Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bland, William

BLAND, WILLIAM (1789–1868), Australian statesman, was born in London 5 Nov. 1789. He was son of Robert Bland the elder [q. v.], and brother of Robert Bland, classical scholar [q. v.] Bland is said to have been educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, but his name does not appear in the Rev. C. J. Robinson's register of that institution. His father was his instructor in medicine and surgery; when scarcely nineteen he was admitted, at an examination held by the Royal College of Surgeons for the naval medical services, a surgeon 5th rate 6 Jan. 1809, and soon after received an appointment in the Royal navy. The vessel to which he was assigned sailed for Bombay. During the voyage, some misunderstanding having arisen between Mr. Bland and the purser, it culminated in a quarrel when the ship neared the Persian Gulf, and a duel took place as soon as they reached the land, in which the purser was fatally wounded. An insinuation of unfairness on the part of Lieutenant William Randall led to a second duel, in which neither principal was hurt; but both were arrested, and subsequently tried at Calcutta and sentenced to seven years' transportation, Bland was exiled to Sydney, where he arrived in 1814, and seven or eight months later began to practise his profession, a free pardon having in the meantime been granted to him. Whilst smarting under domestic affliction, Bland libelled Governor Lachlan Macquarie, was tried, fined 60l. and imprisoned for twelve months in Paramatta gaol. On his release he devoted himself in Australia to public affairs and philanthropic projects. He appears to have been in England after this period, as he was passed by the Royal College of Surgeons as a naval assistant surgeon 2 May 1823, and as a naval surgeon 7 July 1826. Next to William Charles Wentworth, Australia is indebted to Bland for the political institutions she now enjoys. His energetic action as a member of the Patriotic Association, his letters to Charles Buller M.P., on the indefeasible rights of the colonists, and his attention to the public charities, famed for him a deserved popularity, which resulted in his return 16 June 1843 as one of the members for Sydney to the first elective legislature in New South Wales. On his retirement in 1848, consequent on his defeat by Mr. Lowe (the present Viscount Sherbrooke), he devoted himself to the practice of his profession, and to those philanthropic labours which endeared him to hundreds of his fellow-colonists. He died suddenly at his residence, 28 College Street, Sydney, 21 July 1868, and was buried in the necropolis.

[Beaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates, (1879), pp. 18-19; Illustrated News of the World, iv. 68 (1869), with portrait; Carlisle's History of the Family of Bland (1826), pp. 236-47.]

G. C. B.