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Samuel Thomas Staughton (1838–1901)

The news of the death of Mr. S. T. [Samuel Thomas] Staughton, M.L.A., will be received with amazement and the deepest regret. It was known that he had for some time been suffering from a rather severe cold, but he was able to leave his home, St Neots, Domain road, South Yarra, and attend to his duties in Parliament as well as his business affairs, though taking more than ordinary care of himself. He was in his place in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, and heard the Budget speech of the Treasurer. On Wednesday he also visited the state Houses of Parliament, and, though feeling unwell, he had the strongest hope of soon being quite himself again. Yesterday morning, however, his condition became more serious, the bronchial asthma which had supervened on influenza, causing him so much distress as to render it necessary that he should remain in his room. Sir Thomas Fitzgerald was called in, and held a consultation with his medical advisor, Mr Alan Mackay M.B., and Mr Staughton’s condition was declared to be very precarious. He gradually grew worse, and died about half past 8 o'clock in the evening. When intimation of the event was communicated to the Premier he promptly moved the adjournment of the Legislative Assembly which was agreed to.

The deceased, who was born on November 17, 1839, was the second son of the late Mr Simon Staughton, one of the earliest colonists in Victoria and a large land owner. Mr S. T. Staughton inherited a huge share of his father’s property in 1863, and became identified in that manner with the pastoral interests of Victoria, particularly in the Melton district. He married on April 23, 1874 the daughter of the late Mr J. R. Hopkins, MLA, who survives him. He had seven children, of whom one, Captain Staughton served with great credit in South Africa as an officer of the second Victorian contingent. One daughter is Mrs Seton G. Williams.

Mr Staughton will be remembered for his excellent qualities by hundreds who were proud to regard him as their very intimate friend. It is given to few to establish themselves in the estimation of the community as he was able to do, and the secret of his success in that respect unquestionably lay in his generous-mindedness, his absolute integrity, and sterling good nature. When in the stormy period of Victorian politics between 1877 and 1880 the Constitutional party was casting about for men to fight the extremists, who had, to use a phrase current at the time, settled upon Victoria like an invading army, Mr Staughton, among other men, voluntarily offered his services to the authorities in the party. His excellent record in the important division of the then huge constituency of West Bourke, in which he lived, led to his being nominated as one of the constitutional candidates for the electorate at the general election in January, 1880. Mr Robert Harper had, in the meantime, fought two very severe contests with Mr Deakin for one of the seats, finally winning it, and no contest at the general election was more closely watched than that in which Mr Harper and Mr Staughton were pitted against Mr Deakin and the other retiring member. The election turned in favour of Mr Harper and Mr Staughton, who held the seats until the penal dissolution in July of the same year when they again passed into the hands of the Berry party. But the victory of January had considerably modified the policy of the party, and though Mr Staughton had failed to return to the House it was clear that the effect of the candidature of such men as he–and they were very numerous–had been wholly for good. In three years, however, the electors of West Bourke were given an opportunity of voting for Mr Staughton, and he was returned to hold the seat thence to his death. On the redistribution of seats the electorate, though retaining its old name became a one-member constituency and the suburban division of Essendon and Flemington was formed into a new electorate. As the member for West Bourke Mr Staughton held an unchallenged position and he was recognised both in the constituency and in Parliament as one of the most worthy of the men who sought to serve the country. He remained a staunch member of the Constitutional party, and though he might on several occasions have taken office preferred to remain a private member, giving loyal support to the Governments on whose side he sat, but always maintaining a vigilant, though kindly, attitude towards those to whom he was opposed. He hated anything that savoured of humbug or playing to the gallery, and members who ventured to indulge in clap-trap very quickly felt the sting of his interjections. Though his criticism in such cases was emphatic there was never any malice in it. The Labour corner particularly always held the deceased member in the highest regard.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic), 7 September 1901, p 4

Citation details

'Staughton, Samuel Thomas (1838–1901)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 November, 1838
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England


29 August, 1901 (aged 62)
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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