Race, Class, and Murder      
Introduction   1861   1868   1869   Conclusion   sources   links   citation


Victoria during the 1860's was a colony under going a great deal of change. The question of joining the confederation was becoming a growing debate. The gold rush was having a dramatic affect on the population of Victoria as foreigners from all parts of the world were coming to Victoria, hoping to strike it rich. There was also an influx of new citizens who contributed greatly to the social make up of the colony of Victoria, creating a culturally diverse society. Just as any heterogeneous society, though, there were problems created by the inter-mixing of peoples.

The dominate culture in Victoria was European, and in particular British. Victorians from England were often seen to be at the top of the social ladder while those of a different background were treated as a lower class of citizen. This varying level of treatment further filtered down within minority races. For example, while an Irishman would receive better treatment than a Native, an Englishman was held above all. These racist practices extended even to the law, as different races received different amounts attention from police, courts and juries.

As seen in the three cases that we have presented here, race certainly was a factor in the handling of these crimes. William Millington was acquitted of any crime even through he confessed to the murder, perhaps due largely to his social status in the community. William Black-an Irishmen, the Kanaka, and James Smith-a German, received little attention for their disappearances. Me-Shak an Aboriginal man who hardly spoken any english was tried and convicted by a all white jury, even through the murder had been an act of defense. We can then say that race and class had a great affect on the handling of murders and crimes in colonial Victoria.