Alexander Stuart (Australian politician)

Alexander Stuart (Australian politician)

Sir Alexander Stuart KCMG (21 March 1824 – 16 June 1886) was Premier of New South Wales from 5 January 1883 to 7 October 1885. He was a man of probity, with a high reputation in financial circles.cite web
title =Stuart, Sir Alexander (1824 - 1886)
publisher =Project Gutenberg Australia
work=Dictionary of Australian Biography
url =
accessdate = 2007-05-03
] According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "He was slow in making up his mind, and there was a want of resolute firmness … but … he had a good deal of the dogged determination that belongs to the Scotch character, and a large capacity for patient endurance … He was very friendly … but he lacked that magnetic power which great leaders have of fascinating their comrades, and of binding them as it were by hooks of steel."cite web
coauthors=Martha Rutledge
title =Stuart, Sir Alexander (1824 - 1886)
publisher =Australian National University
work=Australian Dictionary of Biography
url =
accessdate = 2007-05-03

Early years

Stuart was born at Edinburgh in 1825, the son of Alexander Stuart. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and attended but did not graduate from the University of Edinburgh. On leaving school entered a merchant's office at Glasgow. His next appointment was at a linen mill in the north of Ireland and in 1845 he went to India. Finding that the climate did not suit him he went to New Zealand for a period, and in 1851 removed to Sydney. The Victorian gold discoveries tempted him to try his fortune on the diggings at Ballarat and Bendigo, but he was not successful.

Stuart returned to Sydney in 1852 and was given a position in the Bank of New South Wales. In less than two years he had become secretary and an inspector of branches. In 1853 he married Christiana Eliza Wood. In 1854, he investigated the embezzlement of funds from the bank's Ballarat branch by its manager, George Lang, son of John Dunmore Lang, who was convicted and sentenced to five years hard labour as a result. John Dunmore Lang published an attack on Stuart and the bank, "The Convicts' Bank; or a Plain Statement of the Case of Alleged Embezzlement", and was as a result charged and convicted of criminal libel and served six months in prison. In 1855 he accepted a partnership in R. Towns and Company, merchants, and became well-known as a business man in Sydney.

Political career

Stuart was active as a lay member of the Sydney Anglican synods and a member of the standing committee of the Sydney Diocesan Committee and Educational and Book Society. During a controversy on the education question he spoke in favour of denominational schools and was asked by Bishop Frederic Barker to stand for parliament. In 1874 was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly for East Sydney on a platform of support for the 1866 Public Schools Act, the 'rapid extension' of railways and aid to municipalities.cite web
title =Sir Alexander Stuart (1824 - 1886)
work =Members of Parliament
publisher =Parliament of New South Wales
url =!OpenDocument
accessdate = 2007-05-03

In February 1876 he succeeded William Forster as Treasurer in the third Sir John Robertson ministry, and held the position until Robertson was defeated in March 1877. Stuart resigned his seat in March 1879 to become agent-general at London but gave up this appointment in April in order to fend off bankruptcy. He was returned for Illawarra at the general election in 1880 and became leader of the opposition. In 1882 the Parkes-Robertson ministry was defeated and Stuart became Premier from 5 January 1883 to 6 October 1885. He succeeded in passing a land act in 1884 after much opposition, and other acts dealt with the civil service, fire brigades, the university, and licensing.

Stuart was under constant attack in parliament during 1884 over his owenership of mineral lands in the Illawarra. In October 1884 Stuart had a paralytic stroke and went to Napier, New Zealand to recuperate at the house of his brother, the Bishop of Waiapu. It was during his illness that W. B. Dalley as Acting-Premier offered to send a contingent to the Sudan. Stuart resigned in October 1885 and was nominated to a seat in the Legislative Council. In 1886 he was appointed executive commissioner to the Colonial and Indian exhibition at London, but died there after a short illness, survived by his wife, son and probably one of his three daughters.


Stuart was created KCMG in 1885.


NAME=Stuart, Alexander
SHORT DESCRIPTION=New South Wales politician and Premier
DATE OF BIRTH= 21 March 1824
PLACE OF BIRTH= Edinburgh, Scotland
DATE OF DEATH= 16 June 1886
PLACE OF DEATH= London, England

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