William Wilks (Australian politician)

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William Wilks
William Henry Wilks.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Dalley
In office
29 March 1901 – 13 April 1910
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Robert Howe
Personal details
Born 21 June 1863
Sydney, New South Wales
Died 5 February 1940(1940-02-05) (aged 76)
Camberwell, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Free Trade (1901–06)
Anti-Socialist (1906–09)
Liberal (1909–10
Spouse(s) Florence Matilda Vincent (m. 1894–1926)
Edna Eunice Hinchcliffe (m. 1927–1940)
Children 5
Occupation Fuel merchant

William Henry Wilks (21 June 1863 – 5 February 1940) was an Australian politician.

Early life[edit]

Wilks was born in Sydney to English sea captain Joseph Henry Wilks and Susannah, née Harris. He was educated at Balmain Public School and, before establishing a wood and coal yard at Balmain, became associated with Billy Hughes. He was elected to the council of the Free Trade Association of New South Wales in 1887, having already been president of the New South Wales Literary and Debating Societies' Union previously.

Wilks, a Freemason, was the grand master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1888. He became involved in politics, being associated with the Loyal Orange Institution of New South Wales, and supported the entry of Labor into the New South Wales Parliament in 1891 due to his "strong democratic views". He himself was a member of the Free Trade Party, and became associated with its more radical section, led by George Reid. He married Florence Matilda Vincent in Sydney on 19 July 1894; later that year, he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the Free Trade Party, representing the seat of North Balmain.

State politics[edit]

Wilks was a strong supporter of Premier Reid while in the New South Wales Parliament, and attempted unsuccessfully to defuse an 1899 censure motion against Reid with an amendment separating the issue of John Neild's payment from the main motion. He also believed that the motion was motivated by an attempt to ensure that Reid did not become the first Prime Minister of Australia.

Federal politics[edit]

Wilks transferred to federal politics in the inaugural federal election in 1901, and was elected to the seat of Dalley. He was whip in the 1904–1905 Reid government, and was useful to his leader in the controversies surrounding Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran. He was defeated by Labor in 1910, and became a land valuer in Melbourne until he retired in 1928. Following his wife Florence's death in 1926, he had married Edna Eunice Hinchcliffe in Melbourne on 6 August 1927. He died on 5 February 1940 at Camberwell, and was survived by his wife, and two sons and three daughters of his first marriage. He was buried at Box Hill.


Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Balmain North
Succeeded by
John Storey
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
New division
Member for Dalley
Succeeded by
Robert Howe