Ross led the Canadian Division at Ballarat's Eureka Stockade. He was known as 'Captain' (or, earlier as 'Lieutenant') Ross. Questions exist about the composition of the 'Divisions' formed by the dissident gold miners as they hurriedly 'trained' to meet British Regiments and Victoria Police. Some sources suggested the divisions were formed according to the weapons they possessed. But other sources stated the Divisions consisted of men drawn from various nationalities. The Independent California Rangers was a well-armed group of former Californian gold-miners, but 'Divisions' comprising Scandinavians, Canadians and other predominant nationalities on the Ballarat goldfields were said to have been put together in the days preceding the battle at the Stockade.

The fact that the miners elected a Commander-in-Chief, Peter Lalor, strongly suggests that a military-style chain of command then existed. One such leader was James McGill of the Independent Californian Rangers. Another was Henry Ross, a member of the Ballarat Reform League and a 'mate' of Raffaelo Carboni.

On the march from Bakery Hill to the newly erected Eureka Stockade, Henry Ross acted as standard-bearer, carrying the distinctive Southern Cross flag he apparently had designed. Captains Ross and Nealson led their Divisions to meet rumoured reinforcements from Melbourne. When these did not materialise (they arrived on 5 December), the Divisions returned to the Stockade.

Certainly, during that battle at dawn on 3 December 1854, 'Captain' Ross was described (in Raffaello Carboni's account) as stoutly defending his 'Southern Cross' flag, surrounded by his Rifle Division.

Only 27 years old, and a dashing, handsome figure, Henry Ross was shot 10 or 15 minutes after he surrendered. Fellow Canadian (Charles) Alphonse Doudiet, who provided sketches of earlier, momentous Eureka events, recorded that he was among those who carried the Stockade leader to the nearby Star Hotel, and remained with him until he died 'in great pain' at 2 am on 5 December 1854. Another who helped to carry away the dying Ross was Duncan Clark, a member of Captain Ross's Division who had been out scouting, but had returned in time to assist his stricken leader.

The Licensee of the Star Hotel, William McCrae, decided to let authorities know where Ross was. 'One man came down with a loaded pistol, and went through the place [searching for more Stockaders]. I assured him there were no more', said McCrae. The man then told him that he would regret taking Ross in, and that his hotel licence would not be renewed.

When Ross died, McCrae sent news to the Government Camp. There, an Officer was reported to have said he was 'Damned glad at it'. However, 260 mourners followed Ross's funeral procession to his grave. He was eulogised as 'one of the best loved men of those who fell'.

For some unknown reason, official documents in Victoria (Australia) record him as 'Charles' Ross. Considering that hunts for leaders of the rebellion continued for months after the battle, it is not surprising that efforts to hide the true identities of participants may have occurred. The same phenomenon seems to have occurred with the name of (Charles) Alphonse Doudiet, one of the men who carried away the fatally wounded Henry Ross after the Eureka Stockade battle.

Melbourne professional researcher Fay Johnson (who has spent years researching Henry Ross) has discovered (in September 1998) that Charles Doudiet and Henry Ross probably arrived at Melbourne on the same ship, the Magnolia, in November 1852. There were at least five young Canadian men on the vessel, one by the name of Budden was said to be a school-fellow of Ross. Budden, who lived on Bakery Hill, tried to warn the Stockaders of the imminent attack of the government force on the morning of 3 December 1854.

RESEARCHERS PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE OR CITE REFERENCES FROM THIS WEBSITE

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 Ian MacFarlane's book Eureka: from the Official Records: The Story of the Ballarat Riots of 1854, and the Eureka Stockade, from the Official Documents in the Public Record Office of Victoria, now in its third printing, can still be purchased from Public Record Office Victoria, PO box 2100, North Melbourne, Victoria 3051, Australia for $A 16.95 + $A 5 for postage and handling.(220 pp., A4 format, illust., index).




 
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