Robert Underwood

From Hotels of Ballarat
Robert Underwood
Born c. 1831
Died 1861
Occupation Publican
Years active 1853-1861
Known for Charlie Napier Hotel
Unicorn Hotel
Home town Ballarat
Spouse(s) Eunice Underwood
  • John Underwood (father)
  • Mary (mother)

Robert Underwood was a publican in Ballarat, <1853-1861.

History[edit | edit source]

Robert Underwood was born in about 1831, to Mary and John Underwood.[1]

In November 1854 Underwood gave evidence at the enquiry into the disturbances and riots which led to the burning of the Eureka Hotel:

I have bееп about two years on the Ballarat township. Before obtaining a publican’s license I conducted wholesale wine and spirit merchant business. I was on intimate terms with Mr. Dewes: he wished to purchase some land. I lent him one hundred pounds for the purpose: he gave me an I.O.U. as an acknowledgement, to be repaid upon the sale of the allotment of land purchased. This I.O.U. I never allowed to go out of my own hands. My intimacy with Мг. Dewes commenced soon after he came to Ballaarat. I thought Mr. Dawes an upright man, and on that belief I lent him one hundred pounds. It is about three or four months since I lent him the money. I asked Мг. Dewes if I could be certain of getting a license, provided I built a good house. He said I could. This was before I lent him the money. I have never interfered with Mr. Dewes or any other magistrate, either directly or indirectly, in order to obtain a license for any one. The money I lent Mr. Dewes had nothing whatever to do with my obtaining a license. If I had been refused a license I would have lent Mr. Dewes the money the same.

I was at the burning of the Eureka Hotel. I spoke to Мг. Evans, inspector of police, and advised him to stop the riot, and read the Riot Act. Mr. Evans and myself went to Mr. Green, and requested him to read the Riot Act. He said he would, and was proceeding to do so, when Мг. Seekamp, the editor of the Ballaarat Times came up, and said it was useless, as they were determined to burn down the place. I said it was a shame to look can and see property destroyed. It was Mr. Seekamp’s interference that stopped Mr. Green from reading the Riot Act. This was before Mr. Rede came on the ground. I am confident that had the Riot Act been read, it would have put a stop to it. I have often been аt the Court, and within my knowledge I consider that the conduct of the officers has been upright and just. In deciding claims and disputes many disappointed parties make unreasonable complaints. I have heard persons state that decisions would be given from corrupt motives, but l know of no instance of the kind, nоr have I ever attempted such an influence myself. I believe that latterly the diggings not being so productive, a number of persons having been ill-off for money, idle characters, ready to join in any row that might turn up, and to take advantage of any circumstances that might occasion a riot. l think the riot was caused by people of this description. I know many men who will not work: the discontent originates with them, and they are glad to get up a disturbance to suit their own ends. I conscientiously disbelieve the report that Mr. Dewes had any interest in the Eureka Hotel.[2]

In 1854 Underwood owned the Charlie Napier Hotel in Main Road in partnership with a Mr. Gibbs. He was declared bankrupt in December 1855, and one of his creditors, Thomas Curle, took over possession of the hotel as part payment of his debts.[3]

In June 1858, Robert Underwood was granted the license for the Unicorn Hotel in Sturt Street.[4]

His license application was postponed for one week in June 1861 but he died soon after.[5][1] His wife Eunice Underwood took over the hotel in July:

In re Robert Underwood, deceased. On the motion of Mr Atkins, probate of the will of Robert Underwood, late of Ballarat, hotel-keeper, deceased, was granted to Eunice Underwood, the widow and sole executrix and sole devisee of the deceased.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888, Index to Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Victoria, 1861 Deaths, Ref. No. 4516, Macbeth Genealogical Services, 1998
  2. Riot at Ballaarat, report of the Board, 21 November 1854,
  3. 1855 'INSOLVENT COURT.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), 19 December, p. 2 Edition: DAILY, viewed 6 May, 2015,
  4. 1858 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 2, viewed 5 May, 2015,
  5. 1861 'LICENSING SESSIONS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 June, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR.), viewed 06 Jun 2024,
  6. 1861 'SUPREME COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 20 July, p. 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR., viewed 5 May, 2015,

External links[edit | edit source]