Sir Alfred Stephen: Third Chief Justice of New South Wales 1844-1873
J. M. Bennett
Publication Date :
1 Jan 2009
Sir Alfred Stephen (1802-1894) was descended from generations of Stephens celebrated in England for their contributions to the law, literature, politics and public administration. Born at St Kitts, educated in England and there called to the Bar, he at first progressed so slowly that he decided to return to the colonies. As a pioneer Crown Law Officer in Tasmania he was ambitious, aggressive, and successful financially. But he fell out with the Lt-Governor and the judiciary. He then accepted a temporary judgeship at Sydney (1839), won immediate respect, and became Chief Justice (1844), serving with great accomplishment until 1873 - a term never equalled in New South Wales. He was first President of the Legislative Council after Responsible Government (1856), returning to the Council on resigning as Chief Justice. His many public services included being Lt-Governor; helping to establish The University of Sydney; and supporting such institutions as hospitals, museums and art galleries. He was also a great philanthropist. His name and works are recalled in this biography.