Not a Fellow of Senate

William Bland

William Bland, a transported convict, medical practitioner and surgeon, politician, farmer and inventor in colonial New South Wales, had been proposed as one of the original Fellows of Senate of the University of Sydney, but was rejected as he had been a convict.


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(1789-1868)

Bland trained in medicine, qualified at an examination conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons as surgeon's mate in the navy in 1809 and was promoted to the rank of naval surgeon in 1812.

While serving in the Hesper at Bombay, he was involved in a wardroom argument with Robert Case, the purser. As a result Bland fought a duel with pistols with Case on 7 April 1813 and wounded him mortally. Bland was tried for murder in Bombay on 14 April and found guilty. He was recommended for mercy and sentenced to transportation for seven years.

He was sent as a prisoner to the asylum at Castle Hill and remained there until 27 October 1815, when he received a pardon.

Bland began private practice in Sydney, and his practice flourished.

In 1818 Bland was sentenced to twelve months in prison for libelling Governor Macquarie and returned to practice after serving his sentence.

Bland was a philanthropist, interested in education and politically active. In 1821 he began a long association with the Benevolent Society, providing professional services at the asylum and, until 1829, also dispensing medicines at his own home. He assisted with the foundation of a church at Ashfield, a grammar school (Sydney College), and the Sydney School of Arts. He was an elected member of the NSW Legislative Council twice (1843–1848, 1849–1850) and after the introduction of responsible government was appointed to the NSW Legislative Council (1858–1861).

Bland continued in active medical practice until 1868. In that year, aged 78, he developed pneumonia and died intestate on 21 July.

His nomination as an original Fellow of Senate

In 1849 Bland's interest in education and his status as a citizen resulted in the inclusion of his name in the list of proposed members of the first Senate of the University of Sydney. A bill to found the University, with the list of nominees for the Senate appended, was introduced in the Legislative Council by William Charles Wentworth.

The list of the 16 proposed members of Senate:

  • Sir Alfred Stephen, Chief Justice
  • Edward Deas Thomson, Esq, Colonial Secretary
  • John Hubert Plunkett, Esq, Attorney-General
  • Charles Nicholson, Esq, Speaker of the legislative Council
  • William Charles Wentworth, Esq, member of the Legislative Council
  • Robert Lowe, Esq, member of the Legislative Council
  • James Macarthur, Esq, MC for Camden
  • S A Donaldson, Esq, MC for Durham
  • Edward Hamilton, Esq, nominated member
  • William McLeay, Esq
  • Hastiongs Elwin, Esq
  • William Bland, Esq
  • Francis L S Merewether, Esq
  • Edward Broadhurst, Esq
  • Alfred Denison, Esq
  • Matthew Henry Marsh, Esq


Robert Lowe spoke vehemently against allowing the management of the University to fall into the hands of former convicts, and the bill failed.

Bland challenged Lowe to a duel but Lowe avoided it.

When the bill was re-introduced Bland’s name had been omitted. The bill was passed, but without the list of nominees, and the proclamation appointing the Senate on 24 December 1850 did not include Bland's name.

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography profile, Wikipedia, and 'The Sydney Morning Herald'