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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tucker, Albert Edwin (1843–1902)

by Ann-Mari Jordens

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Albert Edwin Elworthy Lee Tucker (1843-1902), parliamentarian, was born on 16 March 1843 at Fitzroy, Melbourne, son of John Lee Tucker, farm-servant and later contractor, who had migrated from Devon, England, in 1842, and his wife Elizabeth Grace, née Elworthy. Educated at St Mark's Church of England School where he became an assistant teacher, he briefly studied law, travelled widely in Australia and New Zealand as a softgoods salesman, and in 1870-71 was an insurance agent in Fitzroy. A member of the Fitzroy Council in 1870-79, he was mayor in 1871-72 and 1879; in 1872 he floated the first municipal loan to finance road improvements and the construction of a town hall. In 1871 he failed to win the Collingwood seat in the Legislative Assembly, but won it in 1874. When the electorate was divided in 1877 he gained the Fitzroy seat, which he held until 1900.

Tucker became president of the Board of Land and Works and commissioner of crown lands and survey in the Service-Berry ministry of 1883-86. He was equipped for this position by his experience as chairman of the 1878 royal commission on closed roads and member of the 1878 commission of inquiry into crown lands. His principal achievements as minister were the Mallee pastoral leases bill of 1883 and the Land Act of 1884, which introduced systematic classification, and provisions for leasing potentially rich swamplands. He declined the Speakership in 1887 when Lalor resigned. He was valued for his 'practical common sense and straightforwardness' as a member and chairman of many inquiries: among those he chaired were the royal commission on the extension of Melbourne westward in 1887, the railways standing committee in 1890, the inquiry into the Factory and Shops Act in 1893, the board of inquiry into the fiscal system of Victoria in 1894, and the royal commissions on the Mildura settlement in 1896 and on state forests and timber reserves in 1897.

A prominent civic leader, Tucker was a director of the Melbourne Permanent Mutual Benefit Building Society, a Freemason, a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters, and a police magistrate from 1875. In 1871 he was a founding member of the Australian Natives' Association. Originally a free trader, he later espoused protection and became known as a radical liberal. In 1888 he urged direct taxation, the reduction of probate duty on small estates and, in order to check unscrupulous land speculators, the establishment of a commission to investigate and reform the company laws. Although always a reliable party man he retained his independence of judgment and earned respect as an able, resourceful and hard-working politician.

Tucker married Elizabeth Isabella Payne on 20 July 1865 and had twelve children. He died of apoplexy on 8 May 1902 at his home, Colebrooke, North Fitzroy, and was buried in the Anglican section of the Melbourne general cemetery, survived by his wife, six sons and four daughters. He died intestate and his estate was valued for administration at £5438.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • G. Serle, The Rush to be Rich (Melb, 1971)
  • Observer (Collingwood), 28 Mar 1889
  • Age (Melbourne), 9 May 1902
  • Argus (Melbourne), 9 May 1902
  • Australasian, 10 May 1902
  • Bulletin, 17 May 1902.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ann-Mari Jordens, 'Tucker, Albert Edwin (1843–1902)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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