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Ipswich City Council
Municipality of Ipswich
The history of local government in Ipswich goes back to 8 December 1858 when residents met in the Court House to approve a petition to be sent to the government of New South Wales asking that Ipswich be proclaimed a Municipality. A public meeting was held in Ipswich on 26 January 1859, followed soon after by another meeting on 25 February.
The first step for the constitution of the town into a municipality, of which any record can be obtained, is a petition sent to the Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, in November 1859, stating, that according to the last census, Ipswich contained a population of nearly 3,000 souls, and that they were 'desirous of availing themselves of the powers of municipal self-government, and of the endowment connected therewith under the Municipalities Act.'
Ninety-one people from Ipswich signed a petition supporting Municipality on 16 November 1859 and a counter petition signed by 109 residents was submitted. When separation from New South Wales was effected and the colony of Queensland created, that petition was then forwarded to the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, who had it published in the first Queensland Government Gazette on Saturday, 10 December 1859.
The proclamation of Ipswich becoming a municipality was published in the Queensland Government Gazette on the 3rd March 1860. A notice dated 17 March 1860, in the Queensland Government Gazette stated that the Corporation 'Shall consist of a Mayor and Alderman'. It nominated Henry Buckley, of Ipswich as the 'first Returning Officer and that the first meeting of electors shall be held at noon, at the Court House, at Ipswich on Thursday, the Twelfth day of April, in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty. The boundaries for the Municipality were proclaimed ten days later on 16 March 1860.
Elections to nominate the first Aldermen of the Ipswich Municipal Council were held on 12 April of that same year, with John Murphy being elected as the first Mayor. The elected Aldermen were John Johnston, Charles Watkins, Donald Bethune, Christopher Gorry, John Malbon Thompson, John Pettigrew, Francis North and Thomas Stanley. The newly elected Mayor and Aldermen attended the first Council meeting in the Court House on 12 April 1860.
Advertisement in the Ipswich Herald on October 24th 1859
A Meeting of Borough Electors favourable to the immediate Incorporation of this Town will be held at the Cottage of Content, East Street, on Monday next, 26th October, at 8 o'clock p.m., to take steps for memorialising the Government on the matter'. A large crowd assembled in response at Mr. Billy O'Rourke's hostelry. Mr Henry Kilner presided, and it was carried that - 'In the opinion of this meeting it is desirable that the town of Ipswich should be incorporated as a municipality; and that this meeting will use their endeavours to have it so incorporated'. The following committee was appointed to push the matter ahead: Messrs. Henry Kilner (chairman), F.A. Forbes, C.F. Chubb, Christopher Gorry, William Hendren, John Johnston, Donald McBay, John Pettigrew and Donald Bethuen. A petition signed by 91 inhabitants was presented to the Governor of New South Wales (Sir William Denison); but another petition containing the names of 109 inhabitants of the town of Ipswich was also sent along objecting that the 'incorporation of the town of Ipswich at the present conjuncture would be impolite and injurious to the interest of the inhabitants; & c.
Ipswich Seal (Crest)
On 11 September 1861, the then Mayor of Ipswich, Alderman John Murphy, told a Council meeting that it was necessary for the Municipality to have a 'Seal'. A committee, comprising Aldermen Bethune and Thompson, was appointed to design a seal and arrange for its production. Reverend Lacey H. Rumsey, M.A., Rector of St Paul's Church, Ipswich, was requested to create a design, and that crest (sometimes referred to as the 'Seal') is still in use by the City of Ipswich today.
The Arms portray the history of the early industries of Ipswich with a symbol (the Church) of faith in God, Who made possible those industries and production, and so the resultant prosperity of the Ipswich area. It recognises also the toil of the pioneers of Ipswich and the surrounding districts, and is a memorial to them.
Ipswich City Council
The Town of Ipswich had progressed so much by 1904, that the Alderman considered that the time was opportune for the town to become a City. At the Council meeting on 22 November 1904, Alderman William Stephenson moved, seconded Alderman Robert Goleby, that the Council should apply to the Government to have the Town of Ipswich proclaimed a City.
An application was made and was successful and the City of Ipswich was proclaimed on 1 December 1904. At a subsequent ceremony, Mayor Hugh Reilly became the first Mayor of the City of Ipswich, with the title 'The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Ipswich' and in the presence of a large assemblage of people was invested as Mayor with his robe of office by the then Attorney-General of Queensland, the Honourable James W. Blair.
City of Ipswich Proclaimed
By His Excellency The Right Honourable Sir Hugh Muir Nelson, a member of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Kinght Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Doctor of Civil Law of the University of Oxford, Lieutenant-Governor of the State of Queensland and its Dependencies, and President of the Legislative Council of the said State.
HUGH M. NELSON
Whereas by 'The Local Authorities Act of 1902' it is amongst other things enacted that the Governor in Council may, by Proclamation, constitute a Town a city; And whereas it is expedient to constitute the Town of Ipswich a City, by the name of the 'City of Ipswich.'
Given under my Hand and Seal, at Government House, Brisbane, this first day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and four, and the fourth year of His Majesty's reign.
By Command P. AIREY
GOD SAVE THE KING
The first Mayor of the City of Ipswich Hugh Reilly was given the title 'The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the city of Ipswich'.
No time was wasted in conducting elections in the early days. The nomination of aldermen for the first Ipswich Municipal Council took place in the Court House, on the 12 of April, 1860. Mr. Henry Buckley was the returning officer, and polling day was fixed for the 19th of April (only a week for electioneering), when the following gentlemen were duly elected: John Murphy, 191 votes; John Johnstone, 170 votes; Charles Watkins, 157 votes; Donald Bethune, 147 votes; Christopher Gorry, 140 votes; J.M. Thompson, 98 votes; John Pettigrew, 86 votes; Francis North, 79 votes; and Thomas Stanley, 76 votes. These were the first city fathers of 'Modern Athens'; and the minutes show that they put up a fine record of work in the initial 12 months.
Election of Mayor
At the first meeting Alderman Murphy was unanimously elected Mayor, on the motion of Ald. Pettigrew, seconded by Ald. Johnston. He was re-elected Mayor in the following year, and altogether was Mayor of Ipswich five times, so that he well earned the popular title of 'Murphy, the Mayor.' He was an adherent of the Church of England. The early meetings of the City Council were held in a brick building in East Street.
The pioneer Aldermen met every Thursday afternoon, and it cannot be doubted that they got through a lot of useful and necessary work. The finance committee consisted of Aldermen Murphy, Gorry and Pettigrew, and the improvement committee of Aldermen Watkins, Bethune and Stanley. The area of municipal work appears to have been confined to Brisbane Street, Bell Street, Bremer Street, Wharf Street, Union Street, Nicholas Street, East Street, and so on. This was the busy portion of the town, in the vicinity of the wharves, as Ipswich was then the head of navigation. The care and conduct of the wharves naturally engaged a good deal of attention. The records show that the early charges for wharf frontages were at the rate of £1 per foot. After the advent of the railway, in later years, the wharves lost much of their glory and importance.
Aldermen renamed Councillors
In 1994 the term 'councillor,' replaced the traditional 'alderman' as the official title for city council representatives. For further information on terms of office click on Mayors and Councillors Chronological List.
References (online)Municipality in Ipswich, 1859Municipal Institutions, 1859Public Meeting, November 1859Ipswich Petition, 16 November 1859Petition for MunicipalityConflicting Petitions to Governor, 1935Ipswich Municipal Council, 19 April 1860Result of the Poll, 1860Election of Aldermen, 1860
1 Nicholas Street, Ipswich City Council Administration Building, Nicholas Street Precinct, March 2023
Ipswich City Council Indigenous Australian Accord, Community Services Branch, information flyer, c.1997
Ipswich City Council, information flyer for ratepayers, announcing the implementation of a planning division within Council, Ipswich 1972
Ipswich Municipal Council Entry book for 'Applications for Registration as a cow-keeper, dairyman or seller of Milk', Ipswich, 1892-1897 (2003)
Letter to Ipswich City Council requesting a vice regal visit to Ipswich by the Governor-General Lord Casey and The Lady Casey, 1967
Bill Hayden and Arthur George Hastings at the Humanities Centre on opening day, Ipswich, November 1977
Ipswich City Administrator A. G. Milton in his office at Ipswich City Council, Ipswich, January 1978
Mayor Hastings attends Snake Demonstration by Ram Chandra, 'the Taipan Man', at Reid's Department Store, Ipswich, February 1978
A Copy of the 'Proposed Plan of the Town of Limestone by Henry Wade, Surveyor, 1842', recreated for The Ipswich Yearbook, Volume 3, 1979-1980
Certificate given to the family of Lieutenant Charles Douglas Scott from Ipswich City Council, Ipswich, 1917