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Norton, Albert (1836–1914)

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

Albert Norton (1836-1914), pastoralist and politician, was born on 1 January 1836 in Sydney, eighth child of James Norton and his first wife Jane, née Mackenzie. Educated at Fred Wilkinson's school, Meads, near Ashfield, he left in 1852 to gain experience in grazing both as employee and partner in New England. He travelled with stock in the west of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and in 1861 bought a station at Rodd's Bay near Port Curtis, where he settled and began to breed cattle, becoming a successful pastoralist.

Norton was defeated by Arthur Palmer for the Legislative Assembly seat of Port Curtis in 1866. In September 1867 he was called to the Legislative Council but resigned next May. Invited in 1878 to represent the Port Curtis District in the assembly after the Redistribution Act, he was elected unopposed. He supported Thomas McIlwraith particularly in the passing of Acts relating to divisional boards, the three million loan, licensing boards, local works loans, railway companies, preliminary immigration, settled districts pastoral leases and tramways. He gave strong support to the British India Co. mail contract via Torres Strait, which was later justified by its advantages to the colony. For eight months in 1883 he was secretary of public works and mines in McIlwraith's government and later supported him in Opposition. Norton was elected Speaker in June 1888 and served until defeated in April 1893. In August he was called to the Legislative Council, where he was chairman of committees in 1902-07 and held his seat until 1914.

Norton was a voracious reader in a wide variety of subjects. His speeches were noted for care in preparation and reliability in figures and references as well as relevance. Though his interests were mainly pastoral he also encouraged mining interests to develop the colony's mining resources. He opposed payment for members of parliament but when it was introduced he applied a large portion of his salary to establishing the School of Arts in Port Curtis, where he provided mineralogical lectures, and distributed the balance amongst schools in his district. A trustee of the Royal Society of Queensland, he contributed ten papers to its Proceedings. He was also a prolific writer both for the press and the Antiquarian Gazette in which he later related some of his early experiences at Leichhardt in New England and the western areas.

At Longford, Tasmania, on 12 February 1862 he had married Mary Elizabeth Ann Walker. She died on 10 March 1863, survived by one daughter. At Sydney in 1866 he married Harriet Maule Deacon; they had one son. In 1900 at Brisbane he married Amy Symes Barton who survived Norton when he died at Brisbane on 11 March 1914. He was buried in Toowong cemetery with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Royal Society of Queensland, Proceedings, 1914
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1906
  • Brisbane Courier, 12 Mar 1914.

Citation details

'Norton, Albert (1836–1914)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/norton-albert-4309/text6983, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 December 2014.

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

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