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Francis Stacker Dutton

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Francis Stacker Dutton (1818-1877)

1877 Obituary [1]

MR. FRANCIS STACKER DUTTON was born at Cuxhaven, on the Elbe, in 1818, his father being British Consul there. He received his preliminary education at Cuxhaven, and subsequently at the well-known seminary of Hofwyl, near Berne, in Switzerland, at that time under the care of Dr. von Fellenberg.

Mr. Dutton at an early age turned his attention to business pursuits and entered a commercial firm in Brazil, where he remained some time and laid the foundations of an experience which in later life proved of great service to him. Naturally of an energetic and enterprising mind the settlement of the Australian colonies offered attractions which could not be resisted; and he was, accordingly, among the first to land at the now flourishing city of Melbourne, then nothing but a barren space of land.

After remaining there for some little time, Mr. Dutton proceeded to South Australia, with which colony he identified himself for the remainder of his life. He first became known by his book called “South Australia and its Mines,”’ written shortly after his discovery of the Kapunda copper mine, near Adelaide, which was the first discovery of copper in Australia.

Having succeeded in disposing of his interest in the mine, Mr. Dutton turned his attention to business; but this not succeeding, he associated himself with politics, becoming successively member of the Legislative Council of South Australia from 1851 to 1857 and a member of the House of Assembly from 1857 to 1865.

Meanwhile Mr. Dutton was several times in office. He entered the ministry as Commissioner of Crown Lands, from September 1857 to June 1859, and again in July 1863, and was subsequently Commissioner of Public Works from March to September 1865. He formed two administrations, one in 1863, the other in 1865, the first having only eleven days’ existence, and the second a career of six months ; but at those times colonial cabinets were even more short-lived than at present.

In 1862 he was appointed Special Commissioner to the International Exhibition in London, and in 1865 Agent-General in London for the colony of South Australia, holding the office continuously from that time down to his death. It was in this capacity that Mr. Dutton displayed the abilities which brought his name prominently forward amongst the different Australian representatives in London. As a legislator his name was identified with many beneficial measures, notably an Insolvency Act, which has proved of great value, and also a Ballot Act. The benefit of the latter Act, in a colony where the Radical element at elections was generally of a rather forcible nature, can be easily appreciated. The Ballot Act in this country was, to a certain extent, framed from the measure associated with Mr. Dutton’s name.

But in his capacity of Agent-General Mr. Dutton probably did his colony most service. He had the sole management of the financial operations of the colony; and during his term of office he brought out no less than twelve public loans, amounting together to about £3,000,000, every loan, with one exception, being a great financial success; and the present solid position of the South Australian securities in the London market is due in great measure to the efforts of Mr. Dutton.

In his official relations with the home authorities Mr. Dutton was no less fortunate, his opinions commanding considerable respect; while in the commercial duties attached to the office the interests of the colony were carefully cared for and protected. The long and protracted negotiations with the British Australian Telegraph Company - which resulted in the construction of the line and cable which now connects Australia with the mother country - were conducted by him with consummate skill; and upon the opening of the line, in 1872, Mr. Dutton’s services were recognised by his appointment to be a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Mr. Dutton visited Vienna in 1873, as the colonial representative to the International Exhibition of that year, and was appointed by the Emperor of Austria to the second class or Knight Commandership of The Imperial Order of Franz Joseph. Besides these honours Mr. Dutton was also decorated by the King of Wurtemberg.

His death, which happened on the 25th of January, 1877, was undoubtedly accelerated by his devotion to the service of his colony; and in his loss the colony will mourn not only a zealous and honest servant, but also one who has done as much as any one to advance her interests and help her to that proud state of prosperity which she now enjoys.

Mr. Dutton was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of February, 1866, and constantly attended the meetings.

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