The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Fellows, Hon. Thomas Howard

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Fellows, Hon. Thomas Howard, formerly Puisne Judge, Victoria, son of Thomas Fellows, of Moneyhill, Herts, solicitor, was born in England in 1823, and, after being educated at Eton and studying under Chitty in London, was called to the bar in 1852, and soon afterwards emigrated to Victoria. In that colony he gained a high repute in his profession, and, having become a member of the old Legislative Council in 1855, was appointed Solicitor-General in the Haines Ministry in June 1856, in succession to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Robert Molesworth, who was raised to the bench. This post he held till Feb. 1857, when he succeeded Sir William Stawell (appointed Chief Justice) as Attorney-General. In the meantime responsible government had been inaugurated, and Mr. Fellows had been returned to the first Legislative Assembly for St. Kilda as the colleague of Mr. (now Sir) F. T. Sargood. In March 1857 Mr. Fellows retired from office on the defeat of the Haines Ministry. They came back to power again a month later, and Mr. Fellows was their Solicitor-General till March 1858, when he quitted the Assembly, and was elected to the Legislative Council, in opposition to Mr. T. T. à-Beckett. He represented the Nicholson Ministry in the Upper House, without portfolio, from Oct. to Nov. 1860. In Oct. 1863 Mr. Fellows joined that powerful combination, the first MᶜCulloch Ministry, as Postmaster-General, but quitted the Cabinet in March 1864, as soon as the drift of their policy was made apparent. He now appeared as the determined opponent of his former colleagues, and led the Council in their resistance to the Tariff and Darling grant "tacks." The better to champion the cause of the Conservative party, he resigned his seat in the Council, and was returned in 1867 to the Legislative Assembly for St. Kilda. The MᶜCullochites commanded an overwhelming majority in the Lower House, but Mr. Fellows discharged the difficult task of marshalling his meagre minority with conspicuous tact and ability. In 1868 Sir James MᶜCulloch resigned, owing to a difference with the Governor over the procedure to be pursued in relation to the Darling grant; and after prolonged negotiations, during the course of which Mr. Fellows was frequently suggested as Premier, Sir Charles Sladen agreed to champion the forlorn hope of the Council in their constitutional battle with the Assembly, Mr. Fellows agreeing to take the leadership of the latter body, with the portfolio of Minister of Justice. In spite of several hostile votes carried against them in the popular Chamber, the Sladen Ministry held on from May 6th to July 11th, 1868, when the crisis was terminated by a request from Sir Charles Darling that the grant should be withdrawn, as he had made his peace with the Colonial Office. Mr. Fellows did not again take office, though he remained in the Assembly till 1872, when, it having been decided to nominate a fifth Puisne Judge, he was appointed to that position by the Francis Ministry, and remained on the bench till his death, on April 8th, 1878.