From Australia’s Jewish Past: ‘’Finding the Viscount Canterbury’’

March 25, 2021 by  
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In January 1870 Harriet Schlossman purchased, for £2, a mining right for Claim No 163, Lot 12, Lower Paddock on the Berlin Goldfield, near Rheola Victoria, on behalf of her husband, Solomon Schlossman and son-in-law John Davis.

The Viscount Canterbury

Schlossman hired Frank Gallagher, a local miner, to work the claim. Gallagher was paid £1 a week plus 50% of any gold found. Gallagher, in turn, hired Dominick Rendisch as his sidekick, at a rate of 12 shillings and half Gallagher’s share.

Schlossman and Davis ran a public house on the goldfields. Gallagher and Rendisch worked the claim for them for several months, but in early May 1870, after finding nothing of note, Rendisch quit. Reluctantly Gallagher terminated his agreement with Schlossman, leaving he and Davis to work the claim themselves.

On May 31, 1870, with the help of two Chinese labourers, Schlossman and Davis raised a gold nugget out of their claim weighing one thousand, one hundred and twenty-one ounces and fifteen pennyweights. They named it The Viscount Canterbury, after the governor, but told no-one of their amazing discovery. Family legend has it that Harriet slept with the nugget under her pillow until the men finally deposited it at The Bank of New South Wales at Inglewood on June 2nd.

Schlossman and Davis received an advance from the bank of four pounds one shilling per ounce, amounting to four thousand five hundred and forty-three pounds one shilling and ninepence. However, when the gold was smelted, it resulted in a loss of forty ounces so the men had to refund the bank the sum of sixty pounds, six shillings and tuppence!

A month later, Rendisch sued Schlossman, Davis and Gallagher for a quarter share. But in his deposition to the court, Frank Gallagher affirmed that he had relinquished any claim to further finds in Claim No 163 on May 2nd 1870, and that any claim Rendisch attested to being owed was dependent upon his own, and so null and void. The case was dismissed.

Davis and Schlossman split their share 50/50. John eventually moved to Echuca with his wife Caroline and their young family. They ran a vegetable shop, then a fish shop, as their family grew.  Solomon Schlossman settled in Sandhurst (Bendigo) with Harriet and ran several pubs in the town. He invested in more mining ventures but in 1879 was declared bankrupt.

The Australian Jewish Historical Society is the keeper of archives from the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 right up to today. Whether you are searching for an academic resource, an event, a picture or an article, AJHS can help you find that piece of historical material.

The AJHS welcomes your contributions to the archives. If you are a descendent of someone of interest with a story to tell, or you have memorabilia which might be of significance for the archives, please make contact via www.ajhs.com.au or its Facebook page.

Comments

2 Responses to “From Australia’s Jewish Past: ‘’Finding the Viscount Canterbury’’”
  1. Hilary Rubinstein says:

    The Australian Jewish Historical Society publishes a high quality Journal twice a year, the June issue by the Society in NSW and the November issue by the Society in Victoria. Members receive both.
    Our articles (covering Australian Jewish history from colonial to more recent times) range from the academic (peer-reviewed if the authors request peer review)to the family-oriented. Our authors range from academics holding chairs of history at universities to keen genealogists with interesting stories to tell. The mix is felicitous, and we’re very proud of what we do.
    Had it not been for the founders of the Society in the late 1930s, so much of the history of the Australian Jewish experience would have been lost. Please do consider joining us!

  2. Dani Haski says:

    One thing I neglected to include in the above article about the Viscount Canterbury is that Mssrs Schlossman and Davis have generations of descendents in Sydney and Melbourne, including the families of artist the late Errol Davis, past President of Emanual Synagogue Caroline Haski, and Dina Fox (wife of the late Rabbi Brian Fox). Despite Solomon Schlossman’s bankruptcy, his daughter Caroline, wife of fellow miner John Davis, invested their share wisely, opening a shop in Echuca. The family eventually moving to Sydney in the late 1880s. Alongside the AJHS, the AJGS – Australian Jewish Genealogical Society – can help you unearth your personal family stories both in Australia and across the world.

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