William Wall (Australian politician)

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William Chandos Wall (27 November 1845 – 1 July 1926) was an Australian politician. He was also a prospector, geologist, minerals surveyor, commission / mining agent, inventor and a quarry and mine operator before and after entering politics. In June 1886 he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly to succeed the former NSW premier Sir John Robertson KCMG as one of the members for Mudgee. In 1894 Wall transferred to Rylstone and in July 1895 he lost the Rylstone seat.

William Chandos Wall
Wm Chandos Wall ca. 45
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
for Mudgee
In office
29 June 1886 – 25 June 1894
Preceded bySir John Robertson KCMG
Succeeded byRobert Jones
Member for Rylstone
In office
29 June 1886 – 25 June 1894
Succeeded byJohn Fitzpatrick
Personal details
Born(1845-11-27)27 November 1845
Died1 July 1926(1926-07-01) (aged 80)
Granville NSW
Political partyProtectionist
SpouseMary (née) Hunt
OccupationMining Agent

Parliamentary career


William Chandos Wall was a 'liberal' Protectionist member in the NSW Parliaments from the 12th to the 16th inclusive (under the Jennings, Parkes, Dibbs and Reid Governments). After representing Mudgee in four Parliaments, he served only one term for Rylstone,[1] and was defeated by the Free-Trade candidate, John Charles Lucas Fitzpatrick, in the elections for the 17th parliament in 1895. The first result for the 1895 election in Rylstone, held on 24 July, was disputed. A by-election was then held on 14 October 1895 and although Fitzpatrick was again returned, it appeared that Wall was correct in his assertion that the original count was irregular. (The Elections and Qualifications Committee in its re-count of the July election, excluded 256 of the 1028 votes cast). Although voting was not compulsory and the electorate was relatively small, the 1895 by-election in Rylstone was hotly contested. 1028 votes (54.6% of eligible voters) were counted in the July election and 1309 (69.55% of eligible voters) in the by-election held on Monday 14 October 1895. In this context, the 1895 Rylstone election was seen as a public scandal and was subject to an investigation and Report to the NSW Parliament.[2]

Wall stood in the 1898 NSW State Election for the seat of Botany, but polled only 2.3% of the vote. He was a supporter for Federation which in the 1898 NSW Referendum had failed to reach the 80,000 'yes' votes necessary to proceed. A second NSW Referendum in 1899 polled 107,420 to 82,741 and the enabling legislation was passed by the UK Parliament in July 1900. Wall also stood in the 1902 by-election for the seat of Inverell as an Independent Federalist obtaining 26.5% of the vote, but finished third behind the Labor Party candidate, George Alfred Jones, who won 37.7%.[3] In 1903, he stood as a Protectionist candidate for the national Parliament in the (Federal) seat of Robertson. He was defeated by Henry Willis (Free-Trade). The Protectionist Party was in decline at this time and would merge with the Anti-Socialist Party in May 1909. Again in 1907 Wall stood as an independent for the NSW State seat of Mudgee, but polled only 3.7% of the votes cast. It seems that after the 1907 defeat, he gave up his attempts to re-enter parliament.[4]

The (pro-Protectionist) Bulletin Weekly of 12 October 1916 said:

"Though unheard of in politics these days W. C. Wall once loomed large on the New South Wales horizon. It used to be said that he had only to send his old boots up to Rylstone to secure his return on polling day." This claim (it actually was about sending his old boots up to Wollar) was ascribed to Wall as part of what appeared to be a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign around the 1895 election. It offended the Wollar voters and he lost a substantial number of their 90 votes.[5][6] This led to his 1895 defeat. Similarly in the 1907 NSW Election, this story was again used against him. He denied it and challenged the proponents to prove it. No proof was ever offered.[7]

Mining activity


William Chandos took out 2 mining leases in July 1884 (the year of his marriage and the year that first train arrived in Mudgee on 10 September 1884) in Gulgong and several more there in 1886 and 1887. This was a pattern of mining activity in which he was active most of his life. He appears to have been a knowledgeable geologist and over his long career prospected for or mined: antimony (at Moolarben – 20 Km NE of Crossroads, Mudgee), gold, iron at Cooyal and Tallawang, tin and tungsten (Ardlethan and Yalgogrin, NSW), coal and kerosene shale (Megalong Valley), limestone, dolomite and gypsum (at Wall's Mt. Knowles quarries).

He moved on to the Blue Mountains, NSW around late 1887, where he spent some time surveying the geology in and about the Megalong Valley. Wall's Pass from the adjacent Cedar Valley up the eastern escarpment to the Narrow Neck Plateau is named after him. As a result of his survey work, in October 1888 he took out Mining Permits in the Megalong Valley, NSW around Narrow Neck and Ruined Castle. In March 1890 he was part of a syndicate with his brothers, Ignatius and Damian, and some parliamentary colleagues to establish the Megalong Coal and Shale Mining Company Limited to acquire the mining rights, from Messrs. W. C. Wall MP, I. Wall, D. R. Wall, Thomas Hassall, William Dowel, and J. M. Moxon, and to mine for coal and shale.[8] This period was at the start of the 1890s depression and company was "extinct' a year later.

At the time of his mother's death, in 1891, he was living in Wentworth Falls, NSW. In the same year he appears to have had some financial benefit from his enterprises and moved his family to live in Sydney. Between 1892 and 1895 (the year he was defeated in the Rylstone Election) he took out further mining leases at Hargraves (with George Ensor), at Windeyer (with Robert Victor Leffley) and alone at Peak Hill (130 Km west of Mudgee). In 1903 he took over the gold mine of Garner and party at Windeyer.[9] In 1907 W.C. Wall and Patrick Pilley held Mining Lease No. 1 at Hargraves, NSW. 1908 saw him negotiating with Messrs G and C Hoskins, proprietors of the Eskbank Iron Works, about the sale of his discoveries of iron ore at Cooyal, Lowes Park and Tallawang.[10][11][12] In 1909 he went so far as to set up an "open draught furnace" and produced some iron which he exhibited at the Mudgee Show.[13] Wall was an activist for sound forestry management and was well known for his knowledge of geology and as a champion for mining and miners when he served in parliament. Gold production peaked in Australia in 1903 at around 130 tons (about 30% of total world production), so, Wall's activity coincided with the period of greatest Australian interest in gold mining.

After his parliamentary service, his Megalong Valley enterprise and his discharge from bankruptcy on 19 Nov 1901, Wall's activity switched back to the Mudgee area. Between August 1907 and May 1908, he took up further mining leases in Windeyer and Hargraves. The complex geology of the district held/holds many opportunities and gold mining the deeper reefs using modern techniques is still being carried out (Aug. 2008) in all the Mudgee areas where Wall once held mining leases.

In 1906, he attempted to set up a kerosene shale mining operation in the Barigan Valley[14] (at Peters Creek, west of Barigan Road) – between Wollar & Botobolar, but this project seems to have been later abandoned.[15] (However in 1924[16] and again in the 1940s, shale was being carted from the Barigan deposits to the rail head at Lue – 25 km south east of Mudgee – on the second occasion, when additional oil was needed during the Second World War.)

By 1911, Wall was operating gypsum (Calcium sulphate), dolomite (Calcium-Magnesium carbonate) and limestone (Calcium carbonate) quarries on Dolomite Road at Mount Knowles near Mudgee (possibly with his brothers Ignatius and Damian) and ran a private tramway to move the quarried stone to connect with the main railway from Mudgee to the Blue Mountains at Wall's Siding, Mount Knowles.[17] Others were also quarrying in that area. "Messrs. G. & C. Hoskins being supplied by Messrs. Curlewis, also of Wall's Siding, the dolomite in this instance being calcined in a cupola furnace before railing to Lithgow".[18] Wall's limestone and gypsum was also shipped to Sydney.

In May 1911 he held Lease PL No. 232 adjoining the Traelman Gold mining Company at Ivy Paddock near Mudgee and was also investigating the setting-up of a 'hill-side' furnace on the Dunedoo rail line, near Mudgee. In October 1912, a William Wall is listed as holding a 4 acre mining lease at Yambulla (south of Cooma, NSW).

In 1913, he was operating his business from offices adjacent to the London Hotel in Ardlethan, NSW. These rented offices were burnt down along with a few shops and the Bank of NSW on Christmas morning 1914[19] It must have been a significant set back at 69 to have lost all his professional equipment in this fire. He seems to have been well regarded there and played a significant role the mining affairs of the town.[20] In 1915 he was operating mining leases around Ardlethan and Narian. The 1917 Sands Country Alphabetical Directory lists W. C. Wall as a Mining Agent at Ardlethan, NSW (80 km east of Griffith). Two years later in 1919 Wall was at North Yalgogrin, NSW (35 Km west of West Wyalong where gold was first discovered in 1893 on Robert Payne's selection 2 Km east of the township) mining gold and processing his ore at the Yalgogrin stamper battery. He was then 74.[21]

In the letter from Yalgogrin to his daughter Ethel (June 1919), he describes the severe drought at that time and states his intention to come down to Sydney via Mudgee as soon as he can process his ore at the Yalgogrin stamper battery.

In 1921, at 76, he was back in Mudgee mining and was well known for his expertise.[22]

He spent the last few years of his life in Sydney.



William Chandos Wall was the son of William Charles & Mary (née Maher) Wall. William Charles and Mary were Bounty immigrants from Tipperary, Ireland, who came to Sydney, Australia on the Forth in 1841. William 'Chandos' Wall was baptised: William Michael, on 7 Dec 1845 in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney.[23] The origin of the name ‘Chandos’ by/or for William Michael is not known. He was officially known as William Chandos and by his Parliamentary nickname, 'Billy'. He died on 1 July 1926, at Granville, NSW.

His lifelong interest in mining was probably initiated with his family's move from Sydney to the Meroo, NSW goldfield when he was 3 years old (his father ran a ‘goldfield's pub’ there, – "The Golden Inn").[24] His father subsequently established his capital from his mining activity on the goldfields around Mudgee and at Kaludabah (between Mudgee and Gulgong – where his brother, Damian Redman Wall, was born). With this stake his father established the "Travellers Rest" hotel at Stony Creek just north of Mudgee. Wall and his brothers grew up surrounded by prospecting "lore".

Wall was an autodidact. When he was 12, the Mechanics Institute Library was located in a property at 3 Short Street Mudgee belonging to his uncle, Thomas Spicer. It contained 200 volumes.[25] It is likely that this library provided the beginning for his extensive knowledge of minerals, geology and mining practice. As noted above, he was interested in forestry and his Hansard speeches show his interests ranged widely.

William Chandos Wall – (Commission Agent, and in his later years – Mining Agent) of Stoney (sic.) Creek, Mudgee, NSW, married Mary Hunt (dressmaker) in Mudgee on 31 Dec 1884. Mary was a strong resourceful woman and was raised on cattle stations on the anabranch of the Macintyre River – near the present NSW and Queensland border – and south of there, on the Liverpool Plains. This country was first settled in the 1840s to 1860s. She was descended from Irish convict pioneers from the Hunter Valley and Bathurst.[26] William Chandos and Mary née Hunt had 7 children. All were professionals; the sons including a doctor and a lawyer and the daughters worked in health services and office management. Two sons served in World War I and two in World War II.

In his early days in Parliament, Wall stayed at hotels while in Sydney for the Parliamentary sessions. For example, in 1888 he was staying at the Picton Arms Hotel, in Campbell Street Sydney not too far from Redfern where the Mudgee train terminated at that time.'.[27] (The Central Railway Station terminus was opened in 1906). In 1891, Wall's family moved from Mudgee to Sydney. In 1892, at the time of the birth of their son, Hugh Alton Chandos, his wife, Mary née Hunt was living in Glebe, NSW. The family then moved to Newtown[28] and then to Stanmore NSW. At the time of her death, Mary née Hunt was living in what became the family home for the next 40 years in Randwick.

As well as helping on the Wall family farms around Stoney Creek, Wall acted as a Commission Agent for selectors in the district. This led him to become involved in the Land Law Reform Movement and he attended the Land Law Reform Conference in Sydney in October 1882 in which he played a significant role[29] along with other prominent members in the movement like Edward O'Sullivan,[30] and John Gale.[31] After his election to the NSW Parliament he also worked to 'pave the way' for a Mining on Private Property Bill for NSW,[32] as existed in Victoria.

Wall was put into bankruptcy in September 1897 by the Australian Joint Stock Bank,[33][34] which called up Wall's guarantee for his brother, Ignatius', debt. Wall's son, Leo, held that it was related to the bank crash earlier that decade (1893/94). "The depth of the recession in the early to mid-1890s in Australia is a reflection of the negative real economic growth between 1890 and 1895 of (minus) -6.3% ."[35] Leo was correct and although the Australian Joint Stock Bank was eventually wound up by its fixed deposit holders and creditors only at a meeting in London on 22 March 1910, it had been in a continuing scheme of arrangement since 1893,[36] when it took the action which sent Wall bankrupt. Twelve banks operating in Australia were 'restructured' in 1893 as a result of the banking crisis in that year.

He was also an inventor, and his interests ranged over many issues during his life. Some of his 'Letters to Editor' appear in the Sydney Morning Herald from the 1880s through to the early 1900s.

After a long (colourfull?) career[37] working in outback NSW and as he aged, his health suffered[38] and he became estranged from his wife and immediate family. He died destitute on 1 July 1926 (aged 80) in the Rookwood State Hospital and Asylum for Men.[39] His extended family saw him as the most significant and eminent of his Wall generation. He is buried in the Rookwood Cemetery.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Mr William Chandos Wall". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  2. ^ "The Rylstone Election". Queanbeyan Age. 21 September 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2019 – via Trove. In their report to Parliament the committee stated that they desired to express "grave censure for the negligent manner in which the election was conducted." … "Mr Reid said this was not the first occasion the grossest neglect was shown, and he regretted that in the Grenfell electorate last Parliament some steps were not taken by the committee. Every man who had anything to do with the irregularities should be called on to retire, and never be appointed again."
  3. ^ Green, Antony. "1902 Inverell by-election". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  4. ^ Mudgee Independent 18 July 1891; "Mr Wall expresses doubt if he will again seek election for Mudgee. His private affairs require all his attention. If it's true that he made £2,000 in a week on mining shares, he'll want that long handled shovel again, but for gold not gravel."
  5. ^ "Billy Wall's election". The Leader. 14 July 1919. p. 6. Retrieved 26 June 2019 – via trove.
  6. ^ "Billy Wall". Mudgee Guardian and North-western Representative. 10 July 1924. p. 10. Retrieved 4 March 2020 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "Mudgee Electorate: Mr W C Wall's address". Mudgee Guardian and North-western Representative. 5 September 1907. p. 17. Retrieved 4 March 2020 – via Trove.
  8. ^ Memorandum of Association – Megalong Coal and Shale Mining Company, Limited.; On 2 May 1889 a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between William Chandos Wall, Ignatius Wall, Damian Wall, N S Dowel M.P., T H Hassall M.P. and J M Moxon under the Mining Act to hold land jointly to form a private company to mine for coal for resale and other minerals in the parish of Megalong County of Cook. The company the 'Megalong Coal and Shale Mining Company Limited' was incorporated on 25 March 1890. But in May 1893 the Registrar General was advised that the company "became extinct sometime in 1891.
  9. ^ "Mining in the state". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 July 1903. p. 9. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  10. ^ "Mountain industries: the iron deposits". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 February 1908. p. 10. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  11. ^ "Mudgee iron deposits". Mudgee Guardian and North-western Representative. 26 March 1908. p. 18. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  12. ^ "Mudgee iron ores". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 March 1908. p. 7. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  13. ^ "Producing pig iron". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 February 1909. p. 7. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  14. ^ "Local brevities". Mudgee Guardian and North-western Representative. 25 January 1906. p. 9. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove. Mr W C Wall has secured 1000 acres of shale at Barigan including about 400 acres of private land and 640 acres Conditional Lease. In the official report which has been issued by the Dept, the Barigan deposits in conjunction with Walgon recently floated, are considered the most worthy of attention. The Barigan seam which is 2' 6" in thickness yields from 58 to 69% hydrocarbons which compares most favourably with any other seam in the State. The distance to Lue Station is 14 miles. Mr Wall states he is acting on behalf of people with sufficient capital behind them to properly develop the property and he expects within a short time to commence active work in opening it up.
  15. ^ Mudgee Historical Society – (Lynne Robinson) – (2008)
  16. ^ Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics — Record 1980/27 Notes and a Bibliography on Oil Shale in Australia - D.L. Gibson & J.A.W. White.
  17. ^ Mudgee Historical Society – (Lynne Robinson) – (2007)
  18. ^ Mudgee Historical Society – (Lynne Robinson) – "William Chandos Wall was a selector and agent and was highly regarded by his constituents for his efforts in Parliament on behalf of mining interests. Mineral deposits along the Mudgee line as far as Lithgow necessitated many sidings, which operated for years. Much of the dolomite from Wall's Siding being railed to Lithgow" & Field Notes – Peter Wall / Peter Mara; Mt Knowles (2008); "probably to supply the G & C Hoskins blast furnace in Lithgow which opened in 1908. The Wall siding was opened September 1911 for William Chandos to load from a narrow gauged tramway from his quarry situated near to Lawsons Creek on Dolomite Road off Lue Road, Mt Knowles (12 Km south east of Mudgee) and closed 1953 when the quarry was abandoned. The remains of the quarry are still there (2008). Further along Dolomite Road a new quarry and crushing plant is now (2008) producing dolomite for the iron industry (BHP)."
  19. ^ "Fire at Ardlethan". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 December 1914. p. 11. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove. In one hour all were reduced to ashes.
  20. ^ "Ardlethan tin field". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 October 1913. p. 11. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove. On Monday last a pleasant function took place in the private sitting-room of the London Hotel, the occasion being the return of Mr Warden James after a serious illness, and at the same time celebrate the opening of the new Warden's Court at Ardlethan. Mr E Fogarty occupied the chair. The health of the guest of the evening was warmly received. The meeting was a thoroughly representative one, being composed of mine owners, managers, miners, and prospectors. Mr W C Wall, in proposing the "Mining Industry" made an effective speech, in which while eulogising the administrative officers of the department in the highest degree, condemned the apathy of the Government in dealing with the Ardlethan tin field. He reminded his hearers that in Western Australia one million of money had been spent in bringing water to the mines, whilst here, though tin future prospects of the mines was certain and solid, little or nothing had been done by the Government to assist in development. Mr Warden James replied in suitable terms.
  21. ^ From late Lilian Woolley's notes at Mudgee Historical Society 1988
  22. ^ "Antimony has been mined at Green Swamp and Piambong. Molybdenite, mostly too low grade for present extraction, but in all probability to be worked profitably when improved methods are used, has been found in granite country over a wide area around Wilbetree, Havilah, Botobolar, Cassilis Road (18-mile peg) and Moolarben. The veteran prospector, Mr. W. C. Wall, is working the latter deposit."; Mudgee Centenary Celebrations Booklet – 1921
  23. ^ Register – St Marys Cathedral Roman Catholic Baptisms 1845
  24. ^ William Charles Wall's inn ‘The Golden Inn’ Upper Meroo failed in 1856. (see Insolvency List – NSW State Archives)
  25. ^ "Mudgee Past and Present" – 1921; p:78
  26. ^ pers. comm – David Wells and Robert Harrison family history research also see: Harrison /Wall Family Tree; ancestry.com
  27. ^ "Mr Wall MLA, v the detectives". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 May 1888. p. 9. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  28. ^ The 1901 Electoral Roll shows he was living at Wellington Street, Newtown (Sydney suburb) in 1901.
  29. ^ The Queanbeyan Age; Tuesday 10 October 1882, Page 2 of 4
  30. ^ Mansfield, Bruce E (1988). "O'Sullivan, Edward William (1846–1910)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 11. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  31. ^ Lea-Scarlett, E J (1972). "Gale, John (1831–1929)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 4. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  32. ^ "Mr Wall". Queanbeyan Age. 6 July 1886. p. 2. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove. Mr. Wall, the new member for Mudgee, who takes a keen interest in mining matters, intends tabling a resolution in favour of declaring the whole colony into a goldfield, subject to the 45th section of the Lands Act of 1884. The object is to pave the way for a Mining on Private Property Bill.
  33. ^ Bankruptcy Index NSW State Archives; EntryID#: 27215
  34. ^ "Bankruptcy Court: certificates suspended". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 September 1898. p. 3. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via Trove.
  35. ^ RIETI Discussion Paper Series 06-E-017 "Australia's Deflation in the 1890s"; Colin McKenzie, Faculty of Economics, Keio University
  36. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 21 April 1893; "The Australian Joint Stock Bank. – Suspension of Payment. – Yesterday evening it was notified by the general manager of the Australian Joint Stock Bank that the excessive withdrawals since Tuesday last had so reduced the coin in the bank's treasury that the board had determined to close the doors."
  37. ^ According to Wall Family oral history (now generally substantiated):
    • William Chandos Wall met 'Captain Thunderbolt' – (Frederick Ward, 1835 to 1870), who was shot dead by police at the age of 34. 'Thunderbolt' was a bushranger in the tradition of Ben Hall. With his wife Mary Ann Bugg, Ward was staying at Stoney Creek in 1860–1861 when Wall was 15–16. Ward was subsequently successful as a bushranger for seven dangerous years and won some sympathy by not once shooting to kill. He died near Uralla, 280 Km north east of Mudgee in May 1870 ;
    • In the time around 1917 when Wall was mining/fossicking gold around Yalgogrin (not far from West Wyalong and 280 Km south west of Mudgee) he told his family he had discovered a mountain of ‘steelite’ (sic) there. Scheelite is Calcium Tungstate. Ardlethan/Yalgogrin is now (2011) an abandoned centre of gold, tin and tungsten seam exploration; and
    • The ‘Travellers Rest’ is held locally in Mudgee to be one of the two possible locations for Henry Lawson's famous ‘The Loaded Dog’ story. Lawson was very familiar with the ‘Travellers Rest’ Hotel at Wall's Junction on the Botobolar Road as his family lived nearby at Eurunderee. (The other possible site of is the nearby Budgee Budgee Inn). Lawson mentions Stoney Creek as the site in the story and there was only one pub there. In the story the publican's wife is also named Mary ( Mary Wall was William Chandos’ mother).
  38. ^ In August 1913 (aged 68), he reports in a letter to his daughter Ethel that his "pen is like a spider; I have no control over it" and that a 1½ mile walk "is a bit too far for me now". The letter does not give his location, but it appears that he had been ill at this time. It could have been the 1913 epidemic of influenza, which was the subject of an editorial in the Adelaide Advertiser on Monday 19 May 1913. He may have been in Ardlethan by then, as in a Sydney Morning Herald article on 2 September 1913 he is reported as being there, apparently recovered, working for clients on the Ardlethan tin and gold mining fields, and operating from 2 offices in the town.
  39. ^ Later called the Lidcombe State Hospital & Home in order to disassociate it from the nearby Rookwood cemetery. There were 1,410 other destitute inmates in this Asylum in 1926. The Home was in Joseph Street, Lidcombe in the Local Govt. area of Auburn.


New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by Member for Mudgee
With: Browne/Black/Jones
Succeeded by
New district Member for Rylstone
Succeeded by