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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Chomley, Hussey Malone (1832–1906)

by A. F. Kimber

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Hussey Malone Chomley (1832-1906), by Julian Rossi Ashton

Hussey Malone Chomley (1832-1906), by Julian Rossi Ashton

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S25/03/82/84

Hussey Malone Chomley (1832-1906), police officer, was born on 8 August 1832 at Merrion Square, Dublin, the second son of Rev. Francis Chomley, rector of Wicklow, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Griffith, M.P. In 1847 his father died; his mother took her seven sons, including Arthur Wolfe, to Port Phillip, where they arrived in February 1849.

Chomley was educated at Dr Delamere's school in Wicklow and then at Richard Budd's college at Eastern Hill, Melbourne. After leaving school he spent some months on the diggings but was unsuccessful and joined the Victoria Police Force as a cadet in September 1852. He was soon promoted an officer, and spent his early years patrolling the diggings, first at Ballan and Ballarat and then as sub-inspector at Creswick in 1854. He was second in command of a police detachment kept in reserve at the Eureka stockade. He was promoted paymaster at Benalla and soon afterwards, in charge of number three division in Melbourne, he was deputed to look after a series of short gold rushes. In this duty Chomley was stationed at Inglewood, Swan Hill, Jericho and Benalla, and finally returned to Bendigo in 1862. As a superintendent he had charge of the Bendigo, Bourke and Geelong districts in turn and was gazetted first-class superintendent in 1876. While he was in Geelong the Kelly gang was at large and although Chomley volunteered to pursue the outlaws he was sent instead to Brisbane to select black trackers for a permanent Victorian detachment. With the death of Police Commissioner Frederick Standish in 1880 and the forced retirement of Superintendents Hare and Nicholson after the royal commission of 1881, Chomley was appointed chief commissioner of police. He took office on 3 March 1881, with instructions to reorganize the force. His appointment was confirmed on 20 March 1882 and he held office until June 1902 when failing health caused his retirement.

During his fifty years as a police officer Chomley's record was without a blemish. A tall and robust figure he was noted for his piety, courage, honesty and impartiality. As chief commissioner of police he led the department out of a period marked by inefficiency and dissent. Under his command the force reached a high degree of effectiveness, although Chomley was often ready to overlook certain imperfections in the force in his enthusiasm for a smooth-running and respectable organization. He died at Malvern, Melbourne, on 12 July 1906.

In 1865 Chomley married Aubrey Emma Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Alexander John Smith, R.N., police magistrate and later a member of the Legislative Assembly; they had two sons.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), The Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • J. Sadleir, Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer (Melb, 1913)
  • A. Henderson (ed), Australian Families (Melb, 1941)
  • Royal Commission on the Victorian Police Force, Evidence, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1906, 3 (10)
  • Table Talk, 30 Sept 1892
  • Argus (Melbourne), 13 July 1906.

Citation details

A. F. Kimber, 'Chomley, Hussey Malone (1832–1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 31 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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