Stuart Alexander Donaldson was born 16 December 1812 in London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom to Stuart Alexander Donaldson (1776-1849) and Betty Cundale (-1866) and died 11 January 1867 Carleton Hall, Carleton, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Amelia Cowper (1832-1910) 21 February 1854 in St. George's Church, St George Hanover Square, Greater London, England, United Kingdom.

The Honourable Sir Stuart Donaldson

1st Premier of New South Wales
In office
6 June 1856 – 26 August 1856
Succeeded by Charles Cowper
Constituency County of Durham

Nationality British
Profession Business agent for Richard Jones & Co, Company manager for Lloyds of London, Sheep and cattle grazier

Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson (16 December 1812 – 11 January 1867) was the first Premier of the Colony of New South Wales.

Early life

Donaldson was born in London, England. He entered his father's firm at the age of 15 and was sent first to Mexico (1831-1834), for business training, and then to Sydney, where he arrived in 1835.[1] He returned to London between 1841 and 1844.


In 1848, Donaldson was elected a member of the first Legislative Council of New South Wales, representing the County of Durham from 1848 to 1856. Comments made while running for re-election in 1851, led Sir Thomas Mitchell to demand a public apology. While Donaldson complied Mitchell was not satisfied and challenged Donaldson to a duel with pistols. Both men missed but they remained antagonised.[1] He supported the development of steam ship services to Australia and the work of Caroline Chisholm. In 1852 he achieved the carriage of a motion recommending that £10,000 should be applied to supporting Chisholm's work.[2] He travelled to England in 1853-1854.

In March 1856 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the first Parliament, representing Sydney Hamlets. The first Legislative Assembly had trouble forming a Government. Eventually Governor Denison invited Donaldson to be Premier and he took up the offices of Premier and Colonial Secretary on 6 June 1856. Two months and 20 days later, on 25 August 1856, his Government lost a vote and he resigned. He was criticised for standing down so readily but he said, "my colleagues and myself are all too independent of office to cling to it",[1] a somewhat prophetic remark.

He was succeeded by Charles Cowper and Donaldson served as Colonial Treasurer (1856-1857) and was a Commissioner for Railways in 1857.[3] He was elected unopposed to Cumberland (South Riding) in October 1856, representing it to 1859.[1] He was a member of the Senate of the University of Sydney from 1851–61 and his brother John helped to select its academic staff.[1]

Late life

Donaldson returned to England for the last time in June 1859 and was knighted there in 1860.[3] Following his return, he unsuccessfully sought election to the British House of Commons for Dartmouth in 1860 and later for Barnstaple.[1] He had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son Stuart Alexander Donaldson, a distinguished scholar, became Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1912 and died in 1915; another son was St Clair Donaldson – archbishop of Brisbane. A third son, Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson, who became an eminent engineer, went with Lord Kitchener on a special mission to Russia in 1916 and was drowned in the Hampshire.

Stuart Donaldson died at Carleton Hall, near Holmrook, in Cumberland, England on 11 January 1867.


Offspring of Stuart Alexander Donaldson and Amelia Cowper (1832-1910)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Stuart Alexander Donaldson (1854-1915) 4 December 1854 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 29 October 1915 Albinia Frederica Hobart-Hampden (-1932)
Hay Frederick Donaldson (1856-1916) 7 July 1856 Kellet House, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia 5 June 1916 Selina Beresford (c1857-1938)
Amy Jane Stuart Donaldson (1858-1859)
May Ethel Donaldson (1860-1934) 8 August 1860 London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom 12 September 1934 Monk Hopton, Shropshire, England, United Kingdom Algernon George Lawley, 5th Baron Wenlock (1857-1931)
St Clair George Alfred Donaldson (1863-1935) 11 February 1863 22 Rutland Gate, London, England, United Kingdom 7 December 1935 Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Seton John Laing Donaldson (1864-1882)
George F. Donaldson (1865-)

Offspring of Stuart Alexander Donaldson and Maria Leicester (1809-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Lester Stuart Donaldson (1841-1924)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Draper, Sandra. "Donaldson, Sir Stuart Alexander (1812 - 1867)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  2. ^ Serle, Percival. "Donaldson, Sir Stuart Alexander (1812 - 1867)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson (1812 - 1867)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Premier of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Charles Cowper
NAME Donaldson, Stuart Alexander
SHORT DESCRIPTION New South Wales politician and Premier
DATE OF BIRTH 16 December 1812
PLACE OF BIRTH London, England
DATE OF DEATH 11 January 1867
PLACE OF DEATH Holmrook, Cumberland, England.


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
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