FAQ - Mining Records

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Do you have miner's rights?

Public Record Office Victoria does not hold miner's rights from the gold rush period. Those which are in the collection date from recent decades in the 20th century. Because miner's rights were purchased by individuals they may have been retained and passed down in family documents, and some have found their way into museums and historical society collections. Very few have survived, as most people would have lost or destroyed them over time.

How can I find the name of the mine my ancestor worked in?

Some men who worked in mines also purchased shares in those mines. Shareholders of many mines are listed in the Victorian Government Gazettes but there is no on-line index or database to those names. A CD entitled 'Mining Shareholders Index 1857-1884" has been compiled by Marion McAdie whose contact can be found on a Google search. Some local historical societies on the goldfields have indexed information to provide details of miners and the mines they worked in. There is no complete list, and most people will not find the name of the mine their ancestor worked in. There is no complete list of mines or mining companies.

Do you have a list of miners who were on the goldfields?

Public Record Office Victoria does not have a list of miners who worked on the goldfields. The nature of the goldfields, and numbers of people moving from one goldfield to another, makes it impossible for such a list to have been compiled. Records held by PROV, including registers of residence areas, registers of applications for gold mining leases, mining lease surveys, court of mines registers, mining wardens' registers, etc., are generally not indexed, are far from complete for any given area, and generally do not date from the early gold rush period. An index to VPRS 1382 Applications for Residence and Business Areas and Claims, Ballarat District, Central Division can be found on the website of the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc.

What did a miner's right entitle you to?

Legislative provisions respecting "The Miner's Right" were introduced with the Gold Fields Laws Statute 1855 (18 Vic., No.37). The miner's right could be issued to individuals or corporate bodies for a period not exceeding fifteen years and subject to an annual payment.

The holder of a miner's right was entitled under the mining bye-laws:

  • to take possession of and mine Crown land not exempted from occupation for mining purposes
  • to enter upon and mark out private land as a claim for gold mining purposes and agree on compensation to the owner
  • to enter upon and mine land leased as a "Grazing Area"
  • to notify breaches of labour covenants by a lease or licence and in connection with their mining operations
  • to cut races or channels and construct and use dams
  • to divert water from a natural water-course for mining or domestic purposes
  • to remove stone or gravel from non-exempted Crown lands.

Until January 1936 the holder of a miner's right was also entitled to occupy land as a residence area on the gold field. Under the Land (Residence Areas) Act 1935 this power was withdrawn. Under the mining bye-laws the holder of a miner's right was entitled to take up various claims such as a quartz claim, alluvial claim, puddling claim, mineral prospecting claim, and water right.

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