James Martin (Australian politician)

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For the engineer and politician of Gawler, South Australia, see James Martin (South Australian politician).
The Honourable
Sir James Martin
KCB, QC
Justice James Martin.jpg
6th Premier of New South Wales
In office
16 October 1863 – 2 February 1865
Preceded by Charles Cowper
Succeeded by Charles Cowper
Constituency Tumut (until 1864)
Monaro
In office
22 January 1866 – 26 October 1868
Preceded by Charles Cowper
Succeeded by John Robertson
Constituency Lachlan
In office
16 December 1870 – 13 May 1872
Preceded by Charles Cowper
Succeeded by Henry Parkes
Personal details
Born (1820-04-14)14 April 1820
Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland, UK
Died 4 November 1886(1886-11-04) (aged 66)
Potts Point, New South Wales
Resting place Waverley Cemetery
Nationality British

Sir James Martin, KCB, QC (14 May 1820 – 4 November 1886)[1] was three times Premier of New South Wales, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 1873 to 1886.

Early career[edit]

Martin was born in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland but emigrated with his parents to Sydney, Australia at the age of one.[1] He was educated at Dame's School, Parramatta and, despite his family's poverty,[2] the Sydney Academy and Sydney College under the tutelage of William Timothy Cape, and left school at the age of 16 to become a reporter.

In 1838, Martin published the Australian Sketch Book, a series of character sketches he dedicated to Sydney barrister George Robert Nichols,[3] for whom he was then working as an articled clerk in 1840.

Martin qualified as a solicitor in 1845, and combined his legal career with employment as a newspaper editor and publisher. He married Isabella Long on 20 January 1853 and together they produced 15 children.[2]

Early political career[edit]

In 1848 Martin stood for the electorate of Durham in the New South Wales Legislative Council, but withdrew before polling day. Later in the same year he was unopposed in a by-election for the electorate of Cook and Westmoreland.

Martin was an effective legislator but his sharp tongue and intemperate speeches to the House made him few friends among his parliamentary colleagues. His most notable political achievement in his first eight years in office was to initiate the Parliamentary debate that led to the establishment of a branch of the royal mint in Sydney.

In 1856 he was elected to the first parliament under responsible government as the member for Cook and Westmoreland. He subsequently represented East Sydney, Orange, Tumut, Monaro, Lachlan and East Macquarie.[2] In August 1856 he was made Attorney-General of New South Wales in the first ministry of Charles Cowper. The appointment was controversial, as Martin was the first holder of the post not to be a qualified barrister. The appointment was brief, as the government was defeated in a no-confidence motion in October 1856 and Martin returned to the backbench.

Martin qualified as a barrister in 1856 and was made a Queen's Counsel in 1857.[2] He returned as Attorney General in the second Cowper Ministry in that year. However, his reputation for intemperate language continued and after a series of conflicts with fellow Ministers he resigned his post in November 1858.

Premier of New South Wales[edit]

In October 1863, Martin was asked by the Governor of New South Wales to form a government with a mandate to address rising State deficits and rural unemployment. As Premier and Colonial Secretary Martin promptly introduced measures to reduce immigration and increase tariffs, but was unable to secure Parliamentary support for many of his reforms. With limited achievements to its credit, the government suffered a substantial swing at the 1865 election and Martin stepped down to make way for the return of Charles Cowper.

Cowper was once again defeated in a no-confidence motion in December 1865, and in January 1866 Martin became Premier for the second time as leader of a coalition government with former rival Henry Parkes. His government resigned in October 1868, but he returned to the Premiership for a third and final time between December 1870 and May 1872.

After politics[edit]

Martin retired from Parliament in November 1873 and was immediately named to the vacant position of Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court. He held the post for 13 years, despite considerable ill health in later life.

James Martin died at home in Potts Point, Sydney on 4 November 1886 and buried in St Judes churchyard in Randwick, NSW. in 1909 his remains were moved to a new underground vault in the impressive Waverley Cemetery.

Honours[edit]

Martin was made a Queen's Counsel in 1857 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1869.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Martin, His Honour the Hon. Sir James". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sir James Martin (1820–1886)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 9 February 2007. 
  3. ^ Nairn, Bede. "Martin, Sir James (1820–1886)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Cowper
Premier of New South Wales
1863–1865
Succeeded by
Charles Cowper
Preceded by
Charles Cowper
Premier of New South Wales
1866–1868
Succeeded by
John Robertson
Preceded by
Charles Cowper
Premier of New South Wales
1870–1872
Succeeded by
Henry Parkes
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Cook and Westmoreland
1856–1859
Served alongside: Jamison
Succeeded by
Abolished
Preceded by
New seat
Member for East Sydney
1859–1860
Served alongside: Black, Cowper/Faucett, Parkes
Succeeded by
John Caldwell
Preceded by
John Peisley
Member for Orange
1862–1863
Succeeded by
Charles Cowper, Jr.
Preceded by
Charles Cowper, Jr.
Member for Tumut
1863–1864
Succeeded by
Charles Cowper, Jr.
Preceded by
Thomas Garrett
Member for Monaro
1864–1865
Succeeded by
William Grahame
Preceded by
John Ryan
Member for Lachlan
1864–1869
Succeeded by
James Watson
Preceded by
Robert Stewart
Member for East Sydney
1869–1872
Served alongside: Buchanan, King, Parkes/Wilson
Succeeded by
John MacIntosh
Preceded by
John Suttor
Member for East Macquarie
1872–1873
Succeeded by
Walter Cooper
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Alfred Stephen
Chief Justice of New South Wales
1873–1886
Succeeded by
Sir Julian Salomons