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Fitzhardinge, Grantley Hyde (1845–1939)

Judge Fitzhardinge, of the District Court Bench and who for many years had been living in retirement, died yesterday at his home at Pennant Hills. He was in his 94th year.

Grantley Hyde Fitzhardinge was the fourth son of William George Augustus Fitzhardinge, and was born at Waverley in November, 1845. Educated at St Philip's Grammar School, St James's Grammar School, and Sydney Grammar School, he graduated at the Sydney University in 1867, and obtained the degree of MA in 1889. He was called to the Bar in 1868. He was appointed a District Court Judge in 1890, and resigned in 1918. From time to time he acted as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Even in the eventide of his life there was clearly discernible in him something of the once sturdy physique that stood to him in the days when as Crown Prosecutor, and later as Judge, he either rode on horseback or drove in a sulky on outback circuit.

Recalling legal memories. Judge Fitzhardinge would speak of the occasion when the hearing of an important case before the Court was adjourned because of the sudden illness of Mr Edwaid Butler, then one of the leaders of the Bar. On his return to Court at a later date, Mr Butler was congratulated by the then Chief Justice (Sir James Martin) on his recovery. Mr Butler then explained to the Court that it was against his doctor’s orders that he had resumed practice, but that he had done so in the interests of his client. With that, Mr Butler fell forward on the table Judge (then Mr Fitzhardinge with others, went to his assistance, but he was beyond aid.

Turning to life's lighter side, Judge Fitzhardinge recalls the eventful day when, on circuit at Walgett in his judicial capacity, there was an extraordinarily heavy list of cases. The Court officials informed the Judge that it would be impossible to provide light if he sat after the usual adjournment hour. The Judge decided to find a way out of the difficulty, and the Court sat at night under the fitful light of candles stuck in the necks of beer bottles.

The Judge would recall the days when he had either to ride, with a pack horse behind, or drive a sulky to keep his circuit engagements over long stretches of primitive country. On one occasion, after an eventful journey, he took his seat in Court in his riding breeches at 10 a.m. to open the Court. He then adjourned proceedings for about half an hour so that he could have a "brush up."

On another occasion, in an endeavour to open the Court at Wilcannia on a specified day, he had, in his capacity as Judge, to travel down the river to Morgan, about 400 miles away; then take train to Adelaide: proceed by train from Adelaide to Broken Hill, and, finally, go by coach from Broken Hill to Wilcannia. The Judge was a day late, after all, but he had tïken the precaution to advise the Crown law authorities of the possibility of his being behind time. The department thereupon issued a fresh proclamation, synchronising the sitting of the Court with the date of his arrival in Wilcannia.

As a young man he reported law cases and rowing and sailing races for the Herald, and contributed a weekly article on yachting to the Sydney Mail.

In 1876 he married Julia, fourth daughter of John Yeomans, a pioneer farmer on the Hawkesbury, but she predeceased him several years ago.

The funeral will take place at 3 p.m. to-day at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 1939, p 16
  • probate, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August 1939, p 6

Citation details

'Fitzhardinge, Grantley Hyde (1845–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/fitzhardinge-grantley-hyde-18046/text29628, accessed 22 September 2019.

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