Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 07/06/1911 - 02/07/1912
Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 02/07/1912 - 07/04/1913
Justice, High Court of Australia, 05/04/1913 - 03/05/1950
Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Australia, 12/11/1940 - 21/12/1941
George Edward Rich was born 3 May 1863 at Braidwood, New South Wales, the son of the Reverend Charles Rich and his wife Isabella Tempest nee Bird. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and at the University of Sydney (BA 1883. MA 1885, Hon LLD 29 August 1952). (1)
Admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 10 March 1887, he practised primarily in Equity, Probate and Bankruptcy. He was co-author with Tom Rolin of 'The Companies Acts of 1874 and 1888' (1890) and the 'No Liability Mining Companies Act, 1896' (1897). With Gregory Walker he co-edited 'Practice in Equity', bringing out the 1902 edition with A Newham and JM Harvey. He began and co-edited 'The New South Wales Bankruptcy Cases' with RK Manning (1891). He was foundation Challis Lecturer in Equity, Probate, Bankruptcy and Company Law at the University of Sydney from 1890 until 1910. The course was first called the Law of Obligations, Personal Property and Contracts (1890-1896). He was a foundation committee member of the Council of the Bar of New South Wales from 1902 to 1910/11 and its first Honorary Treasurer from 1902 to 1904/5. His appointment as a King's Counsel was approved by the Executive Council on 7 March 1911. (2)
On 7 June 1911 Rich was appointed an Acting Judge in every jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and on 2 July 1912 he received a permanent appointment as a Puisne Judge. (3) On 5 April 1913 Rich was appointed a Justice of the High Court of Australia and he resigned from the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 7 April. (4) Rich was acting Chief Justice of the High Court from 12 December 1940 to 31 December 1941. He resigned from the High Court on 3 May 1950. (5) Whilst a Justice of the High Court, Rich was Commissioner of the Royal Commission into the Liverpool Military Camp, New South Wales, which ran from 12 July to 20 August 1915. (6)
In 1922 Rich was a delegate to the League of Nations, and sat on its constitutional, judicial, and political committees. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) on 3 June 1932 and a Privy Councillor in 1936. (7)
Rich died on 14 May 1956, survived by his second wife, Letitia Fetherstonhaugh Strong nee Woodward, and a son and daughter from his marriage to Elizabeth (Betha) Steer Bowker. His elder son died in World War I and his first wife died on 13 November 1945. (8)
1. Cyclopedia of New South Wales, Sydney, McCarron, Stewart and Company, 1907, Modbury, SA, Archive CD Book Australia Pty Ltd, 2007, p.312; Fred Johns, Fred Johns's Annual, various, The Author, 1912, p.51; 1913, p.108; 1914, pp.174-5; Who's Who in Australia, Melb., Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, 1922, pp.229-30; 1927, pp.214-5; 1933-34, pp.263-4; 1935, p.394; 1938, pp.426-7; 1941, p.564; 1944, p.692; 1947, pp.710-11; 1950, p.604; 1955, p.646; Australian Law Journal, Vol.23 (20 April 1950), p.653; Vol.30 (24 May 1956), p.28; JD Merralls, 'Rich, Sir George Edward (1863-1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110381b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); University of Sydney Calendar 1884, pp.262-3; 1885, pp.312, 314; 1886, pp.294, 304, 306; 1890, p.358; 1954, pp.954, 982-4 http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited March to June 2008).
2. Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 15 June 1876 - 1 December 1926; Reel 2147, p.3; Cyclopedia of New South Wales, op.cit.; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1890, pp.209-10, 277; 1896, p.201; 1897, p.203; 1905, p.211; 1911, pp.248, 493-4; 'Bar Councillors 1902-2006', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1902_1910.php, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1910_1920.php (cited 7 December 2009); Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42918] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941; State Reports New South Wales, Vol.10 (1910), Sydney, Law Book Company of Australasia.
3. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.79, 14 June 1911, p.3266; No.175, 6 December 1911, p.6463; No.84, 5 June 1912, p.3560; No.102, 3 July 1912, p.4262; State Reports New South Wales, Vol.11 (1911), Vol.12 (1912), op.cit..
4. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.57, 16 April 1913, p.2257; JD Merralls, 'Rich, Sir George Edward (1863-1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, op.cit.
5. Australian Law Journal, Vol.24 (18 May 1950), p.21; Canberra Times, 28 April 1950, p.4.
6. 'List of Royal Commissions, 1902- ', Parliament of Australia, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/INTGUIDE/LAW/royalcommissions.htm (cited 4 December 2009).
7. It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au (cited 23 January 2008); Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Australian Law Journal, Vol.10 (15 December 1936), p.342.
8. The New South Wales Law Almanac, 1956, p.45; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Australian Law Journal, Vol.19 (21 December 1945), p.268.