Sir William Austin Zeal

5 Dec 1830 - 11 Mar 1912

Change Your Language


You can change the language of the BillionGraves website by changing the default language of your browser.

Learn More

Sir William Austin Zeal

5 Dec 1830 - 11 Mar 1912
edit Edit Record
photo Add Images
group_add Add Family
description Add a memory

Zeal, Sir William Austin (1830–1912) by Geoff Browne This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990 Sir William Austin Zeal (1830-1912), engineer, businessman and politician, was born on 5 December 1830 at Westbury, Wiltshire, England, son of Thomas Zeal,

Life Information

Sir William Austin Zeal


Melbourne General Cemetery

College Crescent
Parkville, , Victoria

Headstone Description

W A Zeal KCMC MICE. Born at Wiltshire, England. Died at Toorak Vic Later Senator of the Commonwealth and many years President of the Legislative Council of Victoria. (Further information below)


July 6, 2013


June 24, 2013

Nearby Graves

See more nearby graves
Upgrade to BG+

Grave Site of William Austin


Sir William Austin Zeal is buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery at the location displayed on the map below. This GPS information is ONLY available at BillionGraves. Our technology can help you find the gravesite and other family members buried nearby.

Download the free BillionGraves mobile app for iPhone and Android before you go to the cemetery and it will guide you right to the gravesite.
android Google play phone_iphone App Store



Memorial / Obituary / Personal History

Contributor: Whitejaegar Created: 6 years ago Updated: 6 years ago

Zeal, Sir William Austin (1830–1912) by Geoff Browne This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990 Sir William Austin Zeal (1830-1912), engineer, businessman and politician, was born on 5 December 1830 at Westbury, Wiltshire, England, son of Thomas Zeal, wine merchant, and his wife Ann, née Greenland. Educated at private schools at Westbury and at Windsor, William obtained a diploma as surveyor and engineer in 1851. He arrived in Melbourne late in 1852 and spent two years on the Forest Creek (Castlemaine) goldfields. After his importing venture failed, he moved to Melbourne where he worked briefly for an architectural firm before joining the Melbourne, Mount Alexander and Murray River Railway Co. When the company was bought out by the Victorian government in 1856, Zeal remained as a government surveyor and railway engineer, supervising construction between Footscray and Sunbury. He then became general manager and attorney (1859-64) for Cornish & Bruce, contractors for the Melbourne-Sandhurst (Bendigo) line. In 1864-65 Zeal represented Castlemaine in the Legislative Assembly. During his 1864 election campaign he attacked the competence of the Victorian railways engineer-in-chief Thomas Higinbotham. The following year Zeal was exonerated by a select committee which investigated Higinbotham's implied allegation that Zeal had acted dishonestly while employed by the railways department. From 1866 Zeal partnered (Sir) William Mitchell in Riverina pastoral ventures which were ruined by drought. Returning to Melbourne in 1869, Zeal subsequently designed the Moama-Deniliquin railway. He again represented Castlemaine in 1871-74. Having unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Council seat of South Western Province in 1876, he won North Western Province (North Central from November 1882) in May 1882. A 'diehard' conservative, Zeal believed that the 'thrifty' classes with 'a stake in the colony' should be protected by the maintenance of Upper House powers. Rightly critical of the 1880s railway construction follies, he used the word 'circumbendibus' to describe the worst examples. He had some liberal instincts and supported divorce law reform in 1889. Postmaster-general in the Shiels ministry in 1892, he served on ten inquiries and was a member (1890-92) of the standing committee on railways. Zeal's parliamentary career was crowned by presidency of the council in 1892-1901. Relishing the role of 'genial autocrat' and 'stern disciplinarian', he gave no ground in a clash with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Sir) Thomas Bent over control of a committee-room. Zeal was respected for his 'exquisite courtesy' and his bachelor status in no way impeded his social performance: his 'little dinners' were acknowledged as 'the most charming of feasts'. Appointed K.C.M.G. in 1895, he was a delegate to the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897-98. Sir William resigned his presidency in 1901 after successfully standing for the Senate, but was never at home in Federal parliament. Expecting to be chosen as president of the Senate, he was disappointed when Sir Richard Baker was appointed. Zeal's complaints of government extravagance were given rough treatment by Labor senators and in 1906 he retired from politics. In 1908 he published a pamphlet attacking the board of works. Tenacity and business sense had served him well: 'no Melburnian had a finger in more financial pies'. By the 1880s he was a 'considerable' mining investor and, at the turn of the century, held several directorships: he was chairman (1897-1912) of Goldsbrough, Mort & Co. Ltd, the Australian Mutual Provident Society's Victorian branch (1899-1912), the Perpetual Executors & Trustee Association (1895-1912) and the London Guarantee & Accident Co. Ltd. As one of the auditors of the National Bank, in 1870 Zeal had resisted pressure to temper criticism of management; later, as a director (1883-1912), he helped to devise a reconstruction scheme which kept the bank from going under in the crash of 1893. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, and a Prahran city councillor (1879-82). A dapper little figure with sandy hair and beard, Zeal delivered peppery speeches, sprinkled with 'sharp, staccato rebukes', in a 'pleasant and musical tenor'. Although known for acts of private generosity, he was intensely self-contained and had few intimates. His recreations were solitary: walking and collecting art. Melbourne Punch characterized him in 1905 as living 'in a shell detached from the rest of mankind'. Zeal died at his Toorak home on 11 March 1912 and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £74,804. He left his art collection to the Bendigo Art Gallery and made provision for a charitable trust.

Life timeline of Sir William Austin Zeal

Sir William Austin Zeal was born on 5 Dec 1830
Sir William Austin Zeal was 10 years old when Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph. Samuel Finley Breese Morse was an American painter and inventor. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of the Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 29 years old when Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and, in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 32 years old when U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of all slaves in Confederate territory by January 1, 1863. Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through the American Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 44 years old when Winston Churchill, English colonel, journalist, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965) Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. As Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to victory in the Second World War. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and British imperialist, he began and ended his parliamentary career as a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but for twenty years from 1904 he was a prominent member of the Liberal Party.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 54 years old when Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is published in the United States. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, the narrator of two other Twain novels and a friend of Tom Sawyer. It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 68 years old when Spanish–American War: The Treaty of Paris is signed, officially ending the conflict. The Spanish–American War was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to US intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.
Sir William Austin Zeal was 73 years old when The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American aviators, engineers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
Sir William Austin Zeal died on 11 Mar 1912 at the age of 81
Grave record for Sir William Austin Zeal (5 Dec 1830 - 11 Mar 1912), BillionGraves Record 4373064 Parkville, Victoria, Australia