JENNINGS, Sir Patrick Alfred (1831-1897)

JENNINGS, Sir Patrick Alfred (1831-1897)
premier of New South Wales
was born at Newry, Ireland, in 1831, the son of Francis Jennings, a well-known merchant in that town. He was educated at Newry and at a high school at Exeter, England, and began a mercantile career. In 1852 he went to Australia and engaged in gold-inining at St Arnaud, Victoria, with success, bought a large pastoral property on the Murrumbidgee, and in 1862 removed to Warbreccan near Deniliquin. In 1863 he became interested in the movement to form the Riverina district into a separate province, and two years later was asked to go to England as a delegate to bring the grievances of the district before the English authorities. He declined on the ground that it should be possible to clear up the difficulties with the New South Wales government. He was nominated to the legislative council in 1867. He resigned in 1870 to enter the legislative assembly as member for the Murray, but after 1872 was out of politics for some years. He represented the colonies of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, at the Philadelphia exhibition in 1876, and subsequently visited Europe. He was elected to the assembly again in 1880 as member for Began and from January to July 1883 was vice-president of the executive council in the A. Stuart (q.v.) ministry. He was colonial secretary from October to December 1985 in the G. R. Dibbs (q.v.) ministry, and in February 1886 became premier and treasurer. His administration lasted only 11 months and had a troubled career; Jennings was scarcely a strong enough man to control a ministry which included Dibbs, J. H. Want (q.v.) and W. J. Lyne (q.v.). He represented New South Wales at the colonial conference held in London in 1887. He was nominated to the legislative council in 1890, and was one of the New South Wales representatives at the federal convention held at Sydney in 1891, but did not take a prominent part in the proceedings. He died at Brisbane on 11 July 1897. He married in 1864 Mary Ann Shanahan who died in 1887, and was survived by two sons and a daughter. He was a leading man among his co-religionists and was created Grand Cross of Pius IX by Pope Leo XIII. He was made an honorary LL.D. of Dublin university, and was created K.C.M.G. in 1880.
Jennings was an amiable, cultivated man much interested in art and music; he contributed £1100 to Sydney university towards the cost of an organ for the great hall. He made many friends but was not a great parliamentarian, though he was a prominent figure in the public life of New South Wales for many years.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 July 1897; J. H. Heaton, The Australian Dictionary of Dates; Sir Henry Parkes, Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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