Lalor, Peter (DNB00)

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LALOR, PETER (1823–1889), colonial legislator, younger brother of James Finton Lalor [q. v.], was born at Tinakill, Queen's County, Ireland, in 1823, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently became a civil engineer, and shortly after the discovery of gold in Australia he sailed for Melbourne in 1852. Proceeding to Ballarat in 1853, he, with his companions, took up rich claims on the Eureka lead and gravel pits, from which they were hoping to obtain a fortune, when in Nov. 1854 the outbreak of the miners took place. Lalor played a leading part among the insurgents. It had been customary for the diggers to pay a monthly license to the government; but at a meeting on 29 Nov. 1854 it had been decided not to pay any further licenses, and the existing official documents were burnt. Parties of the 12th and 40th regiments, accompanied by police, attacked the miners on 3 Dec. at the Eureka stockade, when twenty-two of the rioters were killed, twelve wounded, and 125 taken prisoners. Lalor, who commanded the rebels, received a ball near the shoulder, and ultimately lost an arm. He, however, escaped, and a reword of 200l. offered for his capture did not result in his arrest. Subsequently representation was given to the gold-fields, and in November 1855 Lalor was without opposition elected as member for Ballarat. Shortly after taking his seat the government appointed him inspector of railways. At the next election, in 1856, he was returned for South Grant, and was appointed chairman of committees by the legislative assembly, an office in which he gained much distinction. He sat for South Grant till 1871, when he was defeated at the poll, but in 1875 he was again returned for the same constituency. In August of that year he became commissioner for customs in Graham Berry's first administration. In the following October he resigned with his chief. After the general election, in May 1877, Berry again took office, and Lalor resumed his former post. In 1868, after retiring from the chairmanship of the committees, he devoted much attention to his interest in the New North Clunes and the Australian mines. He was chairman of the Clunes water commission, with a large salary, and was a director of the New North Clunes mining company.

Through his efforts in 1870 and 1871, the bill was carried for the Clunes waterworks, which were completed at a cost of 70,000l. On the formation of the third Berry ministry, in 1877, Lalor was appointed commissioner for trade and customs, and in 1878 became postmaster-general as well. He was appointed speaker of the house in 1880, and held this post until 1888, when he retired in consequence of ill-health. He was thereupon awarded a vote of thanks, with a grant of 4,000l. He died at Melbourne on 10 Feb. 1889.

[Men of the Time, Victoria, 1878, pp. 100-1; Heaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates, 1879, vol. x. pt. ii. p. 246; Times, 11 Feb. 1889, p. 5, 30 March p. 13.]

G. C. B.