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Newspaper Report of the 'Bread or Blood' Riot of 1866

The Brisbane Courier 13 Sept 1866

Yesterday there was an open attempt at disturbance in the streets. The fact of a considerable number of the unemployed having left town either for Helidon or Rockhampton, in a measure accounted for the fact that very few idle people were to be seen on the principle thoroughfares.

In the course of the day a proclamation was issued by the Governor in Council, requiring all respectable persons to go to their homes immediately the signal gun was fired at the Observatory. About 8 o'clock the gun was fired twice, not, however, because anything extraordinary had occurred, but merely as a matter of precaution.

The proclamation was speedily acted upon, for in a short time there were very few to be seen about the streets. At 10 o'clock a number of special constables, acting under the orders of some magistrate, turned out for the purpose of clearing Queen street; but the proceeding was quite unnecessary, and, we believe, against the express instructions of the Police Magistrate.

Yesterday morning the police arrested a man named Parker, who was recognised as one of the leaders of the mob on the previous day. He was apprehended in the Police Court. At one o'clock,William Eave, another conspicuous individual, was taken into custody. He was in company with a number of others in Queen street at the time, but no attempt at a rescue was made.

The movement on the whole, though apparently strong, appears to have been limited to a few as soon as a desire to break the peace manifested itself. On Tuesday night, a large number of respectable persons mixed with the crowd merely to see what was going on; and their presence gave a fictitious importance to the disturbance.

Yesterday evening the wisdom of the proclamation was obvious, for none who had any respect for law and order turned out, and their absence proved how little sympathy any attempt at a breach of the peace was likely to have from them.

It will be very judicious if all, who are not mixed up in these disturbances, kept indoors after dark, and left the streets to the would-be rioters and the police; if they did so no row could last many minutes.

Yesterday about noon, the Kate, started from the Queen's wharf with 103 of the unemployed navvies. She will convey those men to Ipswich, and thence they will proceed by rail to those sections of the line where extra hands are to be taken on.

In the evening the Platypus, left the same wharf with SO of the unemployed to convey them to Rockhampton, where there is a large demand for labour.

It had been rumoured during the day that an attempt would be mode by the ringleaders of the riot on Tuesday night to prevent those who had applied for the free passages offered by Government from embarking. In consequence of this, a body of the metropolitan and Water Police were in

attendance to keep order, and there was also a of special constables near at hand. Their services, however, were not required, and the embarkation proceeded in the most orderly manner.

The Platypus moored off the wharf and the passengers were taken to her by the Water Police boat, and two others belonging to the steamer. About 130 orders for free passages had been applied for and granted, but only ninety men availed themselves of the opportunity. Mr. Manning, the Principal Under Secretary, Mr. Austin, the Engineer of Roads, and the Rev. Bishop Quinn, were present at the embarkation.

The step taken by the Government in forwarding those men to Rockhampton is a very judicious one, as there is a demand for labour at that place. Telegraphic advices thence state that the railway contractors find it difficult to procure men, owing to the attractions of the Crocodile Creek diggings, from which the reports are exceedingly favourable. It is estimated that about 250 men could readily find employment.

As an illustration of the sort of characters at present attempting to create disturbances, we are assured that William Murray, who was lodged in the lock-up on Tuesday night, has through his wife been receiving relief from the Hospital for some considerable time. As a colonist of three years' standing his conduct is highly reprehensible, particularly as his wife has been supported by the charity of the public of Brisbane.

We understand also, on good authority that the man Eave, who was taken into custody with others yesterday, made overtures some days ago to the police to inform of all who were inciting the unemployed to acts of violence, and to use his influence to keep everything quiet. His condition was, that he should have a Government billet. The police very properly refused to come to any terms with him.