The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/de Labilliere, Francis Peter

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de Labilliere, Francis Peter, is of Huguenot origin, his family having occupied a prominent position amongst the nobility of Languedoc as far back as the thirteenth century. Capt. Peter de Labilliere, who was naturalised by Act of Parliament in 1701, served under William III. in Ireland and the Netherlands, and in the British army in Spain. His grandson, Peter de Labilliere, emigrated to Port Phillip in 1839, taking with him his son, Charles Edgar, the father of the subject of the present notice, by his marriage with Miss Hannah Balle, which was solemnised at St. Mark's, Dublin, July 4th, 1839. They made the voyage by the Westminster, the second ship which sailed from England direct for Port Phillip, and landed in Melbourne in Dec. 1839. Mr. Charles Edgar de Labilliere engaged in pastoral pursuits at Tallook Yale, near Bacchus Marsh, and died in London on Nov. 2nd, 1870. The subject of this notice, who was his only son, was born in Melbourne on August 13th, 1840, went to England with his father in 1859; entered at the Middle Temple on Nov. 7th, 1860; called to the bar on June 6th, 1863; married at St. Saviour's, Paddington, on Oct. 9th, 1867, Adelaide, eldest daughter of the late Rev. Edward Ravenshaw, rector of West Rington, Wilts. He has always taken a deep interest in the relations of the mother country and the colonies, and was one of the very earliest advocates of Imperial Federation, developing his views on the question in a succession of papers, the first at the Social Science Congress at Bristol, in 1869, on "The Future Relations of England and her Colonies"; the second at the Colonial Conference, Westminster Palace Hotel, in 1871, of which he was hon. secretary, on "Imperial and Colonial Federalism"; the two next before the Royal Colonial Institute, in 1875 on "The Permanent Unity of the Empire"; and in 1881 on "The Political Organisation of the Empire." He again opened the question before the Social Science Congress at Birmingham, in 1884, and before the conference arranged by the Royal Colonial Institute at the Colonial Exhibition of 1886. He also combated the views of Mr. Goldwin Smith and other advocates of disintegration, in an article on "The Contraction of England, and its Advocates," in the National Review, in 1884. In that year also, on his suggestion, the first steps were taken to found the Imperial Federation League, he being hon. secretary to the provisional committee, and afterwards, jointly with Mr. Arnold Forster, to the League, on its establishment. From 1874 to 1881, as a member of the council of the Royal Colonial Institute, he assisted Sir Fred. Young in the honorary secretarial work of the society before it was in a position to maintain a paid staff. As appears by the correspondence laid before Parliament in 1876, he was the first to suggest the annexation of Eastern New Guinea, in a long letter addressed in 1874 to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a copy of which was sent, with a covering despatch, by the late Earl of Carnarvon to each of the governors of the Australian colonies. In 1878 his "Early History of the Colony of Victoria" appeared, in two volumes. It corrected the previously received date of the discovery of Port Phillip Bay, and brought to light many facts and documents which had been forgotten, or never before made public. Mr. de Labilliere resides at Harrow.