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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Pasley, Major-General Hon. Charles

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Pasley, Major-General Hon. Charles, C.B., R.E., formerly Commissioner of Public Works, Victoria, was the son of the late Lieut.-General Sir Charles Pasley, K.C.B., and Martha Matilda his wife. He was born at Chatham, Kent, on Nov. 14th, 1824, and entered the army in Dec. 1843, becoming colonel in April 1876, and retiring from the army with the honorary rank of major-general in August 1881. He served at Bermuda in 1850, and arrived at Melbourne on Sept. 18th, 1853, having been appointed in the spring of that year Colonial Engineer to the colony of Victoria. He found himself at the head of a considerable department, to which that of Colonial Architect was very soon added, and subsequently that of Central Road Board. In 1854 he was member of a commission to make arrangements for an exhibition of colonial products at the Paris Exhibition in the following year. Later in the same year he was nominated to a seat on the Legislative Council of Victoria. About this time the Ballarat riots broke out, and he offered his services to the Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, and was sent to the goldfields on a special mission. In 1855 the new constitution came into force in Victoria, and the first responsible ministry was formed by Mr. Haines in November of that year, General Pasley taking the portfolio of Commissioner of Public Works. On Dec. 10th he was appointed a member of the Executive Council, and a few months later was made by an Act of Council a joint trustee with Captain (now Lieut.-General Sir Andrew) Clarke, R.E., for the Melbourne and Mount Alexander Railway, purchased by Government. In 1856 Captain Pasley was elected to the first Legislative Assembly for South Bourke, and in March 1857 he resigned with the rest of the Ministry, but ultimately consented to remain as professional head of the Department of Public Works. The Houses of Parliament were amongst the public buildings erected under his direction, and some of the principal streets of Melbourne were laid out during his term of office. The last public building with which he was connected was the Melbourne Post Office, but this was not completed till after his return to England. Captain Pasley also took great interest in the Botanic Gardens and the Herbarium, which was built under his auspices. In 1860 he resigned his connection with the Public Works Department, with the intention of returning to England; but his interest in the welfare of the colony of Victoria and of the city of Melbourne was as keen as ever in after years. Before his departure from the colony the New Zealand war broke out, and he immediately offered his services, which were accepted the same day, and he was appointed an extra member of Major-General (afterwards Sir Thomas) Pratt's staff. Three months later he was severely wounded by a bullet in the thigh, while in charge of the trenches, after laying out and constructing a parallel needed in the capture of the Kaihihi Pas. His wound proving serious, he became unfit for further duty, and returned to Melbourne invalided. For his services in New Zealand he was mentioned in despatches, and promoted to brevet-major, he having become captain soon after his arrival in Melbourne. In 1864 he was employed as Acting Agent-General for the colony of Victoria, a temporary appointment which he held for four years, with leave from the War Office, and afterwards from the Admiralty, to accommodate the colony until they could make a permanent appointment. In this capacity he superintended on behalf of the colony the equipment of the Nelson, and the design, construction, armament and despatch of the Cerberus turret-ship. He again acted as Agent-General for Victoria from 1880 to 1882. From 1873 to 1882 he held the Imperial appointment of Director of Works of the Navy, in succession to Sir Andrew Clarke. General Pasley, who died at Chiswick on Nov. 11th, 1890, married at Hampton, on March 29th, 1864, Charlotte, eldest daughter of the late John Roberts, of Barzell, Sussex, who survives him.