SLADEN, Sir Charles (1816-1884)


SLADEN, Sir Charles (1816-1884)
premier of Victoria
was born in 1816 at Ripple Court, Kent, and was the second son of John Baker Sladen, deputy-lieutenant of that county. He was educated at Shrewsbury and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and graduated LL.B. in 1840. He left England in 1841 and arrived at Port Phillip in February 1842 where he was admitted as an attorney soon afterwards. He practised at Geelong from 1842 to 1854 when he retired. At the end of that year he was nominated to the legislative council and appointed acting colonial treasurer. When Haines (q.v.) formed the first Victorian ministry in November 1855 Sladen was his treasurer and held office until March 1857. At the general election held in 1856 he was elected a member of the legislative assembly for Geelong and advocated a public bank of issue and the encouragement of immigration. He lost his seat in 1861 and was out of politics until 1864 when he was elected to the legislative council. When McCulloch (q.v.) resigned in May 1868 on account of the deadlock with the upper house over the Darling grant, Sladen was especially requested by the governor to form a ministry so that the business of the country might be carried on. Sladen found himself in a hopeless minority but he remained in office in spite of adverse votes for about nine weeks. His ministry, though only a stop-gap one, filled a useful purpose in tiding over a difficult period. Soon afterwards he retired from politics, but in 1876 was again elected to the legislative council and became recognized as the virtual leader of the upper house in the constant conflicts with the assembly. Though extremely conservative he recognized that the franchise for the council must be broadened and this was brought about in 1881. He retired in 1882 on account of his health and died on 22 February 1884. He married in 1840 Harriet Amelia Orton, who survived him without issue. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1875. A portrait is at the national gallery, Melbourne.
Sladen played a prominent part as a leader of the conservatives in the troubled early days of Victorian politics. His patience, courtesy and moderation were of great value when feelings were running high, and even his greatest opponents respected his consistent and unblemished career.
The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 23 February 1884; H. G. Turner, A History of the Colony of Victoria; J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; Burke's Peerage, etc., 1883.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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