Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Douglas, Hon. John

Douglas, Hon. John, C.M.G., son of Henry Alexander Douglas and Elizabeth (Dalziel) his wife, was born in London on March 6th, 1828, and after receiving his education at Rugby School and Durham University, he emigrated to New South Wales in 1851, and received the appointment of a goldfields' commissioner, a post he gave up in order to follow pastoral pursuits. He sat as member for Darling Downs, and afterwards for Camden, in the New South Wales Parliament; but in 1863 he settled in Queensland, and entered the Legislative Assembly for Port Curtis. Mr. Douglas joined the Macalister Ministry in Feb. 1866, and was Postmaster-General from March to July of that year. He was called to the Legislative Council in the same year; but when, some months after Mr. Macalister's return to power, he was appointed Treasurer, he re-entered the Assembly as member for the Eastern Downs, afterwards resigning to take the leadership in the Council. He resigned the treasurership in May 1867, and was Secretary for Public Works till the August following. In the Lilley Ministry Mr. Douglas was Postmaster-General from Dec. 1868 to Nov. 1869, when he resigned on accepting the post of Agent-General, which he held till 1871, when he returned to Queensland, and was elected in 1875 for Maryborough. In June of the following year he accepted office as Secretary for Public Lands in the Thorn Ministry, and became Premier upon the resignation of Mr. Thorn in March 1877. In the following year he exchanged the portfolio of Lands for the Colonial Secretaryship, and remained in power until Jan. 1879, when his Government was defeated, and he resigned. Subsequent to the assumption of a protectorate over a portion of New Guinea by the British Government, he was a candidate for the poet of High Commissioner, but Sir Peter Scratchley's claims were preferred by the Imperial authorities. Mr. Douglas became Resident at Thursday Island in April 1885, and on the death of Sir Peter Scratchley he was appointed Special Commissioner for British New Guinea, which post he held for nearly three years, until the sovereignty of England was proclaimed. In 1889 he returned to Thursday Island, where he acts as Government Resident and police magistrate.