GROOM, William Henry (1833-1901)


GROOM, William Henry (1833-1901)
politician
was born at Plymouth, England, on 9 March 1833. He was educated at St Andrew's College, Plymouth, and in 1857 emigrated to Queensland. He began business as a storekeeper at Toowoomba, in 1861 was elected to the local council, and immediately became the first mayor of Toowoomba. Early in 1863 he was elected a member of the Queensland legislative assembly for Drayton and Toowoomba, but in 1866 resigned his seat, having been compelled to assign his estate owing to the failure of the Bank of Queensland. He was re-elected in 1867 and held the seat until he entered the federal house of representatives in March 1901. He more than once had strong opposition, but always headed the poll. He was speaker from 1883 to 1888, but did not become a member of any ministry, largely because of his being opposed to the views of McIlwraith (q.v.) and Griffith (q.v.), the two strong men of his period. He had been practically 38 years in the Queensland parliament when he resigned to go into federal politics, a unique record in Australia up to that period. He died at Melbourne on 8 August 1901. He married Grace Littleton who survived him. There was a family of four sons and three daughters, of whom the third son, Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, is noticed separately.
Groom was an industrious member of parliament, extremely interested in land settlement which he kept constantly before the house. He exercised much influence in Queensland, partly through his journal the Toowoomba Chronicle which he had founded and owned, but principally because he became the leader in parliament of a group colloquially known as the "Darling Downs Bunch". He was a fluent and earnest speaker, and as the "father of the house" his advice was constantly sought and given. When Toowoomba was little more than a village he was probably the only person who was able to visualize the possibilities of the town and the surrounding district. Much of the development of the Darling Downs was due to his efforts.
The Brisbane Courier, 9 August 1901; The Queensland Times, 10 August 1901; C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty Years; Nation Building in Australia. The Life and Work of Sir Ernest Littleton Groom.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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