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Sir James McCulloch KCMG

1819 – 1893

Sir James McCulloch KCMG (1819–1893) served four separate terms as premier of Victoria between 1863 and 1877. Born in Glasgow, he came to Australia in 1853 having become a junior partner in the merchant firm J & A Dennistoun, a branch of which he established in Melbourne. He soon became a leading figure in the colonial business community, twice serving as president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce; forming a new company, McCulloch, Sellar & Co; and also acquiring property. He was elected to the first Legislative Assembly in 1856. A supporter of landowners’ interests, McCulloch’s dissatisfaction with legislation proposing to raise pastoral rents led him to help overthrow the administration of Charles Gavan Duffy in 1863. McCulloch became premier and chief secretary in June that year, fulfilling both roles until 1869. He became premier for the third time in 1870, shortly after being knighted. Resigning his seat amidst difficulties relating to trade tariffs and property tax, he acted as agent-general in London during 1872–1873, returning to the Victorian parliament as member for Warrnambool in 1874. McCulloch was premier again (and treasurer) from October 1875 until 1877. After leaving politics, he concentrated on his directorships with companies including the Bank of New South Wales and the London Chartered Bank. He was a trustee of the Public Library, Museum, and National Gallery from 1870 until 1886, in which year he returned to England.

Updated 2018