Sir Henry Ayers GCMG

Is your surname Ayers?

Research the Ayers family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Sir Henry Ayers, GCMG

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom
Death: June 11, 1897 (76)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Place of Burial: Adelaide, Adelaide City Council, South Australia, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of William Ayers and Elizabeth Eyers
Husband of Lady Ann Ayers
Father of Frank Richman Ayers; Harry Lockett Ayers; Frederic Ayers; Margaret Elizabeth Lungley; Charles Coke Ayers and 3 others
Brother of John Brooks Ayers; Elizabeth Ayers; Frances Ayers and William Ayers

Occupation: eighth Premier of South Australia
Managed by: Rick Clennett
Last Updated:

About Sir Henry Ayers GCMG

Henry Ayers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • The Honourable
  • Sir Henry Ayers
  • GCMG
  • 8th Premier of South Australia
  • In office
  • 15 July 1863 – 4 August 1864
  • Monarch Victoria
  • Governor Sir Dominick Daly
  • Preceded by Francis Dutton
  • Succeeded by Sir Arthur Blyth
  • In office
  • 20 September 1865 – 23 October 1865
  • Monarch Victoria
  • Governor Sir Dominick Daly
  • Preceded by Francis Dutton
  • Succeeded by Captain John Hart
  • In office
  • 3 May 1867 – 24 September 1868
  • Monarch Victoria
  • Governor Sir Dominick Daly
  • Preceded by Sir James Boucaut
  • Succeeded by Captain John Hart
  • In office
  • 13 October 1868 – 3 November 1868
  • Monarch Victoria
  • Governor Sir James Fergusson
  • Preceded by Captain John Hart
  • Succeeded by Henry Strangways
  • In office
  • 22 January 1872 – 22 July 1873
  • Monarch Victoria
  • Governor Sir James Fergusson
  • Sir Anthony Musgrave
  • Preceded by Sir Arthur Blyth
  • Succeeded by Sir Arthur Blyth
  • Personal details
  • Born 1 May 1821
  • Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
  • Died 11 June 1897 (aged 76)
  • Adelaide, South Australia

Sir Henry Ayers GCMG (1 May 1821 – 11 June 1897) was the eighth Premier of South Australia, serving a record five times between 1863 and 1873.

Historians note his lasting memorial is in the name of Uluru/Ayers Rock, discovered in 1873 by William Gosse.

Overview

Ayers was born at Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England son of William Ayers, of the Portsmouth dockyard, and his wife Elizabeth, née Breakes. Educated at the Beneficial Society's School (Portsea) he entered a law office in 1832. He emigrated, as a carpenter, to South Australia in 1840 with his wife, Anne (née Potts) with free passages. Until 1845 he worked as a law clerk, he was then appointed secretary of the Burra Burra mines. Henry Roach was chief Captain, responsible for day-to-day operations, from 1847 to 1867. Within a year the mine employed over 1000 men. For nearly 50 years Ayers was in control of this mine, initially as secretary and later as managing director. He made his wealth from the Burra Burra Copper Mines, which was known as the "Monster Mine" that secured the wealth of the colony of South Australia.

Politics

On 9 March 1857 Ayers was elected to the first South Australian Legislative Council under responsible government, the youngest member elected. He was continuously a member for over 36 years. For many years the whole colony formed a single electorate for the council; on two occasions (1865 and 1873) Ayers headed the poll.

In March 1863 Ayers was selected as one of the three South Australian representatives at the inter-colonial conference on uniform tariffs and inland customs duties. He also represented the colony at several other conferences from 1864 to 1877. On 4 July 1863 Ayers became minister without portfolio in the first Dutton cabinet. This ministry resigned just 11 days later however, as council demanded that it should have an executive minister to represent the government and Dutton refused. Ayers formed his first ministry as Premier and Chief Secretary on 15 July 1863. The house was much divided and it was almost impossible to get business done. Ayers reconstructed his ministry on 22 July 1864 but was defeated, and resigned on 4 August 1864. The Blyth ministry which was then formed included Ayers as chief secretary, but did not survive a general election and resigned on 22 March 1865. When Dutton formed his second ministry Ayers had his old position as chief secretary, and still retaining that office, formed his third administration on 20 September 1865 which lasted just over a month. In spite of dissolutions it was found very difficult to get a workable house. There were 18 ministries between July 1863 and July 1873. Ayers became premier again from May 1867 to September 1868, October to November 1868, 27 January 1872 to March 1872, and with an entirely new team of ministers, from March 1872 to July 1873. He held the position of chief secretary in the Colton ministry from June 1876 to October 1877, his last term of office.

In 1881 Ayers was elected President of the South Australian Legislative Council, and until December 1893 carried out his duties with ability, impartiality and courtesy. He died at Adelaide on 11 June 1897. His wife had died in 1881 and he was survived by three sons and a daughter. He was created CMG in 1870, knighted KCMG in 1872 and raised to GCMG in 1894.

Legacy

Apart from his mining interests, Ayers held important directorates and was for many years a member and chairman of the board of trustees of the Savings Bank of South Australia; he was re-appointed chairman only a few days before his death. He was the first Chairman of the South Australian Gas Company, from 1862 was a governor of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, president of the South Australian Old Colonists' Association, and was for many years on the council of the University of Adelaide. He was in parliament for an unbroken term of 37 years and in no other Australian colony or state has a politician exercised so much influence or been in so many ministries while a member of the upper house. It is likely, however, that if Ayers had been in the House of Assembly he would have had more control of business, and his seven premierships would have been longer in duration and more fruitful in results. An address he gave on Pioneer Difficulties on Founding South Australia was published as a pamphlet in 1891.

Ayers resided in Ayers House from 1855 until 1897 and built it from a 9-room house into a grand mansion in the 1860s. The youngest child, Lucy, was born at Ayers House. During Sir Henry's parliamentary service, Ayers House was used for Cabinet meetings, parliamentary dinners and grand balls.

Family

Henry Ayers married Anne Potts (1812 – 13 August 1881) at Alverstoke around 1839. Anne was a sister of winemaker Frank Potts. They had four sons:

Frank Richman Ayers (ca.1842 - 23 April 1906) Henry "Harry" Lockett Ayers (1844–1905), married Ada Fisher Morphett (5 May 1843 – 1939) on 1 October 1866 Frederick Ayers (ca.1848 - 1 February 1897) married Evelyn Cameron Page on 8 November 1870. (Arthur) Ernest Ayers ( - 2 April 1921) married Barbara Agnes Milne on 30 April 1878. Barbara was a daughter of William Milne MP. and two daughters:

Margaret Elizabeth Ayers (ca.1849 - 19 September 1887) married Arthur Robert Lungley on 29 April 1875 Lucy Josephine Ayers (ca.1857 - 11 May 1945) married John Bagot on 24 September 1878. John was a grandson of Charles Hervey Bagot.


Henry was born at Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England son of William Ayers, of the Portsmouth dockyard, and his wife Elizabeth, née Breakes. Educated at the Beneficial Society's School (Portsea) he entered a law office in 1832.

He emigrated, nominally as a carpenter, to South Australia in 1840 aboard barque ship "Fairfield" with his wife, Anne (née Potts) and her parents Lawrence and Elizabeth (who died on the voyage) with free passages. "Fairfield" was a 434 ton barque built in 1833 by Lawrence in Liverpool. Her captain was James Lee. There were 5 births and 35 deaths on the voyage.

The EMIGRANT LABOURER FREE PASSAGE SCHEME, an idea presented by Edward Wakefield, was accepted by the Colonization Commissioners of South Australia. This scheme ended at the end of December 1840 through lack of funds. At the end of 1840 there were approx. 17,366 persons in the new colony, including 5,000 labourers and their families.

Until 1845 he worked as a law clerk, he was then appointed secretary of the Burra Burra Copper Mine. Within a year he had command of over 1000 men. For nearly 50 years he was in control of this mine, initially as secretary and later as managing director. He made his wealth from the mine, which was known as the "Monster Mine" that secured the wealth of the colony of South Australia.

Sir Henry Ayers came to South Australia in 1840 as a nineteen year-old law clerk. Only five years later he was appointed Secretary of the South Australian Mining Association and became manager of the Burra Mine, in which he invested and which made his fortune.

Over the years he was involved in many financial institutions including the Savings Bank, as a director of the Bank of Australasia, and was one of the founders of the Bank of Adelaide. He was on the boards of the Gas Company, the AMP, and for 35 years was Governor of the Botanic Gardens Board. He formed the Old Colonists Association in 1883. For 36 years he was a prominent figure in politics being seven times Premier, eleven times a cabinet minister and for twelve years was President of the Legislative Council.

Considered an able administrator, on many occasions he represented South Australia at inter-colonial conferences. He was strongly opposed to the re-introduction of convict transportation to the eastern colonies and was instrumental in the cessation of transportation to Western Australia.

In 1871 Ayers bought, from William Paxton, the house on North Terrace which he had been leasing for some years. He made additions to the house with a ballroom on the eastern side and a west wing added to balance the structure. Many dinners and balls were held in 'Austral House' (pictured in "media") as it was then called.

Sir Henry gave his name to Ayers Rock, now known by the aboriginal name Uluru.


view all 13

Sir Henry Ayers GCMG's Timeline

1821
May 1, 1821
Portsmouth, Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom
June 1, 1821
Portsmouth, Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom
1842
March 10, 1842
Adelaide, SA, Australia
1844
April 27, 1844
Adelaide, SA, Australia
1847
March 4, 1847
Adelaide, Australia
1848
November 27, 1848
South Australia, Australia
1850
March 13, 1850
South Australia, Australia
1852
November 17, 1852
North Adelaide, SA, Australia
1856
December 15, 1856
South Australia, Australia