When the residents of Manly wanted to have the place recognised as a Municipality, they lodged a copy of their petition on 18 March 1876, but, as historians George and Shelagh Champion discovered “the document was lost by the Government!” A second petition was lodged, with more success, which was published in the New South Wales Government Gazette of 14 August 1876. There are two odd things about this second petition. It stated that it was signed by 63 persons, but as far as I can see only 60 names were appended. And it asked that the Municipality to be incorporated should be named ‘Brighton’, so how did it come about that the place was proclaimed as Manly? At a public meeting called on 27 November 1876 in Manly for the purpose of recommending a person to act as Returning Officer for the first election of aldermen of the soon-to-be-declared Municipality, a Mr Slattery took the opportunity of protesting against the change of name from ‘Manly’ to ‘Brighton’ and suggested that a deputation wait upon the Colonial Secretary, John Robertson, to ask him to retain the old name. As George and Shelagh Champion note: “A comparative newcomer to Manly Beach proposed as a secondary and unforeseen item on the agenda, at a meeting called for another purpose, that the name ‘Manly’ should be used instead of ‘Brighton’!” And surprisingly, the Colonial Secretary granted the request of the deputation, and proclaimed the Municipal District of Manly, on 6 January 1877, despite noting in the same paragraph that the petition he had received had prayed for the Municipality to be known as the Municipal District of Brighton.
So who was the 'Mr Slattery' who pulled off this coup? In fact, he was rather more influential than has previously been thought. Born in Ireland in 1844, Thomas Michael Slattery came to Australia with his family in 1847. He became a lawyer, and at the time of the petition, had risen to be Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court of NSW, no less, at the very heart of the NSW Establishment. He was a crony of the influential Manly businessman and Mayor of Sydney, John Woods, a fellow Irishman. Slattery was a wily operator, and later became a Member of Parliament for Boorowa and Minister of Justice in the 1880s, not to mention a Knight of St Gregory. He would have had the ear of Robertson, the Colonial Secretary, and between them he and Woods would have had no difficulty in persuading him to drop ‘Brighton’ and go with ‘Manly’, or indeed any other name they chose. But after all that, having finagled the name change Mr Slattery soon moved elsewhere. He died at Mosman in 1920.
Labels: Brighton, Manly., Thomas Slattery