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Halliday, William (1828–1892)

by Ruth Teale

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

William Halliday (1828-1892), pastoralist, was born at Dumfries, Scotland, son of William Halliday and his wife Margaret, née Harvey. He learnt sheep farming from his father. In 1852 at Dumfries he married Marion, née Irving, and migrated to Victoria where he worked for the Wilson brothers in the Wimmera. With James Richmond he acquired a run near St Arnaud where he became a shire councillor. He suffered little encroachment by selectors but disliked the Victorian land laws and in 1873 bought Brookong station in New South Wales, reputedly for £100,000. At great expense he ringbarked large areas and in 1876 opened a private telegraph line to Urana. Some weeks later when rain fell he bought by telegram 150,000 sheep in the depressed Victorian market and emerged from the drought with a profit. By 1889 he had 48,650 acres (19,688 ha) of leasehold and shore over 200,000 sheep. He also ran cattle and after 1887 grew wheat as a sideline.

Halliday allowed selectors water and stock forage in dry times and in 1888, after a trip to Britain, was paid the 'unique compliment' of a public dinner by the selectors. He was a liberal donor to the Presbyterian manse at Urana, the hospital, public school and School of Arts; he was also an active magistrate, president of the Urana turf club and vice-president of the cricket club. He subscribed £1000 to the Sudan expedition in 1885 and gave the refund to the Goodenough Royal Naval House in Sydney. On 31 August 1885 he was appointed to the Legislative Council; he attended regularly and took a house in Woollahra but was never an enthusiastic politician.

Halliday was an early and vigorous member of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales and took a firm stand against the Amalgamated Shearers' Union. In August 1888 he refused its demands to employ only union labour and when strikers picketed his woolshed, wired Sydney for forty Colt revolvers and called the police. After the Riot Act was read, nine shearers were arrested and on 19 October were tried at Wagga Wagga and sentenced to imprisonment. On 19 September 1890 in the maritime strike Halliday, complete with waistcoat, gloves and black topper, drove one of the wool drays under police escort from Darling Harbour through the unionists' ranks to Circular Quay where the Riot Act was read. He died at Quiraing, Woollahra, on 25 August 1892, predeceased by his wife and survived by a son and four daughters to whom he left £274,919.

Select Bibliography

  • W. G. Spence, History of the A.W.U. (Syd, 1911)
  • W. A. Bayley (ed), Billabidgee (Urana, 1959)
  • Town and Country Journal, 25 Aug 1888
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Sept 1890, 26 Aug 1892
  • Bulletin, 27 Sept 1890
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Sept 1892
  • Wagga Express, 27 Aug 1892
  • Labor Council of New South Wales records (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Halliday, William (1828–1892)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/halliday-william-1086/text5793, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 November 2018.

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

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