1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Higinbotham, George

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HIGINBOTHAM, GEORGE (1827–1893), chief-justice of Victoria, Australia, sixth son of T. Higinbotham of Dublin, was born on the 19th of April 1827, and educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, and at Trinity College, Dublin. After entering as a law student at Lincoln’s Inn, and being engaged as reporter on the Morning Chronicle in 1849, he emigrated to Victoria, where he contributed to the Melbourne Herald and practised at the bar (having been “called” in 1853) with much success. In 1850 he became editor of the Melbourne Argus, but resigned in 1859 and returned to the bar. He was elected to the legislative assembly in 1861 for Brighton as an independent Liberal, was rejected at the general election of the same year, but was returned nine months later. In 1863 he became attorney-general. Under his influence measures were passed through the legislative assembly of a somewhat extreme character, completely ignoring the rights of the legislative council, and the government was carried on without any Appropriation Act for more than a year. Mr Higinbotham, by his eloquence and earnestness, obtained great influence amongst the members of the legislative assembly, but his colleagues were not prepared to follow him as far as he desired to go. He contended that in a constitutional colony like Victoria the secretary of state for the colonies had no right to fetter the discretion of the queen’s representative. Mr Higinbotham did not return to power with his chief, Sir James M‘Culloch, after the defeat of the short-lived Sladen administration; and being defeated for Brighton at the next general election by a comparatively unknown man, he devoted himself to his practice at the bar. Amongst his other labours as attorney-general he had codified all the statutes which were in force throughout the colony. In 1874 he was returned to the legislative assembly for Brunswick, but after a few months he resigned his seat. In 1880 he was appointed a puisne judge of the supreme court, and in 1886, on the retirement of Sir William Stawell, he was promoted to the office of chief justice. Mr Higinbotham was appointed president of the International Exhibition held at Melbourne in 1888–1889, but did not take any active part in its management. One of his latest public acts was to subscribe a sum of £10, 10s. a week towards the funds of the strikers in the great Australian labour dispute of 1890, an act which did not meet with general approval. He died in 1893.