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Supreme Court of Victoria Library Melbourne, Victoria

The library serves the legal profession and is located at the heart of the Supreme Court House complex.

Contact Information

location
210 William Street Melbourne Victoria 3000 (map)
phone
+61 0417 526 258

Contact

Opening Hours

Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 6pm Friday 8.30 am to 5pm

Location

210 William Street Melbourne Victoria

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The Supreme Court library has well over 120,000 volumes, and is one of the largest law collections in the State. There are extensive series of law reports from all Australian jurisdictions, as well as from various other countries. There is also a large collection of statutory material, textbooks and periodicals. The oldest textbook is Statham's Abridgement, printed in 1490. The Library has, however, not neglected modern technology and has access to many commercial databases on the Internet, available to Judges in their chambers and all library users. In addition, the library has a collection of artworks and objects relating to the Supreme Court, judges, and the legal profession.

Significance

The Supreme Court library is of historic significance as one of the oldest and continuous libraries in the State of Victoria. Sir Redmond Barry was instrumental in its creation at the same time as he was creating other important cultural institutions, including the Public Library, art gallery and the University. The first thirty years of the library?s existence was marked by the involvement and interest of Barry who helped select and purchase books for the library as well as donating a number of his own volumes. The library?s collection of 19th Century legal texts as well as its continuing role as a law library are significant for their rarity and breadth of the collection. Its art and objects collection relates to the legal profession and is also significant, relating as it does to significant figures in Victorian History.

Dorothy Wickham 14 March 2012 5:01 PM

I have found your site on Victorian Collections and wondering if you have an image of Richard Ocock who was a lawyer in Melbourne 1840s, Ballarat 1850s and later lived in Ballan, but was still practising in Melbourne?

Joanne Boyd 25 September 2012 3:26 PM

Many apologies for taking so long to get back to you. As it happens the Court has very few images of lawyers. The only images we have are of the Judges. The Law institute may have something or perhaps the Bar council.

Priscilla Baird Kaufman 1 May 2013 12:29 PM

Dorothy, Was he Sir Richard Ocock? Did he own racehorses? Was he born in Australia or England? I have a great, great grandfather by that name who moved to Australia, and I believed was a lawyer.

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Court Book - Kelly Court Book

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

A leather bound Court book or journal.

Historical information

There are many Court books in existence, they record the details in Criminal Cases, of the date of a hearing, before which judge, the nature of th crime, the plea, verdict and sentence. This one is of particular interest as it is the book that records the particulars of the case of Ned Kelly, before Justice Sir Redmond Barry in October 1880.

Significance

A very significant item giving the ongoing importance of the Kelly legend.

Inscriptions & Markings

The Court book records the particulars of a case heard in the Court. This will include the date, the name of the presiding judge, the accused, the nature of their crime, their plea, verdict and sentence.

Case Book - Book of Case; Book of Precedents

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Two volumes of small leather bound books.

Historical information

These are the notebooks of Redmond Barry, made when he first arrived in the colony, covering the period 1839 into the early 1840s. They relate to the days when he was a barrister and appearing as an advocate in a number of cases. One volume is devoted to Barry's notes about his cases, the other a book of legal precdents that he was collecting and annotating.

Significance

These volumes are of state significance, Barry's role in colonial Victorian History is an important one and these volumes relate to his early years in the colony.

Inscriptions & Markings

Redmond Barry's Book of Cases and Book of Precedents.

Portrait - Sir Edmund Herring

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Portait in oils of Sir Edmund Herring. This is a half portrait of Sir Edmund in his red judicial robes. Gold leaf frame, with plaque.

Historical information

Sir Edmund Herring had a military career before becoming the Chief Justice of Victoria in 1944. Sir Edmund served as an artillery officer with the British Army in World War One and was awarded the Military Cross. While he returned to the Law between the wars, becoming King's Counsel in 1936, he continued his military associations through Australian Militia Forces, rising to colonel by the start of the Second World War. At the outset of WWII Herring was appointed as Commander of the Royal Artillery for the Australian Sixth Division. Herring saw service in North Africa and Greece and was in charge of Australian Northern forces in 1942, afterwards working with General Blamey in Papua New Guinea. Sir Edmund was appointed Chief Justice, straight from his army command in 1944. As Chief Justice he quickly established the Law Reform Committee and after the war oversaw the extension of the Supreme Court buildings, with the creation of new Courts. He was considered an able administrator, but his refusal to appoint Joan Rosanove a Queen’s Counsel throughout the 1950s, did not sit well with many legal practitioners. After his retirement from the Bench, he continued in his many public activities, including trustee of the Shrine of Remembrance and the Australian War Memorial and a member of the Melbourne Grammar School Council, as well as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Victoria, a position he held from 1945 to 1972. Herring was also an outspoken social critic; between the wars he had been a member of the White Guard, who were a far right group acting against communism. During the Cold War period of the 1950s, Herring spoke out in favour of the British Empire and the American alliance. The portrait of Sir Edmund Herring is the second one that Sir William Dargie (1912-2003), completed of Sir Edmund; his first effort in 1944/45 won the Archibald prize. Dargie won the Archibald prize a record eight times. His fame as a portrait painter was not without controversy, as he was considered ‘safe’ and the favourite of conservative sitters, particularly as many of his Archibald winners were of ‘Captains of Industry’. While no Archibald prize was awarded for this portrait, it is an interesting counterpoint to Dargie’s 1944/45 portrait.

Significance

The portrait of Sir Edmund Herring is significant because of whom it portrays and the artist William Dargie who painted it.

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque reads "The Honourable Sir Edmund Francis Herring, KCMG, KBE, DSO, MC, ED. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1944-1964"

baton

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Painted black wooden baton, with gold leaf inscription. Baton has been shaped to provide a hand grip with three wooden grooves, barrel/cylinder shape at the other end.

Historical information

The tipstaff is a symbol of office for the court officical responsible for keeping order in the court, also called the tipstaff. This tipstaff dates from 1826 and is marked with the reign of George IV. This tipstaff was unlikely to have been used in the Supreme Court of Victoria, and is probably an item donated to the court in the 20th century.

Significance

This is the only item of this nature held by the court, the item because of its age would be quite rare. This rarity makes it of state significance, further research needs to be undertaken with regard to national and international (ie. UK) significance.

Inscriptions & Markings

Painted "Gold Crown/1826/ GR IV/ R. 11"

Bible - Swearing in Bible 1840s

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Black leather embossed bible.

Historical information

This bible, similar to so many other 19th Century bibles, was used in the Supreme Court throughout the 19th Century for the swearing in of witnesses.

Significance

The bible is an important link and artefact of the Court's early years.

Inscriptions & Markings

The Supreme Court of New South Wales, Office of the Supreme Court, Melbourne. 1847, plus some other dates, plus signatures.

Book - State Trials : Queen v Hayes, Queen v Joseph; proceedings of the trials of these informations in the Supreme Court of the Colony of Victoria

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Leather Bound Book, with gold Library stamp

Historical information

The transcript is of state significance, being one of the very few copies still in existence. Its connection with the Court and its presence in the library's collection enhances its significance.

Significance

The transcript is of state significance, being one of the very few copies still in existence. Its connection with the Court and its presence in the library's collection enhances its significance.

Inscriptions & Markings

Library stamp reads "Library of the Supreme Court, Colony of Victoria). This volume is a "Copy of Mr Webb's shorthand notes of the proceedings on the trial of this information in the Supreme Court of Victoria, before His Honor Sir William a'Beckett, Chief Justice"

Report - Progress Reports & Final Report of the Exploration Committee (Burke & Wills)

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Red leather bound report of the Exploration Committee (Burke & Wills Expedition). Gold lettering on front.

Historical information

This is the report prepared by the Royal Society of Victoria regarding the ill fated expedition of the explorers Robert Burke and William Wills in 1861. This volume appears to be Chief Justice Stawell's, the president of the Royal Society, personal copy.

Significance

The report is rare, held by both the University of Melbourne and the State Library, as well as a few other libraries.

Inscriptions & Markings

Progress reports & Final Report of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria 1872 on front cover in gold lettering. As well as Library stamp.

Letters Patent Parchment - Letters patent parchment for the knighthood of Sir William a'Beckett

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Parchment, black ink with illustrations, plus large wax seal with female figure

Inscriptions & Markings

Letters patent for Sir William a'Beckett, the granting of his knighthood

Books - Chronicles; Historical Chronicles

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

22 Volumes of Leather Bound books with gold embossing, illustrated.

Historical information

These are 22 volumes of early English and French History translated from the Latin, French and Old English. The volumes were published in the early 19th Century, Redmond Barry purchased these from Guillaume, Colonial Bookseller, Chester Square, London for the Library.

Significance

The books are in excellent condition and would be rare in Australian library collections.

Inscriptions & Markings

Historical Chronicles of English History, many titles, translated from the Latin, and the Old English and Old French.

Portrait - Sir William a'Beckett

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

A full length portrait of Sir William a'Beckett, seated and dressed in his judicial robes. With ornate gold frame with acorn motif.

Historical information

Correspondence held by the library has John Denniston Wood (1829-1914), a barrister and politician, presenting the portrait to the Library Committee in 1867. Wood hopes that the painting will "hang there [in the Court] in like manner as the portraits of many of the sages of the law are held in the Courts at Guildhall". Wood also provides information about the painter, Mr Mosely "now deceased", but who was "selected by Sir WIlliam himself" to undertake the commission. Early accounts have the painting hanging in a prominent position in the 'old' Court house at La Trobe and Russell Streets; the portrait was moved down to the library in 1884, when the portraits of Barry, Stawell and Molesworth were also commissioned. Sir William a'Beckett was the first chief justice of the colony of Victoria, having previously had a busy career at the Sydney bar.

Significance

The portrait is of historic signifcance because of its subject Sir William a'Beckett and its long association with the Court.

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque identifying subject : Sir William a'Beckett, Knight, resident judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the district of Port Phillip from 1846 to 1852, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria from Jan.1852 to Feb 1857.

Books - Ancient Law Tracts; the book for a Justice of the Peace

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

2 Volumes of Leather Bound Books, with gold lettering.

Historical information

These are 2 volumes of 16th Century legal tracts, for Justices of the Peace about how to conduct court business. They were purchased for the library in the 19th Century.

Significance

Very rare. Unsure if other libraries in Australia hold a copy. Made more significant by the 16th Century owners with their autographs.

Inscriptions & Markings

Has the stamp of the Library on the outside cover, stating the Colony of Victoria. Has a number of signatures, including that of Christopher Pym, from 1575

Blackwood Decagonal Table

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Blackwood, decagonal (10 sided) table, with 10 carved scroll and griffin supports, moulding and blue leather inserts.

Historical information

The Government Gazette of January 18, 1888 advertised the acceptance of a contract of 149 pounds for a "Table for central library, New Law Courts, Melbourne". The table was purchased four years after the Court had moved to the William Street address.

Significance

The table is not of state significance in its own right, but it is a high quality piece of Australian furniture. Its significance rests on its importance on the overall decorative scheme of the library and the fact that it was designed for this specific space.

Books - Oeuvres de Voltaire, the Works of Voltaire

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

70 Volumes of leather bound books with gold embossing.

Historical information

Voltaire (1694-1778) is a famous and influential French philosospher. The library purchased the 70 volumes of his complete works in the middle of the 19th Century. This purchase was made by Redmond Barry from the London booksellers Guillaume.

Significance

This a rare set of volumes in Australia in excellent condition.

Inscriptions & Markings

Oeuvres de Voltaire, has Guillaume, the booksellers, bookplate.

Brass Gasalier Pillar

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

The gasalier has a blackwood base, with an elaborate serpentine brass fit out for the lighting with etched glass shades. The gasalier is topped by a small figure of an emu, on the lower finials are kangaroos. While originally designed for gas the gasalier was converted to electricy in the early 20th century.

Historical information

The Government Gazette of September 28, 1888 advertises the acceptance of a contract of 276 pounds for the purchase of a "Pillar gasalier for Library, New Law Courts". The area under the dome was obviously found to be poorly illuminated and the purchase of the pillar light was approved. A table for the library had been approved in January and these two pieces of furniture were to complement each other.

Significance

The gasalier pillar is of state significance as a unique survivor of gas light illumination. It is an important part of the interior decoration of the library, contributing to its intact 19th century furnishings.

Portrait - Sir Redmond Barry

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Portrait in oils of Sir Redmond Barry. Barry is depicted standing, dressed in red Judicial robes, his hand resting on a chair; behind is a table with books.

Historical information

This painting was created by Robert Dowling (1827-1886) in 1885. At this time Dowling was considered Australia's best portraitist. Dowling had been born in England, but migrated to Van Diemen's Land in the early 1830s with his parents. Dowling worked in both Tasmania and Victoria as an artist, before returning to England in 1857. He did not return to Australia until 1884 and received eighteen commissions for portraits. The Barry portrait was commissioned after Barry's death which explains some of the mistakes in the depiction of Barry's robes; the fur cuffs and collar are too large, and the cummerbund is sitting in the wrong place. Sir Redmond Barry is an important figure in Colonial Victorian History, responsible for the establishment and support of some of our finest cultural institutions (the University of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court Library, and aspects of the Museum of Victoria's collection). This is in addition to his role as barrister defending aborigines in the 1840s and his position as a foundation judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, a position he held for nearly 30 years, presiding over two of the most well known of colonial trials: the Eureka Trials in 1854 and the Kelly trial in 1880.

Significance

The portrait of Sir Redmond Barry is significant because of the historical importance of Redmond Barry in colonial Victorian history. The painting is also of aesthetic significance as the work of the distinguished portraitist Robert Dowling.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed and dated 1886 (lower left) by Robert Dowling.

sandpaper

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Sandpaper

Historical information

a piece of sandpaper signed and dated . Found behind a bookshelf during renovations that were done in the 1990's

Inscriptions & Markings

back of sandpaper - written in pencil across length of sandpaper. name (unclear handwriting - could be "Ferdinand Herrmann from S...zerland / 4 of January 1884" ?)

Portrait - Sir Robert Molesworth

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Full length portrait in oils of Sir Robert Molesworth. He is seated at a desk and dressed in Judicial robes. The frame is of 20th century origin

Historical information

The portrait was commissioned in 1884, near the end of Molesworth's term of office. The portrait was commissioned at the same time as those of Redmond Barry and Chief Justice Stawell. Robert Molesworth, like his contemporaries, Stawell and Barry, went to Trinity College, Dublin, and practiced at the Irish Bar before migrating to Australia in 1852. Molesworth quickly gained a large practice at the Bar. In 1853 he was acting Chief Justice and he later served as Solicitor-General in the early Victorian colonial administrations. Molesworth was appointed to the bench in 1856. He primarily worked in the Equity area, but his main contribution to Colonial administration was as the Chief Judge of the Court of Mines, establishing the basis of mining law in Australia.

Significance

The portrait of Molesworth is significant because of whom it portrays and is the only known portrait of Molesworth.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed with monogram and dated 1885 lower left. Plaque identifies sitter as The Hon. Sir Robert Molesworth Judge of the Supreme Court. 1856-1886

Plaster Portrait Bust - Justice Redmond Barry

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Plaster bust of Justice Redmond Barry. The bust itself is painted white. The pedestal has been painted for a red and black marble effect. Barry's name appears in gold lettering. The Bust is larger than life size. The head is finely detailed with Barry in contemporary clothing with a bow tie and his orders on his chest.

Historical information

The library committee had already commissioned a portrait of Sir Redmond Barry when they purchased this bust of Barry along with that of Justice Fellows. The library still holds the receipt for this purchase of 24 pounds. The purchases were probably part of the program of outfitting the library interiors and may have been purchased for the niches, that were later covered with the portraits, ironically one of these was of Barry. Redmond Barry is an important figure in colonial Victorian history, responsible for the establishment of key cultural institutions as well as a Supreme Court Judge for nearly 30 years, presiding over both the Eureka trials and the trial of Ned Kelly.

Significance

The bust of Redmond Barry is of some interest as part of the original furnishings of the library. It represents one of a number of bust portraits of Barry and is of some significance as it portrays Barry, an important figure in Victorian history. The bust is also of interest as a work of James Scurry, most well known for his architectural sculpture.

Inscriptions & Markings

Sir Redmond Barry

Portrait - Sir William Stawell

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Full length portrait in oils of Sir William Stawell. Stawell is seated and dressed in his judicial robes.

Historical information

The portrait was commissioned in 1884, near the end of Stawell's term of office. The portrait was commissioned at the same time as those of Redmond Barry and Justice Molesworth. The total cost of all three paintings was 1200 pounds. Sir William Stawell arrived in Victoria in 1842; he quickly established a reputation for himself at the Bar. After the separation of the Port Phillip colony from New South Wales, Sir William served as the attorney general in the first representative government and was the leading prosecutor in the Eureka trials. Sir William was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1857, serving 29 years in the post. In addition the township of Stawell was named after the recently appointed Chief Justice in 1858.

Significance

The portrait is of historical significance as a portrait of Sir William Stawell.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed and dated 1887 lower right hand corner of the painting. Plaque identifying subject. The Hon. Sir W.F. Stawell.K.C.M.C Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1857-1886

Memorial Board - World War One Memorial Board - Bar Council

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

brass and wood, black lettering.

Historical information

Library Committee minutes from 1920 discuss the placing of an Honour Board in the Library, there was obviously some discussion from the Ballarat and Bendigo Law Associations about whom should be placed on the board and whether it was appropriate that it be located in the library. The board was donated by the Committee of Counsel, from the Bar and so only commemorates barristers. It is curious that this was not placed in Selborne Chambers where many barristers had rooms including one of the men on the Board (Higgins). This board joined the much bigger LIV memorial board that celebrates all Victorian lawyers who served during WWI.

Significance

While memorial boards are a common addition to many public and civic building after World War One. This memorial board is the only one that commemorates members of the Bar, in that sense it is of great significance to the legal community. Two of the men commemorated on the board were sons of judges (Higgins, son of the Justice Henry Bourne Higgins of the High Court and Hodges, son of Justice Henry Hodges of the Supreme Court). Franc Carse was related by marriage to the a’Beckett family (also judges of the Court) and his father in law was on the Supreme Court Library committee in 1914. Eric Connelly and Murdoch Mackay shared rooms in Selborne Chambers. Connelly died in late 1918 in France, a member of General Pompey Elliott’s staff. Connelly had previously taken part in the Gallipoli landings in April 1915. Mackay served at Gallipoli and died in France in 1916, he was Major, but only 25 at the time of his death.

Inscriptions & Markings

Honor Roll in memory of members of the Bar of Victoria who fell in the Great War 1914-1918, Franc Samuel Carse, Eric Winfield Connelly, Mervyn Bourne Higgins, Edward Norman Hodges, Murdoch Nish Mackay, Erected by their fellow members of the Bar of Victoria

Marble Portrait Bust - Justice Edward Holroyd

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Marble portrait bust of Justice Edward Holroyd. The bust is made of white carrara marble. The pedestal is made of rouge marble. The bust is slightly larger than life size. The head is finely detailed, Holroyd is shown wearing contemporary clothing, but the detail is less fine, than for the head and beard.

Historical information

This bust was commissioned and made in the years before Holroyd's retirement from the bench. It is not known precisely when the bust entered the Library collection or the circumstances of its execution and commission. Justice Holroyd (1828-1916) was a judge of the Supreme Court for 25 years, after a successful career at the bar. Charles Web Gilbert (1867-1925) was a largely self taught sculptor, only tackling the medium of marble in the years before World War One. After the war he made a number of War Memorials, but his best known work is his statue of Matthew Flinders, the explorer, in Swanston Street.

Significance

The portrait of Justice Holroyd is of interest as an unusual depiction and commemoration of a Judge. It is notable as a work by the distinguished Australian sculptor Charles Web Gilbert.

Inscriptions & Markings

The bust is signed and dated 1901

Portrait - John Schutt, Supreme Court Librarian

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Full length portrait in oils of John Schutt. Schutt is standing up looking out the to the viewer. His hand rests on a small pile of books. He is dressed soberly in a three piece black suit. His white beard and hair all meticulously trimmed and realised. The props used in this painting provide the main colour as the background has become dark over the years. The books sit atop of a red and gold draped table. Behind Schutt is what appears to be a crimson velvet chair and he gives every appearence of having just arisen from the chair to engage with the viewer. The painting has an unusual light source at the foot of the painting with Schutt's legs providing shadows.

Historical information

This portrait was presented by the Victorian Bar to the Library in 1917 to commemorate Schutt’s fifty years as the Supreme Court Librarian. The portrait was presented at a ceremony presided over by Mr Mitchell KC who noted the “unanimity with which the members of the profession had adopted the suggestion that the eminent services of Mr Schutt should be recognised in this way.” Chief Justice Madden also spoke on this occasion and there were a number of judges and members of the legal profession present. John Schutt had been born in England in 1831 and migrated to Victoria as a young man, initially working as a school teacher he was appointed librarian, during Redmond Barry’s time in 1866. He started work in the Old Court in Russell street and would have supervised the move of the library to its new and greatly expanded premises in William Street in 1884. As well as secretary to the Library committee, he also acted as the Secretary of the Board of Examiners on occasion. After his death in 1919 in its obituary, the Williamstown Chronicle noted that Schutt was regarded as a Solon, an ancient greek law giver who gave wise advice. Away from the Court he was a councillor of many years standing in Williamstown, representing the Victoria Ward, what is now the suburb of Newport, it would appear Schutt street in Newport was named after him. His eldest son William Schutt was appointed a Supreme Court judge in 1919. The portrait of Schutt is a companion piece to the Sir Thomas a’Beckett picture painted shortly before the Schutt portrait and for the same client, they share the same frame design with gum leaf motif. This portrait was undertaken early in Meldrum’s career and before he had fully developed his theory of painting. Duncan Max Meldrum (1875-1955) was a controversial figure in his later years as he strongly opposed modernism and non-figurative art. His works are found in most of the state galleries, including a wide selection at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Significance

This portrait is of interest for whom it portrays and as the work of a well known artist

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed Meldrum lower right hand corner. Plaque inscription is John Schutt, Esq. Supreme Court Librarian

Portrait - George Higinbotham

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Portrait in Oils of George Higinbotham. Higinbotham is seated at his desk, pen in hand. He is dressed in his judicial robes, ready for Court.

Historical information

The portrait was commissioned after Higinbotham's death in 1893. A committee was appointed to investigate the making of a portrait and they appointed Mr L Bernard Hall, instructor and later director of the National Gallery of Victoria. George Higinbotham (1826-1892) had a distinguished career as a newspaper editor and politican before becoming a Judge of the Supreme Court in 1880 and the third Chief Justice in 1886. Higinbotham was a long serving attorney-general in the 1860s colonial administration. Higinbotham was active in the education, land and constitutional debates of his time. He played a prominent role through his chairmanship of the of the Royal Commission into Public Instruction with regard to the introduction of the free and secular primary school education.

Significance

The portrait of George Higinbotham is of historic significance as the depiction of an important public figure in 19th Century Victoria. The painting is also of interest as an early example of L Bernard Hall's Australian works.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed Lower right B Hall 95. Plaque on frame : The Hon. George Higinbotham Judge of the Supreme Court 1880-1886 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1866-1892

Plaster Portrait Bust - Justice Thomas Fellows

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Plaster bust of Justice Thomas Fellows. The bust itself is painted white in a neo-classical manner. The pedestal has been painted for a marble effect. Fellows' name appears in gold lettering. The bust is larger than life size. The head is finely detailed, with the chest swathed in classical drapery.

Historical information

This portrait bust, along with that of Redmond Barry, was purchased in May 1884, The library still holds the receipt, but there is very little other information. It was probably a part of the program of outfitting the library interiors. Justice Fellows (1822-1878) was only a judge of the Supreme Court for six years (1872-1878), he had a long career in colonial politics. James Scurry (1826-1894) worked in architectural sculpture after migrating from England.

Significance

The bust of Justice Fellows is of some interest as part of the original furnishings of the library. The bust is also of interest of as a work of James Scurry, most well known for his architectural sculpture.

Inscriptions & Markings

Justice Thomas Fellows in gold lettering on pedestal.

Memorial Board - 1914 Roll of Honour 1918

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Five Blackwood panels with gold lettering of the names of the men who served during WWI. There are stylised copper decorative flowers on the corners of the memorial.

Historical information

The library has no papers for the Memorial Board. The Board was presented to the Court by the Law Institute of Victoria in honour of those members of the legal profession who served during World War one. The Argus reports that the memorial board was unveiled by Chief Justice Madden on 17 July 1917. Names were added after this date and subsequent research indicates that some names were incorrectly placed on the board, while others, particularly members of the legal profession that were admitted to practice after the war were omitted.

Significance

While memorial boards are a common addition many public and civic building after World War One. This large board is more comprehensive than the small board dedicated to members of the Bar that can be found inside the library, it is therefore of great historic interest capturing as it does the names of over 100 men who practiced as barristers and solicitors in Victoria before 1914 and who served in the armed forces during the 1914-1918 war.

Inscriptions & Markings

The main inscription reads “1914 Roll of Honour 1918” “Erected by the Law Institute of Victoria in Honour of those members of the Legal Profession who enlisted for active service in the Great War”. The board is divided in to five panels, with the names of members of the legal profession who served during World War One. The Centre panel contains the list of the names of the 22 men who died during the conflict.

Portrait - Sir Leo Cussen

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

3/4 Lenght portrait in Oils of Sir Leo Cussen, a judge of the Supreme Court, 1906-1933. Cusen is seated, a desk to the right of the picture with a few books. Sir Leo is in a 3 piece suit, his watch chain visible. Gold Frame

Historical information

This painting was presented to the library in December 1930. The painting had been paid for through subscription from Judges of the High Court, the Supreme Court and the County Court as well as both branches of the legal profession. An almost identical portrait is held by both the Melbourne Cricket Club and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Significance

This portrait is of interest for its subject and artist. Sir Leo Cussen (1859-1933) is probably best known for his role in two consolidations of the Victorian Statute books in 1915 and the mid 1920s. These were immense undertakings and included determining the application of English Law in Victoria. Sir Leo was appointed at Surpem Court Judge in 1906, he was at various times Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. In addition, he was trustee of both the Art Gallery (NGV) and the Melbourne Cricket Club, and held various positions with the Melbourne University Law Faculty and the Council of Legal Education. Sir Leo was regarded as one of the finest legal minds of his generation and at his death, Robert Menzies, at this time the Attorney General, said that Sir Leo was "one of the great lawyers of the english speaking world". Sir John Longstaff was one of Australia's best known and well regarded portraitist in the early 20th Century, he won the Archibald prize five times (1925, 1928, 1929, 1931 and 1935).

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed Longstaff in upper left corner. Plaque stating "the Hon Sir Leo Finn Bernard Cussen Kt Judge of the Supreme Court 1906-1933

Portrait - Sir Edmund Herring

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Portrait in oils of Sir Edmund Herring, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria (1944-1964). Sir Edmund is seated, this is a half portrait, dressed in his red judicial robes. The sitter takes up most of the frame and there is very little extra information in the picture.

Historical information

The portrait of Chief Justice Sir Edmund Herring is significant because of whom it portrays and who painted it. Sir Edmund Herring (1892-1982), had a military career before becoming the Chief Justice of Victoria in 1944. Sir Edmund served as an artillery officer with the British Army in World War One and was awarded the Military Cross. While he returned to the Law between the wars, becoming Kings Counsel in 1936, he continued his military associations through the Australian Militia forces rising to colonel by the start of the Second World War. At the outset of World War Two Herring was appointed as Commander of the Royal Artillery for the Australian Sixth Division. Herring saw service in North Africa and Greece and was in charge of Australian Northern forces in 1942, afterwards working with General Blamey in Papua New Guinea. It was at this time that Herring confirmed the death sentences of 22 Papuans who had been found guilty of murder and treason. Sir Edmund was appointed Chief Justice, straight from his army command in 1944. As Chief Justice he quickly established the Law Reform Committee and after the war oversaw the extension of the Supreme Court buildings, with the creation of new Courts. He was considered an able administrator, but his refusal to appoint Joan Rosanove a Queen’s Counsel throughout the 1950s, did not sit well with many legal practitioners. After his retirement from the Bench, he continued in his many public activities, including trustee of the Shrine of Remembrance and the Australian War Memorial and a member of the Melbourne Grammar School Council, as well as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Victoria a position he held from 1945 to 1972. Herring was also an outspoken social critic, between the wars he had been a member of the White Guard, who were a far right group acting against communism. During the Cold War period of the 1950s, Herring spoke out in favour of the British Empire and the American alliance.

Significance

The portrait of Chief Justice Sir Edmund Herring is significant because of whom it portrays and who painted it. The portrait of Sir Edmund Herring is the second one that Sir William Dargie (1912-2003), completed of Sir Edmund, his first effort in 1944/45 won the Archibald prize. Dargie won the Archibald prize a record eight times.

Inscriptions & Markings

signed lower left "Dargie'. Plaque with the following details : Sir Edmund Francis Herring, KCMG, KBE, DSO, MC, ED. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1944-1964.

Portrait - Justice Sir Thomas a'Beckett

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

A full length portrait in oils of Justice Sir Thomas a'Beckett. Sir Thomas is seated, his feet placed on a plush red foot stool. He is dressed in his red judicial robes with white fur trimming and black trousers and a full bottomed wing. Justice a’Beckett has a white beard and moustache, he was 80 years of age when this portrait was painted. In his hand he holds a rolled document. At his elbow, there are books upon a table. He sits in a fine carved wood and leather chair, in the background a gold frame is just visible. A line in the canvas indicates that the size of the painting was expanded. The frame is gold with a gum leaf motif.

Historical information

The Argus reports that “In 1916 the members of the bar took the opportunity afforded by his [a’Beckett’s] 80th birthday, and the completion of 30 years on the bench to present to the judges of the Supreme Court, with his permission a portrait of himself, to be placed in line with portraits of other judges in the Supreme Court library. The portrait which depicts Sir Thomas a’Beckett in his robes, was an excellent piece of work of Mr Max Meldrum. The unveiling was made the occasion of a little demonstration at which some congratulatory speeches were made." Sir Thomas a'Beckett arrive in Melbourne as a teenager with his parents in 1851. His uncle was the former Chief Justice, his father a well known solicitor. At the Bar Sir Thomas mainly worked in the Equity jurisdiction, which he took as a specialisation with him to the bench. This is an early work of Meldrum, he won the Archibald prize for portraiture in 1939 and 1940.

Significance

The portrait is of interest for whom it portrays and as the early work of a well known artist.

Inscriptions & Markings

Max Meldrum 1916

Portrait - Sir William Irvine

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

3/4 length portrait in oils of Sir William Irvine. Irvine is standing his finger resting on the deak. He is in Vice-Regail clothing, a black suit with plenty of gold briaing.

Historical information

This is a portrait of Sir William Irvine, not in his judical robes, but those of Lt Governor of the State of Victoria. Irvine was a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1894 to 1904, as well as Attorney-General , he was later Premier. Retiring from state politics after a particularly bruising encounter with the Railway Unions, he entered federal politics as the member for Flinders. He became Federal Attorney General in the period 1913-1914. During World War One Irvine campaigned strongly for the introduction of the complusory military service (conscription) until being elevated to the bench in 1918. With his appointment as Chief Justice, he became a lieutenant governor in 1919, and was acting Governor for the state of Victoria for a period of nearly 3 years in the early 1930s.

Significance

The painting is of interest for its subject (Irvine) and the artist who painted it, 5 times Archibald winner Sir John Longstaff.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed and dated 1934 upper right corner

Portrait - Sir Frederick Mann

Supreme Court of Victoria Library, Melbourne

Half Length portriat painting in oils of Sir Frederick Mann, seated and balancing a book on his knee. He sits of a chair with carved arms. The frame is painted dull gold.

Historical information

The portrait was presented by the legal profession ot the Court in 1946. It would appear to have been commissioned at the time of Chief Justice Mann's retirement. Charles Wheeler, had won the Archibald prize in 1933 and was the head of the art gallery schools during World War two. Chief Justice Sir Frederick Mann (1869-1958) studied the law and worked at the Crown Law Department before his stint in the Army during the Boer War. After the war, he practised as a barrister, mainly working in the common law and equity area including appearences in the High Court on constitutional matters. He was appointed to the bench in 1919 along with William Schutt, to help remedy a shortfall in the number of judges on the Bench, after measures of economy during World War One. He became Chief Justice in 1935 following the retirement of Sir William Irvine, and retired in 1944.

Significance

The portrait is of interest because of whom it portrayed, it is a well executed work by a well known artist of the period.

Inscriptions & Markings

Signed upper left C. Wheeler. Plaque identifies Sir Frederick Mann, the Hon. Sir Frederick Wollaston Mann, KCMG, a Justice of the Supreme Court 1919-1935, Chief Justice 1935-1944