Little ~ William Little Life
An extract from the book 'BALLARAT AND VICINITY', page 55, describes the life and activities of William Little.
WILLIAM LITTLE, J.P.
|Standing out pre-eminently amongst the leading public men of the city of Ballarat is Mr. William Little, J.P., a man possessing exceptional attainments. A native of Cumberland, England, he was born in 1839, and landed on these shores on Christmas Eve, 1851. The National School, Geelong, was where Mr. Little received the first portion of his education, and some years later he became an undergraduate of the University if Melbourne. His first occupation in the colony was that of an officer in the Custom House at Geelong, and then he occupied positions in several mercantile houses at the same place, until, at the invitation of Mr. James Oddie, he came to Ballarat, in order to take up the position vacated by Mr. J. Noble Wilson in Mr. Oddies office. Mr. Little proved himself a faithful and conscientious employé; to how great an extent can be judged by the fact that he remained with Mr. Oddie for a period of twenty-one years, during a portion of which he was personally interested in the business. In 1880 he parted company with Mr. Oddie, and commenced business on his own account as an auctioneer, estate, finance, and insurance agent, and sharebroker. Under Mr. Littles direct management and supervision the business prospered from year to year, until we find to-day, in one department alone, that the rents collected by him, on shops, houses, houses, offices, and lands, represent no less than a sixteenth of the entire rated property in the city, this proportion being exclusive of rents collected in Ballarat East, and on farms and lands in other parts of the district. In all other departments a similar state of affairs is in existence, and is a proof of the reliance placed by thousands of people on the integrity and stability of the business conducted by Mr. Little. People were not long in discovering the man he was, and as a natural consequence he was solicited to become a candidate for municipal honours. After due deliberation Mr. Little gave his consent, and contested and secured a seat in 1883 in the Ballarat City Council. Just as he worked honourably in his own business and private affairs, so did he do his best for those who had solicited his services and had placed him in a seat of power. In 1889-90 he was elected Mayor of the City, and never was the Council business conducted in a more capable manner than during Mayor Littles term of office. With calmness, dignity, and graciousness he ruled firmly and at the same time gently, and with thorough impartiality. That year (1890) will ever be marked by an occurrence of a noteworthy character, when on the 23rd May there was an Arbor Day celebration, and 1250 trees were planted in Victoria Park by all the leading politicians, public men, and ratepayers of the day. His Worship planted an English oak on the occasion, and also planted two trees on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who graciously, through Lord Knutsford, Secretary of State for the Colonies, acknowledged the kindly action of Mayor Little.||
Towards the close of his connection with the City, a great conflict arose between that body and the Salvation Army. A number of the men and women soldiers were placed in gaol for marching through the streets. Mayor Little counselled moderation on the part of the civic authorities, and went so far as interviewing His Excellency the Governor, the result being that the soldiers were released. After that there was more moderation displayed, and an irritating public event terminated. One other matter worthy of record shows the thorough business qualities of Mayor Little and the methodical manner in which he acted while a member of the City Council from 1883 to 1892. During the whole of that time he kept a faithful record of all the transactions which took place at the Council table, and these are to be seen in book form at his office in Lydiard Street. Interested to a considerable extent in out-door recreation, Mr. Little is a prominent figure on the Central Bowling Green, and there is no more capable exponent of the game than he. It is customary for a Mayor to give a ball during his term of office. In the case, however, of Mayor Little he has conscientious scruples against such a form of amusement, and in place of the usual dance, he engaged the Victorian Orchestra, from Melbourne, under the leadership of Mr. Hamilton Clarke, and a high-class concert was given in the Alfred Hall, greatly to the enjoyment and edification of the large audience in attendance. The citizens of Ballarat decided upon giving a return concert to His Worship and the Mayoress, and this social function too, place in the same hall, the Ballarat Liedertafel having been engaged for the occasion, and like the former it was a decided success; Mayor Little and his family being highly delighted at the form which the compliment took. The citizens also presented Mayor Little with a massive silver tea and coffee service; also plate; while the Mayoress was made the recipient of a gold diamond-studded watch and chain.
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