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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Champ, Colonel Hon. William Thomas Napier

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Champ, Colonel Hon. William Thomas Napier, first Premier of Tasmania, is the son of Captain Thomas Champ and Mary Anne Blackaller, his wife. He was born at Maldon, Essex, on April 15th, 1808, and was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Having obtained a commission in the army, he arrived in Sydney with his regiment in Oct 1828. The following year he was stationed in Tasmania, and in 1830 took part in Governor Arthur's famous attempt to form a cordon across the island so as to secure the hostile blacks on Tasman's Peninsula. He afterwards retired from the army, entered the civil service in Tasmania, and held successively the following appointments, viz., Assistant Police Magistrate, Chairman of the Board for Investigating the Penal Settlement of Tasman's Peninsula, and Comptroller-General of Convicts. In 1852, on the refusal of Mr. H. S. Chapman, the then Colonial Secretary, to support the official transportation policy, he was appointed to succeed him as Acting Colonial Secretary, and on the concession of responsible government was awarded a bonus of £6000 in lieu of a pension for loss of office. He was elected to the first House of Assembly as member for Launceston in 1856, and became the first Premier of the colony under the new Constitution in November of that year, when he was sworn of the Executive Council. He only, however, retained office till the end of Feb. 1857, when he retired rather than assent to the reduction of the Governor's salary. He subsequently went to reside in Victoria, where he succeeded Captain Price, who was murdered in 1857, as head of the Convict Department, and became a lieut.-colonel in the local forces unattached. Colonel Champ held the position of Inspector-General of Penal Establishments in Victoria till Dec. 31st, 1868, when he retired on a pension, and went to reside on his estate (since called Darra), near Meredith. In 1871 he was chosen member, of the Victorian House of Assembly for the East Bourke Boroughs, but his old dislike for politics returned, and he resigned before the end of the Parliament. He was a justice of the peace and a lieutenant-colonel in the Victorian Military Forces, commanding for some years the North Melbourne district, and retired finally with the rank of colonel. He was married at New Norfolk, Tas., in March, 1837, to Helen Abigail, daughter of Major James Gibson, formerly of the 15th Light Dragoons.