O'CONNELL, Sir Maurice Charles the younger (1812-1879)


O'CONNELL, Sir Maurice Charles the younger (1812-1879)
Queensland pioneer and president of the legislative council
was born at Sydney in 1812. His father was Sir Maurice Charles O'Connell, the elder (q.v.), his mother was a daughter of Governor Bligh (q.v.). He was educated at the high school, Edinburgh, and entered the army as an ensign at 16. In 1835 he volunteered for foreign service with the British Legion in Spain, and was given the rank of colonel. He fought with distinction and was created a knight of several Spanish orders. O'Connell returned to Australia in 1838 as military secretary on the staff of his father. He afterwards resigned from the army and took up land. He was elected a member of the legislative council in 1846. He was appointed commissioner of crown lands for the Burnett district in 1848, became government resident at Port Curtis in 1854, and held this position until 1860. He was nominated as one of the original members of the Queensland legislative council in 1860, was a minister without portfolio in the first ministry under Herbert (q.v.), and introduced in July of that year a bill to provide for primary education in Queensland. Shortly afterwards he was elected president of the legislative council and retained this position until his death. He was commandant of the local military forces, and on four occasions was acting-governor of Queensland and showed tact and ability in this position. He was president of the Australasian Association, and of the Queensland Turf Club, and was a vice-president of the National Agricultural Association. He died on 23 March 1879. There is a monument to his memory at Toowong. He married in 1835 Eliza Emiline, daughter of Colonel Philip Le Geyh, who survived him. He was knighted in 1871.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty Years; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1879.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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