Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Braddon, Edward Nicholas Coventry

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BRADDON, Sir EDWARD NICHOLAS COVENTRY (1829–1904), premier of Tasmania, born at Skisdone Lodge, Cornwall, on 11 June 1829, was third and only surviving son of Henry Braddon, solicitor, of an old Cornish family, by his wife Fanny, daughter of Patrick White of Limerick. Miss Braddon, the novelist, is his younger sister. Educated at a private school at Greenwich and at University College, London, he joined in 1847 the mercantile firm of Bagshaw & Co., his cousins, in Calcutta; but left them in 1854 for employment as an assistant on the government railways. It was the employes of the railway at Pir Pointi who met the first shock of the Sonthal rising in July 1855. Braddon's cousin, an assistant engineer, was killed, and he successfully brought the insurgents to justice. His vigorous action attracted attention, and on 19 Oct. 1857 he was appointed an assistant commissioner for Deoghur in the Sonthal district. Ho was, however, actually sent to Purneah to act against the mutineers, and raised a regiment of Sonthals with which he served under Sir George Adney Yule through the Indian Mutiny, receiving the mutiny medal and favourable mention in despatches.

On 1 May 1862 Braddon became superintendent of excise and stamps in Oudh, and subsequently superintendent of trade statistics (1868). He was appointed in 1868 to inquire into the operation of the salt tax in Oudh and the North-west Provinces; from Oct. 1869 to 30 June 1871 he combined with his substantive duties those of personal assistant to the financial commissioner. On 1 July 1871 he was made inspector-general of registration. In March 1875 he was the delegate for Oudh to the trade conference at Allahabad. Two years later the decision of the Indian government to abolish his appointment came as a great blow to him, and as no other employment was offered him he retired on a pension in 1878, and went to live hi Tasmania.

Here in 1879 Braddon entered the House of Assembly as member for West Devon, and made his mark as a stalwart free-trader in opposition to the ministries of (Sir) Adye Douglas [q.v. Suppl. II] and (Sir) James Willson Agnew [q.v. Suppl. II] during 1885 and 1886. On 30 March 1887 he joined an administration in which Philip Oakley Fysh became premier while he led the assembly as minister of lands and works and also of education. In January 1888 he represented Tasmania at the federal council held at Hobart. On 29 Oct. 1888 he resigned office to become agent-general for the colony in London. In 1891 he was made K.C.M.G.

Braddon was recalled to Tasmania in 1893, and on 19 Dec., having re-entered the assembly as member for West Devon, turned out the government which had recalled him. On 14 April 1894 he became premier, and in this capacity in 1897 he represented Tasmania at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and was made a privy councillor. In that year he also received the hon. degree of LL.D. at Cambridge. In 1898, at the federal conference at Sydney, he carried a clause in the constitution bill which became known as the 'Braddon blot.' His term of office, during the latter part of which he was treasurer as well as premier, came to an end on 12 Oct. 1899.

In 1901 Braddon was elected by a large majority senior member for Tasmania in the first parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, and on 16 Dec. 1903 he was elected to the second parliament in the interest of free trade. He died on 2 Feb. 1904 at his residence, Treglith, Leith, where he was buried privately, though a state funeral was offered. He twice married: first, on 24 Oct. 1857, Amy Georgina, daughter of William Palmer of Purneah (she died in 1864, leaving six children); secondly, on 16 Oct. 1876, Alice Harriet, daughter of John H. Smith, by whom he had one daughter.

Braddon was an enthusiastic sportsman. He was hardly popular; his bluff manner of speech was too often touched with sarcasm. He was author of ‘Life in India’ (1872) and ‘Thirty Years of Shikar’ (1895).

[Buckland's Indian Biog., s.v.; The Times, 3 Feb. 1904; Mennell's Dict. of Australasian Biog.; Tasmanian Mail, 6 Feb. 1904, p. 32; Who's Who, 1903; Burke's Colonial Gentry, i. 331; India Office Records; for appreciation of his work see Austral. Commonw. Parly. Debates, 1904, xviii. 14; private information.]

C. A. H.