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Victorian Ministries

William Clark Haines 30 November 1855 - 1 March 1857
John O'Shanassy 11 March 1857 - 29 April 1857
William Clark Haines 29 April 1857 - 10 March 1858
John O'Shanassy 10 March 1858 -27 October 1859
William Nicholson 27 October 1859 - 26 November 1860
Richard Heales 26 November 1860 - 14 November 1861
John O'Shanassy 14 November 1861 - 27 June 1863
James McCulloch 27 June 1863 - 6 May 1868
Sir Charles Sladen 6 May 1868 11 July 1868
Sir James McCulloch 11 July 1868 20 September 1869
John Alexander MacPherson 20 September 1869 9 April 1870
Sir James McCulloch 9 April 1870 19 June 1871
Charles Gavan Duffy 19 June 1871 10 June 1872
James Francis 10 June 1872 31 July 1874

Until Victoria attained self-government in 1855, the colony was run by the Colonial Secretary. From 1855 the position of Colonial Secretary became known as the Chief Secretary, who also usually assumed the honorific title of Premier of Victoria. The Premier's office was created in 1883 with the aim of seperating the duties of the Premier from those of the Chief Secretary. The Premier's Department became a subdepartment of the Chief Secretary's office in 1894, where it remained until 1928. In 1936, Albert Dunstan became Victoria's first seperately commissioned Premier.

Victorian Chief Secretaries (Premiers), 1855-1863.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premiers_of_Victoria

Haines, William Clark.
Politician. Religion: Church of England. (1810-1866).

Born in Hampstead, England and educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge (BA, 1833). Haines practiced surgery and married Mary Ann Dugard in 1835 before migrating to Victoria in 1841 where he purchased a property near Geelong. He divided the 2850 acre property into 49 farms and became the territorial magistrate, district trustee of the Port Phillip Savings Bank and member of the Grant District Council.

In 1851 he was a government nominee in the first Victorian Legislative Council, a position he resigned in 1852 in protest against the intended issue of leases to squatters. He was elected MLC for Grant in 1853. With Sir William Foster Stawell and others he drafted Victoria's Constitution. He became Colonial Secretary to Governor Hotham after J L V F Foster resigned. As chief official and most senior civil servant in the colony, he was accepted as the nominal leader of the first ministry. The opposition, under Nicholson were unable to form a government, so in January 1856 the acting-governor, Major-General Edward Macarthur recalled Haines, who was member for South Grant and appointed him Chief Secretary. Haines was defeated by O'Shanassy in March 1857, but won office again on 29th April 1857. He was defeated again in February 1858 and he resigned and left Victoria for North America and Europe. He returned to Victoria in October 1860, when he was elected MLA for Portland and acted as Treasurer in O'Shanassy's ministry.

In 1864 he lost his seat in Portland, but was elected MLC for Eastern Province. Stress of work was blamed for the carbuncle he developed, which killed him at his South Yarra home on 3rd February 1866. He was buried at St Kilda Cemetery.

House Electorate Start End
Non-office-bearing nominee
Office-bearing nominee
South Grant
Eastern Province
November 1851
August 1853
December 1854
November 1856
November 1860
August 1865
August 1852 (Resigned)
December 1854 (Resigned)
March 1856
November 1858
August 1864
February 1866
Colonial Secretary (12 December 1854-November 1855), released from office.
Premier and Chief Secretary (28 November 1855-11 March 1857).
Premier and Chief Secretary (29 April 1857-10 March 1858).
Treasurer (14 November 1861-27 June 1863)
Other Seats Contested: Central Province 1860, S. W. Province 1860, Portland 1864.

Heales, Richard.
Politician and temperance reformer. Religion: Congregationalist (1821-1864).

Born in London and served an apprenticeship as a coach-builder before marrying Rhoda Parker in 1840. They migrated to Victoria in February 1842 as bounty emigrants on the Himalaya. Working initially as a day labourer, he established himself as a coach-builder in Collins Lane by 1847 and then Lonsdale Street. He was a fervent believer in temperance and became secretary of the Total Abstinence Society, of which his father (Richard Heales 1891-1882) was president.

He was elected councilor for Gipps Ward on Melbourne City Council in November 1850, beating John O'Shanassy. In 1852 he sailed for England, where for three years he worked for temperance. He returned to Victoria and in 1857 was elected MLA for East Bourke Borough. When the Nicholson ministry resigned in August 1860, Heales and C G Duffy combined to support the Land Bill and Governor Barkly asked Heales to form a ministry. Heales refused and Nicholson resumed office but was defeated in November 1860 and after much factional fighting, Heales became Chief Secretary. Reliant upon the support of O'Shanassy and C H Ebden, Heales received little support from them and was defeated in a vote of no-confidence in June 1861. Heales persuaded Governor Barkly to grant a dissolution and was returned to office. However, by November 1861 he was defeated by O'Shanassy.

In the McCulloch ministry of 1863, Heales was Minister for Lands. In April 1864 he was granted leave from Parliament due to ill-health and on 19th June 1864, aged 42, he died of tuberculosis at his Elsternwick home. He was survived by his wife, six sons and two daughters. Healesville was later named after him. He was one of the first of Victoria's public men to die in office and a large crowd gathered to watch his funeral procession from the Alma Road Congegational Church to Melbourne General Cemetery.

House Electorate Start End
East Bourke
East Bourke Boroughs
March 1857
October 1859
August 1859
June 1864
Premier and chief secretary (26 November 1860-14 November 1861).
President Board Land & Works and commissioner Crown Lands & Survey (27 June 1863-19 June 1864).
Other Seats Contested: Melbourne 1856.


Nicholson, Richard.
Merchant and politician. Religion: Church of England. (1816-1865).

Born on the 27 February 1816 at Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, he arrived in Melbourne in 1842 and founded the firm of W. Nicholson & Co., grocers.

Nicholson was interested in benefit building societies from their inception and became an office bearer of several. He became mayor of Melbourne from 1850-1851. He went to England in March 1856 for two years and on returning to Victoria became chairman of the Chamber of Commerce 1859-1860 and Director of the Bank of Victoria.

He entered politics in November 1852 when elected MLC for North Bourke and became Chief Secretary on 27th October 1859.

Nicholson married Sarah Burkitt Fairclough and they had 4 sons. He died at St Kilda on 10th March 1865.

House Electorate Start End
North Bourke
The Murray
November 1852
January 1859
October 1859
March 1856
August 1859
August 1864
Premier and Chief Secretary (27 October 1859-26 November 1860).
Other Seats Contested: South Melbourne 1858.

O’Shanassy, John.
Politician and businessman. Religion: Catholic. (1818-1883).

Born at Ballinahow, near Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland. His education was stopped when his father died in 1831 and he became an apprentice to a Tipperary draper and wine merchant. In 1839 he married Margaret McDonnell. He decided to migrate to Sydney and left Plymouth aboard the William Metcalf, but on arrival at Hobson's Bay were convinced by the Reverend Patrick Geoghegan to stay in Melbourne. O'Shanassy bought a small property, Windriet, near Western Port, but drought and a lack of capital soon forced him to return to Melbourne where, in 1845, he opened a drapers shop on Collins Street.

O'Shanassy was elected to the Melbourne Council in 1846. This was a short lived position, but he entered politics again when he was appointed to the first Legislative Council in 1851. He successfully stood for the seats of Melbourne and Kilmore in the September 1856 election and chose to be MLA for Kilmore. O'Shanassy sat in opposition to Haines and became Chief Secretary on 11th March 1857. He formed his ministry with difficulty and when three of his members lost their seats he lost power to Heales on 24th April 1857. O'Shanassy was in opposition for a year before returning to power onthe 10th March 1858.

After the resignation of the Minister for Lands, Duffy, on a disagreement over the sale of pastoral land and licences, O'Shanassy lost a vote of no-confidence and resigned on 27th October 1859. O'Shanassy was in opposition through the Nicholson and the Heales ministries. When Heales was defeated over the budget on the 14th November 1861, O'Shanassy returned to power for a third time, making his strongest ministry yet. Haines became Treasurer and Duffy, Minister for Lands. After his ministry was defeated by twelve votes in the assembly over revenue estimates from pastoral runs, O'Shanassy resigned on 27th June 1863. The new McCulloch ministry had a majority of 53 to O'Shanassy's 14 and he decided not to contest the 1866 election. He went traveling overseas aboard the Great Britain, including a trip to his birthplace in Ireland. On his return he was elected MLC for the Central Province and he remained in politics untill his death on the 5th May 1883.

House Electorate Start End
Central Province
November 1851
November 1856
March 1868
May 1877
March 1856
December 1865
April 1874 (Resigned)
February 1883
Premier and Chief Secretary (11 March 1857-29 April 1857).
Premier and Chief Secretary (10 March 1858-27 October 1859).
Premier and Chief Secretary (14 November 1861-27 June 1863).
Royal commission goldfields 1854.
Volunteer forces (chairman) 1875.
Other Seats Contested: Kilmore 1874, Villiers and Heytesbury 1876, Belfast 1883.

Biographical information from:
Bright Sparcs www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/
Serle, P. 1949. Dictionary of Australian Biography Angus and Robertson
Pike, D. et al., 1966. Australian dictionary of biography Melbourne: Melbourne University Printers.

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