William Mountford Kinsey Vale was a politician and bookseller. He was born in London on 10 August 1853, son of a bookseller, and migrated to Australia with his brother and parents at the age of 19. The family settled at Castlemaine, where they established a bookselling and newsagency business. William moved to Ballarat, established a business, then returned to London, where he married Rachel Lennox. They returned to Australia, where Vale established his political career by representing Ballarat West in the Legislative Assembly, serving two terms: November 1864 to August 1865 and September 1865 to April 1869. During this period he also became vice-president of the Board of Land and Works, and commissioner of trade and customs. In May 1869 he lost his seat in a by-election but in October 1869 he won the seat of Collingwood. The following year he became a member of the royal commission on the civil service, and then commissioner of trade and customs in the Duffy ministery. About 1872 he sold his Ballarat business to his younger brother. Perhaps it was the pressure of his other responsibilities: in the same year he became a Trustee of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery, a position he held for the rest of his life. He was also a foundation member of the Young Men's Christian Association, an active Congregationist and a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars.

In Parliament, Vale was an enthusiastic advocate of protection as a basis for social progress. He supported the use of tariffs to further workers' technical training.

Two years later, Vale's term in Parliament ended, and he decided not to stand again. Instead he travelled to England, where he became a member of the Board of Advice to the agent-general and took up studies. He qualified as a barrister in 1878, and returned to Melbourne the following year, where he was admitted to the Victorian Supreme Court. He shared a room with Alfred Deakin. Vale served as a member of the Victorian commission for the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition (1880 catalogue p.xxxvii), and Treasurer to the Commission for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition and chairman of its manufacturers' committee, for which he was awarded a gold medal for services to the Exhibition [NU 20225]. In May the same year he won the seat of Fitzroy, and subsequently served as Attorney-general and Minister of Justice in the Berry ministry. He took the opportunity to reform the Titles Office.

Vale was a keen land speculator, and in 1883 his defeat for the seat of Emerald Hill was attributed to his attendance at a land sale on the same day. He was defeated again in 1889 for the seat of Collingwood. In the same decade Vale founded the Working Men's College (now RMIT University), and in 1887 he was appointed commissioner of the Centennial International Exhibition, but was forced to resign through ill health. He visited England, then returned to Australia and died at Collingwood on 23 October 1895. He was survived by five of his six daughters and three of his five sons.

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition, http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A060346b.htm

More Information