DALLEY, William Bede (1831-1888)

DALLEY, William Bede (1831-1888)
orator and politician
was born at Sydney in 1831 of Irish parents, and was educated at the Sydney College and St Mary's College. He was called to the bar in 1856, in the following year was elected to the legislative assembly as one of the representatives of Sydney, and in November 1858 joined the second Cowper (q.v.) ministry as solicitor-general, but held this position for only three months. Early in 1861 he was appointed a commissioner of emigration by the New South Wales government, went to England in 1861 with his fellow commissioner Henry Parkes (q.v.), and was away about a year. He held many successful meetings in southern England and in Ireland. After his return to Australia in 1862 he took up his legal practice again and became the leading counsel in criminal cases in Sydney. He did not, however, become a Q.C. until 1877. In February 1875 he joined the third Robertson (q.v.) ministry as attorney-general and was nominated to the legislative council. Robertson resigned in March 1877 but was in power again five months later with Dalley in his old position until December. For the next five years Dalley took no part in politics, but in January 1883 he became attorney-general in the Stuart (q.v.) ministry, and in 1884 his Speeches on the Proposed Federal Council for Australasia was published. In February 1885 Dalley, as acting-premier during the absence of Stuart from the colony, offered a detachment of New South Wales troops to go to the Sudan. Though there was opposition in some quarters this was taken up with great enthusiasm in others and a contingent was sent. The Stuart ministry resigned in October 1885 and Dalley did not hold office again. His health began to weaken and his last two years were spent practically in retirement. He died at Sydney on 28 October 1888. He refused a knighthood and the office of chief justice, but in 1886 was appointed to the privy council, the first Australian to be given that honour. He married Eleanor Long who predeceased him, leaving him with three young children. One son John Bede Dalley is noticed separately, another, William Bede Dalley, born in 1873, became well-known as a journalist in Sydney.
Dalley was a highly cultured man of great ability. His political achievement was small, largely because he was not really interested in politics. He will always be remembered for the sending of the contingent to the Sudan, the first armed force sent overseas by a British colony. He was a great advocate in criminal cases, and while he was attorney-general showed he had a fine general grasp of law. He had an immense reputation as an orator, having a beautiful voice, melodious, clear and insinuating, a sense of humour, a ready wit, and a complete grasp of essentials. He was a good literary critic and often wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Freeman's Journal. His magnetic personality and fine character drew everyone to him. When he died there was a chorus of praise from the press; even the Bulletin which seldom in those days allowed itself to show enthusiasm, and incidentally had been bitterly opposed to the sending of the contingent, spoke of Dalley's "career of high conduct as a citizen, his splendid achievement as an advocate", and pronounced him "the most notable man Sydney had given birth to".
The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 1888; The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 29 October 1888; The Times, 5 November 1888; The Bulletin, Sydney, 3 November 1888; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; J. A. Froude, Oceana; Stanley Brogden, The Sudan Contingent.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • John Bede Dalley — (5 October 1878 – 6 September 1935) was an Australian journalist and novelist, editor of Melbourne Punch . Dalley was born in Rose Bay, Sydney, the second son of William Bede Dalley (1831 1888) and Eleanor Jane, née Longcite web… …   Wikipedia

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