Supreme Court

The Right Honourable Sir Frederick Matthew Darley, PC, GCMG

Sixth Chief Justice of NSW
29 November 1886 - 4 January 1910

Sir Frederick Darley is the sole representative amongst the Chief Justices of New South Wales to graduate from Trinity College Dublin. Born in Ireland on 18 September 1830 Frederick Matthew was the eldest son of Henry Darley. After his education at Dungannon College in the County of Tyrone, and at Trinity College Dublin he was called to the English and Irish Bars in the 1850.

Frederick Darley practised with some success at the Irish Bar, but there were then more counsel than there was work to share. On 13 December 1860 he married Lucy Forrest Browne, sister of Thomas Alexander Browne ('Rolf Boldrewood'). Frederick and Lucy Darley decided to try their fortune in Australia.

On 2 June 1862 Frederick Darley was admitted to the New South Wales Bar. He took silk in 1878. Invited to enter parliament as a nominee Member of the Legislative Council, Darley accepted in 1868 and served until 1886.

After Salomons' resignation as Chief Justice in 1886. Darley agreed to take his place. Sir Frederick Darley was sworn in on 7 December 1896. After Sir Alfred Stephen resigned the Lieutenant Governorship in 1891, Darley held that office and acted as Administrator of New South Wales. He was so popular as the Crown's representative that his permanent appointment as Governor was widely supported. Being then Administrator of New South Wales, the host Colony, he played a leading part when, at the turn of the century, he received Lord Hopetoun as first Governor-General of Australia on the ceremonial founding of the Commonwealth.

He was awarded many honours � KCMG (1897), GCMG (1901), a Privy Councillorship (1901), and an honorary LLD of the University of Dublin (1903), amongst them. He continued on the bench until compelled to take leave of absence in 1909, his resignation to take effect early in the following year. He returned to the British Isles and died in London on 4 January 1910.

His contributions to debate in Parliament, particularly in matters of public works and the administration of justice, were considered to be models of clear argument. He was often called upon to draft or revise legislation. As Chief Justice, 'he wore his robes as though born to them' and his judgments and decisions were highly regarded forthright and pragmatic.