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Burt, Septimus (1847–1919)

from West Australian

Septimus Burt, n.d.

Septimus Burt, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1919

The news of the death of Mr. Septimus Burt, K.C., which occurred at his residence, St. George's Terrace, yesterday morning, will be received by a very wide public with a deep sense of the community's loss. For some years past, Mr. Burt, owing partly to failing health and the demands made upon his vitality by his private concerns, and his professional duties, but largely owing to a natural distaste for the limelight, had not occupied that place and part in the public life of the State, for which his undoubted talents and high character so eminently fitted him. Time was, however, when he rendered invaluable public service to his country, and when his sober and wise counsel contributed largely to the prudent direction of Western Australian affairs. At two of the most critical periods of the State's history, the period when the form of Responsible Government to be conferred upon us was taking shape and the later period when the prentice hands of comparatively speaking inexperienced politicians were entrusted with the government of this country, with its few people and their vast estate, Mr. Burt, as the first lieutenant of Lord (then Sir John) Forrest, bore a conspicuous and useful part. In his political, as well as in his much longer professional, career, he was invariably inspired by a keen sense of honour and his unquestionable and unquestioned probity together with his sound judgment, extensive legal knowledge and native ability commanded for him the confidence of all classes. His high standing at the Bar marked him out again and again for elevation to the Judiciary, but Mr. Burt, having no ambition for public distinction, declined all overtures made to him by successive Governments desirous of placing him on the Supreme Court Bench. In 1901 he was offered Knighthood of the Order of St Michael and St. George, but declined the honour; and it is typical of the character of Mr. Burt that, the fact of such high distinction being offered to him has not been disclosed until his death. He was extremely fond of outdoor life and, being interested in grazing pursuits seized every opportunity that offered to indulge his passion for the country. Although, as has been said, Mr. Burt took no prominent part in public affairs of recent years, public affairs interested him none the less on that account. He was deeply concerned in everything that affected the well-being of the country and a keen but generous critic of the doings of public men. Although he had spent almost the whole of his life in Western Australia, he was no little Australian. He was affectionately attached to the Motherland and the Empire and during the war he not only gave precious hostages to fortune in the loss of two of his sons, but was a most liberal contributor to all patriotic movements which the war generated. To his Church and other charities he was also a regular and cheerful giver, and the Burt Memorial Hall which he recently presented to St. George's Parish in memory of his fallen sons will stand also as a not unworthy memorial to himself.

Mr. Burt was the seventh son of the late Sir Archibald Burt, one time Chief Justice of Western Australia. He was born at St. Kitts, in the West Indies in October, 1847, and was educated at Bishop's School, Perth. He was articled to Mr. G. F. Stone, father of Sir Edward Stone, the late Chief Justice, who was already a partner in the firm. Mr. G. F. Stone some time afterwards retired and Mr. Burt finished his articles with Sir Edward. He was called to the Western Australian Bar in 1871 and five years later was admitted to partnership, the firm henceforth being known as Stone and Burt. Mr. Burt was nominated in 1874 a member of the old Legislative Council, which existed prior to the grant of Responsible Government, but resigned and was afterwards elected to the same Chamber, then composed of nominees and elected members. On the retirement of Mr. Hensman in 1886 as Attorney-General Mr. Burt acted in that capacity for about six months. In the same year he was selected as a member of the Western Australian Commission for the Indian and Colonial Exhibition and was also appointed one of the representatives of this colony at the first Colonial Conference, the occasion being the Jubilee of the late Queen Victoria. When in 1890 Sir John Forrest was invited to form the first Western Australian Ministry under constitutional government Mr. Burt was prevailed upon to accept the portfolio of Attorney-General. At that time he represented the Ashburton district and continued to do so until he resigned in April, 1900, thus practically terminating by his own deliberate choice his political life.

Mr. Burt married Julia, daughter of Mr. G. E. C. Hare, formerly of Kercullen, County Galway, Ireland, and subsequently Government Resident at Albany, by whom he had issue six sons and four daughters; two sons (both lieutenants), Francis Sinclair and Theodore were killed in action. The four surviving sons are Archibald (Kadji Kadji Station, Murchison), Reginald G. Edward (Brick House Station, Carnarvon), George Henry (Yinnietharra, Carnarvon,) Major Fred. J. A. Burt (still at the front), and the daughters all living are Mrs. Ken D. Messer (Minnie Creek, Carnarvon), Mrs. Charles Lee Steere (Cottesloe), Mrs. A. L. Jenkins (Cottesloe), Miss Olive Mena Burt (Perth). For Mrs. Burt and her family a wide sympathy will be felt in the irreparable bereavement they have sustained.

The funeral will take place today. There will be a short service at St. George's Cathedral at 2.30 p.m., at the conclusion of which the cortege will proceed to the Karrakatta Cemetery.

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'Burt, Septimus (1847–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/burt-septimus-179/text1596, accessed 23 October 2014.

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