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Sir Archibald Paull Burt (1810–1879)

from West Australian

The general and sincere expression of sorrow and regret at the death of the late Chief Justice, and the knowledge of the high regard in which he was held, and the confidence felt in him throughout the colony, must be most gratifying to those whom he has left behind to mourn him. But not only in Western Australia will his loss be felt. In his native island of St. Christopher, his name, once a 'household word,' is still a living memory. Only five years ago, when he re-visited his former home—the scene of that constant and successful public work to which his early manhood, his middle age, the best energies of his life were given—the warm and hearty welcome which was tendered to him by all classes of his West Indian fellow countrymen, showed that years of absence and duty, in a far off land, had not lessened the warmth of their regard, or the sincerity of their gratitude for his unceasing efforts in former years to promote their interests and advance their welfare.

Sir Archibald commenced his public career in 1840 as a vestryman of St. George Basseterre, St. Kitts, and from that time for the next twenty years he was actively engaged in the service of the island, as Vestry-man, as Legal Adviser, as Her Majesty's Attorney General, as Chancellor of the Diocese, as a member of the Legislative Assembly, of the Executive Council, and, under the new Constitution, as a member of the Administration Committee.

"Varied and complicated as were the duties which belonged to these offices," said Archdeacon Padre, when moving that a testimonial should be given to His Honour on his departure from the island—"Mr. Burt by his talents, by his industry and zeal had performed them to the satisfaction of nearly every one in the community. In short, the same might in truth be said of him which was once said of an accomplished Roman citizen, 'Quid tetigit et non ornavit.' For what did he undertake to improve and leave unimproved ? What abuse did he undertake to reform, and leave unreformed? Without referring particularly to legal reforms, sanitary reforms, constitutional reforms, in all of which he took a leading part—the various public buildings bear testimony to his efforts to promote the welfare and comfort of the community. The church, the pier, the treasury buildings, the public accommodation for washing, the cemetery at Springfield, the square with its fountain, the lighthouse, etc., are so many monuments of his patriotic labours. To repay him, to make an adequate acknowledgement for his services, would be beyond our means as individuals; for the services of a patriotic statesman, an impartial legal adviser, and an honest man, are invaluable. Still some acknowledgment how ever inadequate must be made, and therefore let it be the amplest and most appropriate in our power, for, believe me, 'he is a man take him for all in all, we ne'er shall look upon his like again.'"

Though the quieter duties of his dignified position as Chief Justice of Western Australia, kept him during the latter years of his life outside the political and social activity which had distinguished his earlier career— still his well-known high character, and his kindly courteous nature caused his influence for good to be widely felt amongst us, and the voice of his adopted country fully echoes the sentiments so warmly expressed in his native land.

The following paragraph from the European Mail written on the occasion of His Honour receiving the dignity of knighthood, will, we think, be read with interest:

"Sir Archibald Paull Burt who has just been knighted is a native of St. Kitts, and a son of the late Mr. Burt, so well known as Speaker of the St. Kitts House of Assembly in olden days. Sir Archibald was himself Speaker, and as Attorney General of the Island, he enjoyed a reputation throughout the West Indies for his ability and stern resolution. Among old memories we may recall how by his vigourous opposition Sir William Colebrook's scheme for the Federation of the Leeward Islands came to a sudden end. The office of Chief Justice of Western Australia which he holds, suggests to us the great success which has followed West Indian lawyers—especially Leeward-Islanders —who have sought their fortune in Australia. The late Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir Alfred Stephen is a native of St. Kitts, where, as a handsome young man, he carried the colours of the island militia. Mr. Isaacs, who was Solicitor General in a late ministry of New South Wales, is a native of Tortola, which by the way was the birth place of Sir William Arrundell the well known Chief Justice of British Guiana, and Mr. Coleridge Davis, a son of a former Bishop of Antigua is a rising member of the New South Wales Bar. We may also notice that Mr. Musgrave, Governor of South Australia, and a very rising man was born in Antigua where his father was a well known Treasurer."

To this list of native-born West Indians who have distinguished themselves in Australian public life, there is every prospect that the name of Mr. Septimus Burt, the late Chief Justice's son, will be added in the future.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Sir Archibald Paull Burt

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Herald (Fremantle, WA), 29 November 1879, p 3

Citation details

'Burt, Sir Archibald Paull (1810–1879)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/burt-sir-archibald-paull-3122/text41350, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Birth

1 September, 1810
St Kitts, Federation of St Kitts and Nevis

Death

21 November, 1879 (aged 69)
East Perth, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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