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Stephen, Alfred Consett (1847–1939)

The death occurred yesterday of Mr Alfred Consett Stephen the only surviving son of Mr Montagu Consett Stephen founder of the legal firm of Stephen, Jaques and Stephen of which he was senior partner.

Mr Consett Stephen, who was in his 83rd year, was a grandson of Sir Alfred Stephen, a former Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales. He was admitted as a solicitor on May 29, 1882.

Mr. Consett Stephen was born in Sydney on April 25, 1857, and was educated at Tonbridge School and at New College, Oxford University, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts. Stephen Jaques and Stephen is one of the oldest legal firms in Sydney and have been the solicitors for the Australian Mutual Provident Society for 60 years.

Mr. Consett Stephen had been president of the Union Club for many years. He was for 60 years a member of the club and in July 1929 was entertained at dinner by about 150 of his fellow members to celebrate the completion of his fiftieth year of membership. At the dinner there was a notable gathering of the leading citizens of the State.

A facile speaker, the late Mr. Consett Stephen was often prevailed upon to deliver one of the principal speeches at the Anniversary Regatta luncheon. One of his most notable speeches was that delivered at the official luncheon on the R.M.S. Maloja, celebrating the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On that occasion he said that the bridge was something to write home about and the remark was accompanied by delicate advice to the then Governor of Victoria, Sir William Irvine, who was present to drop a note down to Melbourne about Sydneys latest acquisition. The speech was the outstanding one at the luncheon

Mr. Consett Stephen had many interests, apart from the law. He was chairman of directors of the Australian Gas Light Company and a director of Richardson and Wrench, Limited, the South British Insurance Company, Limited, the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company Limited and other companies. For many years he had been associated with the Industrial Blind Institution of which he was regarded as the "father". He was a trustee of the Thomas Walker Estate and also took a keen interest in the Sydney Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Consett Stephen, who was a daughter of Sir Francis Suttor, for many years president of the Legislative Council died some years ago.

Mr. Consett Stephen is survived by one son, Mr. Leslie Consett Stephen, who is a member of the firm of Stephen, Jaques and Stephen. Other sons were Mr. Montagu Consett Stephen who died some years ago and Mr. Adrian Consett Stephen who was killed in France in 1918 while serving as an officer of the Royal Field Artillery. Mr. Adrian Consett Stephen was the author of Four Plays and gave great promise as a writer of social comedy.

It has been said of Mr. Alfred Consett Stephen that he lived in a humble way but his influence was remarkable. Mr. Consett Stephen did much to impress himself on the city of Sydney and he radiated good in every thing. One who had been associated with him for half a century said that he was a lovable man who was always doing good in an unostentatious way.

Mr. Consett Stephen, who had been chairman of the Incorporated Law Institute of New South Wales belonged to a family which has been associated with the law in New South Wales for more than one hundred years. The original member of the family in Australia, Mr. John Stephen, was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1825 and died in Sydney in 1833.

His fourth son, afterwards Sir Alfred Stephen was appointed to the Bench on April 30, 1839 and became the third Chief Justice of New South Wales on October 7, 1844. In 1873, after 29 years' service, he retired from the Chief Justiceship and after occupying the position of Lieutenant-Governor for many years, died on October 15, 1894. Sir Alfred Stephen was succeded in the position of Chief Justice by Sir Francis Forbes (1823) and Sir John Dowling (1836) and was succeeded by Sir James Martin in 1873.

Sir Alfred Stephen's third son Mr. (later Sir) Matthew Henry Stephen became a Judge in 1887 and for some time was Acting Chief Justice. He retired from the Bench in 1904 and died in 1920.

Mr. Justice Edward Milner Stephen who died in April last was the fourth member of the Stephen family to occupy a seat on the Supreme Court Bench. He was a son of Mr. Edward Milner Stephen, the fourth son of Sir Alfred Stephen. The late Mr. Justice Milner Stephen was elevated to the Supreme Court Bench in 1929.

There will be a private cremation tomorrow. It will be preceded by a service at St Mark's Church commencing at 10 am.

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Citation details

'Stephen, Alfred Consett (1847–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/stephen-alfred-consett-1281/text1273, accessed 25 November 2017.

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