William Henry Groom

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William Henry Groom
William Henry Groom - Swiss Studios (cropped).jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Darling Downs
In office
30 March 1901 – 8 August 1901
Succeeded byLittleton Groom
Speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
In office
7 November 1883 – 4 April 1888
Preceded byHenry Edward King
Succeeded byAlbert Norton
ConstituencyDrayton and Toowoomba
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Drayton and Toowoomba
In office
11 August 1862 – 10 November 1873
Preceded byJohn Watts
Succeeded bySeat abolished
In office
15 November 1878 – 4 June 1901
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byJames Tolmie
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Toowoomba
In office
10 November 1873 – 15 November 1878
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Personal details
Born(1833-03-09)9 March 1833
Plymouth, England
Died8 August 1901(1901-08-08) (aged 68)
Melbourne, Victoria
Resting placeDrayton and Toowoomba Cemetery
Political partyProtectionist Party
Spouse(s)Grace Littleton
RelationsLittleton Groom (son), Henry Littleton Groom (son)

William Henry Groom (9 March 1833 – 8 August 1901) was a publican, newspaper proprietor, and member of the Parliament of Queensland and the Parliament of Australia.

Early life[edit]

Groom was born at Plymouth, England, son of Thomas Groom, cordwainer, and his wife Maria, née Harkcom. Groom was educated at St Andrew's College, Plymouth and apprenticed to a baker. He was transported from England to Australia as a convict in 1846 for seven years, having been convicted of embezzlement, aged just 13. He was eventually released, subsequently convicted again of a similar offence, and served gaol time in the goldfields in what would later be the colony of Victoria. After he was again released, Groom eventually found himself on the Darling Downs in Queensland, where, despite whispers about his chequered past, he became one of the leading members of society.


In 1858 Groom became associated with Toowoomba in connection with his activities and as an auctioneer.

Groom was proprietor of The Toowoomba Chronicle newspaper and one of the founders of the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society (later Heritage Building Society). He was also involved in the creation of the Toowoomba Racecourse Clifford Park, the Toowoomba School of Arts and many other establishments.


Groom served as an alderman in the Borough of Toowoomba from 1861–1901, as well as the town's inaugural mayor in 1861. He went on to serve three consecutive terms as Mayor, and was re-elected to the position again in 1864, 1867, 1883 and 1884. During his first term as Mayor he successfully led his council to petition the colonial government for land for a town hall, a municipal market and the original site for Queens Park.

Groom in speaker's garb

In 1862 Groom was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly in the electoral district of Toowoomba with a majority of 21 votes. He served as parliamentary speaker from 1883 to 1888.

Groom played a major role in the growth of Toowoomba by securing funding for bridges and arterial roads, the establishment of the General Hospital (now Queensland Health's Toowoomba Base Hospital) and Willowburn Hospital (now Baillie Henderson Hospital).

Groom was elected as a Protectionist to the Darling Downs electorate at the inaugural Australian federal election in 1901, becoming the only transported convict to ever sit as a member of the Australian Parliament.


Unfortunately, he was given little time to enjoy the crowning glory of his political career, as he died on 8 August of the same year at the first Commonwealth Parliament meeting in Melbourne. He died of a combination of bronchial catarrh and heart failure. Groom was the first serving member of the Australian Parliament to die. (Sir James Dickson, Minister for Defence, had died in January, but this was before the first parliament had been elected). Groom's body was returned to Queensland for burial in the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery.[1]


William Henry Groom was succeeded as the member for Darling Downs by his third son Littleton Groom, who won the seat in Australia's first federal by-election and later became Speaker of the House of Representatives.

William Henry Groom was also the father of Queensland State parliamentarian (MLC) Henry Littleton Groom.[2]

His home, Millbrook, is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Serle, Percival (1949). "Groom, William Henry". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  • D. B. Waterson, 'Groom, William Henry (1833 - 1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, MUP, 1972, pp 304–305. Retrieved on 30 December 2008
  1. ^ William GroomToowoomba Regional Council. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Part 2.19 - Alphabetical Register of Members of the Legislative Assembly 1860-2012 and the Legislative Council 1860-1922" (PDF). Queensland Parliamentary Record 2012-2015: The 54th Parliament. Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Millbrook (entry 601310)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Simpson, Mary Lou (2014). From Convict to Politician: The Life of William Henry Groom. Boolarong Press. ISBN 9781925046779.
Parliament of Australia
New seat Member for Darling Downs
Succeeded by
Littleton Groom
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Henry Edward King
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
1883 – 1888
Succeeded by
Albert Norton
Preceded by
John Watts
Member for Drayton and Toowoomba
1862 – 1873
New seat Member for Toowoomba
1873 – 1878
New seat Member for Drayton and Toowoomba
1878 – 1901
Served alongside: George Davenport, Robert Aland, John Fogarty
Succeeded by
James Tolmie