School of Arts

Nicola Cousen

CRCAH doctoral candidate

Dr James Stewart: Irish Doctor and Philanthropist on the Ballarat Goldfields


Nicola's research provides the first in-depth biography of Dr James Stewart (1829-1906) revealing the doctor's motivations, actions, relationships, work and point of view within the larger historical processes of Victorian history. It offers new insight into nineteenth century Australian history, in particular Irish Presbyterians and Anglo-Irish in the Australian setting, ship's surgeons on immigrant ships to Australia, medical practice as it developed in the unique situation of the Victorian goldfields, the development of Ballarat, the foundational moment in Australian history of the Eureka Stockade and nineteenth century Australian philanthropy.

Nicola's methodological approach utilises interpretive and speculative biography, leitmotif identification and turning point analysis.


Nicola holds a Master of Cultural Heritage, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from Deakin University. Amongst other projects, Nicola is currently contributing to a bibliography secondary sources for Irish Diaspora scholars as well as developing a social media campaign for the UNESCO Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) highlighting MOW collections.


"’The Smallpox on Ballarat’: Nineteenth-Century Public Vaccination on the Victorian goldfields." Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria 16, (2017-2018). (forthcoming)

"The Legend of Lalor’s Arm: Eureka Myths and Colonial Surgery." Victorian Historical Journal 88, no. 2 (November 2017): 212-234.

"Dr James Stewart: Irish Doctor and Philanthropist on the Ballarat Goldfields." PhD thesis, Federation University, 2017.

'Introduction to Chapter VI' in John Melville-Jones (ed.), Ludovic de Beauvoir's Visit to Australia, Carlisle, W.A., Hesperian Press, 2016.

'Dr James Stewart: Ulster Man of the Scottish Diaspora.' In Scots Under the Southern Cross, edited by Fred Cahir, Anne Beggs-Sunter and Alison Inglis, 97-107. Ballarat: Ballarat Heritage Services, 2015.

'Planning for Bushfires' in Museums Australia (Victoria), Insite, May-June 2008, p. 5.


'The Pox on Ballarat: Public Vaccination on the Goldfields' presented at From Boom to Bust Australian Historical Association Conference, Ballarat, 4-8 July 2016.

'The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Ballarat Goldfields Doctors' presented at CRCAH Research Day, Federation University, Ballarat, 28 October 2015.

'The lack of personal sources for the biography of Dr James Stewart: the methodological and theoretical approach' presented at Sharing the passion for discovery Annual Research Conference, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, November 2014

'Dr Stewart: Ulster Irish man of the Scottish Diaspora' presented at For Auld Lang Syne Symposium, Ballarat, May 2014