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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Thomson, Hon. Sir Edward Deas

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Thomson, Hon. Sir Edward Deas, K.C.M.G., C.B., M.L.C., sometime Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, second son of Sir John Deas Thomson, K.C.H., Accountant-General of the Navy, was born at Edinburgh on June 1st, 1800, and educated at the High School there, at Harrow, and at Caen in Normandy. After assisting his father in introducing the system of double entry into the accounts of the navy, and visiting America in connection with his deceased mother's property there, he returned to England in 1827, and was appointed clerk of the Council of New Smith Wales, arriving in Sydney in Dec. 1828. Five years later he married Anna Maria, second daughter of General Sir Richard Bourke, K.C.B., then Governor of the colony, who survived him and died on Feb. 3rd, 1884, aged seventy-seven. In 1837 he was appointed Colonial Secretary and Registrar of Records, and a member of the Executive and Legislative Councils in succession to Mr. Macleay, who had been removed from office by his father-in-law. From 1843, when the Legislative Council became partially elective, he represented the Government in that Chamber until 1854, when he obtained leave of absence for two years on account of ill-health. On May 20th, 1853, a select committee of the Legislative Council was appointed to prepare a Constitution Bill; and this having been passed shortly before his departure for England, he was appointed conjointly with Mr. Wentworth to watch its progress through the British Parliament. He was also appointed one of the Commissioners for the colony at the Paris Exhibition of 1855. A service of plate was presented to him in appreciation of his public services, and the sum of £1000, subscribed in excess, was by him devoted to the establishment of a scholarship in the University for the encouragement of physical science. In 1856 he retired from the public service on a pension. At the election of 1856 he was asked to allow himself to be nominated for Sydney, but the state of his health compelled him to decline. He represented the Parker Government in the Upper House as Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1856 to 1857. In 1861 he resigned his seat in the Legislative Council in conjunction with Sir W. W. Burton and eighteen other members, in order to thwart the attempt of the Cowper Ministry to coerce that body by swamping it with twenty-one new members. In the same year, however, he accepted a nomination to the existing Legislative Council. Sir Edward, who was created K.C.M.G. in 1878, was, in 1851, appointed a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney, Vice-Chancellor in 1862, and in 1865 Chancellor, a position which increasing age induced him to resign in 1878. Sir Edward was one of the original committee which reported in favour of the establishment of a University. He died in Sydney on August 16th, 1879.