The Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History

Callaghan’s Diary

The 1840s Sydney Diary of Thomas Callaghan of the King’s Inns, Dublin, Barrister-at-Law


Thomas Callaghan arrived in Sydney in February 1840 as a young Irish lawyer newly admitted to the Bar. He kept up his habit of writing a diary for the next six years while establishing himself professionally in the colony. This edition covers these years, beginning with an account of his arrival aboard the Arkwright in Darling Harbour, letters of introduction in hand, and ending with the start of his term as Crown Prosecutor, the publication of his first book and his hopes of further professional advancement. In between, the diary entries provide:

a fascinating insight into legal Sydney in the 1840s. Through the eyes of this lonely, shy, young Irishman living on the financial edge we are introduced to the leading lights of the expanding colony. (The Hon Keith Mason, in the Foreword)

Eminent legal historian Dr J. M. Bennett brings Thomas Callaghan’s diary to the public for the first time, supported by explanatory notes of people, places and events to make it generally accessible. This fascinating account provides a rare look at daily life in colonial Sydney, and will intrigue anyone with an interest in nineteenth-century Australian history.

Table of Contents

by the Honourable Justice Keith Mason AC,
President, New South Wales Court of Appeal
by Ian Harrison SC, President, New South Wales Bar Association
Editor’s Introduction
People in the Diary
Biographical Note

The Diary of Thomas Callaghan

The Year 1840
The Year 1841
The Year 1842
The Year 1843
The Year 1844
The Year 1845

Of interest...