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Peter Lalor

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Peter Lalor
Born February 5, 1827
Tenakill,The Queens County, Ireland
Died February 9, 1889
Melbourne, Victoria
Cause of death Died from sickness
Religion Catholic
Spouse Alicia Dunne

Peter Lalor (February 5 1827February 9 1889) was the leader of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, one of Australia's few violent protests and seen by many as the start of democracy in Australia.

Lalor was born at Tenakill, Queens County, Ireland into a large family, active in Irish politics. He left Ireland with his brother, Richard, and went to Victoria, Australia, in 1852. They worked on building the railway between Melbourne and Geelong. In 1853 Peter went to the Ovens River looking for gold, and Richard went back to Ireland. Peter Lalor went to Ballarat to look for gold in 1854.

Eureka Stockade

In 1854 the miners working in the goldfields (the area where gold was being found) became very angry about the cost of a gold mining license. In Ballarat the miners started the Ballarat Reform League and demanded changes to the laws. The government would not accept the demands, and the police increased the violent hunts for miners without licenses. Peter Lalor became leader of the Reform League on November 30 1854 and made the miners promise to protect their rights and liberties. He told the miners to get weapons and be ready in case they were attacked. They built a small fort or stockade at Eureka in east Ballarat. This fort, the Eureka Stockade was attacked by 276 government soldiers at dawn on December 3, 1854.[1] Twenty-two miners were killed, and Lalor was badly hurt. Friends hid him from the soldiers and he was able to get away. His left arm had to be amputated (cut off).


After Eureka, Lalor was hidden in Geelong until the police stopped looking for him. The government changed the laws and miners on the goldfields were able to elect people to Parliament. Lalor was elected in November 1855. As part of the democratic changes, Victoria got a constitution in 1856 and Lalor was elected to the new Parliament. His political views were not as democratic as the Ballarat miners wanted.[2] He was against giving every one the right to vote and he wanted some people in the parliament to be appointed, not elected. Lalor became a director (person in charge) of several mining companies. He even supported wage cuts for miners working in his mines. He was seen as more interested in money and power than in people's rights. In 1859 he changed his seat in parliament and did not represent the Ballarat miners again.

In January 1871 Lalor lost his seat in an election. He was made Chairman (in charge) of the Clunes Water Commission with the job of getting water for the town of Clunes.[3] He was voted back into parliament again in 1874. In 1875 he became Postmaster General (in charge of the postal service) and later Commissioner for Trade and Customs. From 1880 to 1887 he was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Lalor's wife and daughter died in 1887, he was also sick with diabetes, so he stopped being Speaker, but stayed as representative for South Grant until his death.[4]

After his death, Peter Lalor is remembered with a statue in Ballarat (at the corner of Sturt and Dawson Streets), a suburb of Melbourne is named after him, and there is also a seat [1] in the Australian Federal Parliament named after him.


  1. Weston Bate (1978). Lucky City. p. pp. 69-70.
  2. Weston Bate (1978). Lucky City. p. pg. 133.
  4. Turner, 1974