The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Hargrave, His Honour the Hon. John Fletcher

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Hargrave, His Honour the Hon. John Fletcher, M.A., sometime Puisne Judge, New South Wales, was the eldest son of Joshua S. Hargrave, an ironmonger in Greenwich, where he was born on Dec. 28th, 1815. His father was a prominent Wesleyan, and he was educated in the tenets of that denomination. Going to London University when fourteen, he won a first-class certificate of honour for rhetoric in 1831; and was an intimate friend of the late Dr. Woolley, afterwards Principal of Sydney University. In the autumn of 1831 Mr. Hargrave became one of the first students at King's College, London, and in 1833 matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A (Senior Optime) in 1837, and M.A. in 1840. In Sept. 1836 he entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn, and in Jan. 1841 he was called to the bar. In the same year he published a treatise on the Thellusson Act and on "Trusts for Accumulations"; and in 1843 he edited the first volume of the 21st editon of "Blackstone's Commentaries." Mr. Hargrave, who married, on Sept. 20th, 1843, his cousin Ann, daughter of William Hargrave, of Woodhouse, Leeds, practised in London at the equity bar until 1856, when he decided to emigrate to Australia, arriving in Sydney in Feb. 1857. He was shortly afterwards appointed a District Court Judge and Chairman of Quarter Sessions; but resigned this position with a view to entering political life, being appointed Solicitor-General in the Cowper Ministry, in succession to Mr. Dalley, in Feb. 1859. He was immediately returned to the Legislative Assembly for East Camden, and at the general election, a few months later, for Wollongong. He retired with his colleagues in the Cowper Ministry in Oct. 1859, and a few days later was reappointed Solicitor-General in Mr. Forster's Government, but without a seat in the Cabinet, which only, however, held office till March 1860, when, after another interval of a few weeks, Mr. Hargrave again accepted office as Attorney-General in the Robertson Ministry. Having been in the meantime nominated to the Legislative Council, Mr. Hargrave acted as the representative of the Government in the Upper House till Jan 1861, when Mr. Robertson transferred the premiership to Mr. Cowper, under whom Mr. Hargrave continued to act as leader of the Legislative Council and Attorney-General until July 1863, when he resigned the latter post to Mr. (afterwards Sir) J. B. Darvall, his senior in politics and at the bar, and took the inferior post of Solicitor-General—still, however, retaining the leadership of the Upper House. In Oct. 1863 the Cowper Government broke up, and Mr. Hargrave was out of office till Feb. 1865, when he acted as Solicitor-General in Mr. Cowper's fourth administration until October of the same year, when he was appointed to a seat on the Supreme Court bench, in succession to the late Mr. Justice Milford. Mr. Hargrave, during his parliamentary career, piloted several important measures of legislation through the Upper House—notably the State-aid to Religion Abolition Act; and was associated with Mr. (now Sir) John Robertson in the conduct of business in that Chamber during the stormy proceedings in connection with the Land Act of 1861. Judge Hargrave, soon after his elevation to the bench, became Primary Judge in Equity; and in July 1873 was appointed First Judge of the Divorce Court. From 1858 to 1865 he acted as Reader on General Jurisprudence to the University of Sydney. He died on Feb. 23rd, 1885.