William Foster Stawell
|1st Attorney-General of Victoria, Australia|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Howard Fellows|
|2nd Chief Justice of the|
Supreme Court of Victoria
|Preceded by||William à Beckett|
|Succeeded by||George Higinbotham|
|(Appointed) Member of the|
Legislative Council of Victoria
|Member of the|
Legislative Assembly of Victoria
Servingwith Archibald Michie and David Moore
|Born||27 June 1815|
Old Court, County Cork, Ireland
|Died||12 March 1889 73) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Frances Elizabeth Greene|
|Children||Richard Rawdon Stawell (son)|
|Alma mater|| Trinity College, Dublin,|
King's Inns, and
|Occupation||Lawyer and Barrister|
Sir William Foster Stawell KCMG (27 June 1815 –12 March 1889) was a British colonial statesman and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia. Stawell was the first Attorney-General of Victoria, serving from 1851 to 1856 as an appointed official sitting in the Victorian Legislative Council, and from 1856 until 1857, as an elected politician, representing Melbourne.
Stawell was born in Old Court, County Cork, Ireland the second son of ten children of Jonas Stawell, and his wife Anna, second daughter of the Right Reverend William Foster, bishop of Clogher.   Stawell was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, studied law at the King's Inns, Dublin, and at Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the Irish bar in 1839.   Stawell travelled in Europe with his friends Redmond Barry and James Moore. He practised law in Ireland until 1842 when he decided to emigrate to Australia. 
Stawell was admitted to the Port Phillip District bar in 1843.  He engaged extensively in pastoral pursuits, and had sheep stations at Natte Yallock, Victoria, on the banks of the Avoca River, and in the neighbourhood of Lake Wallace, near the South Australian border.  When Charles Perry came to Australia as first bishop of Melbourne, Stawell helped him to form a constitution for the newly created diocese. His first cousins and fellow Anglo-Irish, the brothers William and Leopold de Salis also went to Australia in the 1840s.
For many years Stawell enjoyed the leading practice at the local bar, and when the Port Phillip district of New South Wales was separated from the parent colony, and entered upon an independent existence as the Colony of Victoria, Stawell accepted the position of Attorney-General  on 15 July 1851  and became a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council. 
A few weeks after Stawell's appointment gold was discovered in Victoria; the duty of creating a system of government which could cope adequately with the situation fell to him. Stawell had to establish a police force, frame regulations for the government of the goldfields, appoint magistrates and officials of every grade, and protect life and property against the perceived threat of the hordes of gold rush adventurers who arrived in Victoria, first from the neighbouring colonies, and later from Europe and America. Much was owed to the firm administration of Stawell that, at a time when the government was weak, and many of the newcomers impatient of control, lynch law was never resorted to. 
Rather than export duty on gold, Stawell supported a miners' licensing system, which was one of the major grievances leading to the Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat in 1854.  Referring to the miners as "wandering vagabonds" and "vagrants", Stawell was the prosecutor in the unsuccessful case against the rebel leaders charged with high treason. 
Stawell had very little assistance for some time from any of his colleagues, and until the Executive Council was strengthened by the admission of Captain Andrew Clarke and Hugh Culling Childers, Stawell was the brains as well as the body of the administration. The success of his policy was upon the whole remarkable. In the legislature he was sometimes opposed, and at other times assisted, by John O'Shanassy, who was the leader of the popular party, and between them they managed to pass a number of statutes which added greatly to the prosperity of the colony.  A political contemporary, Henry Samuel Chapman, spoke of him as "almost the only efficient man connected with the government."
Stawell was indefatigable in the discharge of his duties, and extraordinary stories are told of the long journeys on horseback to visit distant outposts which he would take after being all day long in the law courts or in the council chamber. Stawell bore an active part in drafting the Constitution Act which gave to Victoria representative institutions and a responsible ministry, instead of an executive appointed and removable by the governor and a legislature in which one-third of the members were chosen by the Crown. 
At the first general election after the new constitution in 1856 Stawell was returned as one of the Members for Melbourne, and became the attorney-general of the first responsible ministry. In 1857, on the resignation of the chief justice, Sir William à Beckett, he succeeded to the vacant post, and was created a knight bachelor. He administered the government of Victoria in 1873, 1875–1876, and 1884. 
Stawell left Australia after his 1843 arrival only in 1872, when he paid short visits to the neighbouring colonies and New Zealand, and in 1873, when he returned to Europe on two years' leave of absence.  Stawell took a very deep interest in the proceedings of the Church of England, and was a member of the synod. On his retirement from the bench in 1886, he was created KCMG .  Stawell died at Naples, Italy, on 12 March 1889. 
The family house D'Estaville, built in 1859, still stands in the inner Melbourne suburb of Kew.
The town of Stawell, Victoria was named in his honour.
In 1856 Stawell married Mary Frances Elizabeth Greene, only daughter of W.P. Greene, RN;  
Sir George Ferguson Bowen, was an Irish author and colonial administrator whose appointments included postings to the Ionian Islands, Queensland, New Zealand, Victoria, Mauritius and Hong Kong.
Sir William Hill Irvine was an Australian politician and judge. He served as Premier of Victoria (1902–1904), Attorney-General of Australia (1913–1914), and Chief Justice of Victoria (1918–1935).
George Higinbotham was a politician and was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, which is the highest ranking court in the Australian colony of Victoria.
Sir Frank Gavan Duffy, KCMG, KC was an Australian judge who served as the fourth Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1935. His total service on the High Court of Australia was from 1913 to 1935. Prior to his judicial career, he was one of Victoria's most prominent barristers.
Sir Adrian Knox KCMG, KC was an Australian lawyer and judge who served as the second Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1919 to 1930.
Sir John O'Shanassy, KCMG, was an Irish-Australian politician who served as the 2nd Premier of Victoria. O'Shanassy was born near Thurles in County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of a surveyor, and came to the Port Phillip District in 1839. He went into business in Melbourne as a draper, and by 1846 he was rich enough to be elected to the Melbourne City Council and to become the founding chairman of the Colonial Bank of Australasia. By the 1850s he was a major landowner and one of the wealthiest men in the colony. He also became a recognised leader of the large Irish Catholic community.
Sir John Mark Davies was a British-born Australian politician.
Sir Alfred Stephen was an Australian judge and Chief Justice of New South Wales.
Sir William Montagu Manning was an English-born Australian politician, judge and University of Sydney chancellor.
Sir Stephen Henry Parker was a lawyer and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia from 1906 to 1914.
Sir Robert Molesworth was an Irish-born Australian Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Solicitor-General.
Sir Edward Eyre Williams was an English-Australian lawyer, politician and judge. He was a nominated member of the Victorian Legislative Council and Solicitor-General of Victoria.
Robert Williams Pohlman was an English-born Australian lawyer and judge.
Thomas Howard Fellows was an English rower and an Australian politician and Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Sir John Bayley Darvall was an Australian barrister, politician and beneficiary of slavery. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council between 1844 and 1856 and again between 1861 and 1863. He was also a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for three periods between 1856 and 1865. He held the positions of Solicitor General and Attorney General in a number of short-lived colonial governments.
The first Parkes ministry was the fourteenth ministry of the Colony of New South Wales, and the first of five occasions of being led by Henry Parkes.
Sir Archibald Michie, was an English-born Australian lawyer, journalist, Agent-General, Attorney-General of Victoria and politician.
John Leslie Fitzgerald Vesey Foster, also known as John Leslie Foster-Vesey-Fitzgerald, was a politician in colonial New South Wales and Victoria (Australia).
William John Foster was a politician and Supreme Court judge in colonial New South Wales, Attorney General from 1877 to 1878.
Sir William Jeffcott was an Irish barrister, a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the District of Port Phillip and Recorder of Prince of Wales Island, Malacca and Singapore.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Stawell .|