Commissioner, Royal Commission into the workings of the present Gold Fields Act and Regulations of New South Wales, 06/06/1870 - 13/10/1871
Commissioner, Royal Commission to inquire and report upon the general management and discipline of the gaol at Berrima, 2/07/1878 - 26/11/1878
Solicitor - General, 14/05/1872 - 19/11/1873
Attorney - General, 20/11/1873 - 08/02/1875
Chairman of Committees of the New South Wales Legislative Council, 09/02/1875 - 16/12/1880
Minister of Justice, 11/08/1880 - 14/10/1881
Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 14/10/1881 - 28/10/1896
Trustee of Free Public Library, 11/02/1879 - 28/10/1896
Trustee of National Art Gallery of New South Wales, 15 December 1892 - 28/10/1896
Sir Joseph George Long Innes was born on 16 October 1834, in Sydney. He was the son of Major Joseph Long Innes, Superintendent of Police, and Elizabeth Anne nee Reiby. He was educated at W.T. Cape's School and the King's School, Parramatta. Innes initially became clerk in the Surveyor General's Office from 21 June 1851 and from 14 December 1852 till 31 December 1854 a Clerk of Petty Sessions at Sofala and clerk to an Assistant Commissioner of Crown Lands for Gold District. From 1855 to 1856 he was an Associate to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Alfred Stephen. Travelling to England, he entered Lincoln's Inn, London, studied law and was subsequently admitted to the English Bar in Michaelmas Term 1859 (i.e. October to December). (1)
Innes returned to New South Wales in 1862, and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 28 February 1863. In 1865 he became a District Court Judge in Queensland, but returned to the New South Wales Bar in 1869. He sometimes acted as Crown Prosecutor. (2)
In 1870 Innes chaired the Royal Commission into the workings of the present Gold Fields Act and Regulations of New South Wales. The Commission was established on 6 June 1870 and reported on 2 September 1870 and 13 October 1871. Many of the recommendations of the Commission were embodied in the Mining Act 1874 (37 Vic. No.13), including the establishment of a Department of Mines. (3)
On 19 November 1872 Innes was a member of the Select Committee on patents which reported on 11 March 1873. It recommended amending the law on patents to better protect inventors. (4)
In 1878 Innes was a member of the Select Committee on the treatment of prisoners in Berrima Gaol which sat on 2 May 1878 but ended when the Government established a Royal Commission on the subject. Innes chaired the five member Royal Commission to inquire and report upon the general management and discipline of the gaol at Berrima. Established by Letters Patent on 2 July 1878, it investigated criticisms made in Parliament concerning the treatment of prisoners by Gaoler, William Small, and reported on 26 November 1878. The Commission criticised Small and found that regulations had been disregarded. (5)
Innes was a member of the New South Wales Parliament from 7 March 1872 to 14 October 1881, first as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Mudgee till 11 August 1873 and from 9 September 1873 as a member of the Legislative Council. He held the positions of Solicitor-General (14 May 1872 to 19 November 1873), Attorney-General (20 November 1873 to 8 February 1875), Representative of the Government to the Legislative Council (11 August 1873 to 8 February 1875), Chairman of Committees (9 February 1875 to 16 December 1880) and Minister of Justice (11 August 1880 to 13 October 1881). (6)
In 1874 Innes accompanied the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Hercules Robinson, on his special mission to Fiji when the country was annexed to the British Crown. He was knighted in January 1875 for his legal work in Fiji in drafting a provisional code of justice. (7)
Innes was appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 14 October 1881, a position he held until his death. In 1889-1890 he took leave of absence for his health and visited England. Innes again took leave of absence in late 1895, again due to ill health. Henry Emanuel Cohen was appointed an acting Judge on 19 July 1895 during Innes' absence. Cohen's appointment was extended twice more, on 24 January 1896 and 15 July 1896, to end on 3 September when Innes' leave of absence was due to end. (8)
However Innes died in London on 28 October 1896. After his death, his fellow Judges commented on his devotion to duty. Justice Simpson stated: 'even at the very last, when he was physically unable to perform his duty, he struggled to do so until he was absolutely compelled to cease attending Court and to seek the rest which unhappily did not have the hoped for effect of returning him to health'. (9)
Innes was interested in the arts. He was a trustee of Free Public Library from 11 February 1879 and the National Art Gallery of New South Wales from 15 December 1892. He was also a trustee of Rushcutters' Bay Park from 11 December 1885 and on the Committee of the Goodenough Royal Naval House, Sydney, which provided accommodation and welfare for Royal Navy sailors when ashore. (10)
Innes was survived by his wife, Emily Janet nee Smith, whom he married on 5 July 1865, and five sons and one daughter. One son, Reginald Heath Long Innes, was a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 1925 to 1940, Judge in Bankruptcy from 1925 to 1928, and Chief Judge in Equity from 1935 to 1939. (11)
1. JH Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time, Syd., George Robertson, 1879, Modbury, SA, Archive CD Books Australia, 2007, p.100; Cyclopedia of New South Wales, Syd., McCarron, Stewart and Co, 1907, Modbury, SA, Archive CD Books Australia, 2007, pp.303-4; KG Allars, 'Innes, Sir Joseph George Long (1834-1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A040519b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony (Blue Books), 1851, pp.312; 1852, p.306; 1853, p.312; 1854, pp.364, 366; NSW Government Gazette, No.6, 13 January 1852, p.41; Supreme Court; NRS 13664, Roll of Barristers and Solicitors, 1824-1876; Fiche 852, p.8A.
2. Supreme Court; NRS 13664, Roll of Barristers and Solicitors, 1824-1876; Fiche 852, p.8A; KG Allars, 'Innes, Sir Joseph George Long (1834-1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition, op.cit.
3. D H Borchardt, Checklist of Royal Commissions Select Committees of Parliament and Boards of Inquiry, Part IV New South Wales 1855-1960, Bundoora, La Trobe University Library, 1975, pp.77-8; KG Allars, op.cit.
4. D H Borchardt, op.cit, p.83.
5. ibid, p.101.
6. 'Sir Joseph George Long Innes [Former Member]', http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/members.nsf/V3ListFormerMembers (cited 14 December 2009).
7. Cyclopedia of New South Wales, op.cit.; KG Allars, op.cit.
8. New South Wales Law Almanac for 1897, Syd., NSW Govt Printer, 1897, p.20; NSW Government Gazette, No.487, 26 July 1895, p.4735; No.59, 24 Jan 1896, p.567; No.546, 15 July 1896, p.4871.
9. New South Wales Law Reports, Vol.XVII (1896), p.viii, Syd., Hayes Brothers, 1896.
10. New South Wales Blue Book for the year 1894, Syd., NSW Govt Printer, 1895, pp.129, 197-8; KG Allars, op.cit.
11. New South Wales Law Reports, Vol.XVII (1896), pp.vii-viii, op.cit.; Cyclopedia of New South Wales, op.cit.; KG Allars, op.cit.