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Sir Arthur Blyth

Sir Arthur Blyth KCMG (19 March 1823 – 15 February 1890) was premier of South Australia three times; 1864-1865, 1871-1872 and 1873-1875.

In 1850 he married Jessie Ann, daughter of Edward Forrest, who survived him with one son and two daughters. He was created KCMG in 1877 and C.B. in 1886. A good business man of great common sense Blyth was in eleven cabinets and was three times premier. It was, however, a difficult time for legislation and beyond the Torrens real estate act which Blyth supported, comparatively little important legislation was passed in his period.

Contents

Early life

He was the son of William Blyth and his wife Sarah Wilkins, was born at Birmingham on 21 March 1823. His formative years were spent in Birmingham, England and he was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, and arrived with his parents in South Australia in 1839 at the age of 16. His father, who afterwards became a city councillor, established an ironmongery business at Adelaide, which Blyth entered with his brother Neville. He interested himself in municipal work and was a member of the central road board. In 1855 he was elected for Yatala in the old legislative council and assisted in framing the new constitution. Early in 1857 he was elected as one of the representatives of Gumeracha in the first house of assembly, and in August became commissioner of public works in the John Baker ministry which, however, was defeated on 1 September. On 12 June 1858 he was given the same position in the Hanson ministry, which remained in power until May 1860. In October 1861 he held the treasurer's portfolio in the Waterhouse ministry which, however, was reconstructed nine days later, when Blyth dropped out. He came back to the ministry, however, as treasurer in February 1862, and was selected as one of the three representatives of South Australia at the intercolonial conference held shortly afterwards.

As premier

On 4 August 1864 Blyth, taking the positions of premier and commissioner of crown lands and immigration, formed his first ministry, but it was difficult to do useful work, much time being wasted in no-confidence motions. Blyth resigned on 22 March 1865, was treasurer in the third ministry formed by Henry Ayers but was out of office again in little more than a month. In March 1866 he became chief secretary in James Boucaut's first ministry from March 1866 to May 1867. He was treasurer again in the first John Hart ministry in September 1868, but this ministry was defeated three weeks later. He took the position of commissioner of crown lands and immigration in the second Hart ministry, which lasted from 30 May 1870 to 10 November 1871, when Blyth formed his second ministry, but resigned only ten weeks later.

Third time as premier

On 22 July 1873 he again became premier and this time took the portfolio of chief secretary. This ministry was a comparatively stable one and lasted until June 1875. It succeeded in doing something for immigration, and after a stern fight passed a free, secular, and compulsory education bill through the assembly. This was defeated in the council. It succeeded, however, in passing an act incorporating the University of Adelaide.

Later years

On 25 March 1876 Blyth became treasurer in the third Boucaut ministry which resigned less than three months later. In February 1877 he was appointed agent-general for South Australia in London and held the position capably for many years. He was one of the representatives of South Australia at the 1887 colonial conference. He died in Bournemouth, England on 7 December 1891 [1].

Trivia

The township of Blyth in the Mid North of South Australia, is named in his honour.

References

  1. ^ "The liberty of Westover". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912). Victoria County History. 1912. pp. 133–37. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=42061#s1. Retrieved 2007-04-23. "notable persons who have died here are... Sir Arthur Blyth, premier of South Australia, in 1891"  
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Ayers
Premier of South Australia
4 August 1864 - 22 March 1865
Succeeded by
Francis Dutton
Preceded by
John Hart
Premier of South Australia
10 November 1871 - 22 January 1872
Succeeded by
Henry Ayers
Preceded by
Henry Ayers
Premier of South Australia
22 July 1873 - 3 June 1875
Succeeded by
James Boucaut
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