Charles Thatcher

Charles Thatcher was a popular singer on the Australian goldfields in the 1850s. He was born in Bristol, England, in 1831. Thatcher decided to travel to Australia to join the gold rush, in order to make his fortune. He arrived in Melbourne in November 1852, but after trying his luck on the Bendigo diggings, without much success, he instead became an entertainer.

Thatcher wrote and sang songs about colonial life, often with a humorous slant, and he became hugely popular. He married Annie Vitelli (née Day, a widow) in February 1861; that December he and his wife went to New Zealand, where they stayed until the latter part of 1866, then came back to Australia. In June 1869 he went back to New Zealand for a year, after which he came back to Melbourne, and then left with his wife and daughters for England. He died of cholera in Shanghai, China, in September 1878.

Books and pamphlets by Charles Thatcher:
1855: The Victoria Songster: Containing Various New and Original Colonial Songs Together with a Choice Selection of the Most Popular Songs of the Day from the Best Authors, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1857: Thatcher’s Colonial Songster, Containing all the Choice Local Songs, Parodies, &c., of the Celebrated Chas. R. Thatcher, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1858: Colonial Songster Containing Parts 1, 2, & 3: Including all the Choice Local Songs, Parodies etc. of the celebrated Charles R. Thatcher, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1859: Thatcher’s Colonial Minstrel, no. 1, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1860: Thatcher’s Colonial Minstrel, no. 2, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1861: Thatcher’s Colonial Minstrel, no. 3, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1864: The Auckland Songster : Containing Songs and Recitations, as Written and Sung with Immense Applause, Auckland: J. Harris
1864: Thatcher’s Colonial Minstrel: New Collection of Songs, Melbourne: Charlwood & Son
1864: Thatcher’s Invercargill Minstrel. First number: Containing Several of the Popular Local Songs as Written and Sung by Him at the Theatre Royal, Invercargill Invercargill (NZ): Invercargill Times
1866: Adelaide Songster
1869: Thatcher’s Local Songs: As Written and Sung by him at Auckland and the Thames, Auckland: William Atkin
1871: The Hongkong Distillery: A Rum Burlesque, Hong Kong: Hong Kong Times
1870s?: Shanghai Lyrics
1870s?: Beautiful Kobe : A Poetical Satire
1880s?: Thatcher’s Colonial Songs: Forming a Complete Comic History of the Early Diggings, Melbourne

References and further information:
Hugh Anderson. “Thatcher, Charles Robert (1831–1878)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 16 October 2012)
The Inimitable Mr Thatcher”, SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) (accessed 16 October 2012)
Thatcher, Charles Robert”, eGold: Electronic Encyclopedia of Gold in Australia, Cultural Heritage Unit, University of Melbourne (accessed 16 October 2012)
Thatcher, Charles Robert”, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 16 October 2012)


  1. Glad to see my great great great grandfather is being honoured and that his story will carry on! I reckon I’ll cover a few of his songs real soon …for it’s our story in Australia’s history ..his Grandson …a few generations along Patrick Damien Carr …

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