BRADDON, Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry (1829-1904)


BRADDON, Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry (1829-1904)
premier of Tasmania
came of an old Cornish family and was born on 11 June 1829. He was the son of Henry Braddon, a solicitor and his wife, formerly Fanny White. Miss Braddon the novelist was a younger sister. Educated privately and at University College, London, he went to India in 1847 to join his cousin's mercantile firm. He afterwards joined the Indian civil service and became an assistant-commissioner, fought with distinction as a volunteer during the Indian mutiny, and afterwards filled various important official posts. He was inspector-general of registration and commissioner of excise and stamps when he retired with a pension in 1878. He went to Tasmania, in the following year was elected a member of the house of assembly for West Devon, and represented that constituency until November 1888. He became leader of the opposition in 1886 and on the defeat of the Agnew (q.v.) ministry in March 1887 was asked to form a cabinet. He, however, resigned the premiership to (Sir) Philip Fysh (q.v.) and became minister for lands and works. On 1 November 1888 he was appointed agent-general for Tasmania in London, and held this position with distinction until September 1893. On returning to Tasmania he was again elected member for West Devon and leader of the opposition. In April 1894 he became premier and held office until 12 October 1899, the longest period any ministry had been in power in Tasmania up to that date.
Braddon also took an important part in the federal movement in Tasmania, and in 1888 represented Tasmania on the federal council. He was in England when the 1891 convention was held, but, after his return, did much speaking for the movement. He was elected as one of the Tasmanian representatives to the 1897 convention and was responsible for the famous "Braddon Clause" known by its opponents as the "Braddon Blot". The individual colonies, by surrendering their powers to levy customs duties, were deprived of their principal source of revenue, and their problem was how to make this good. Braddon moved a motion the effect of which was that the Commonwealth must return to the states three-fourths of the amount collected in each state from customs and excise duties. It was passed, but there was much discussion about it, and at one stage Reid (q.v.) was insisting that New South Wales would stand out unless the clause was omitted. Eventually a compromise was arrived at by which it was agreed that the clause would be operative for a period of 10 years only. It was a subject of many conferences during the first 10 years of federation, and was eventually superseded by the Surplus Revenue Act, No. 8, of 1910. Braddon was elected as a Tasmanian member to the first federal house of representatives, as an ardent freetrader became a member of the Reid party, and during Reid's absence occasionally acted as leader of the opposition. He was reelected for Wilmot in December 1903, but died suddenly at his home in Tasmania on 2 February 1904 before parliament met. He was a scholarly and picturesque figure in Tasmanian politics who did excellent administrative work. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1891 and was made a member of the privy council in 1897. He wrote a good deal for newspapers and magazines and was the author of two volumes, Life in India (1872), and Thirty Years of Shikar (1895). He married (1) in 1857, Amy G. Palmer and (2), in 1876, Alice H. Smith who survived him. Of the family by the first marriage of two sons and four daughters, the second son, Sir Henry Yule Braddon, born 27 April 1863, had a distinguished career. Educated at Dulwich College, London, on the continent, and at the Church of England Grammar School, Launceston, he was for some years in banking, transferred to Dalgety and Company Limited, in 1884, and rose to be superintendent for Australia (1914-28). He was president of the Sydney chamber of commerce and was a commissioner for Australia in the United States, 1918-19. He was the author of several volumes, Business Principles and Practice (1907), American Impressions (1920), Essays and Addresses (1930), and The Making of a Constitution (1930). He was created K.B.E. in 1920.
Burke's Colonial Gentry, 1891; The Mercury, Hobart, 3 February 1904; The Times, 3 February 1904; B. R. Wise, The Making of the Australian Commonwealth; H. G. Turner, The First Decade of the Australian Commonwealth; British Museum Catalogue; Who's Who in Australia, 1941.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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