Sir Redmond Barry (1813-1880)

Born in 1813 to Major General Henry Green Barry of Cork, Redmond Barry was educated at Curtain’s Academy, Cork and Bexley Hall, Kent. However, failing to gain admission to the Army, Barry entered Trinity College Dublin in 1832. There he studied law, graduating in 1837 and was called to the Irish bar a year later.

Barry left for Australia in 1839 and quickly established himself in legal practice. Called to the bar in Sydney in October 1839, Barry moved to Melbourne where he set up his own practice specialising in civil case before becoming resident judge of the Melbourne Supreme Court. When the State of Victoria was founded in 1851, Barry was appointed its first Solicitor General and a year later was made a justice of the Supreme Court and first puisne judge, importing the conventions of the Irish bar to Victoria.

As a judge, Barry ruled on some of the most important and controversial cases in Australian legal history. For example, he was responsible for the acquittal of the Eureka miners, including Peter Lalor, during their 1854 rebellion in Ballarat. However, Barry is perhaps most famous for condemning Ned Kelly, the famous Irish Australian bushranger and outlaw, to death in 1880. However, Barry was more than just a hanging judge. Rather, he immersed himself in the cultural and educational life of the city of Melbourne and the State of Victoria. In addition to his role as first Chancellor and founder of the University of Melbourne, Barry is also credited as a founder of the Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute (the Athenaeum) and the Melbourne Public Library and Art Gallery. Moreover, he was also a patron of several learned and philanthropic bodies including the Philharmonic Society, Philosophical Institute, Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Society.



Sources: Peter Ryan, 'Barry, Sir Redmond (1813 - 1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography; David Murphy, ‘Barry, Sir Redmond’ in Dictionary of Irish biography (Cambridge, 2009).