This biography, the 12th in Bennett’s Lives of Australian Chief Justices, commemorates the distinguished career of Tasmania’s Sir Valentine Fleming.
An English barrister of Irish descent and education, Fleming arrived in Hobart as Insolvency Commissioner. A “useful man” to government, he advanced as Crown Law Officer and served ex officio in the Legislative Council until succeeding Sir John Pedder as Chief Justice in 1854.
This elevation released Fleming from a political role he hated and enabled him to dispel the enmity his pro-government views in that role had attracted.
He proved to be a model judicial lawyer, blending a conscientious, considerate and courteous manner with a powerful command of legal principle, as when his decision in Hampton v. Fenton that a colonial legislature had no inherited power to punish extra-mural contempt, was upheld by the Privy Council.
Although keeping generally aloof from the community, he was the first Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania and; a proponent of universal education, the first President of the Tasmanian Council of Education. His grand Hobart residence “Holbrook”, convict designed and in a Scottish style, is a surviving memorial.
The Tasmanian State Set of Lives of Australian Chief Justices, which includes, Sir John Pedder, Sir Valentine Fleming and Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith is available for $130.00 – to order the Tasmanian State Set, click here.