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Joseph Docker

Joseph Docker, 1875 engraving

Hon. Joseph Docker (1802 – 9 December 1884), was an Australian grazier, early amateur photographer and politician. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1856 to 1861, and again from 1863 until his death in1884.[1] Docker held a number of cabinet positions and other senior executive roles during his 26 years in the New South Wales upper house.

Docker was the second son of wool merchant Robert Docker, of London, of the Dockers of Westmorland (now part of Cumbria). His mother was Eliza, née Perry. Born in 1802, Docker left school at 13 and was apprenticed to Dr Thomas Docker of Dover, whose daughter Agnes he married in 1830. He became a surgeon in the service of the East India Company.

Docker emigrated to the Colony of New South Wales (Australia) in 1835 and established himself as a grazier, with 10,000 acres in the Upper Hunter Valley, at "Thornthwaite", near Scone. Agnes died in childbirth, and Docker briefly returned to England. He was married in April 1839 to Matilda, daughter of Major Thomas Brougham of the East India Company (Presidency armies), from Penrith, Cumberland.[1] They returned to Australia together, and subsequently had a daughter and six sons, including Ernest Brougham Docker.

Docker was appointed a member of the Legislative Council (upper house) in New South Wales[1] on 20 May 1856[2] after being defeated as a candidate for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Phillip, Brisbane and Bligh.[3] He was a member of the Council until 10 May 1861, and again from 16 December 1863 until 11 December 1884 (his death).[2]

He was twice Postmaster-General: from January 1866 to September 1868 in the second ministry of James Martin, and from December 1870 to May 1872 in Martin's third Ministry. As Representative (leader) of the government in the upper house on the first occasion, he introduced and carried through Henry Parkes's Public School Bill in 1866, which required teachers to have training and created a funding mechanism. A council of education was formed, and as a result of the bill many new schools were established all over the colony.

He was briefly Colonial Secretary in the last month of Martin's second ministry. Docker was the Representative of the Government in the Legislative Council on four occasions, in the first and second Martin ministries and in the third and fourth Robertson ministries. Docker was also Minister of Justice and Public Instruction in the third Robertson ministry and Vice-President of the Executive Council in the fourth Robertson ministry.[2]

He was twice Chairman of Committees of the New South Wales Legislative Council, in 1873-1875 and again in 1880-1884.

In 1864 Docker was one of the three Australian commissioners tasked by the Government of New Zealand with choosing a new location for the capital for that country. Together with Francis Murphy (Victoria) and Ronald Campbell Gunn (Tasmania), he traveled to New Zealand to inspect various possible locations, and the commissioners recommended for the capital to move from Auckland to Wellington.[4][5]

He died on 9 December 1884 (aged 81–82) in Sydney.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d Mennell, Philip (1892). "Docker, Hon. Joseph" . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource.
  2. ^ a b c "Mr Joseph Docker (1802–1884)". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  3. ^ Green, Antony. "1856 Phillip Brisbane and Bligh". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  4. ^ Levine, Stephen (13 July 2012). "Capital city – A new capital". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  5. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1897). "Wellington Provincial District". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Wellington Provincial District. Wellington. Retrieved 14 May 2017.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Docker, E. "Docker, Joseph (1802–1884)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 20 October 2012.


Political offices Preceded byJames Cunneen Postmaster-General 1866 – 1868 Succeeded byAtkinson Tighe Preceded byJames Martin Colonial Secretary Sep – Oct 1868 Succeeded byJohn Robertson Preceded byJohn Hargrave Representative of the Governmentin the Legislative Council 1866 – 1868 Succeeded byRobert Owen Preceded byDaniel Egan Postmaster-General 1870 – 1872 Succeeded byGeorge Lloyd Preceded byRobert Owen Representative of the Governmentin the Legislative Council 1870 – 1872 Succeeded bySaul Samuel Preceded byGeorge Allen Minister of Justice and Public Instruction 1875 – 1877 Succeeded byFrancis Suttor Preceded byJoseph Innes Representative of the Governmentin the Legislative Council 1875 – 1877 Succeeded byGeorge Lloyd DormantTitle last held bySaul Samuel Vice-President of the Executive Council Aug – Dec 1877 Succeeded byJohn Marks Preceded byGeorge Lloyd Representative of the Governmentin the Legislative Council Aug – Dec 1877 New South Wales Legislative Council Preceded byGeorge Allen Chairman of Committees 1873–1875 Succeeded byJoseph Innes Preceded byJoseph Innes Chairman of Committees 1880–1884 Succeeded byWilliam Piddington
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Joseph Docker
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