Arthur Halloran (1816 – 1890) was born in Suffolk, England and emigrated to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in 1828. Shortly after, he entered the New South Wales Public Service and held a number of positions prior to his appointment as Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Wide Bay District in 1853. He later became Commissioner of Crown Lands for the combined Wide Bay and Burnett District. His official correspondence reveals that he was a diligent administrator fulfilling his many responsibilities both as Commissioner and as Police Magistrate. However, he courted controversy when some of his decisions were questioned by members of the Maryborough community. Allegations made against him led to a government enquiry into his conduct. He was subsequently transferred to Warwick in 1860 as Police Magistrate. Halloran went on to hold other positions in the Queensland government prior to his retirement and relocation to Melbourne where he died in 1890.

Arthur Edward Halloran was born in Thornton, Suffolk on 14 August 1816, the son of a clergyman, Reverend Laurance Halloran and his wife Lydia. The family emigrated to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in October 1828. Arthur completed his education in Sydney before taking up his first posting as a clerk in the New South Wales Survey Department in1834. This was the beginning of a career in the Public Service which spanned more than fifty years. In 1836 Halloran was promoted to the position of Clerk of Petty Sessions in Port Macquarie and Wingham, a position he held until August 1853 when he received his appointment as Commissioner of Crown Lands for the pastoral district of Wide Bay.

In 1842 Moreton Bay was opened to free settlement. The rapid influx of colonists that followed resulted in an unprecedented demand for land. In order to regulate the sale and lease of Crown Lands, to provide government services and to ensure the safety of settlers, the New South Wales Government appointed Crown Lands Commissioners who also acted as Police Magistrates. When Arthur Halloran took up his position as Commissioner of Crown Lands, he was the second such Commissioner appointed to Wide Bay following the untimely death of John Carne Bidwill in March 1853. Halloran and his family took up residence in Bidwill’s house at Tinana, a short distance west of the township of Maryborough.

Halloran’s duties were wide ranging. Apart from administering the sale and lease of Crown Lands, he was also responsible for maintaining law and order, undertaking surveys of the local area, regulating the movement of convicts assigned to the district, issuing business licences and compiling reports for the Governor. Halloran’s letters to the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands, George Barney, reveal the difficulties he encountered in fulfilling his role including the lack of financial and material resources, disputes among pastoralists, outbreaks of violence between settlers and the Indigenous peoples, the vagaries of the postal service and poor road conditions. After only twelve months as Commissioner for Wide Bay, Halloran’s duties were extended when the pastoral district boundaries were altered. The Burnett pastoral district was abolished with one section of the old district assigned to Port Curtis and the remainder transferred to Wide Bay. Halloran then assumed responsibility for the newly created pastoral district of Wide Bay and Burnett. As Police Magistrate he was then required to attend the Magistrates Court in Maryborough, Gayndah and Nanango to rule on criminal and civil matters. Much of Halloran’s time was taken in travelling the length and breadth of his vast district. The 56 kilometre trip from Maryborough to Gayndah in good weather took five hours on horseback along a very poor road. Halloran also had to monitor pastoral runs throughout the district and visit outlying settlements.

Although Halloran proved to be a diligent and capable administrator, his conduct, particularly in relation to his land dealings, caused controversy within the Maryborough district. Although his principal place of residence was in Tinana, he purchased land for himself and his family in the township of Maryborough including four lots in Lower Ann Street with frontages on the Mary River, one allotment in Walker Street and two allotments in Bazaar Street. Halloran was later called to appear before the Supreme Court in Brisbane charged with approving the sale of two allotments of land to his son, Reginald, when legal title to the land was in dispute. The editor of the Maryborough Chronicle, Charles Buzacott, called for an enquiry into Halloran’s conduct over this and other matters, leading to the establishment of a government Commission led by Charles Blakeney and John Jardine. The Commissioners investigated seven charges brought against Halloran by various members of the Maryborough community, two of which involved his handling of land sales. Other charges included the improper seizure of horses, irregular conduct as a Police Magistrate when appointing Commissioners of the Peace and retaining his position as Electoral Returning Officer while at the same time canvassing support for his son-in-law who was standing as a candidate for the district.

After lengthy consideration of the evidence, the Commissioners found the charges against Halloran could not be substantiated. They did however conclude that, while Halloran’s behaviour was not improper, his conduct was “most unguarded and injudicious”. [1] Commissioners Blakeney and Jardine considered that Halloran had lost the trust of the Maryborough community and recommended that he be removed from his position as Crown Lands Commissioner for Wide Bay and Burnett.

Consequently, in January 1860, Halloran was transferred to Warwick where he was appointed Police Magistrate and later, Gold Commissioner. While in Warwick, he purchased 10 acres of land and built a substantial residence which was destroyed by fire shortly after its construction. Halloran remained in Warwick until 1864. On his departure, members of the Warwick and Leyburn communities signed a letter addressed to Halloran expressing their high regard for him as an administrator and Magistrate stating that they believed Halloran to be “an honourable gentleman, and an upright and impartial Magistrate” who was, at all times “actuated by a desire to dispense even handed justice to all classes, irrespective of wealth or station”. [2]

With his reputation restored, Halloran was promoted to the office of Sheriff of Queensland, a position he held until 1888. He also served as Returning Officer for the electorate of North Brisbane and as Inspector of Prisons. Following his retirement from the Public Service, Halloran and his wife Kate, holidayed briefly in Tasmania before settling in Melbourne where Halloran died, aged 73 years, in May 1890.


[1] Courier, Brisbane, 21 May 1861, p.4.

[2] Courier, Brisbane, 31 March, 1864, p.2.


Margaret Shield, ‘Arthur Edward Halloran (1816 – 1890)’, Harry Gentle Research Centre, Griffith University, 2020,

Archival Resources

Letterbook of letters sent by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wide Bay and Burnett, 24/09/1853 to 30/12/1854

Queensland State Archives, Series 11965, Item 7205.

Letterbook of letters sent by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wide Bay and Burnett, 01/01/1855 to 13/12/1857

Queensland State Archives, Series 11965, Item 7206.

Letterbook of letters sent by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wide Bay and Burnett, 01/01/1858 to 08/03/1866

Queensland State Archives, Series 11965, Item 7207.

Letters of instruction giving John Jardine and Charles William Blakeney authority to make a diligent full and minute inquiry into the conduct of Arthur Edward Halloran

Queensland State Archives, Series 20974 Registers of Letters Patent, Item 2925999.

Persons called before Queensland government committees 1860-1901

State Library of Queensland, Family History indexes, Available at:

Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages, Family history search

Death registration number: 8107/1890


Johnson, E. (compiler), Land Sales in Maryborough.

Maryborough Heritage Register. Vol. 5, Maryborough District Family History Society Inc., Maryborough.

Loyau, G., The History of Maryborough and Wide Bay and Burnett Districts from the year 1850 to 1895.

Pole, Outridge and Co., Brisbane.

Pugh, T., Pugh’s Almanac and Queensland Directory for 1887.

Gordon and Gotch, Brisbane. Available at:


Report In Reference to the Case of Mr. Commissioner Halloran, The Courier, Tuesday 21 May 1861, p. 4.

Supreme Court: Purser and Another v Halloran, The Courier, Tuesday 9 December 1862, p. 2.

Classified Advertising, Real Property Transfer Notice, Courier, Monday 9 July 1877, p. 3.

To the Editor of the Chronicle, Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Wednesday 16 January 1861, p. 3.

Inquiry into the Conduct of Mr. Commissioner Halloran, Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Wednesday 28 November 1860, p. 2.

Leyburn, Brisbane Courier, Thursday 31 March 1864, p. 2.