The lawmakers | State Library of New South Wales

The lawmakers

Judges are appointed by the government, generally from the ranks of practising barristers. In all jurisdictions, judges are independent of government control. New South Wales has produced many distinguished judges who have made a significant impact on the development of the law and the way it is administered.

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Lieutenant Colonel David Collins (1756 - 1810)
Lieutenant Colonel David Collins arrived in the colony with the First Fleet in 1788. He was responsible for the administration of legal matters in the colony, under the Governor.


Sir Francis Forbes (1784 - 1837)
Sir Francis Forbes, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, had previously served as Chief Justice of Newfoundland from 1816-1822. In 1823 Forbes was appointed to oversee the reform of the administration of law and order in NSW. He arrived in Sydney in March 1824 and opened the new Supreme Court on 17 May. Forbes was also an official member of the Executive and Legislative Councils and he approved all colonial legislation. His name is inseparably connected with the introduction into NSW of trial by jury.

> Research further the Library's collection of Francis Forbes papers via the catalogue

Sir Alfred Stephen (1802 - 1894)
Sir Alfred Stephen and his wife arrived in Van Diemen's Land from England in 1825. He was appointed solicitor-general and then crown solicitor early the following year. In 1839 he accepted a judgeship in Sydney. He was appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales in 1845. He retired in 1873 but remained active in public life until his death in 1894. Stephen was responsible for introducing many important new bills and instigating significant legal reforms during his time as Chief Justice and later as a member of the Legislative Council.

> Access the Library's collection of Sir Alfred Stephen's papers 

> Read Sir Alfred Stephen's legal opinion concerning crimes committed by bushrangers

Sir Samuel Griffith (1845 - 1920)
Sir Samuel Griffith came to Australia in 1854. He was called to the Queensland bar in 1867 and was a member of the Queensland legislative Assembly 1872-1893. In 1883 he became Premier but retired in 1893 to become Chief Justice of Queensland. Griffith compiled Queensland's Criminal Code and proposed the Federal Australasian Council which he presided over at various times. He was the main draftsman of the Bill which formed the basis of Australia's constitution and was appointed first Chief Justice of Australia when the High Court was established in 1903.

> Link to the Library's catalogue for further information about Samuel Griffith's manuscript collection

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