The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Macrossan, Hon. John Murtagh

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1402322The Dictionary of Australasian Biography — Macrossan, Hon. John MurtaghPhilip Mennell

Macrossan, Hon. John Murtagh, M.L.A., was born in 1832, in co. Donegal. He was educated at local schools, and after spending two years in Scotland went to Victoria in 1853 to pursue his fortunes as a miner. After working on the diggings in that colony and in New Zealand and New South Wales for twelve years, with varying luck, but very little substantial success, he was attracted to Northern Queensland by the reported richness of the Peak Down diggings. His ready eloquence and knowledge of miners' wants soon made him a public character, and he was returned to the Lower House by the miners of Charters Towers for the Kennedy district in the year 1873. He was at first a very advanced Liberal; but his convictions became modified, and he joined the first McIlwraith Ministry as Secretary for Public Works and Mines on Jan. 21st, 1879, retiring from the Government on March 13th, 1883, six months before its fall. He occupied a congenial seat as member for the great mining district of Townsville, and on the formation of Sir Thomas McIlwraith's second Cabinet on Jane 13th, 1888, he rejoined his old chief in his former capacity. On Nov. 30th of the same year, when Mr. Morehead reconstructed the cabinet under his own premiership, Mr. Macrossan remained in the ministry, taking the additional office of Colonial Secretary in Jan. 1890. In August of that year he retired with his colleagues. He was a prominent advocate of the subdivision of Queensland, and the constitution of the northern portion into a separate colony. Mr. Macrossan was one of the representatives of Queensland at the session of the Federal Council of Australasia held in Hobart in Jan. to Feb. 1889. He was one of the delegates to the Federation Convention in Sydney, and died in that city on March 30th, 1891. The Queensland Parliament voted £2000 to his widow.