Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edward Denny Day (1801–1876)

by Ben W. Champion

This article was published:

Edward Denny Day (1801-1876), police magistrate, was the son of John Day, a clergyman of the Church of England in County Kerry, Ireland, and his wife Charlotte, née Denny. In 1820 he joined the 46th Regiment as an ensign and in 1833 became a lieutenant in the 62nd Regiment. After serving in India, he resigned in 1834 because of ill health. He then went to Sydney where he obtained employment as clerk to the Executive Council; in 1835 he served in the office of the colonial secretary. In 1836 he married Margaret, fourth daughter of James Raymond, the postmaster-general, and there were six sons and five daughters of the marriage. Day was appointed police magistrate at the Vale of Clwydd in January 1836, at Maitland in January 1837, and at Muswellbrook in October 1837.

In June 1838, under instructions from Governor Sir George Gipps, a party of mounted police led by Day was sent to arrest white men said to have killed at least twenty-eight Aboriginals at or near Henry Dangar's station at Myall Creek on the Liverpool Plains. Eleven men were caught, tried and found guilty; seven were hanged. As police magistrate again at Maitland, he was also commissioner, Court of Requests, from 1841 and of insolvent estates from 1842. He played a major part in public life in Maitland, became a foundation member of the Australian Immigration Association, and was elected chairman of the Maitland branch.

In December 1840, when visiting Muswellbrook, he learned of a gang of bushrangers led by Edward Davis 'The Jewboy', who had terrorized settlers in the Scone district, raiding cattle stations and breaking into homesteads. In one raid John Graham, clerk in a store at Scone, was murdered. Captain Day organized a party of mounted men, pursued the bushrangers, and captured five of them after a short skirmish at Doughboy Hollow; a sixth was arrested the next day. They were all tried and found guilty and were hanged on 16 March 1841. Grateful residents of the Scone district presented Day with a service of plate for his efforts.

On 16 February 1844 he laid the foundation stone of a new gaol at East Maitland. In January 1846, as representative of Gipps, he laid the foundation stone of a new hospital at Maitland. Day's business ventures proved unsuccessful and his estate was sequestrated in 1848. Next year he was appointed to Sydney and from 1 January 1851 was provincial inspector of police for the northern district. In June 1853 he was appointed stipendiary magistrate at Port Macquarie; after five years he was transferred to Maitland, where he served until 1869. He then again retired at Maitland, where he died on 6 May 1876. He was buried in the Anglican cemetery, East Maitland.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 19, 25
  • A. Marjoribanks, Travels in New South Wales (Lond, 1847), pp 95-97, 167-70
  • B. W. Champion, ‘Captain Edward Denny Day’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 22, part 4, 1936, pp 345-57
  • Australian, 20 May 1836, 25 Feb 1841
  • Maitland Mercury, 28 Jan 1846
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Sept 1850, 16 June 1853
  • Edward Day papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Ben W. Champion, 'Day, Edward Denny (1801–1876)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




6 May, 1876 (aged ~ 75)
Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

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