William Thomas Denison

(1804—1871) army officer and colonial governor

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Sir John Eardley Eardley Wilmot (1783—1847) politician and colonial administrator


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(1804–71) was appointed lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land in 1846 to replace the disgraced Eardley-Wilmot. He arrived from England with strong views on the need for punishment of convicts rather than reform, and modified the existing system accordingly. He also inherited a fraught political situation, which he soon exacerbated by adjourning the Legislative Council and suspending two of his judges, actions which incurred strong public condemnation. Already unpopular for his support of transportation and his overbearing style, Denison became much more so when a confidential report, critical of local society, became public. He was, however, a sound practical administrator, and a keen proponent of education. He saw the colony through the end of transportation and the Victorian gold rush. In late 1854 Denison was appointed governor of NSW and governor-general of all the colonies, and sailed for Sydney. The Crimean War prompted him to strengthen Sydney's defence against sea attack, and the fort on Pinchgut Island bears his name. He steered NSW along the complex path to responsible government while maintaining the primacy of the Executive Council, a cause of dispute with some of his ministers. Typically, Denison ended his term as governor-general in dispute with Cabinet over the division of power.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.

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