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Born in 1812, Stuart Donaldson served as the first Premier of the English colony of New South Wales in Australia, governing for a period of just 80 days. Born in London, Donaldson worked in his father’s business starting at the age of 15. He was trained in Mexico, but arrived in Sydney in 1835. He remained there for a period of six years, working with his father’s firm, as well as with a variety of other business opportunities in the interim. In 1841, he returned to England for a period of time before undertaking a legislative career in Australia.
In 1848, Donaldson was elected to the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the first of its kind in the area. He served with this group for a period of eight years, to a series of mixed reviews from the public and his fellow politicians. By 1856, he had moved upward in the political ladder, being elected to the Legislative Assembly of the first Parliament in the colony. They had difficulty forging a new government, though, and Donaldson was invited by the governor to act as Premier. On June 6, 1856, Donaldson took the offices of Premier and Colonial Secretary, serving just two months and 20 days before resigning after a losing vote. His appearance of having simply given up in the face of a challenge was heavily criticized, but Donaldson remained firm in his decision. He later returned to England where he was knighted in 1860. After visiting Australia several more times in the coming years, Donaldson passed away on January 11, 1867.