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William Henry Embling (1840–1912)

Death of Dr. Embling, M.L.C. Soldier, Physician, Politician.

While travelling through the Mallee in a motor-car a fortnight ago with the Railways Standing Committee, of which he was a member, Dr. W. H. Embling, M.L.C., contracted a chill. Pneumonia supervened, and developed so acutely this week as to prepare his family for the end, which came early yesterday afternoon. To a large circle of friends and acquaintances and the public whom he served faithfully for so many years, news of the death of Dr Embling in the height of his usefulness will come in the nature of a shock. The soundness of his constitution and his virility postponed the end longer than was expected. On Thursday evening, in a period of conconsiousness, he said, "I am still fighting, you see," and then, with a characteristic touch, he added, "I always liked a good fight."

William Henry Embling was born in London on September 25, 1840, and he came to Victoria with his parents when about 9 years of age. When still in his teens he was sent to Germany, and afterwards to England, to study for the medical profession. He made rapid progress with his studies, but in his spare time he learnt several Continental languages, and drifted into acquaintance with some polifical radicals, which accounted for his subsequent connection in London with a league of European political exiles. An excess of youthful spirits and his vigorous championship of the cause of the league brough him into conflict with the authorities of the London University, and having been rusticated he helped to organise and subsequently joined the English legion which sailed for Italy and fought in the Garibaldian campaign. After stiring experiences, and attaining the rank of lieutenant, he returned to Great Britain, and took his L.R.C.S. degree at Glasgow.

Dr. Embling's father was one of Victoria's early legislators, and the son followed in his footsteps. He set up in practice at St. Kilda, and after an unsuccessful attempt to win the seat from Sir George Turner, he was in 1892 elected as a member of the Legislative Council for the North Central Province. Afterwards, when the number of members was reduced, he was returned as one of the representatives of the Southern Province, and was regarded as being so strong in the seat that he was never opposed when election time came round. The somewhat wild political beliefs of his youth were replaced by sound Liberalism, that left him in his late years what he termed a "constitutionalist." It was a favourite remark of his when listening to a latter-day Labour representative that he had passed that stage of political development 40 years ago. Besides being a member of the Railways Standing Committee, Dr. Embling acted on many occasions as Deputy Chairman of Committees in the Legislative Council. He was also in demand in the Council as one of that Chamber's representatives at conferences convened to settle differences between the two Houses. His breezy good nature and infectious humour were positive assets at such gatherings.

Dr. Embling was astonishingly versatile. He was a physician, politician, linguist, soldier, writer of songs, contributor to the London press, and self-taught musician of considerable ability. He was on the directorates of several banking and financial in- stitutions, for many years was chairman of the medical staff of the Alfred Hospital, and had been president of the Working Men's College. He married when 23 years of age, the eldest daughter of Mr. Thomas Austin, of Barwon-park, Winchelsea. Mrs. Embling survives him, but of eleven children only four are living, two unmarried daughters and two sons, Mr. H. A. Austin Embling, mayor of Prahran, and the Rev. Sydney Embling, priest in charge of Tumby Bay, South Australia.

The funeral will leave Dr. Embling's late residence, "Elmwood," Chapel street, St. Kilda, at half-past 3 o'clock this afternoon, for the St. Kilda Cemetery.

Original publication

Citation details

'Embling, William Henry (1840–1912)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 September, 1840
London, Middlesex, England


24 May, 1912 (aged 71)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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