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Pelican Waters QLD - Street Names
Michael Street

Fenton, Michael (1789 - 1874)

A politician and landed proprietor, was born in Castle Town, County Sligo, the third son of Michael Fenton, sometime high sheriff of Sligo. The family was of French origin and had been established in Ireland for some centuries.

Michael Fenton joined the 13th Light Infantry in 1807 and served in India and Burma until 1828, when he sold his commission and emigrated to Van Diemen's Land.

He received an initial grant of 1970 acres (797 ha) at Fenton Forest, near New Norfolk.

He was one of three brothers (the 'Fighting Fentons') who all eventually settled in Van Diemen's Land, and who were all captains in the army.

Captain Michael Fenton was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1840, but resigned with others of the Patriotic Six on the question of whether financial responsibility for the convict services in the colony should be borne by the local administration or the imperial government. The issue came to a head when the six unofficial members of the council (Richard Dry, William Kermode, John Kerr, T. G. Gregson, John Dunn and Fenton) withdrew from the council in October 1845, leaving it without a quorum; they thus prevented the passing of the appropriation bill, to the great satisfaction of many colonists. Fenton was reappointed by Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison in 1847.

In 1851 Fenton was voted into the new partly-elective Legislative Council as member for New Norfolk, and made Speaker in 1855. He was the subject of legal action brought by John Hampton against the council. Hampton, the comptroller-general of convicts, refused to appear before the council when summoned to do so and give evidence concerning administration of the Convict Department.

Fenton, as Speaker, issued a warrant for his arrest. A writ of habeas corpus was then served upon Fenton and the serjeant-at-arms, and the case went to the Privy Council which gave judgment against the Legislative Council.

In 1856 Fenton was elected unopposed to the House of Assembly in the first election; he was also appointed Speaker, a position he occupied until 1861 when he retired from public life.

He died on 6 April 1874 at his property, Fenton Forest, near New Norfolk.

Michael Fenton


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