1885 New South Wales colonial election

The 1885 New South Wales colonial election was held between 16 October and 31 October 1885. This election was for all of the 122 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and it was conducted in 37 single-member constituencies, 24 2-member constituencies, seven 3-member constituencies and four 4-member constituencies, all with a first past the post system. Suffrage was limited to adult male British subjects, resident in New South Wales. The previous parliament of New South Wales was dissolved on 7 October 1885 by the Governor, Lord Augustus Loftus, on the advice of the Premier, George Dibbs.

1885 New South Wales colonial election

← 1882 16 October 1885 –
31 October 1885
1887 →

All 122 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
62 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader George Dibbs Sir John Robertson
Party Government Opposition
Leader's seat St Leonards Mudgee
Seats won 9 Ministers[1]
58 Supporters[a][2]
11 Oppositionists[1]
56 Against Government[a][2]

Results of the election, showing winners in each seat. Seats without circles indicate the electorate returned one member. Members are categorised by their vote in a vote of no confidence which took place on 8 December 1885.[2]

Premier before election

George Dibbs

Elected Premier

George Dibbs

There was no recognisable party structure at this election, the last election for which this was the case; instead the government was determined by a loose, shifting factional system. Dibbs had succeeded Alexander Stuart two weeks before the election was held, and maintained a fragile grip on power after the election until 22 December, when he was defeated by Sir John Robertson.

Key dates

Date Event
7 October 1885 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.
13 October to 24 October 1885 Nominations for candidates for the election closed.
16 October to 31 October 1885 Polling days.
17 November 1885 Opening of new Parliament.



New South Wales colonial election, 16 – 31 October 1885 [3]
Legislative Assembly
<< 18821887 >>

Enrolled voters 232,390
Votes cast 129,888 Turnout 61.10 +4.41
Informal votes 2,669 Informal 2.01 −0.09
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
Total 23,899     122  


  1. ^ a b "LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 14, 867. New South Wales, Australia. 18 November 1885. p. 7. Retrieved 23 May 2024 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b c "Votes", No. 10. VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS of the LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, vol. 1, Sydney, New South Wales: Parliament of New South Wales, 2 December 1885, p. 41
  3. ^ Green, Antony. "1885 election totals". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 20 September 2019.


a There was no discernable party structure in New South Wales at the time. Instead, this numbers are gathered from the ministerial and opposition benches at the start of Parliament, as well as the results of an 8 December 1885 attempted Vote of no confidence against Premier Dibbs. All candidates stood and were elected as independents and their classification here into groups is intended only to give an easier assessment of the political situation in the colony.

See also