HAINES, William Clark (1807-1866)


HAINES, William Clark (1807-1866)
first premier of Victoria
was born in England in 1807, the son of a London surgeon. He followed his father's profession, but came to Victoria during the eighteen-forties and engaged in farming in the Geelong district. He was made a magistrate, and in 1851 La Trobe (q.v.) nominated him as a member of the legislative council. He resigned a year later but was elected for South Grant in 1853. He was appointed colonial secretary in 1854, and on the establishment of responsible government became premier and chief secretary in the first Victorian cabinet on 28 November 1855. He was elected to the legislative assembly in October 1856 and his ministry remained in power until March 1857. The O'Shannassy (q.v.) ministry which took its place lasted for only seven weeks, and Haines again became premier until March 1858. After his resignation he spent over two years in Europe, and returning in October 1860 was elected to the legislative assembly for Portland. He made a coalition with O'Shannassy in November 1861, and became treasurer in his ministry until June 1863. He lost his seat at the 1864 general election and in August 1865 became member for the Eastern Provinces in the legislative council. He died on 3 February 1866. Though he brought in manhood suffrage Haines was essentially a conservative. He was not a good speaker, and though a good administrator he could scarcely be called a man of great ability. The probity of his life earned the respect of everyone, and his dignified and courteous manner helped to give him a conspicuous place in the early days of responsible government.
The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 5 February 1866; H. G. Turner, A History of the Colony of Victoria; J. H. Heaton, The Australian Dictionary of Dates.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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