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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Beazley, William David (1854–1912)

by Peter Cook

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

William David Beazley (1854-1912), by Talma Studios

William David Beazley (1854-1912), by Talma Studios

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H26152

William David Beazley (1854-1912), politician, was born on 7 October 1854 in London, son of William Beazley, carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth Ann, née Parker. He arrived in Melbourne with his parents early in 1855. At 14 he became an apprentice saddler and harnessmaker and remained in that trade until he entered business as an estate agent in Collingwood in 1886. For some years he was in partnership with C. W. S. Aumont; he retired about 1898 but allowed his name to remain in the firm.

In August 1887 Beazley was elected to the Collingwood Council, serving as mayor in 1894-95, 1899-1900 and 1900-01. His association with the district remained intense throughout his life. He was active in several local businesses, principally the Denton Hat Mills and in co-operative building societies; in community affairs, particularly those concerned with friendly societies and technical education; and in local swimming and cricket clubs. However, Beazley was best known for his interest in football, being conspicuous among the founders of Collingwood Football Club in 1892; he was president in 1892-1911. He expected that the club would help subdue larrikinism and promote integration and a sense of responsibility, with the extra advantage that it 'would confer a great boon on Collingwood, as the matches would be sure to draw immense crowds, and be the cause of much money being spent in the district'.

Beazley became one of the members for Collingwood in the Legislative Assembly on 28 March 1889. He held the seat until 1904, when he won the new contiguous seat of Abbotsford. From the beginning he was regarded as a radical or 'advanced liberal', and he was quick to declare an association with the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and the proto-Labor members of the late 1880s. He stood for Labor at the election of 1892 and was successful, though the party was not; in the next decade he was loosely associated with it, but in 1900 stood as a Liberal, and it was only from 1902 when it finally established its identity that Beazley was committed to Labor.

He was an ardent protectionist. Interested in finance, he was for some years member and later chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts and was a member of the royal commissions into state banking (1894-95) and old-age pensions (1897-98). He was chairman of committees in 1897-1903. As deputy Speaker in 1902-03 and then Speaker until 1904, Beazley was noted for his impartiality and for the 'promptness and equity' of his decisions. In parliament he was respected for his gentle expression of convictions, and in his electorate for his local involvements and his assiduous attention to all matters affecting Collingwood.

Beazley never married. He was devoted to his mother who was a well-known worker for the poor of the district until her death, aged 90, on 26 October 1911 at their home in Bath Street, Collingwood. Beazley died of pneumonia on 28 June 1912 and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery, leaving an estate, valued for probate at £11,221, which was bequeathed to the Working Men's College, the Collingwood Technical School and the Old Colonists' Homes.

Select Bibliography

  • D. W. Rawson, ‘Victoria’, The Emergence of the Australian Party System, P. Loveday et al eds (Syd, 1977)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 1912, 20-22
  • Leader (Melbourne), 27 Apr 1889
  • Argus (Melbourne), 27 Oct 1911, 29 June 1912.

Citation details

Peter Cook, 'Beazley, William David (1854–1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 16 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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