Boyle Finniss

Boyle Finniss

Boyle Travers Finniss (18 August 180724 December 1893) was the first Premier of the Colony of South Australia, serving from 24 October 1856 to 20 August 1857.

Early life

Finniss was born at sea and lived in Madras from where he was sent to Greenwich for his education. He later entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, placing first of 16 candidates at the entrance examination. In 1825 he became an ensign in the 88th Regiment of Foot, was promoted lieutenant in 1827 to the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot, and then spent three years in Mauritius in the department of roads and bridges.cite web |url= |title=Finniss, Boyle Travers (1807 - 1893) |accessdate=2007-08-30 |work=Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1 |publisher=MUP |year=1966 |pages=pp 377-379]


In 1835 Finniss sold off his commission and, having been appointed assistant surveyor under surveyor-general Colonel William Light, arrived in South Australia in September 1836. He supported Light's choice of the site of Adelaide and assisted in laying out the city; his correspondence during the early years shows him to have been a man of good judgment and he was an able assistant during the surveys. cite web |url= |title=Finniss, Boyle Travers |accessdate=2007-08-30 |author=Percival Serle |work=Dictionary of Australian Biography |publisher=Angus & Robertson |year=1949]

Finniss joined Light in a private surveying firm, "Light, Finniss & Co". While in private enterprise, Light and Finniss surveyed several towns, including Glenelg and Gawler. He also had several other business interests, but they eventually all failed, and he returned to the public service.

Public service and political career

In 1839 Finniss was appointed deputy surveyor-general, in 1843 he became commissioner of police and police magistrate. In 1847 he was made colonial treasurer and registrar general, and in 1851 was nominated to the South Australian Legislative Council by the governor Sir Henry Young. In 1852 he was appointed colonial secretary, and in July 1853 had charge of the bill to provide for two chambers in the South Australian parliament. In the interim between the departure of Governor Young in December 1854 and the arrival of Sir Richard McDonnell in June 1855, Finniss acted as administrator. The bill of 1853 was rejected by the British government, and a new bill was brought forward in 1855 providing for two purely elective houses. This received the royal assent in 1856.

Finniss was elected one of the representatives for the city of Adelaide and became the first premier and chief secretary of South Australia. There were early difficulties between the two houses but Finniss, during the four months his ministry was in session, succeeded in passing measures to deal with waterworks for Adelaide and the first railway in South Australia. He was treasurer in the Richard Hanson ministry from June 1858 to May 1860 and at the new election in that year was one of the representatives for Mount Barker. In 1864 the South Australian government, desiring to open up the Northern Territory, organized a survey party under Finniss, giving him instructions to examine the Adelaide River and the coastline to the west and east of it. Finniss choose a site for the settlement at the mouth of the Adelaide River but his choice was much criticized, he had problems with his subordinates, and was eventually recalled.

From 1864 Finniss was appointed as Government Resident of the Northern Territory. He was not popular, and did not have good relations with the local aborigines.

Late life

In 1875 he was a member of the forest board and in the following year was acting auditor general. He retired from the government service in 1881, and spent his leisure in preparing an interesting but rambling "Constitutional History of South Australia" (1886). He died on 24 December 1893. Finniss was twice married and left a widow, a son and two daughters.The Finniss River in South Australia and Finniss River in the Northern Territory are both named after him, along with Finniss Springs, and the South Australian Electoral district of Finniss, on Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. Finniss Street, in the Adelaide suburb of North Adelaide, is also named after him.


External links

* [ SA Parliament - Finniss]
* [ Northern Territory History]
*cite web |url= |title=History of Adelaide through street names |archiveurl= |archivedate=2005-03-13

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