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Former Member Details

Mr John Hubert PLUNKETT, Q.C (1802 - 1869)

Member Photo
Date of Birth: 01/06/1802
Place of Birth: Mount Plunkett, County Roscommon, Ireland
Date of Death: 09/05/1869
Place of Death: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Parliamentary Service
Position Start End Period Notes
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 19 Apr 1836 21 Mar 1841 4 years 11 months 3 days An Appointed Member of the first Legislative Council 1824 - 1843
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 07 Aug 1843 29 Feb 1856 12 years 6 months 23 days A Non-Elective Member of the first Legislative Council 1843 – 1856
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 28 Jan 1857 06 Feb 1858 1 year 10 days First (Quinquennial) Appointments under the Constitution Act. Date of Writ of Summons 28 January 1857.
Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly 31 Mar 1856 10 Nov 1860 4 years 7 months 11 days
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 01 Oct 1861 09 May 1869 7 years 7 months 9 days Life Appointment under the Constitution Act. Date of Writ of Summons 24 June 1861
Member for Bathurst (County) 31 Mar 1856 29 May 1856 1 month 29 days
Member for Argyle 31 Mar 1856 27 Jan 1857 9 months 28 days
Member for Cumberland (North Riding) 13 Sep 1858 11 Apr 1859 6 months 30 days
Member for West Sydney 14 Jun 1859 10 Nov 1860 1 year 4 months 28 days
Vice President of the Executive Council 16 Oct 1863 02 Feb 1865 1 year 3 months 18 days
Attorney General 25 Aug 1865 21 Jan 1866 4 months 28 days
Acting Attorney-General 19 Apr 1836 16 Sep 1836 4 months 29 days
Solicitor-General 14 Jun 1832 16 Sep 1836 4 years 3 months 3 days
Attorney-General 17 Sep 1836 05 Jun 1856 19 years 8 months 20 days
President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales 29 Jan 1857 06 Feb 1858 1 year 9 days
Vice-President of Executive Council and Representative of Government 24 Oct 1865 21 Jan 1866 2 months 29 days
Additional Ministerial Department Committee No.12 20 Aug 1856 18 Mar 1857 6 months 27 days
Australian Mutual Provident Society’s Bill Committee No.26 12 Dec 1856 18 Mar 1857 3 months 7 days
Church and School Lands Committee No.11 19 Aug 1856 18 Mar 1857 7 months
City Commissioners’ Department Committee No.7 12 Aug 1856 18 Mar 1857 7 months 7 days
Civil Service Superannuation Fund Committee No.19 11 Nov 1856 18 Mar 1857 4 months 8 days
Deepening the River Hunter Committee No.16 04 Nov 1856 18 Mar 1857 4 months 15 days
Standing Order Committee No.3 03 Jun 1856 18 Mar 1857 9 months 16 days
Extension of Railway to Windsor Committee No.6 17 Dec 1858 09 Apr 1859 3 months 24 days
Parliamentary Accommodation Committee No.10 17 Mar 1859 09 Apr 1859 24 days
Proposed Vote of Censure on the Attorney General Committee No.11 25 Mar 1859 09 Apr 1859 16 days
Vacant Seat – Question of Privilege Committee No.9 03 Mar 1859 09 Apr 1859 1 month 7 days Chairman
Case of James Hibburd Committee No.16 23 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 9 months 12 days
Condition of the Working Classes of the Metropolis Committee No.19 30 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 9 months 5 days
Dean of St Andrew’s Sydney Committee No.36 17 Feb 1860 04 Jul 1860 4 months 18 days
Elections and Qualifications Committee No.4 02 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 10 months 3 days
Hawkesbury Benevolent Society’s Act Amendment Bill Committee No.35 16 Feb 1860 04 Jul 1860 4 months 19 days
Petition of Alexander Berry, Esquire, Committee No.30 03 Feb 1860 04 Jul 1860 5 months 2 days
Seat claimed by James Hoskins, Esquire, Committee No.23 13 Oct 1859 04 Jul 1860 8 months 22 days
Standing Orders Committee No.2 01 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 10 months 4 days
Sydney Grammar School Committee No.6 13 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 9 months 22 days
University of Sydney Committee No.5 13 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 9 months 22 days
Working of the Sydney Municipal Council Committee No.12 20 Sep 1859 04 Jul 1860 9 months 15 days
Colonial Bank of Australia Incorporation Bill Committee No.13 19 Oct 1860 09 Nov 1860 22 days
Elections and Qualifications Committee No.7 28 Sep 1860 09 Nov 1860 1 month 13 days
Petition of Mr Alexander Berry Committee No.9 12 Oct 1860 09 Nov 1860 29 days
Present System of Tendering for the Public Service Committee No.11 16 Oct 1860 09 Nov 1860 25 days
Public Prisons in Sydney and Cumberland Committee No.14 23 Oct 1860 09 Nov 1860 18 days
Standing Orders Committee No.2 27 Sep 1860 09 Nov 1860 1 month 14 days
Political Party Activity
Community Activity
Qualifications, occupations and interests
Retired public servant. Educated at non-Catholic schools, then Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1823). Called to Irish Bar 1826, later to England Bar; prominent lawyer on Connaught circuit 1826-1832; active supporter and associate of Daniel O'Connell; Given post of Solicitor-General for New South Wales, through influence of his kinsman, Lord Fingall, and O'Connell; Arrived in Sydney in June Promoted to Attorney-General 1836, retaining position until 1856 when retired on pension. Member Executive Council 1843-1856. Chairman National Schools Board 1848-1858. Original member of the Senate, University of Sydney, 1850-1869; vice chancellor 1865-1867. Prominent in drafting and administration of 1836 Church Act; prosecuted Europeans with determination after Myall Creek massacre 1838; on select committee which drafted a new constitution of 1853. At odds with Roman Catholic authorities over National education system until 1860s, but leading Roman Catholic layman. A founder and treasurer of St Vincent's Hospital; founding fellow St John's College, University of Sydney, 1858; lay secretary of second Provincial Synod, Melbourne, 1869. In later years lived in Melbourne, commuting to Sydney. Author of The Australian Magistrate; a Guide to the Duties of a Justice of the Peace, 1835; The Magistrate's Pocket Book, 1859; On the Evidence of Accomplices, 1863.
Military Service
Honours Received
Appointed as a Queen's Counsel in 1832
Membership of other Parliaments & Offices Held
Local Government Activity
Personal
Son of George, farmer connected with Irish Catholic aristocracy, and Eileen O'Kelly. Married Maria Charlotte McDonougha in London, England c. 1831 and had no issue.
Additional Information
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2 John N. Moloney, An Architect of Freedom: John Hubert PLunkett in New South Wales 1832 - 1869, 1973 Text from the book: 'The Presiding Officers of the Parliament of New South Wales', Sydney, 1995 John Hubert Plunkett was born in June 1802 in County Roscommon, Ireland. He married Maria McDonougha in 1831. They had no children. Champion of the Catholic emancipation movement, Plunkett was called to the Irish Bar in 1826, where he established a successful career as a barrister. Although appointed SolicitorGeneral of New South Wales in 1831 he did not take up the appointment until his arrival in the colony the following year. This marked the first appointment of a Catholic to a high civil office within the colony. By 1833 Plunkett was forced to relieve the deaf Attorney General, John Kinchela, of all court work and in 1836 he was officially appointed to succeed Kinchela. Plunkett led the way in colonial legal reform emphasising the importance of religions and civil equality. His zealous pursuit of equality led the British authorities to confer with Plunkett over the 1842 Act for better government of the colonies. Plunkett was an appointed Member of the old Legislative Council from 1836 until 1841. During that time he was instrumental in creating a draft for the Church Act of 1836 which established equality amongst Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians and later Methodists. He also played an influential role in drafting the Market Commissioners' Act of 1837 which later saw the creation of the first representative body in New South Wales. Plunkett was appointed a nominee member of the reconstituted Legislative Council from 1843 until responsible. government was granted in 1856. Although at that time he successfully contested two Legislative Assembly seats, he resigned as the Member for Bathurst (County) choosing instead to represent Argyle. He held that seat until 1857 when he entered the new upper house. From 1857 until 1858 Plunkett was President of the Legislative Council before returning to the Assembly as the Member for Cumberland in 1858 and Western Sydney in 1859. Although he held the view that the Presidency should be a ministerial office, it failed to become a political appointment and remained an office of the legislature. Plunkett died in Melbourne on 9 May 1869.