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Day, George (1826–1906)

by E. J. Lea-Scarlett

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

George Day (1826-1906), entrepreneur and parliamentarian, was born on 29 October 1826 in the Hawkesbury River district, New South Wales, son of John Day, a farmer at Cornwallis, and his wife Jane, née Connolly. At 14, after schooling at Windsor and Richmond, he joined his brother James, manager of a station in the Monaro; later they moved to Omeo, Victoria. In 1852 George went to the Bendigo goldfields and after six successful months opened a store on the new Livingstone Creek goldfield at Omeo, and then helped to manage four Gippsland stations. In May 1856 with his brother he leased Tabletop station near Albury for their cattle and for wheat-growing after a small crop returned a bumper harvest. When the Tabletop lease expired in 1859 they bought Quat Quatta station on the Murray River for £15,000. A few years later the brothers paid a much larger sum for Yarra Yarra station on Billabong Creek where they ran six thousand cattle.

About 1860 Day moved to Albury and was appointed a justice of the peace. In 1861 he rented the Fanny Ceres flour-mill and later bought it. Goldfield demand sent profits up to 300 per cent on the milling and he brought wheat by steamboat from as far as South Australia. At the mill he was book-keeper, wheat-buyer and sometimes engine attendant. In local affairs he served as alderman of the Albury Municipal Council in 1868-78, and as mayor in 1869, 1870 and 1873; he was also president of the local racing club and for many years president of the District Hospital Board.

In 1874-89 Day represented the Hume and Albury electorates in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, where he enjoyed repute as a supporter of free selection. He was an active legislator, bringing down five public and twelve private bills, of which thirteen were passed, including several affecting public utilities in Albury and Broken Hill. Several times he declined ministerial office. Narrowly defeated in 1889 he was nominated to the Legislative Council and held the seat until he died on 13 July 1906. His last years had been spent at Lewisham, Sydney, where he was a staunch supporter of the Roman Catholic Church; for his benefactions to the hospital of the Little Company of Mary, he was appointed a knight commander of St Gregory by Pope Leo XIII. He left an estate worth more than £26,500. In 1849 Day had married Eliza, daughter of John Williams, of Grosse's Plain, Monaro; she died without issue in 1905.

Day's active contribution to parliamentary life gave him distinction among his contemporaries. Equally, as a tycoon he appealed to the nineteenth-century respect for the self-made man, a role he embodied in his own life, though his achievements were mostly local and sectional.

Select Bibliography

  • Albury Daily News, 13 July 1906
  • Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 21 July 1906.

Citation details

E. J. Lea-Scarlett, 'Day, George (1826–1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/day-george-3383/text5121, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 22 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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