Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Rusden, George William

Rusden, George William, J.P. third son of the Rev. George Keylock Rusden, M.A., of Pembroke College, Cambridge by his marriage with Anne, only daughter of Rev. Thomas Townsend, was born at Leith Hill Place, in Surrey, on July 9th, 1819, and went to New South Wales with his father in 1834. Primarily engaging in pastoral pursuits he was in 1849 appointed Agent for National Schools, first in Port Phillip, and afterwards in New South Wales and Moreton Bay. On the separation of Victoria from New South Wales in 1851, he was appointed Under-Secretary or Chief Clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office. The next year he became Clerk of the Executive Council; and in 1856, when two Houses of Parliament were established under the new Constitution Act, he was appointed Clerk of the Legislative Council and Clerk of the Parliaments. He was for some time a member of the National Board of Education in Victoria, and was a member of the Council of Melbourne University from its foundation. Mr. Rusden, who originated the Shakespeare scholarships, founded in 1864, retired in 1882, and has latterly resided in England. In 1885 he was the defendant in a libel action brought against him by Mr. John Bryce of New Zealand, in connection with certain statements made with respect to the latter in the "History of New Zealand." In the result Mr. Bryce obtained a verdict for £5000 damages. Sir John Gorst was counsel for Mr. Rusden, whose allegations were understood to be based on information supplied by Sir Arthur Gordon and Bishop Hadfield. He is author of the following works. "Moryarra: an Australian Legend," 2 cantos; "National Education," 1 vol.; "Discovery, Survey and Settlement of Port Phillip," 1872; "Curiosities of Colonisation," London, 1874; "History of New Zealand," 3 vols., London, 1883; "Aureretanga: Groans of the Maoris," 1888; "History of Australia," 3 vols., London, 1883: "Letter to the ''Times'', on the Law of Libel," 1890; "Lectures on Work and Learning," 1857; "Old Road to Responsible Government," 1856; "Character of Falstaff," 1870; "Constitutional Rights," 1865; "Caucus Premonitions," 1884; "Letter to General Macarthur," 1860; "Status of Colonial Bishops," 1868; "Translations and Fragments," 1874; "Les Propos de Labienus," 1874; and some other pamphlets.