Black Wednesday [The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia, 1925]

[Editor: This is an entry from The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia (1925).]

Black Wednesday, 9 January 1878, the day (so named as a bitter parody on Black Thursday) on which the Berry ministry dismissed public officials wholesale. The Victorian legislative council had refused to pass the appropriation bill, and Sir G. Berry, on the plea that this refusal deprived him of funds wherewith to pay the officials, proceeded on the evening of 8 January to gazette the dismissal of more than 200 public servants, including county court judges, magistrates, coroners, goldfield wardens, and the heads of important departments. Many of the dismissed men only learned their fate on arrival at their offices next morning; hence 9 January became notorious, although the formal dismissals were dated Tuesday the 8th. Most of the officials were reinstated in the following April, but the opportunity was taken to get rid of several who had made themselves obnoxious to Sir G. Berry. For his assent to this arbitrary act Sir George Bowen, then governor of the colony, was severely reproved by the British government and soon afterwards removed to the Mauritius.

Arthur Wilberforce Jose and Herbert James Carter (editors), The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia, vol. 1, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1925, page 170

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