John Hargrave (judge)

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John Fletcher Hargrave
Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales
In office
12 October 1859 – 23 June 1865
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
In office
15 March 1859 – 11 April 1859
ConstituencyEast Camden
In office
15 June 1859 – 11 October 1859
Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales
In office
22 June 1865 – 1881
Personal details
Born28 December 1815
Greenwich, England
Died23 February 1885
Sydney, New South Wales

John Fletcher Hargrave (28 December 1815 – 23 February 1885) was an Australian politician and judge.

Hargrave was born to Joshua Hargrave and Sarah Hargrave (née Lee) at Greenwich, England. His father was a hardware merchant. He was educated at King's College, London in 1830 winning a certificate of honour for rhetoric. He went on to Trinity College, Cambridge and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1837 and a Masters of Arts in 1840.[1] He enrolled at Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1841.

He married his cousin Ann Hargrave on 20 September 1843. They were to have three sons and a daughter. He retired from the bar in 1851 and some time after was committed to an asylum at Colney Hatch in Middlesex by his wife and he gradually recovered there. He never forgave his wife for this.

He migrated to Sydney, New South Wales in February 1857. He was admitted to the New South Wales bar on his arrival and became a judge of the then District Court. His wife returned to England because he could not endure her presence. He resigned from the bench in February 1859 as his judgeship was "disastrous for women suitors" as he regularly decided against them. He became solicitor-general for New South Wales on 21 February 1859 following his resignation and held that appointment until 26 October of that year. He appointed again to that position on 3 November and held it till 8 March 1860.

He represented East Camden in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly between 15 March and 11 April 1859, and then the Illawarra from 15 June to 11 October 1859.

On 12 October 1859 he was appointed to the Legislative Council and held that appointment until 23 June 1865. He was Attorney-General of New South Wales from 2 April 1860 until 31 July 1863, and then returned to the role of Solicitor General between 1 August 1863 and 15 October 1863. There was a further appointment between 3 February and 21 June 1865.

He then received a life appointment to the Council on 3 September 1861. In Parliament he was on the:

  • Standing Orders Committee,
  • Elections and Qualifications Committee,
  • Burwood Tramroad Continuation Act Amendment Bill Committee,
  • Late Shipwrecks Committee
  • Port Jackson Committee; and
  • the Australian Agricultural Company's Newcastle Railway Bill Committee.

He was appointed a Kings Counsel in 1863. He was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 22 June 1865 but his swearing-in was boycotted by the New South Wales Bar.[2] He was the Judge in divorce appointed to the Divorce Division of the Court. He proved to be a disaster on the bench and he admitted that he did not sit before 11am or work after 1pm. He was retired as a judge in 1881.[3]

He became reader a in general jurisprudence at the University of Sydney and gave his first lecture on 3 August 1858. His course of twenty lectures were published in 1878. He died in 1885 and was buried in Waverley Cemetery.

His brother Richard Hargrave also served in the New South Wales Parliament after arriving in New South Wales in 1838. His son Lawrence Hargrave was the inventor of the box or cellular kite. Hargrave's great, great nephew Rick Colless is a current serving member of the New South Wales Parliament.[4]


  1. ^ "Hargrave, John Fletcher (HRGV833JF)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Bennett, J. M. (1972). "Hargrave, John Fletcher (1815 - 1885)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  3. ^ "John Fletcher Hargrave (1815–1885)". State Library of New South Wales project for the Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government in NSW, 1856–2006. New South Wales Government. 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  4. ^ "Legislative Council Rural Assistance Amendment Bill Hansard (Extract)" (pdf). NSW Parliament website. Parliament of New South Wales. 2000-10-11. Retrieved 2008-08-30.