GREGSON, Thomas George (1798-1874)


GREGSON, Thomas George (1798-1874)
premier of Tasmania
was born in Durham, England, in 1798 and went to Tasmania in 1821. He brought over £3000 with him and was given a grant of 2500 acres. Subsequently he received an additional 1000 acres. He was made a magistrate and in 1825 was assisting Andrew Bent in his conflict with Governor Arthur (q.v.) for the liberty of the press. In July 1842 he became a member of the legislative council, and three years later led the opposition to the governor, Sir Eardley-Wilmot, in his attempt to raise the import duties. Shortly afterwards he resigned with five other members as a protest against the voting of expenditure the colony could not bear, and, among other things, the statement by the governor that he would carry the estimates by his casting vote. The six members became known as "the patriotic six" and Gregson was presented by the colonists with two thousand guineas and a piece of plate. At the end of 1850 he was elected to the new legislative council, and, when responsible government was granted, was elected a member of the house of assembly for Richmond in September 1856 and held the seat for many years. On 14 February 1857 Gregson moved and carried a motion in favour of reductions in the salaries of the governor, colonial secretary, colonial treasurer and attorney-general. The Champ (q.v.) ministry resigned and Gregson became premier and colonial secretary. But he was found to be unsuitable for his office; he lacked moderation, self-control and tact, and his government was defeated about eight weeks later. He was never in office again, though often a turbulent critic of other administrations. In January 1862 he was more than once committed to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms and was once expelled from the house. He retired from parliament not long before his death at Risdon on 4 January 1874. He was survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.
Gregson was an amateur artist and exhibited at the first art exhibitions held in Hobart in 1845 and 1846. He is represented in the Beattie collection at Launceston by a sketch of the Rev. Robert Knopwood (q.v.) on his white horse. He worked hard for the good of the colony to the neglect of his own interests for he died comparatively poor. He was particularly important as a reformer in his early days, fighting for the liberty of the press, for trial by jury, and the abolishment of transportation. His son, John Compton Gregson, was elected a member of the house of assembly for Norfolk Plains in 1856 and was attorney-general in his father's ministry. He died on 16 December 1867.
The Mercury, Hobart, 6 January 1874; J. Fenton, A History of Tasmania; R. W. Giblin, The Early History of Tasmania, vol. II; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Gregson — /ˈgrɛgsən/ (say gregsuhn) noun Thomas George, 1798–1874, Australian politician, agitator and newspaper proprietor, born in England; co founder of the Colonist, 1832, member of The Patriotic Six and premier of Tasmania 1857 …   Australian English dictionary

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