Research papers

With assistance from the Public Purpose Fund, the Forbes Society publishes on this web site electronic copies of important research papers not otherwise readily available, together with selected primary material.

The Magistracy in New South Wales, 1788-1850, by John McLaughlin
[Ch. 1-3] [Ch. 4-6] [Ch. 7-9] [Ch. 10-12] [Ch. 13-Conclusion] [Bibliography]

Supreme Court Judges’ Dinner – A speech by the Hon J P Slattery AO QC, 1 February 2007

Of the people, by the people, for the people: Law-making in New South Wales, 1843-1855, A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of New England, November 2006, by Kerry Fraser Mills, M.A. LLB. (University of Sydney)
[Abstract – Intro ] [Ch. 1-3] [Ch. 4-6 ] [Ch. 7-9] [Ch. 10-11] [Appendices ] [Conclusion] [Bibliography]

Towards a Doctrinal History of Australian Contract Law

Comment is invited on the paper, Understanding Contract Law Through Australian Legal History: Whatever Happened to Assumpsit in New South Wales? [Download a copy here]
The Appendix to that paper, English “Contract Law” According to Texts in circulation at the time of Britain’s settlement of NSW, 1788-1824, prepared by Geoff Lindsay  can be downloaded here

The paper was delivered at a Continuing Legal Education Seminar conducted by the University of New South Wales on 15 March 2011.


Rules of Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales

This paper by the Honourable John Bryson QC establishes the terms of the Rules of Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales while (Sir) Francis Forbes was its Chief Justice from 13 October 1823 until he retired on 1 July 1837, and until the end of 1839. The paper provides a guide to those Rules and their context in legislation regulating civil litigation. There was no practice book for the Supreme Court in the period before 1840. New and comprehensive rules of court took effect on 1 January 1840. Click on  NSW Rules of Court 1823 – 1839 for the paper.

The first part of the Appendix for paper is available on the following links: Appendix 1; Appendix II;

Due to the size fo the orginal file it was not possible to include all of the extensive Appendix. Printed copies of the paper and the Appendix are available in the Law Courts Library in the Law Courts Building  in Macquarie Street and another in the Library at Macquarie University. Further details concerning the paper and Appendix can be gained by contacting the webmaster, Tony Cunneeen on or the author,  the Honourable John Bryson QC, at

The Almorah Affair

  • A paper by The Honourable John Bryson QC on the Almorah Affair. Briefly describing the affair, John wrote:The Almorah was seized in Sydney Cove in February 1825 by a Naval officer hunting a reward for enforcing the Tea Monopoly and urged on by Sydney merchants who did not like Government imports. He sent the ship to Calcutta and the litigation lasted five years. The tea was owned by the Colonial Government and was outside the Monopoly. There were no gains and great losses in time, money and reputation.

The full paper is available on the following link:  1 Lecture The Almorah Affair Tea Shipping and the Colony

John Bryson QC delivered a paper to the Legal History Discussion Group on the Almorah Affair on 28 May 2014.  1 Lecture The Almorah Affair Tea Shipping and the Colony

Legal Textbooks in the Colony of New South Wales This project by Larissa Reid is an attempt to identify the legal textbooks that were available in the colony of New South Wales. This has been done by examining the textbooks which were cited in reported judgments from the period, a kind of ‘reverse engineering’. These reported judgments provide a representative sample of cases.


Anyone with an interest in this work on legal textbooks is invited to contact Larissa Reid at:

Larissa’s papers are: Legal textbooks in the colony of NSW – introduction ;     Textbooks cited in early NSW law reports – chronological list  ;   Most cited textbooks ;  Textbooks cited in early NSW law reports – alphabetical by textbook


Aboriginal History

1838 was a pivotal year in the history of relationships between Aborigines, Colonists

and the law in colonial Australia.

The following paper by Justice Geoff Lindsay outline some of the issues in that year, including the Waterloo Creek Massacre of 26 January.

Aborigines, Colonists and the Law 1838_Forbes Background Paper 2007

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