Sir Redmond Barry
7 June 1813 - 23 November 1880
no person better represents the contrasts and contradictions of early
Melbourne than Judge Redmond Barry.
He was a pillar of the community making pronouncements on moral matters.
Yet he never married the woman who bore him four children.
He was often merciless in his application of the law. He would not allow
the convicts who murdered John Price to have a defence counsel, and tried to
invoke the charge of treason for those involved in the Eureka Stockade. If
Ned Kelly is to be believed, Barry's treatment of Ned's mother was harsh and
unjust. Yet the same man had chosen to represent aborigines in his early
days as a lawyer. He also campaigned for a free library, and allowed members
of the public to use his own private library until Melbourne Public Library
(now called the
of Victoria) was opened. (I don't think anyone attempted to steal a book
from 'the hanging judge'.) He was also a promoter of the Royal Society, the
Melbourne Hospital and the Philharmonic Society.
At the age of 26 he sailed for Australia, and was soon confined to his
cabin because of his open affair with a married woman. Yet he was appointed
a judge of the Supreme Court by the age of 38.
When he arrived in the Colony of Port Phillip in 1839 as a young Irish
lawyer, Melbourne was a 'wild west' village at the end of the earth. By the
time he died in 1880, Melbourne was a significant world city with great
buildings and boulevards, and he was its chief judge and Chancellor of its
His statue, erected 7 years after he died, now stands outside the
Because Redmond Barry embodies so much of the development of early
Melbourne, we choose to end the Tour of Melbourne Cemetery at his grave and
in sight of the modern Redmond Barry Building at Melbourne University.
||His tombstone reads:
SIR REDMOND BARRY
First Puisne Judge of the Colony of Victoria
Chancellor of the University of Melbourne
For 28 Years
Founder of the
Melbourne Public Library
Third Son of
Major General Barry
Ballyclough, County Cork, Ireland
Died 23rd November 1880
Aged 67 Years
Deeply and Universally Regretted
It does not mention that buried with him is Louisa Barrow - his beloved
mistress and mother of the four children who bore his name
This grave can be visited on White Hat Tours' highly entertaining
and informative Tour of Melbourne Cemetery. Just be sure to tell your guide at the
start of the tour that this is one of the graves you wish to see.
Colourful and unflattering pronouncements on Redmond Barry can be found in
the works of historian Manning Clark and in the book Radical Melbourne.
You can also find descriptions of him in Garryowen's Melbourne
- A portrait of Redmond Barry painted by John Botterill in 1875 hangs
in the Redmond Barry Reading Room at the
Library of Victoria.