Daniel Deniehy

Daniel Deniehy

Daniel Henry Deniehy (18 August 1828[1] – 22 October 1865) was an Australian journalist, orator and politician; and early advocate of democracy in colonial New South Wales.


Early life

Deniehy was born in Sydney, the son of Henry and Mary Deniehy, former convicts of Irish birth who had prospered in the colony after their term had expired.[1] Deniehy was educated at the best schools Sydney then had to offer, including Sydney College,[2] and completed his education in England at his father's expense. He travelled in Europe and visited Ireland, where he met leaders of the Young Ireland party. He was influenced by both English Chartism and Irish nationalism. Returning to Sydney in 1844, he studied law and became a solicitor in 1851.


Meanwhile Deniehy became a leading figure in Sydney's small but lively literary world and in radical politics; artist Adelaide Ironside was an associate. Deniehy was a follower of the radical leader John Dunmore Lang (despite Lang's violent dislike of the Irish and of Roman Catholicism), and a member of Lang's organisation, the Australian League. He practised law in Goulburn 1854–58, in Sydney 1858-62, in Melbourne 1862-64 and in Bathurst 1865. In all these places he was active in local politics and journalism.

Like Lang, Deniehy was an advocate of extended democracy in the emerging political systems of the Australian colonies. He joined the opposition to the 1853 New South Wales Constitution Bill, which would have created a powerful unelected upper house and limited the franchise for the lower house to those owning substantial property. He was active in the New South Wales Electoral Reform League, which advocated manhood suffrage for the lower house and reduced powers for the upper house.

Deniehy argued that the real issue was control of the vast grazing lands of inland New South Wales, which the squatter class of early settlers had seized for themselves. He accused the conservatives, led by the veteran Sydney politician William Wentworth and what Deniehy called "some dozen of his friends," of wanting to "confiscate for their own uses the finest portions of the public lands, to stereotype themselves into a standing government, so that they may retain, watch over, and protect the booty they wrest."

When Wentworth proposed creating a hereditary peerage in New South Wales, Deniehy savagely satirised it: "Here," he said, "we all know the common water mole was transferred into the duck-billed platypus, and in some distant emulation of this degeneration, I suppose we are to be favoured with a "bunyip aristocracy." (The bunyip is a mythical beast of Aboriginal legend.) His ridicule caused the idea to be dropped.

Deniehy was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1857, representing Argyle (the Goulburn region). In 1859 he stood for West Sydney, but was defeated.[2] However he was successful in 1860 representing East Macquarie (the Bathurst region). As a radical democrat, he should have been an effective supporter of the liberal parliamentary leaders Charles Cowper and John Robertson. But he disliked both these leaders, and was temperamentally unable to work in a parliamentary team. He soon became an isolated loner, and began to drink heavily. With the introduction of manhood suffrage in New South Wales in 1858 his campaign for democracy was fulfilled, and he was out of sympathy with the more advanced radicals.

Members of Parliament were not paid at this time, and Deniehy always earned his living as a barrister and as a journalist. He founded and edited Southern Cross, a radical newspaper, in 1859. Deniehy had opposed the appointment of Lyttleton Bayley as attorney-general and produced a satire How I Became Attorney-General of New Barataria (Sydney, 1860)[1] which was published in the Southern Cross. In Melbourne in 1862 he edited The Victorian for its owner, the Irish-Australian politician Charles Gavan Duffy. In Sydney he became a notable literary critic, and lectured on modern literature at the newly-founded Sydney University. He was a regular contributor to the Irish-Australian newspaper The Freeman's Journal and other papers.

Late life

Only 150 cm (five foot) tall and in poor health throughout his life, Deniehy possessed enormous energy and was a gifted orator. The Australian historian Manning Clark writes of him: "His heart was a battlefield between the cherub and the insect of sensual lust." (He married Adelaide Hoals in 1852 and had seven children in nine years). "At times his face caught a fire and beauty that looked like phases of actual transfiguration. At other times his face was coarsened by days of drunken debauchery." He died of alcoholism in Bathurst, aged only 37. In 1895 his remains were exhumed and reburied in Sydney's Waverley Cemetery, where a monument was erected over the grave. An inscription on it reads:

The vehement voice of the South
Is loud where the journalist lies
But calm hath encompassed his mouth,
And sweet is the peace in his eyes.

Further reading

  • E.A. Martin, The Life and Speeches of Daniel Henry Deniehy (1884)
  • Cyril Pearl, Brilliant Dan Deniehy: a Forgotten Genius (1972)


  1. ^ a b c G. P. Walsh (1972). "Deniehy, Daniel Henry (1828 - 1865)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4. MUP. pp. 44–46. http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A040047b.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  2. ^ a b Percival Serle (1949). "Deniehy, Daniel Henry". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus & Robertson. http://gutenberg.net.au/dictbiog/0-dict-biogD.html#deniehy1. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 

Additional sources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

G. B. Barton, Literature in New South Wales' (Sydney, 1866); G. B. Barton (ed), The Poets and Prose Writers of New South Wales (Sydney, 1866); E. A. Martin, The Life and Speeches of Daniel Henry Deniehy (Melbourne, 1884); J. Normington-Rawling, Charles Harpur: An Australian (Sydney, 1962); P. Loveday and A. W. Martin, Parliament Factions and Parties (Melbourne, 1966); B. T. Dowd, 'Daniel Henry Deniehy', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 33 (1947); Austral Light, Apr 1894; Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Aug 1853, 19 Feb 1857, 5, 13 Jan, 9, 28 Feb, 4 Mar 1859, 27 Oct 1865; Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 19 Mar 1859, 28 Oct 1865, 13 May 1883; Australian Journal, Oct 1869; Bulletin, 15 Apr 1882, 1-29 Sept, 6 Oct 1888; Town and Country Journal, 17 Mar 1888; Henry Parkes letters (State Library of New South Wales).

Additional sources listed by the Dictionary of Australian Biography, not listed above:

E. A. Marlin, The Life and Speeches of Daniel Henry Deniehy; G. B. Barton, Literature in New South Wales, pp. 55-63; W. B. Dalley, Introduction to reprint of Deniehy's The Attorney-General of New Barataria; The Bulletin, Red Page, 17 September 1898; Aubrey Halloran, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XII, pp. 341-5.

External links

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
John Plunkett
Member for Argyle
1857 – 1859
Succeeded by
Terence Murray
Preceded by
Thomas Hawkins
Member for East Macquarie
Served alongside: Cummings
Succeeded by
William Suttor

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • DENIEHY, Daniel Henry (1828-1865) — orator and miscellaneous writer was born at Sydney on 16 August 1828 (Aust. Ency.). His father, Daniel John Deniehy, was an Irishman who had built tip a successful business in Sydney as a produce merchant. The son was educated at Sydney College,… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

  • Deniehy — /ˈdɛnəhi/ (say denuhhee) noun Daniel Henry, 1828–65, Australian radical political orator and writer …  

  • Members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, 1859–1860 — This is a list of members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1859 to 1860: Name Electorate Years in office Arnold, William MunningsWilliam Arnold Paterson 1856–1875 Asher, MorrisMorris Asher Hume 1859–1860 …   Wikipedia

  • Bunyip aristocracy — The term Bunyip aristocracy was first coined in 1853 by Daniel Deniehy who made a speech lambasting the attempt by William Wentworth to establish a titled aristocracy in New South Wales government. This speech came to be known as the Bunyip… …   Wikipedia

  • List of drug-related deaths — The following is a list of notable people who have died from drug related causes. Criteria for inclusion are death from overdose, death from organ failure/illness due to or exacerbated by drug use, or death from suicide/misadventure under the… …   Wikipedia

  • Members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, 1856–1858 — This is a list of members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1856 to 1858: Name Electorate Years in office Arnold, William MunningsWilliam Arnold Durham 1856–1875 Barker, ThomasThomas Barker Gloucester and Macquarie 1856–1858 11 …   Wikipedia

  • Citizens Electoral Council — of Australia Leader Craig Isherwood Founded 1988 Headquarters 595 Sydney Rd Coburg, Victoria …   Wikipedia

  • William Wentworth — William Charles Wentworth (13 August 1790 – 20 March 1872) was an Australian poet, explorer, journalist and politician, and one of the leading figures of early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native born Australian to achieve a… …   Wikipedia

  • Manning Clark — in his study in about 1988 Charles Manning Hope Clark, AC (3 March 1915 – 23 May 1991), an Australian historian, was the author of the best known general history of Australia, his six volume A History of Australia, published between 1962 and 1987 …   Wikipedia

  • History of New South Wales — This article describes the history of the Australian state of New South Wales.Foundation and growthIn 1770 Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook sailed along the east coast of Australia, the first European to do so. On 22 August, at Possession… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”