MORGAN, Sir William (c. 1829-1883)


MORGAN, Sir William (c. 1829-1883)
premier of South Australia
was the son of a farmer and was born in Bedfordshire, England, in 1828 or 1829. He emigrated to Australia and arrived at Adelaide in February 1849 where he obtained work with Boord Brothers, grocers. About the beginning of 1852 he went to the Victorian gold diggings, but was not very successful and returned to his old position. In partnership with a brother he shortly afterwards purchased this business and made it a very successful one. He was elected to the legislative council in 1867, and was chief secretary in the second Boucaut (q.v.) government from June 1875 to March 1876. He was chief secretary again in the fourth Boucaut ministry from October 1877 to September 1878, and when Boucaut became a judge, Morgan reconstructed the ministry and on 27 September 1878 became premier and chief secretary. This ministry was in office for nearly three years but it did not have an easy passage. One important measure passed was that providing deep drainage for Adelaide, the first city in Australia to have a proper sewerage system. A public trustee act was passed, and there was some railway extension, but other bills were thrown out by the council. Pressure of private business made Morgan resign on 24 June 1881, and the Bray (q.v.) ministry came in. In May 1883 Morgan left on a visit to England and he died suddenly at Brighton on 2 November 1883. He married a daughter of T. H. Matthews who survived him with two sons and two daughters. He was created K.C.M.G. in May 1883.
Morgan was an entirely self-made man, of liberal opinions. He was a staunch free-trader who held that protective duties taxed the people least able to bear the burden. He was an excellent speaker, and an able administrator who, but for his comparatively early death, might have had a more important place in the political history of South Australia.
The Times, 3 November 1883; The Register, Adelaide, 3 November 1883; E. Hodder, The History of South Australia.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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