Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover is an example of the use of a pair of green 2d ‘Side Face’ Tasmanian postage stamps used on inwards mail from Victoria to Tasmania in 1897 in lieu of Postage Dues. The orange pair of ONE PENNY ‘Reading’ stamps of Victoria are cancelled with an incomplete UP TRAIN/ M.G. ( )/ OC 12/ 97/ VICTORIA postmark and DEFICIENT POSTAGE 2d/ FINE 2d/4d handstamp was applied. The Tasmanian pair was postmarked with an indistinct barred numeral, my guess ‘28′ or ‘29′ (vendor: ‘23′, ascribed to Burnie). Burnie, Tasmania would be expected for the postmarking as this was where the cover was addressed to Miss Hamilton, C/o Dr. Rooke, ‘Ingleside’, Burnie, N. Tasmania. The cover was ex Bill Purves and Roland Askeland and the estimate was AUD 300 (Figure 1).

The reverse showed a transit LAUNCESTON/ H/ OC 15/ 97/ TASMANIA postmark and an incomplete BURNIE/ ( )/ OC ( )/ ( )7/ TASMANIA reception postmark (Figure 2).

An immediate question springs to mind that there would not have been any postage dues available in Tasmania until the release of the ‘Blank Base’ issues of the modified N.S.W. postage dues, which were distributed in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia in late June 1902 (whereas N.S.W. continued to use up stocks of the old N.S.W. series of dues).

The next point for my concern is that I could not find evidence that the B.N. ‘23′ was used at Burnie, but was used at Cressy (and Cleveland) Tasmania. To compound the problem, the authority on Australian Numeral Cancellations: A Compendium, by H.M. Campbell (1983) showed 2 different Barred Numerals for Burnie ‘29′ on page 29 of his ‘Listing by Numbers’ and Burnie ‘28′ on page 142 of his ‘Listing by Alphabetical Town Name’. The Campbell, Purves and Viney Tasmania: The Postal History and Postal Markings (1962) on page 65 lists B.N. ‘29′ as Emu Bay later Burnie, and ‘ties’ are known to both names. Burnie is situated in northwest Tasmania on Emu Bay.

The only entry I could find for Dr. Charles Rooke was that he was the Port Health Officer for Burnie and he married Jessie Walker. She later became known as Jessie Spink Rooke, suffragist and temperance reformer. She was born on 10 September 1845 in London, daughter of William Walker, bookkeeper, and his wife Catherine. By 1867 Jessie was living in Melbourne, and that year at Fitzroy she married Peter Charles Reid. After he died, she married Charles Rooke, a medical practitioner, on 14 August 1883 at Germanton (later Holbrook), New South Wales. He was born at Weymouth, England, and was a widower with two sons.

In Sydney, Mrs Rooke was prominent in the British Women’s Bible and Prayer Union and the Marrickville branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.). Moving to Tasmania in the early 1890s, she became involved in the Burnie W.C.T.U., of which she was elected president (1894), and from 1898 she was a vigorous president of the Tasmanian branch. The W.C.T.U. became the focus of the women’s suffrage movement in Tasmania. Mrs Rooke travelled extensively, speaking publicly and gathering signatures petitioning parliament to legislate the vote for women.

The first campaign in 1896 resulted in some 2000 signatures and a similar number was secured in 1897. Legislative Council opposition defeated bills to amend the Tasmanian suffrage in both years, but Mrs. Rooke reassured her members that their efforts kept the issue prominent. The unions obtained a further 5500 signatures to support a referendum bill in 1898, and suffrage remained an important issue until the Electoral Act of 1903 enfranchised Tasmanian women.

Rooke was heavily involved in the National Council of Women, established in 1899, which worked closely with the W.C.T.U. in the suffrage campaign. She was a W.C.T.U. delegate in 1902 to the International Council of Women Conference in Washington. In 1903 Rooke founded the Tasmanian Women’s Suffrage Association (W.S.A.), which attracted a membership beyond those interested mainly in moral and temperance issues. After the vote was achieved, the association continued as a non-party organization ‘to interest women in all laws relating to women and children’, to educate members on wider political questions and to encourage women to enrol. It urged women to use their right to vote in Federal elections as ‘the highest expression of citizenship’. She was president of the Women’s Political Association (probably the successor of the W.S.A.) at Launceston in 1905-06.

Espousing the sanctity of marriage, the privacy of the home and the need to give assistance to the poor, she was an excellent and forceful speaker, despite some fragility in health. Jessie Rooke was a self-denying worker and a good mediator, highly respected by her fellow workers. She died of congestive heart failure on 4 January 1906 at South Burnie and was buried in Wivenhoe (Burnie) cemetery. Her husband apparently destroyed her papers shortly after her death. Another website showed a picture of Burnie in 1900, when Jessie lived there (Figure 3).

I acknowledge that the majority of information on Jessie Rooke was extracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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