- YOUNG, Sir Henry Edward Fox (1808-1870)
- probably should (1803-1870) - ebook editorgovernor of South Australia and Tasmaniason of Sir Aretas William Young, a well-known peninsular officer, was born at Brabourne, Kent, on 23 April 1808. He was educated at Dean's School, Bromley, Middlesex, and, intended for the bar, entered at the Inner Temple. He was, however, appointed in 1827 to a position in the colonial treasury, Trinidad, and in 1828 was transferred to Demerara, British Guiana. In 1834 he became treasurer, secretary and member of the council at St Lucia, but from 1835 he was again in British Guiana as government secretary, and did important work over a period of several years during which occurred the emancipation of the Negro slaves. He was in London in 1847 and was appointed lieutenant-governor of the eastern district of the Cape of Good Hope, but a few months later was transferred to South Australia where he arrived on 11 March 1848. It was hoped that he would be able to announce some measure of responsible government but he had nothing to say on this subject, and it was not until February 1851 that an ordinance was passed constituting a legislative council of 24 members, of whom eight were nominated by the crown and 16 were to be elected. This was a considerable advance on the old council which consisted of eight members of whom four were official members. The royalties question which had caused so much feeling during Robe's (q.v.) governorship was raised soon after Young's arrival, and he gained much popularity by suspending their imposition pending further consideration of the question. In the following year an ordinance was passed through the council abandoning them. His attitude was that it would be unwise to bring in legislation which was opposed to the general opinion of the colonists. When the new Council met in August 1851 the long debated question of state aid to religion was dealt with in the first measure brought forward and was defeated by three votes. This question having been finally disposed of the council brought in a useful education act, which was followed by a district councils act, and a bullion act, passed as a temporary expedient when the colony was threatened with disaster on account of a great shortage of coinage. Young objected to the proposal at first but eventually gave his consent. In 1853 a bill was brought in for the granting of responsible government to the colony, which was passed but not accepted by the British government. Other important happenings in Young's period were the inauguration of railway and telegraph systems and the opening up of steamer traffic on the Murray. On 20 December 1854 Young's governorship of nearly seven years came to an end when he left to assume the same position in Tasmania. He had been an ideal governor for a time of transition, sagacious, tactful and popular.Young began his duties in Tasmania in January 1855. At this time the constitution act was awaiting the royal assent, and the legislative council might wisely have postponed meeting until news of this had been received. It, however, met in July and one of its acts was to form a committee to inquire into the working of the convict department. Dr Hampton, the comptroller-general of convicts, was summoned to appear as a witness and refused to attend. The council decided he was guilty of contempt and arrested him. Hampton served a writ of habeas corpus upon the sergeant-at-arms and the opinion of the law officers of the crown was against the legality of the council's proceedings. Young then attended at the house and prorogued the council until 20 October. The London Times severely commented upon Young's conduct, but he was commended by the British government. The Tasmanian supreme court ruled against the council, and when it was taken to the privy council this decision was confirmed. The new constitution was soon successfully instituted and Young welcomed the change in his position, feeling that he was now above the battle and freed from much trying responsibility. He travelled through the island, showed much interest in its development, and capably carried out the work of his office. He left Tasmania on 10 December 1861 for Melbourne whence he travelled to England and lived in retirement at London until his death there on 18 September 1870. He married in 1848 the eldest daughter of Charles Marryat who survived him. He was knighted in 1847.Young was one of the ablest and most successful of the Australian governors. He may have acted with precipitation in proroguing the Tasmanian legislative council, but his career was marked by first-rate administrative ability, enthusiasm and wisdom.Dod's Peerage, etc., 1869; The Times, 20 and 21 September 1870; B. T. Finniss, The Constitutional History of South Australia; J. Blacket, History of South Australia; E. Hodder, The History of South Australia; J. Fenton, A History of Tasmania.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.
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