William M. Miles

Miles the man

William M. Miles was born in Scotland in 1817 and moved to Australia with his wife Mary in 1838 aged 21. His first fifteen years were spent on Australian properties where he gained a wide knowledge of pastoral conditions and developed a sympathetic understanding of Aboriginal relations. He jointly owned Dulacca Station from 1857 with J.Miller which he stocked with sheep. By 1860 he had become the sole owner of Dulacca Station.

In 1865 he entered the political arena as the member for Maranoa where he remained until he was narrowly defeated in 1874. This was only the second Queensland Legislative Assembly since its separation from New South Wales in 1859. He went on to be the elected representative of the Carnarvon, Northern Downs and Darling Downs electorates. In these early years of Queensland he represented its interests on the world stage, visiting the International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and during his long political career he held the positions of Colonial Secretary, Secretary for Public Works and Secretary for Works and Mines.

Miles portraitIn addition to this he was known to be an astute financial manager and played a major role in securing the establishment of the Royal Bank of Queensland through a share issue. He was particularly active in progressing railway development throughout the State and was recognised as a key influence in the granting of a $10,000,000 loan to construct the Cairns railway.

William Miles passed away at his Toowoomba residence ‘Raceview’ aged 70 in 1887. Some commentators suggested that his loyalty to the political party was partly to blame for his passing, as he was regularly attending parliament despite being unwell. He was given a State funeral and left a significant void in Queensland society. His body was brought by train from Toowoomba and from Brisbane Station, whose pillars were draped in black fabric, the procession which included ‘every class in the community’ moved to Toowong cemetery.

 

The Historical Village was presented with William Miles’ compass by his family.

 

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