The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Balfour, Hon. James

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Balfour, Hon. James, M.L.C., son of John Balfour, a merchant of Leith, was born in 1830 in Edinburgh, and educated at the Edinburgh Academy and the University. After some commercial experience in London, from 1849 to 1852, he went to Melbourne as the representative of Messrs. Matheson, of Lombard Street, to the firm of James Henty & Co. In 1854 he opened a branch house of the latter firm at Geelong. He visited England in 1857-8, resigned his position in Geelong in 1863, and in 1866 entered the Assembly as member for East Bourke. He was for three years one of the Commissioners of Education prior to the organisation of the department under a responsible minister. In 1868 he made another visit to England, prior to which he resigned his seat in the Assembly, and returned to Australia and entered the Legislative Council in 1874, being re-elected for the south-eastern province on Aug. 17th, 1880. He made another trip home in 1878, and on his return established the firm of Balfour, Elliott, & Co., which was made into a limited company in 1887. Mr. Balfour is an old member of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, of which he has been President and Vice-President. He acted on the Irrigation and Water Supply, and on the Banking Laws Commissions; is Chairman of the Australian Deposit and Mortgage Bank, Limited, and of the Equitable Assurance Company of the United States, and Vice-Chairman of the Trustees, Executors, and Agency Company, Limited, and is a member of the Council of Ormond College. In 1859 he married Frances Charlotte, eldest daughter of the late Hon. James Henty, M.L.C. Mr. Balfour was a member of the Gillies Government without portfolio from May 1890 till its resignation in November of that year.