Reluctant Democrat: Sir William Denison in Australia 1847-1861 (Hardback) book cover

Reluctant Democrat

Sir William Denison in Australia 1847-1861

By John Michael Bennett

© 2012 – Federation Press

350 pages

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Aristocrat by birth, autocrat by nature, and officer of the Royal Engineers by training, Sir William Denison became a Governor in Australia in the mid 19th century at a time of momentous change.

Arriving in Tasmania in 1847, he provided strong and controversial leadership while debate on convict transportation raged. His support for its continuance (he had the convicts doing valuable public work) caused a furore amongst the free community and unwillingly he had to yield. The Colonial Office in London was impressed and promoted him "Governor-General" of New South Wales in 1855.

Sir William Denison concluded his service to the Crown in 1866, and is remembered as one who "stood among the first class of Governors".

Table of Contents

Part I - Van Diemen’s Land 1847-1855, A Position of No Common Difficulty, The Independence of the Bench Has Been Menaced, A State So Injurious to the General Interests, Opposition to the Convict System Here, Your Accustomed Zeal and Discretion, The System of Representative Legislation, Two Traitors In The Camp Of The Government, Uncomfortable as a Place of Residence, His Approach to Educational Problems, A Slight Insight Into Futurity, Part II - New South Wales 1855-1861, I Do Too Much While Some of the Others Do Too Little, Education and Related Matters, An Unwilling Instrument in Working out a Change, The Executive Council Should be the Governing Body, The Abstract Merits of Responsible Government, Governor General in and over All Our Colonies, Norfolk Island: The Singular Little Autocracy, Moreton Bay District, A Man Who in His Time Played Many Parts.

About the Author

Dr J M Bennett AM

In the thirteenth and most ambitious volume in his series of judicial “lives�, Sir Alfred Stephen, Third Chief Justice of NSW (1844-1873), John Michael Bennett continues a project he began as a Senior Research Fellow in Law at the Australian National University 40 years ago.

Described by Australian Historical Studies as a series that adds “an important missing dimension in the field of legal history in Australia [and makes] engaging reading, it reflects Dr Bennett's fastidious research coupled with his long experience in professional law practice and in various academic positions.

His extensive publications, chiefly in Legal History, but also as a law reporter and sometime Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Digest, have received much recognition and praise. He was twice awarded the C H Currey Memorial Fellowship by the State Library of New South Wales; was a Churchill Fellow in 2000; and received the New South Wales History Fellowship 2006 for the writing the biography of Sir Alfred Stephen.

On examination of published works, he has received the rare degrees of Doctor of Laws (Sydney) and Doctor of letters (ANU); and he is an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Sydney). A Life Member of The New South Wales Bar Association, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for services to the law.

Titles by Dr J M Bennett AM:

Sir William a'Beckett - First Chief Justice of Victoria 1852-1857

Sir Archibald Burt - First Chief Justice of Western Australia, 1861-1879

Reluctant Democrat - Sir William Denison in Australia 1847 - 1861 - Forthcoming Release

Sir James Cockle - First Chief Justice of Queensland, 1863-1879

Sir Charles Cooper - First Chief Justice of South Australia, 1856-1861

Sir James Dowling - Second Chief Justice of New South Wales, 1837-1844

Sir Francis Forbes - First Chief Justice of New South Wales, 1823-1837

Sir John Pedder - First Chief Justice of Tasmania, 1824-1854

Lives of Australian Chief Justices Set

Sir Valentine Fleming - Second Chief Justice of Tasmania 1854-1869, Acting Chief Justice 1872-1874

Sir Henry Wrenfordsley - Second Chief Justice of Western Australia, 1880-1883

Sir William Stawell - Second Chief Justice of Victoria, 1857-1886

Sir James Martin - Premier 1863-1865, 1866-1868, 1870-1872 and Fourth Chief Justice 1873-1886 of New South Wales

Colonial Law Lords - The Judiciary and the Beginning of Responsible Government in New South Wales

George Higinbotham - Third Chief Justice of Victoria

Callaghan's Diary - The 1840s Sydney Diary of Thomas Callaghan of the King's Inns, Dublin, Barrister-at-Law

Sir Alfred Stephen - Third Chief Justice of New South Wales 1844-1873

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General