Parliament of whores: the mystery of the mace

Ferguson, Kathryn (2006) Parliament of whores: the mystery of the mace. Victorian Review, 32 (2). pp. 64-87.

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[Extract]In the Speaker's Chambers of the parliament of Victoria in Melbourne Australia, at a little after 1 :30 in the afternoon of Friday 9 October 1891, parliamentary housekeeper George Pearse advised parliamentary doorkeeper Frederick Davis, parliamentary engineer Thomas Jeffery, and parliamentary Sergeant-ar-Arms George Upward of a parliamentary predicament. "The mace," Pearse declared (Cis gone" ("Mace Board" 127), Today, we know very little more about the disappearance of the Victorian Legislative Assembly's Speaker's mace than what was conveyed in Pearse's terse assessment of the situation some 113 years ago. The dearth of verifiable information surrounding the loss of the mace has, however, been counterbalanced, indeed overbalanced, by a surfeit of theories, accusations and rumours regarding the whereabouts of the 1.5 metre gold-plated and richly chased sceptre that symbolised the constitutional rights of the Victorian population and the authority invested in the office of Speaker in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.' The early investigation of the mace's theft came up with four possible solutions: Thomas Jeffrey had stolen the mace; one of the workmen contracted to finish a basement extension in the north wing of Parliament House had stolen the mace; an anonymous, and probably non-professional, thief had stolen the mace; a member of parliament, possibly inebriated, had taken the mace on a lark and had subsequently lost it. A little over year after the disappearance of the parliamentary device, the press came up with a fifth, and far more shocking, solution in November of 1892. It was widely and volubly touted in the press and on the streets that prostitutes and parliamentarians had taken the mace to a brothel in Little Lonsdale Street where it was used for less-than-proper parliamentary proceedings, and then left in the brothel. It is this 6fth,most unlikely yet most persistent, solution that fascinates me.

Item ID: 1434
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0848-1512
Keywords: Parliament of Victoria; mace; theft; brothel
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Copyright Victorian Review

Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2007
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified @ 70%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture @ 15%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169901 Gender Specific Studies @ 15%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media @ 70%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 15%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified @ 15%
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