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Norton, James (1824–1906)

The Hon. James Norton, LL.D., M.L.C., died at his residence, Ecclesbourne, Double Bay, at 7 o'clock yesterday morning, at the ripe age of 81. He had been ill for but a short while. The deceased gentleman was the oldest attorney on the list, and had filled many positions of importance in the city. His father was the Hon. James Norton, M.L.C., one of the first members of the Legislative Council when quinquennial appointments were made, and a member of the firm of Norton and Son, afterwards Norton, Son, and Barker. Dr. Norton himself was the senior partner of the well-known legal firm of Norton, Smith, and Co., of O'Connell street, Sydney. He was twice married. His first wife was the daughter of the late Deputy Commissary-General Walker, of Rhodes, Parramatta River. There were several children of the marriage. His second wife was the sister of the late Professor Stephens, of Sydney University. One son of this marriage, Mr. W. H. Norton, is a solicitor in the city, and the daughter is the well-known artist Miss Alice Norton. For many years the deceased gentleman was a director of the Australian Gaslight Company and of the North Shore Gas Company. He also held office as a director of the A.J.S. Bank, as trustee of the Australian Museum for 32 years, and trustee of the Public Library for 28 years, during 16 of which he was chairman. In 1879 he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council, and from May 2, 1884, to October 6, 1885, was Postmaster-General in the twentieth Ministry, which was led by the late Sir Alexander Stuart. At his residence, which is most charmingly situated, he engaged in botany as a hobby, and was regarded as an authority on some branches of the subject.

Dr. Norton was born in Sydney, at the corner of King and Castlereagh streets, on December 5, 1824, and received his early education at the Sydney College. His admission as a solicitor of the Supreme Court dates back 58 years, and he was regarded as one of the ablest of the old school of lawyers. Although not a very frequent speaker in the Legislative Council, he was always incisive and logical in his utterances, and his remarks on important subjects were invariably followed with close attention. Amongst the public positions he had held with distinct credit were those of solicitor to the University, fellow of St. Paul's College, member of the board of inquiry appointed to inquire into the working of the Real Property Act, and trustee of Hyde Park. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by St. Andrew's University, Scotland, in recognition of his services. He had determined to make a speech at the laying of the foundation stone of the Mitchell Library. Having been Mr. Mitchell's legal adviser, he took a great personal interest in the building of the library. It is worthy of note, and characteristic, that during the last 13 years that he was a member of the Public Library Trust, he only missed two meetings, and one of those was last Tuesday.

Messrs. H. C. Dangar and J. N. Brunker, M.L.C, alluded in graceful and appreciative terms to the public services rendered by the Hon Dr. Norton, whose death was announced in the House last night. Mr. H. C. L. Anderson, who, as Public Librarian, was frequently brought into close touch with the deceased gentleman, thinks that his epitaph should be "His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, 'This was a man.'"

Original publication

Citation details

'Norton, James (1824–1906)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/norton-james-4310/text35779, accessed 18 November 2018.

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