Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Rogers Beor (1846–1880)

by Jacqueline Bell

This article was published:

Henry Rogers Beor (1846-1880), attorney-general, was born on 7 February 1846 at Swansea, Wales, son of Richard White Beor, solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth, née Jenkins. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge (B.A., 1868), then studied law and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1870. He arrived in Queensland in 1875, and was admitted to the Bar in December and to the Vice-Admiralty Court of Queensland as advocate in March 1876. On 12 April at St Mary's Church of England, Waverley, Sydney, Beor married Marion, daughter and heiress of John Taylor, merchant. They went to Brisbane and settled at Wickholme, Wickham Terrace, and Beor was admitted to the exclusive Queensland Club. But his wife only lived six months and Beor, deeply affected, worked almost obsessively at his growing law practice, was appointed master of titles in 1876, invested heavily from his wife's inheritance in the 200-sq.-mile (518 km²) Banana cattle station in the Leichhardt district and quickly became interested in politics.

In 1877 Beor stood for the electorate of Bowen in north Queensland, making it clear to the electors that he was contesting the seat because he wanted a political career. His election was challenged unsuccessfully in the Legislative Assembly. He advocated territorial separation of north from south Queensland rather than the financial separation then being considered, and the retention of coloured labour, particularly Kanakas, in tropical and subtropical agriculture. Beor appealed especially to the electors of Bowen. This town saw itself as the potential capital of the north and liked Beor's idea of railways fanning out from Bowen rather than from Mackay, paid for by land grants instead of by loan money. Beor joined the opposition under the Douglas ministry, in debates stressing the north's lack of development because it was governed from Brisbane. Supporting the use of coloured labour Beor accused the government of trying to destroy the sugar industry and of pandering 'to the sentimental pseudophilanthropy of a section of the community upon whose opinions and prejudices an undue value was placed'.

In 1879 his seat was again challenged in the Legislative Assembly because he had acted as prosecutor for the Crown in legal cases. This time he had to resign but he was re-elected in June 1880 and appointed attorney-general in the McIlwraith ministry. Soon afterwards a select committee was appointed to inquire into the Crown Solicitor's Office. Although disturbed by this open antagonism and overworked, Beor debated at length on the Pacific Islands labourers' bill, arguing that capital had been invested in the sugar industry on the understanding that coloured labour would be available and that Queensland could not afford to lose its sugar income. He was noticeably speaking under great strain and after parliament rose he left for a tour of New Zealand. In the Rotorua on Christmas Day 1880 he shot himself and was buried at sea between Sydney and Auckland. He had promise of a brilliant career and was an ambitious protégé of Thomas McIlwraith, but as a representative of the 'squatter' policies, he proved vulnerable to personal attack.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1877-80
  • Committee of Elections, Report, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1877, 1, 667
  • Select Committee on Crown Solicitor's Office, Evidence, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1880, 1, 566
  • Mackay Mercury, Feb-Apr 1877
  • Brisbane Courier, Apr 1877, July, 30 Dec 1880.

Citation details

Jacqueline Bell, 'Beor, Henry Rogers (1846–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 21 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Henry Beor, c.1880

Henry Beor, c.1880

State Library of Queensland, 93935

Life Summary [details]


7 February, 1846
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales


25 December, 1880 (aged 34)
at sea

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