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Belton, James (1855–1935)

from Examiner

Mr. James Belton, one of Tasmania's best-known political identities for several years, died in the Spencer Hospital, Wynyard, after a short illness.

The late Mr. Belton, who was 80 years of age, was a native of Talbot (Victoria). He commenced business in the timber industry, and after some years took up an area of 300 acres in Victoria and started farming and dairying. He was a member of the Euroa Shire Council for 15 years, was president of that body three times, and during the whole time never missed a meeting.

Because of his vast experience of agriculture, the late Mr. Belton was requested by a number of intending migrants to report on the possibilities of King Island. The trip necessitated his making a short stay at Burnie and Wynyard and, being impressed with the surrounding country, recommended his friends to settle in that district. Later he purchased several areas and settled in Tasmania himself. He purchased the Table Cape Butter Factory, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. E. H. Stevens, and was elected a member of the Table Cape council, of which body he was subsequently Warden.

The late Mr. Belton commenced his political career when he was elected to the House of Assembly as representative for Darwin on April 30, 1909. He was subsequently re-elected in 1912, 1913, 1916, 1919, and 1922., He was Minister for Lands and Works in Mr. J. A. Lyons' Ministry from October 26, 1923, and was formerly Minister for Lands, Works, and Agriculture in the Earle Ministry from April 6, 1914, until April 15, 1916.

During his earlier Parliamentary days he showed statesmanlike foresight by securing for all time a large increase in the area of the National Park reservation for the preservation of native flora and fauna. His wide knowledge of land matters generally was always of great assistance when questions affecting the primary producer were under discussion. Returned soldier settlers were his particular care, and on social problems he was an undoubted authority.

The death of Mr. Belton will be generally regretted and especially in the Table Cape and on the North-West Coast where he rendered valuable service. He took an active interest in the Spencer Hospital at Wynyard, and was a foundation member of the Institution. He was of a retiring disposition. He leaves a wife and family of four daughters and four sons—Mrs. T. Dale (Sydney), Mrs. A. Seitz (Sydney), Mrs. J. Hurst (Gipnsland), and Mrs. W. Heazlewood (N.S.W.), and Messrs. Samuel (Sydney), Phillip (West Australia), James (N.S.W.), and Stanley (Victoria).

The Acting Premier (Mr. E. Dwyer Gray) said that he heard with poignant regret of the death of his old friend, Mr. James Belton, who would be remembered as one of the great stalwarts and pioneers of the Labour movement in Tasmania. His first recollection of Mr. Belton went back nearly a quarter of a century, and he first came into political relationship with him. Mr. Belton was a prominent member of the A.L.P. executive. He always regarded him as one of the biggest hearted men in the Tasmanian community, and, as far as he knew, he had the esteem and regard of his opponents in the same measure as that of his colleagues of the Labour party. Mr. Dwyer Gray expressed sympathy on behalf of the Government to the relatives.

The late Mr. Belton was one of the best known pioneers of the Labour movement, and his passing is greatly regretted," said the Chief  Secretary (Mr. T. D'Alton). Mr. D'Alton said that all members of the Labour movement held the late Mr. Belton in the highest esteem, and the good work he had accomplished in the interests of Labour would be a monument to his memory. He joined with other members of the party in expressing deepest sympathy to the relatives of the late Mr. Belton.

The Minister for Agriculture also expressed regret at the passing of Mr. Belton, and said he had been a valued member of the Labour party.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for James Belton

Additional Resources

  • profile, Daily Post (Hobart), 22 March 1917, p 7
  • death notice, Examiner (Launceston, Tas), 13 June 1935, p 1
  • funeral, Advocate (Burnie, Tas), 15 June 1935, p 2

Citation details

'Belton, James (1855–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/belton-james-32252/text39905, accessed 5 July 2022.

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