Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Moreton, Berkeley Basil (1834–1924)

by H. J. Gibbney

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Berkeley Basil Moreton (1834-1924), pastoralist and politician, was born on 18 July 1834 at Woodchester, Gloucestershire, England, fourth of the ten sons of Henry George Francis Moreton, second Earl of Ducie, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Sherborne. Educated at Rugby, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, he sailed for Sydney in the Waterloo, arriving on 27 November 1855. After two years of colonial experience at Ugoble station on the Murrumbidgee, he formed a partnership with Esmond de Preux Brock; they bought Wetheron station, near Maryborough, Queensland, in May 1859. On 13 October 1862 Moreton was married by a Baptist minister to Emily Eleanor, daughter of John Kent, commissioner of crown lands; they had two sons and eight daughters.

Moreton's brother Seymour (b.1841) arrived in 1859 and when Brock sold out in the early 1860s the two brothers became partners. On 30 August 1870 Berkeley was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Burnett but resigned on 24 October 1871. On 7 November 1873 he was elected for Maryborough but resigned again in March 1875 to provide a seat for John Douglas. He was re-elected for Burnett on 1 October 1883; in March-April 1885 he was postmaster-general in the Griffith ministry, secretary for public instruction until April 1886 and combined the post with that of colonial secretary until June 1888. He spoke rarely and in May 1888 was defeated in a general election but appointed to the Legislative Council. He resigned from the council in 1891 to contest Burnett. Defeated he stayed out of politics until 1901 when he was appointed to the council by the Philp ministry, holding his seat until March 1922. He was a member of the Rawbelle Divisional Board, a magistrate and a trustee of the Queensland Museum.

When his brother, the third earl, died on 28 February 1920, Moreton succeeded to the title and left Queensland on 14 July 1922 to take his seat in the House of Lords but died on 7 August 1924 at Tortworth, Gloucester. His brother Seymour married Mary Ellen, a sister of Berkeley's wife, and died in Brisbane on 8 April 1905, survived by two sons and two daughters. A younger brother, Matthew Henry (1847-1909), failed on a sugar plantation near Maryborough in 1885 and became a resident magistrate in British New Guinea.

Select Bibliography

  • M. M. Brown, Memoirs of a Queensland Pioneer (State Library of Queensland)
  • biographical cutting book (State Library of Queensland).

Citation details

H. J. Gibbney, 'Moreton, Berkeley Basil (1834–1924)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moreton-berkeley-basil-4242/text6849, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 29 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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