Queensland’s first Elections in 1860

As the nation focuses on Federal elections today, 18 May 2019, let’s look at Queensland’s First Parliament in 1860 and the first Premier of Queensland, Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert.

Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert.
Born on 12 June 1831 in Brighton, England. He was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple on 30 April 1858. A year later he was commissioned colonial secretary to the newly appointed Governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen, on the proviso that he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. He became the first premier of Queensland. (SLQ 68163).

Following the establishment of the colony of Queensland on 6 June 1859, Sir George Ferguson Bowen was appointed as the new colony’s first Governor on 10 December 1859.Governor Bowen selected Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert to serve as Colonial Secretary and lead an interim government until elections for the first parliament were held.

These elections occurred between 27 April 1860 and 11 May 1860 for positions in the Legislative Assembly (the lower house) of Queensland’s first parliament. At these first elections, a total of 26 positions were contested to represent 16 electorates. Of these 16 original electorates, seven were multi-member electorates with either two or three members simultaneously representing those districts, while the remaining nine electorates were single-member districts.

For the Legislative Council, Queensland’s upper house, a total of 11 members were initially appointed by Governor Bowen to serve in that house. A further four members were appointed soon after with each of these four appointees present at the parliament’s second day of sitting. For the first parliament, these original appointments were for a period of five-years. Appointments to the Legislative Council subsequent to the first parliament were life appointments.

Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert.
Top left: Rev. Bowyer Shaw; top right: Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert (Premier of Queensland); left: Rev. I Tomlinson; right: John Bramston, c. Miles/Cox.(SLQ 3131).

The inaugural meeting of Queensland’s first parliament occurred on 22 May 1860 with official sittings then commencing on 29 May 1860. The term of the first parliament lasted until 20 May 1863 with elections for the second parliament then occurring from 30 May to 27 June 1863. (source:https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/…/first-parliament).

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