William McMillan (Australian politician)

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Sir William McMillan
William McMillan.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Wentworth
In office
29 March 1901 – 23 November 1903
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Willie Kelly
Personal details
Born (1850-11-14)14 November 1850
Derry, Ireland
Died 21 December 1926(1926-12-21) (aged 76)
Bellevue Hill, New South Wales
Nationality Irish Australian
Political party Free Trade Party
Spouse(s) 1) Ada Charlotte Graham (divorced 1891)
2) Helen Maria O'Reilly
Occupation Managing director

Sir William McMillan KCMG (14 November 1850 – 21 December 1926) was Deputy Leader of the Free Trade Party in Australia businessman. Alfred Deakin said he was a "thoughtful, educated businessman, narrow and cold after the manner of the Manchester School … business-like in manner and incisive in debate".[1]


McMillan was born in Derry, Ireland, he was the fourth child and third son of Rev. Gibson McMillan, a Methodist minister. William lived in Westport and Ballina, both in County Mayo, Ireland until the age of six. In 1856, his father was assigned to the Methodist church in Abbey Street, Dublin, and McMillan began his formal education. Along with his older brothers, John and Charles, he attended boarding school at Wesley College in St. Stephens Green. The following year, the family moved to Dún Laoghaire where his father was assigned to the Adelaide Road Methodist church, and McMillan continued attending Wesley. Due to family financial difficulties at the time, McMillan had to abandon any intention to attend university in Dublin; rather, in 1864 he began studies at Tulse Hill School in London. He left Tulse Hill in 1866 and entered the employment of his uncle, Alexander McArthur.[2]

He travelled to Sydney in 1869[3] to develop a branch of McArthur, softgoods merchants. He worked at the company's Melbourne branch before returning to Sydney as resident partner in 1876. He later became chairman and managing director of Metropolitan Coal Company Limited and a director the Australian branches of Westinghouse Air Brake Company Limited and Phoenix Assurance Company Limited. He was the president of Sydney Chamber of Commerce in 1886.

In 1878 he married Ada Charlotte Graham, aged 16, and they had two daughters and two sons.[1][4]

In 1887, McMillan was elected as the member for East Sydney in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the Free Trade Party, and held the seat until its abolition in 1894. He was Colonial Treasurer from March 1889 to July 1891 in Sir Henry Parkes fifth Free Trade Government, and was a delegate to the 1890 conference on the federation of Australia and the 1891 National Australasian Convention. In 1894 he was elected as the member for Burwood, a position he held until 1898. He chaired the finance committee of the 1897 Australasian Federal Convention.[1][4]

In 1901, he was elected to federal parliament as the first member for the seat of Wentworth and was elected deputy leader of the Free Trade Party. He retired at the 1903 election to look after his business interests. He stood unsuccessfully for the state seat of Willoughby in 1913.[1]

McMillan was divorced in 1891. He married Helen Maria O'Reilly in 1892 and they had two daughters. He died in his house, Althorne in the Sydney suburb of Bellevue Hill.[1]


McMillan was created Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the New Years Honours List 1 January 1901, in recognition of services in connection with the Federation of Australian Colonies and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Martin, A. W. (1986). "McMillan, Sir William (1850 - 1926)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  2. ^ Peter M. Gunnar (1995). Good Iron Mac: The Life of Australian Federation Father Sir William McMillan, K.C.M.G. Federation Press. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-86287-176-2. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to McMillan, William". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource 
  4. ^ a b "Sir William McMillan (1850 - 1926)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "No. 27261". The London Gazette. 1 January 1901. p. 1. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Edmund Barton
Member for East Sydney
Served alongside: Burdekin/Barton, Reid, Street/Bradley/Parkes
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Burwood
Succeeded by
William Archer
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Wentworth
Succeeded by
Willie Kelly
Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Deputy Leader of the Free Trade Party
1901 – 1903
Succeeded by
Joseph Cook