Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Broughton, Thomas Stafford (1810–1901)

by Helen Bowd

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Thomas Stafford Broughton (1810-1901), tailor, grazier and politician, was born on 10 August 1810 at Windsor, New South Wales, son of Thomas Broughton, a clerk in the Audit Office, and his wife Mary, née Stafford. At 9 he was apprenticed to a Sydney tailor and at 23 had his own business in George Street, Sydney. In 1838 he married Jane, the second daughter of John Tindale of Penrith: they had fifteen children, five of whom died young.

Broughton appears to have been a landholder as early as 1838, when he advertised in the Australian for a sheep and cattle overseer, and in 1840 had ewes for sale 'running at Liverpool Plains'. However, his first recorded grants, apart from a town lot in Castlereagh Street in 1836, were three 100-acre (40 ha) sections in Durham County in 1846. By the late 1830s Broughton was a prominent and respectable citizen and representative of the merchant interests. In September 1842 he was proposed by a provisional meeting in Macquarie ward as a candidate in the first City Council elections held under the Sydney Corporation Act. In accepting nomination he declared that as a property owner his concern for the citizen was based on more important motives than one 'who is merely a resident in the Colony'. He and his fellow nominees promised to 'ever oppose all lavish and unnecessary expenditure incompatible with rigid economy'. Broughton won the election and was later chosen as an alderman. He must have made more than the usual effort to fulfil his election promises, for the Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 1843, called him 'the City Council's Shylock' after he proposed the issue of distress warrants against residents apparently too poor to pay their rates. In 1844, in evidence before a select committee on extension of the franchise, he claimed that the commercial, trading and artisan interests were not adequately represented in the Legislative Council, and wanted the city to have at least two more members to offset the domination of agricultural and pastoral interests.

Broughton became a magistrate of the colony in 1844 and was a signatory to many petitions and addresses from magistrates and merchants in the late 1840s. In 1843-46 he served on the committee of the Benevolent Society of New South Wales and in 1846 was mayor of Sydney. Frequent accusations of mismanagement by the City Council led in May 1849 to a successful motion by Robert Lowe for an inquiry by a select committee of the Legislative Council. In evidence before this committee Broughton admitted some faults in the management of city affairs. In 1854 three commissioners were appointed to replace the City Council, and when it was reconstituted in 1857 he did not regain his seat.

In April 1858 Broughton was appointed a commissioner of the South Head Road Trust. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly for West Sydney in June 1859. His interest in the City Council continued, for later that year he became chairman of a select committee which he had proposed to inquire into the working of the City Council, particularly its water and sewerage debt and its claim for additional endowment. In November 1860 parliament was dissolved. Next month Broughton reminded the electors of West Sydney of his record in the City Council and pledged himself to reduce the burden of taxation on the city dweller. However, as John Dunmore Lang proclaimed, the chief issue at the election was free selection before survey 'and the Colony rang with that cry from one end of it to the other'. As a squatter Broughton claimed that he was prepared to vote for free selection 'within certain limits', but was not re-elected. Thereafter he spent most of his time on his stations, Muttama and Gundagai, totalling 156,160 acres (63,196 ha), in the Lachlan district. His Sydney residence was Bradley Hall, Glenmore Road, Paddington, which he occupied from 1845 until the estate was split up in 1898. He also had 300 acres (121 ha) in Willoughby, known as the Artarmon estate. He died on 12 December 1901 at Hazelmere, the Glebe.

Select Bibliography

  • H. E. Maiden, History of Local Government in New South Wales (Syd, 1966)
  • Australian, 19 Sept, 5 Oct, 11 Nov 1842
  • Empire (Sydney), 13 Dec 1860.

Citation details

Helen Bowd, 'Broughton, Thomas Stafford (1810–1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/broughton-thomas-stafford-3072/text4535, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 22 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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