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Alfred Paxton Backhouse (1851–1939)

Alfred Paxton Backhouse, 1933

Alfred Paxton Backhouse, 1933

State Library of New South Wales, gpo1_21611

With the death yesterday of Judge Backhouse, Sydney lost one of its most widely-known and best-loved citizens, a distinguished figure in various spheres of life, and a rare personality. For many he was a picturesque link with an almost legendary past. Born in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition in London, he received as one of his Christian names that of Paxton, the designer of the glass pavilion at the exhibition. In his earlier days he knew the Sydney of paddle-wheel ferry steamers and the New South Wales countryside of arduous coach travelling. A keen lover of aquatic sports, since 1870 he was connected inseparably with the Anniversary Day Regatta, the oldest continuous annual sporting festival of its kind in the Empire. In the legal profession his name called up many memories, and when he retired at 70 from the Bench eighteen years ago after thirty-seven years of honourable service, the most glowing tributes were paid to one who had dispensed justice with humanity as well as ability and integrity. Genial, open-hearted, and gifted with a delightful sense of humour, he has been described as a man who had made hundreds of friends and had never lost one. His interests were remarkable for their breadth and enthusiasm, for he was a generous patron of the arts—notably music, literature, and the theatre—as well as a catholic lover of sport. The University is deeply indebted to his long services as a former Vice-Chancellor and a Fellow of the Senate. Judge Backhouse lived an unusually rich and full life, and the State is the poorer for the passing of one who gave her such signal public services in so many varied fields.

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'Backhouse, Alfred Paxton (1851–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

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