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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Pyke, Hon. Vincent

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Pyke, Hon. Vincent, was born in Somersetshire, England, on Feb. 4th, 1827, and went to South Australia in 1851. He soon, however, left that colony for the Victorian goldfields, where he worked as a miner for two years with varying success at Forest Creek, Castlemaine, and Fryer's Creek, Bendigo. In 1853 he took to storekeeping at Fryer's Creek, and having made himself prominent as an opponent of the unpopular diggers' licences, was elected in 1855 to represent the Mount Alexander goldfields in the semi-representative Legislative Council which was then the sole parliamentary chamber. He was one of the earliest supporters of the ballot, which was adopted by the Council. Responsible government having been conceded, Mr. Pyke was returned in 1856 to the first Legislative Assembly for Castlemaine, and in the following year was appointed emigration agent in England in conjunction with the Right Hon. H. C. E. Childers. Returning to Victoria at the end of 1858, Mr. Pyke was appointed warden and police magistrate at Sandhurst, a position he held for eighteen months, when he resigned and was re-elected for Castlemaine. On the fall of the O'Shanassy Ministry in Oct. 1859 Mr. Pyke accepted office under Mr. Nicholson as Commissioner of Trade and Customs. This post he held till Oct. 1860, when he was transferred to the position of Vice-President of the Board of Land and Works and Commissioner of Public Works. He also for a few weeks in Sept. 1860 discharged the functions of Minister of Lands in succession to Mr. Service. In the following November he resigned with his colleagues. In 1862, whilst still a member of the Victorian Parliament, he visited New Zealand with the view of inspecting the Tuapeka goldfields in Otago. Whilst in Dunedin he was offered and accepted the post of head of the goldfields department under the Otago Provincial Government. In this capacity he organised the department and prepared regulations for its guidance and working, being thus in large measure the father of goldfields legislation in New Zealand, the Goldfields Act of 1866 being drafted by him. He held the office of Secretary of Goldfields till 1867, when it was abolished, owing to a dispute between the Colonial and Provincial Governments as to their respective powers under the Goldfields Act. Mr. Pyke was then successively warden and resident magistrate of the Dunstan and Tuapeka districts. In 1873 he resigned his magisterial post, and was returned to the New Zealand House of Representatives for Wakatipu. In 1875 he transferred his services to the Dunstan district, but was thrown out of Parliament in 1890. Mr. Pyke, who resides at Dunedin, has published a number of works of fiction, principally illustrative of gold-digging life.