Redmond Barry ... unofficial
standing counsel for the Aboriginals"
Mr (later Sir) Redmond Barry had been "... admitted to the Irish Bar in 1838 ... While securing these formal qualifications, his other activities showed all his most engaging characteristics. He read widely, attended lectures on both humane subjects and the natural sciences, listened to Proceedings in the Commons, took much vigorous exercise riding, tramping and swimming, and engaged in a warm and lively social life seasoned with many acts of kindness to his friends and family ... In short he was ceaselessly active both mentally and physically, and so he remained to his last days. But in these ten years he earned virtually no income, and the overcrowded Irish Bar offered no prospects ... After a rapid tour of the Continent he sailed from London on the Calcutta (1839) ... For part of the voyage he was confined to his cabin by the captain because of an unconcealed love affair with a married woman passenger ... No sense of exile enters his large private correspondence to England and Ireland. Though his values were wholly that of the cultivated European, he sought to plant these values in a new land and had nothing in common with many of his fellow colonists who saw the settlement chiefly as a means to the fortune which would enable them to retire home in comfort to the British Isles ... Since no judge of the Supreme Court was then resident in Melbourne he engaged busily in the inferior courts ... in 1841, the first day of the first sittings of the Supreme Court in Melbourne, Barry was admitted to practice by its first judge, the vituperative and eccentric John Walpole Willis. In the two years that Willis presided Barry showed another one of the qualities by which he was to be remembered-his invincible politeness and unfailing, if elaborate and old fashioned, courtesy. His diaries show the gross provocation of Willis from the bench often reduced the young barrister to a state of almost unendurable tension; yet his decorous demeanour in court was never seen to be ruffled ... In the early years of Melbourne Barry became unofficial standing counsel for the Aboriginals. He laboured as hard and as earnestly on their cases, often capital matters, as he did upon his other briefs, though he rarely, if ever, received a fee for such services. His interest in the Aboriginals was general and lasted all his life. Though he accomplished for them little of practical value, his open-minded and unprejudiced approach was in advance of many even of the most liberal of his contemporaries ... It must have been a spectacle worth seeing when the dignified Mr. Barry rose to move for a habeas corpus for the bodies of the five natives, and in sonorous tones read to the court their high-sounding names-Cocknose, Jupiter, Roger, Bumbletoe and Coldmorning; or when a crowd of blinking natives filled the dock and wondered at the stately movements of the law in wig and gown on all sides. Occasionally the natives were jocose, as when a stalwart rascal convulsed the court by pointing to Judge Therry on the bench and asking one of the by-standers - 'Give that fellow tickpence, make it all right.' ..." As a rule the blacks were discharged, on the grounds that they did not understand the nature of the pleadings.
Sir Redmond, (1813-1880) in Shaw AGL and Clark
CMH, (Gen. Ed. Pike, Douglas) Australian
Dictionary of Biography 1788-1850 MUP 1967) Page 108]