Forbes, Francis (DNB00)

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FORBES, Sir FRANCIS (1784–1841), chief justice of New South Wales, born in the Island of Bermuda, North America, in 1784, was the eldest son of the Hon. Francis Forbes, a member of the privy council of Bermuda. Admitted at Lincoln's Inn on 26 May 1806, he was called to the bar in Easter term 1812 (Lincoln's Inn Registers). He became attorney- and advocate-general at Bermuda in 1813, and was promoted to the office of chief justice of Newfoundland in 1816. On 1 June 1823 he was nominated chief justice of New South Wales, his being the first appointment to that office. He promulgated the new charter of justice at Government House and elsewhere on 17 May 1824, and took his seat on the bench the same day. Under this charter a supreme court of criminal jurisdiction was opened by Forbes on the following 10 June, and by his exertions trial by jury was obtained in quarter sessions on 14 Oct. He was appointed to the legislative council by sign-manual, 11 Aug. 1825, and became a member of the executive council during the same year. Thanks to his strong remonstrances an attempt by Governor Ralph Darling [q. v.] to gag the colonial press in 1826 proved only partially successful. His health breaking down under the strain of his varied duties, he left for England in April 1836. He was knighted 6 April 1837, but, failing to recover his accustomed strength, he resigned his office in July, and returned to the colony soon afterwards. He died at Leitrim, near Sydney, 9 Nov. 1841. In 1813 he married Amelia Sophia, daughter of David Grant, M.D., of Jamaica, who long survived him.

[Heaton's Australian Dict. pp. 70–1.]

G. G.