John Oxley (1784 – 1828) explorer, magistrate, politician, surveyor-general
John Oxley, a naval officer, surveyor and explorer was keenly interested in the public and cultural life of the colony. He was one of the first officers of the Bible Society when it was founded in 1817. In September 1819 he was appointed to the committee of the Female Orphan Institution, the Male Orphan Institution and the Public School Institution.
Information on: his naval career, his Lachlan River expedition, his Macquarie River expedition, his expedition to Port Curtis, his discovery of the Tweed River, his marriage and children is available at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Oxley
Oxley was keenly interested in the public and cultural life of the colony. He was one of the first officers of the Bible Society when it was founded in 1817. In September 1819 he was appointed to the committee of the Female Orphan Institution, the Male Orphan Institution and the Public School Institution. In 1821 he became a foundation member of the Philosophical Society, and that December Governor Brisbane made him a magistrate. He subscribed to both St James’s Church and to Scots Church where he was one of the congregation which in 1824 petitioned for government assistance for its minister.
He was selected as one of the five members of the original Legislative Council in 1824, but was not reappointed when the council was reconstituted next year. He had always been a strong exclusive. Macquarie criticized him as ‘factious and dissatisfied’. In 1812 John Macarthur wrote warmly of Oxley’s ‘good nature’; later he spoke in a very different vein after ‘his unprincipled conduct made it necessary to drop his acquaintance’. Whatever his character his financial incapacity is clear, and this made him, in Macarthur’s opinion, ‘no more fit to make his way in the midst of the sharks among whom it will be his fate to live than he is qualified to be a Lord Chancellor’.
Despite his investments, his fees and his land grants, when he died at Kirkham on 26 May 1828, he was so ‘much embarrassed in his pecuniary circumstances’ that the Executive Council felt compelled to recommend special assistance to his widow and children. The British government refused to sanction a pension but agreed to permit a grant of 5000 acres (2024 ha) to Oxley’s sons in recognition of their father’s services.
The State Library of Queensland’s John Oxley Library – which notes:
The John Oxley Library was named in honour of John Oxley (1783-1828), naval officer, surveyor and explorer; the first European to extensively explore the Brisbane River. John Oxley was also interested in the public and cultural life of the early colony and assisted in the formation of a circulating library. His link with the promotion and development of library services combined with his prominent place in Queensland history underpin the use of his name for this world class library of Queensland.
The Steam Ship, John Oxley restoration project : http://www.shf.org.au/JO-history/JO-home.html
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