Upcoming RHSQ Events

Wednesday Talk: Justice Stephen

Wednesday Talk: Justice Stephen

Wed Jul 12th, 2017, 12:30PM - Wed Jul 12th, 2017, 1:30PM

Commissariat Store
115 William Street
Brisbane, QLD  4000 Map

Stephen Scheaffe: The Right Honourable Sir Alfred Stephen

After his death, he was described as “practically the first Chief Justice of this Colony”, though not a strictly accurate statement, he was the third chief justice of NSW and the first chief justice to ever preside over a trial in Moreton Bay.

He was a member of a long legal dynasty and was appointed Chief Justice of NSW in 1845. He presided over the second circuit court sittings in Brisbane that commenced on 16 November 1850, the first by Justice Therry. These sittings were held nine years before Queensland became a separate colony.

Stephen Sheaffe will give an outline of the Judge’s background and how he came to appointed to the court. He will examine some of the trials held during these two- week sittings. A close examination of these cases, set in their colonial setting will show that justice was determined according to law and based on evidence. The sentences imposed, the facts of each case, the relevant charges make interesting reading. The facts are exclusive to colonial life, especially calabashes that were in use before the first bank was opened. Significantly, his honour presided over the first civil trial ever held by a Supreme Court in Brisbane.


Stephen Sheaffe is a barrister, a current member of the RHSQ Council, a former president of the RHSQ and the National Trust of Australia Queensland Division. He has delivered over 100 lectures on various aspects of Queensland’s history.

(Allen Hutchinson: Sir Alfred Stephen, 1898, Art Gallery NSW)
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