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Hodges, Sir Henry Edward (1844–1919)

General regret will be expressed at the news of the death of Sir Henry Edward Agincourt Hodges, senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, which occurred early yesterday morning at his country residence Mt Macedon.

The Premier (Mr. Lawson) sent a telegram to Lady Hodges expressing the sympathy of the State Ministry.

Sir Henry Hodges, who was born at Liverpool, England, in October, 1844, was the son of Mr. Henry Hodges, and arrived in Australia when just 10 years old. He was educated at the Melbourne Grammar School, and was in the cricket team of the year in which he left school, 1864. At the matriculation honour examination in March of the following year, he was proxime accessit for the mathematical exhibition. He was one of the earliest students on the roll of Trinity College, Melbourne, entering in the first term in 1873. Graduating B.A. in 1875, he was admitted as a barrister. As a young man he engaged in teaching, and was for some time tutor to the family of the late Sir William Stawell. In 1889 Sir Henry Hodges was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench, and thus, with the exception of Sir Thomas A'Beckett, had been longer on the bench than any of his brother judges. He was one of that very able band of practising barristers which made the Victorian bar famous in the early and middle eighties. A barrister practising before him speaks thus: -"His frame of mind was severely logical, his law pre-eminently sound, and his decisions accordingly carried great weight. He regarded his office in the nature of a sacred trust, and was very particular as to the forms and ceremonies of his court. He favoured brevity and lucidity in those who appeared before him, and those who did knew that he would give an easy passage if the arguments were brief and clear, and the statements accurate. In his judgments he spoke deliberately, earnestly, incisively, every sentence, even every word, being carefully weighed, and there was but little repetition. Some years ago, when Mr. Justice Duffy, before he was elevated to the bench, wrote his poem, "A Dream of Fair Judges," he thus described Mr. Justice Hodges:

"I, turning, saw the idol of my youth,
When life had idols in the years gone by;
The man of iron will and fearless truth,
And matchless loyalty”.

For many years Sir Henry Hodges was chancellor of the Diocese of Melbourne, being first appointed in 1889. He had a keen religious sense, and his earnestness and emotionalism made him a noted man whenever he rose to speak in the Church Assembly. He had a compelling style of oratory and an impressive manner, emphasising his points with power. The lowering of the voice and the tense face had a marked effect on his hearers.

Sir Henry Hodges had little sense of humour, he went direct to the heart of his subject, and had neither time nor patience for any persiflage. He was quick to resent what he considered an impertinence, or an intrusion on his rights, either as an occupant of the bench or as chairman of or speaker at a meeting. When roused he had command of a biting sarcasm, which was disconcerting to his opponent. He was a keen student of international affairs.

As the first president of the Old Melburnians' Society in 1895, Sir Henry Hodges had always taken a keen interest in his old school, and was a member of the school council from 1889 to 1909, when he retired from the position of chancellor of the diocese. As President, and on various subsequent occasions, he made some brilliant speeches at gatherings, of the Old Melburnains.

Shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth Sir Henry Hodges, while on a visit to England in 1901, represented the Commonwealth at a conference in London on the establishment of an Imperial Court of Final Appeal, and his services were the subject of much appreciation. In June of last year he had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him.

Sir Henry Hodges was married twice, his first wife, who died some years ago, was a sister of the late Mr. William Knox. M.H.R. His second wife, who survives him, was the widow of the late Mr. Robert Chirnside of Carranballac Station, in the Western district. Mr. Justice Hodges's two sons served in the great war, the younger, Lieutenant E. N. Hodges, M.C., making the supreme sacrifice. He also leaves two daughters, the Hon. Mrs. Boyle and Mrs. Clifton Brown, both of whom reside in England.

The funeral is to leave St. Paul's Cathedral after a service this afternoon, commencing at half-past 2 o'clock, for the Boroondara Cemetery.

Original publication

Citation details

'Hodges, Sir Henry Edward (1844–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hodges-sir-henry-edward-1092/text1088, accessed 20 August 2017.

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