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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Lalor, Hon. Peter

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Lalor, Hon. Peter, a younger son of Patrick Lalor, who was for some time M.P. for Queen's County, was born in 1827 at Tennikill, in that county, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, afterwards qualifying himself as a civil engineer. The outbreak of the gold fever brought him to Melbourne in 1852, and then to the Ovens, where he only remained a short time, arriving in Ballarat in Feb. 1853, where he worked with marked success until the troubles between the authorities and the miners in Dec. 1854, in which Mr. Lalor bore a prominent part in the interests of the latter. He was present at the meeting on Bakery Hill, on Nov. 29th, when the obnoxious mining licences were publicly burned; and he acted as commander of the contingent of miners who guarded the Eureka stockade against the troops and police commanded by Colonel (then Captain) Thomas, on Dec. 3rd, 1854. On this occasion he was wounded in the left arm, which was subsequently amputated, and a price was set upon his head; but this did not result in his apprehension, and his captured comrades having in the meantime been acquitted, he was in 1855 elected one of the first representatives of the Ballarat fields in the Legislative Council—then the only existing chamber. In the same year he was appointed Inspector of Railways, a position he had to resign when the Officials in Parliament Act came into force. He was elected to the Assembly for South Grant in Oct. 1856, and from Dec. 1859 until 1868 acted as Chairman of Committees in the Lower Chamber. He was successively defeated for South Grant and for North Melbourne in 1871, but was re-elected for the former constituency in 1875, and became Commissioner of Trade and Customs and Postmaster-General in Mr. (now Sir) Graham Berry's first Administration in August of that year, retiring with his colleagues on the formation of Sir James MᶜCulloch's fourth Ministry in October. He was reappointed to his former offices on Mr. Berry's return to power in May 1877, but resigned the Postmaster-Generalship to Mr. Cuthbert in the following July, continuing as Minister of Customs till March 1880, when the Government was defeated. On the assembling of the second Parliament of 1880, on July 22nd, Mr. Lalor was chosen Speaker in succession to Sir C. G. Duffy, and was re-elected in the two succeeding parliaments of 1883 and 1886. On Sept. 29th, 1887, he resigned, and was voted a sum of £4,000 by the Parliament of Victoria on retiring from public life, He died on Feb. 9th, 1889.