Macquarie University
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Felons, mutineers and other learned friends: a history of the development of the Colonial Bar in Australia, and the contribution of its advocates to the evolution of the colonies 1788-1856

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posted on 2022-03-28, 21:53 authored by Catherine Elizabeth Douglas
This thesis can be viewed as having two tiers; firstly, the development of the institution of the Bar in Australia from 1788 until 1856, and secondly, the broader role that individual advocates played in the formation of each new Australian colony. This thesis is the first comparative history of Australian advocates and the development of the institution of the Bar. Previous histories of the Bar have either been restricted to the story of one colony, or the biography of a particular practitioner. It is my contention that a history of the institution of the Bar cannot be properly understood without a comparative examination of the colonial Bars, which also involves elements of general Australian history, legal history and judicial history. Traditionally, barristers trained in an English Inn of Court are seen as the members of the early nineteenth century colonial bars. The term ‘advocate’ is employed in this thesis to encompass the roles played by barristers trained in English Inns of Court, as well as certain attorneys, solicitors, convict attorneys and lay persons who performed an advocacy role in their colony. Often ‘advocate’ is more appropriate for early nineteenth century Australia as it also allows an examination of the roles played by people who did not have an English Inn of Court qualification, but who nevertheless performed court work. Advocates by definition represent the causes of other people in society, and in doing so contributed in a significant way to the social, political and economic development of each new colony, and their systems of law and order. In a sense this thesis can also be viewed as an examination of key events in Australian history from the viewpoint of barristers and advocates. Ultimately, an examination of key historical events can be used to aid our understanding of the dynamics of the modern-day Bar. It highlights the invaluable contribution that advocates make to society, but also reveals problems that are endemic within the Australian Bars. The argument is posed that there is a need for members of the Bar to understand their own history and the causes that have led to the modem state of the Bar, before they can make vital changes to guarantee the future effectiveness of their institution.



Typescript. Bibliography: leaves 305-323 "Submitted for consideration 31 March 2007".

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD) , Macquarie University, Division of Law, Dept. of Law

Department, Centre or School

Division of Law

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Rosalind Croucher

Additional Supervisor 1

Bruce Kercher


Copyright Catherine Elizabeth Douglas 2007. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (323 p., bound)

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