John O'Shannessy

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Sir John O'Shannessy, Premier of Victoria] by William Strutt. This portrait was commissioned by the St. Patrick's Society in 1859, of which Sir John O'Shannessy was the founder. It hung in the Society's Hall in Bourke Street, Melbourne. State Library of Victoria Collection (H2003.1).
To the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Melbourne... [from] the undersigned Inhabitants of Melbourne considering the Unsettled State of a portion of the Diggings, and the necessity measures for the Better PROTECTION OF THE CITY, and upholding the cause of Law and Order, hereby request your Worship to convene A PUBLIC MEETING... John Ferres, Government Printer, 05 December 1854. State Library of Victoria Collection (H141396).


Sir John O'Shannassy was born in 1818 in County Tipperary, Ireland. He arrived in the Port Phillip District (Victoria) in 1839. He briefly served on the fledgling council of the City of Melbourne in 1846, before being appointed to the Legislative Council after the separation of the Port Phillip District from New South Wales in 1851.

He died in 1883.

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

O'Shannassy was appointed a commissioner to the inquiry into the goldfields on the eve of the Eureka Stockade rebellion in November 1854, and spoke for law and order on both sides. His subsequent tour of inspection, accompanied by fellow commissioners, resulted in a report vindicating the miners' stance over their grievances. O'Shanassy's calm commonsense was considered an asset to his political ambitions and he served as Premier on three occasions - firstly for several weeks in March and April 1857, then from March 1858 to October 1859 and from November 1861 until June 1863. O'Shanassy was also a Trustee of the then Melbourne Public Library and the founder of the St Patrick's Society in 1845. In 1859, the Committee of the St Patrick's Society, in a gesture of appreciation, commissioned a portrait, now held by the State Library of Victoria. [1]

Post 1854 Experiences

New Houses of Parliament, 1854. State Library of Victoria Collection, Designed under the general instructions of Captn Charles Pasley, R.E. Commissioner of Public Works. Architects Messrs Lynght & Kerr (H18179)

John O'Shannassy heard testimony from Patrick Quinane in November 1854. [2]

See also


Further Reading

Corfield, J., Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


  1. , accessed 12 June 2016.
  2. Riot at Ballarat appointed to enquire into circumstances connected with the late disturbance at Ballarat together with the evidence taken by the board laid upon the Council table by the Colonial Secretary, by Command of His Excellency the lieutenant Governor and ordered by the Council to be printed 21st November, 1854.

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