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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Lonsdale, Captain William

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Lonsdale, Captain William, first Colonial Secretary of Victoria, was originally an officer of the 4th Regiment, but after arrival in Sydney entered the Civil Service of the colony, and was employed as a police magistrate. In 1836, when measures were required for the preservation of order in the newly formed settlement, he was despatched by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir R. Bourke, with the appointment of police magistrate at the future Melbourne. He went to his new location in H.M.S. Rattlesnake, commanded by Captain William Hobson, afterwards first Governor of New Zealand, after whom Hobson's Bay, on which Melbourne stands, was named. In September Port Phillip was formally opened to settlement, and Lonsdale was instructed to form a bench of magistrates, to protect the natives from all manner of wrong, to pension Buckley (q.v.) the wild white man found amongst the blacks by Batman in the previous year, and generally to supervise the disposal of the public lands, to which previous unauthorised occupation was to give no prior claim at the sales which were to be carried out. In March 1837 Governor Bourke himself visited the settlement, and was received by Lonsdale, who was appointed sub-treasurer and was acting Superintendent of Port Phillip during the absence of the Superintendent, Mr. Latrobe, in Tasmania from Oct 1846 to Jan. 1847. When Port Phillip was separated from New South Wales in 1851, Captain Lonsdale was appointed first Colonial Secretary of the new colony of Victoria, as it was now called. He was also an ex-officio member of the Executive Council, and in Nov. 1851 was appointed by Governor Latrobe an official member of the semi-elective Legislative Council, his colleagues being Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Stawell, Mr. C. H. Ebden, Mr. (afterwards Sir Redmond) Barry, and Mr. R. W. Pohlman, all since deceased. Captain Lonsdale was Colonial Secretary during the perturbed times of the gold discovery until he was replaced by Mr. J. F. L. Foster in July 1853. He then returned to England, where he died.