THE LATE MR. WILSON GRAY.
The news received yesterday from New Zealand of the death of Mr. Wils0n Gray, one of the district judges of that colony, will cause a wide-spread, feeling of regret among the many and warm friends he left in Victoria 12 years ag0.
Moses Wilson Gray was born at Clare- morris, County Mayo, Ireland, in the year 1813, and was 61 years of age at the time his death. He was the second son of John Gray, an excise officer at Coarsefield, in the same county ; brother to Sir John Gray, M.P. for Kilkenny; and brother-in-law to Mr. M'Culloch, M.P. for Dundalk. Mr. Gray entered at Trinity College, Dublin, in the year 1831, and graduated with dis- tinction. In his second year he obtained a scholarship for classics for five years. In 1839 he brought himself into notice by
zealously advocating, in a series of letters, the cause of emigration to the United States and Canada. A year later he visited the United States, and at the request of the agent of the Irish estates of the Marquis of Bath, he gave his attention to the subject of settlement in America, and the condi- tion of the land laws of that country. A letter he wrote on the subject to
the secretary of the Land Occupation Committee in Ireland was considered of sufficient importance to be published in
pamphlet form. He remained in America several years, residing in the state of Illinois and in the city of Chicago, where he prac- tised the profession of the law, which '. had Btudied at home, with success. In Apr 1844, having returned home', ho WuS called
the IriBh bar. While in America, he mi ried an American lady, who accompani him to Ireland. The fruit of this union w one Bon, who distinguished himself as i officer in the late civil war in America. Ti year 1843 found Mr. Gray actively engag with the late Dan O'connell in tho agitatii then set on foot for the repeal of the legisl Uve union between Great Britain and Ii land. Mr. Gray was also associated with t brother Sir John in tho management of t Freeman's Journal, one of the best knov newspapers in Ireland. After the prosee tion and imprisonment of O'connell, M Gray determined to emigrate to Australi Ho accordingly sailed for Victoria in the sh Ocean Chief, in company with Mr. Duff now Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, and he landi in Melbourne in October, 1S55.
Mr, Gray arrived in Melbourne at a tin of great political excitement in connexic with the land question. The subject wi one which he had studied in America, au lie espoused the popular cauBe with muc warmth. The unsettled Btate of the lan laws engaged general attention, and M Gray soon found himself in the position c leader of the agitation. A Land League ws formed to organise an opposition to th Haines Land Bill. Delegates from all pari of the country met in convention on th ith July, 1857, and Mr. Gray was electe president. The resolutions adopted by th League affirmed the necessity of free selei tion without auction at a uniform price-a nnalienated Crown lands to form ope pasturage free to the people, and no nei pastoral tenancies to bo created when BUC landB weie resumed by the Crown. Th Haines Land Bill was defeated, and Mi Gray, who was afterwards elected for Rodnej became the most popular representative i: the Assembly, always taking a distinguishes part in the discussions of that body. H declined to coi..e forward at the gonero election in 1859. but when Mr. M'CullocI (now Sir James) stood for East Mel bourn us Treasurer to the Nicholson Administra tion in 1859, Mr. Gray opposed him and wa defeated. In January, I860, upon Mr Everard resigning his seat for Rodney, Mr Gray was elected in his place, and he took i very prominent part iu the debate on tlu Nicholson Land Bill of 1SG0. Ho was re elected for Rodney in January, 1SG1, anc retained his seat until the following year He supported the Heales Government, anc finally retired from Parliament in the lattei part of 1802 in consequence of the passage o: the Duffy Land Act of that year.
In August 1860, during the discussion in the Legislative Assembly of the Nicholson Land Bill, Mr, Gray gained an unenviable notoriety, in consequence of a disgraceful riot in the Parliament-yard, designed to over awe members, with which his name was con nected. On the evening of the 28th August, some 500 or 600 people, who had previously. been addressed by Mr. Gray and others in the Eastern-market, assembled in front of the Legislative Assembly Chamber and at- tempted to force their way in. Their efforts were resisted by a strong body of police-the mayor, Dr. Eades, read the Riot Act, and a melee occurred. Pieces of metal were freely thrown, and several policemen received ugly bruises. The members of Parliament were also mobbed as they left the House to go to their homes. The police captured a dozen persons, who were subsequently punished. Mr. Gray was accused of having made use of seditious language in addressing the mob in the Eastern-market, but no proceedings were ever taken against him. The ridicule which this affair brought upon a certain section of politicians had, no doubt, a great deal to do with Mr. Gray's subsequent withdrawal from
Mr. Gi ay was admitted a member of the Victorian bar in December, 1858, and for some time he filled the position of law re- porter to The Argus. When ho announced bia intention of retiring from political life, it was determined to provide a handsome testimonial for him, A sum of £500 was subscribed in a day or two, and the amount would havo reached large proportions in a very Bhort time, but Mr. Gray declined to accept monetary aid of auy lund. A public dinner, however, was given to him before he left the colony. He was accompanied to Now Zealand by Mr. Barton, barrister.at-law, and formerly member for North Melbourne. The two practised the profession of the law together very successfully until Mr. Gray accepted the office of a district court judge. Mr. Gray left behind him in Victoria the reputation of a man of unusual probity. Had ho fallen on better times he might have adorned a distinguished position in this colony. In New Zealand his contem- plated retirement from ofllco was regarded as n public misfortune, and a special act was passed to secure him a retiring pension.
Our Wellington correspondent, writing on the 5th inst-, says :-" The death is just announced of a man equally woll known in Victoria as in New Zealand, his Honour Mr. Wilson Gray, district Judge of the Otago gold-fields. Mr. Gray liuB for a long time been in fail- ing health, and bad arranged his retire- ment. Last session a bill was passed grant- ing him a pension, and his successor was gazetted last mouth. He was just winding up a fow intricate and long-standing cases when his health utterly failed him. Being taken ill at Lawronco, Tuapeka, he was, at Ins own earnest request, last week carried down to the court-house, where, attended the whole time by two medical men, he delivered clear and lucid . judgments in several important but involved cases. Ile was carried back to his hotel, but «ever rallied, and on Sunday he passed away, l'ew meu in the colony were more respected or will bo moro regretted. Of his personal and professional qualities, I noed scarcely write for Victoriau readers, nia modesty waa as remarkable aa lila gentleness, firm iiess, ond ability. Ho baa several times hero refused to occupy a seat on the Supremo Court Bench, and he has had frequent invitations to go into political life, in which he might havo taken a high position, but he Bteadily refused all offers, and pursued the even tenor of bia woy as district judge, giving almost universal satisfaction, au«, doing an infinity of good in a quiet way."