Adye Douglas


The Launceston residence of Adye Douglas (AOT, PH30/1/10)

Adye Douglas (18151906), lawyer and politician, was born in England. He emigrated to Launceston in 1839 and practised law for many years, in 1861 founding the firm of Douglas and Collins. He kept in touch with the electorate by taking local cases, and his oratorical and legal skills were of great use when he was elected a delegate to the Federal Conventions of 1891 and 189798; in 1886 he predicted an Australian republic.

A man of vision and prodigious energy, he was involved in many community and civic organisations, which helped ensure an outstanding political career. This began in 1853 with his election to the first Launceston Council, and ended fifty years later. During those years he filled many roles in the community, in his profession and in government. On the local level, his interests ranged from the Anti-Transportation League to the Northern Tasmanian Cycling Club.

Douglas served thirty years on the Launceston Council, including two terms as mayor (186566 and 188082), and holds the record of 24 years 9 months' continuous service as alderman. At state level he served in both Houses of Parliament, but was never a party man, attracting others to follow him rather than toeing a party line. In 1884, as MLC for South Esk, he served as Chief Secretary, then Premier 188486. Forward-thinking, he was impressed by the need for the extension of railways. He appointed himself Agent-General for Tasmania in London in 188687, and on his return re-entered colonial politics, serving as Chief Secretary 189294, and President of the Legislative Council, 18941904. Knighted in 1902, he died in Hobart, survived by his fourth wife and a large family.

Further reading: ADB 4; S Bennett & B Bennett, Biographical register of the Tasmanian parliament, Canberra, 1979; C Pearce, ' Tasmania's Grand Old Man', THRAPP 48/2, 2001; V Leary (ed), Launceston aldermen, mayors, clerks and administrators, Launceston, 1994.

Gwenda Webb