It is hard to be sure whether this street is named after Sir Richard Dry or his father, both being very prominent citizens in the early years of Launceston’s development, but given the later development of Invermay, it seems more likely that the name honours the son, Sir Richard.
Richard Dry senior (1771-1843) was convicted in Dublin in 1797 on a political charge. Transported, he eventually came to Port Dalrymple in 1805 as a storekeeper. Here he married Anne Maughan, and later was given 500 acres as a reward for his services. This land was part of Quamby Plains near Westbury, now known as ‘Quamby’. From 1840 until his death he lived at his farm ‘Elphin’ near Launceston.
Sir Richard was born on 20 September 1815, probably at Elphin Farm. As a young man he voyaged to Mauritius and India, and subsequently settled on the fine property, ‘Quamby’, near Hagley which he farmed very successfully. In 1844 the Governor, Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, appointed him a non-official member of the Legislative Council. He became a leading figure in the anti-transportation movement which led to clashes with the Governor. Another disagreement between imperial and colonial interests led to the walk-out by Dry and five others (known as the ‘Patriotic Six’) leaving the House without a quorum. After much political tension, the six were eventually reinstated.
In 1851 Dry was elected to the first elective Legislative Council, and became the first Speaker of that House, but retired in 1854 on account of his health which continued to cause great concern for several years. In 1858 he and his wife Clara (nee Meredith) sailed for England, and whilst there it was heard with great jubilation in Tasmania that Queen Victoria had conferred on him a Knighthood for his part in drawing up the Constitution for Tasmania, thus becoming the first Australian-born Knight.
Returning home in 1861 in better health, he was encouraged to nominate for the Tamar seat of the Legislative Council, and he was elected, defeating Alexander Stewart. In 1866 at the fall of the White government he was requested to form a Ministry, and became Premier of Tasmania.
Amongst other things, he was a member of the Westbury Road Trust, Tasmanian Commissioner for the Paris Exhibition of 1867, Chairman of the Launceston and Deloraine Railway Association, President of the Northern Agriculture Society, trustee of the Launceston Church Grammar School and he built and endowed St Mary’s Church, Hagley where his gardener laid out the grounds.
Sir Richard Dry died suddenly in Hobart on 1 August 1869 and messages of sympathy came from many parts of the world, including from Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh who had been his guest in Launceston the year before. His remains were conveyed to Hagley in a funeral procession which lasted four days and were interred close to St Mary’s Church. A state-wide appeal for a memorial led to the addition of the Chancel to the Church which now stands over his grave.