Master of Equity, 24/01/1843 - 31/12/1855
Curator of Intestate Estates, 01/10/1847 - 31/12/1855
Acting Commissary of the Vice-Admiralty Court of New South Wales, 01/08/1844 - 21/10/1844
Deputy Commissary of the Vice-Admiralty Court of New South Wales, 22/10/1844 - 31/01/1859, 09/03/1859 - 26/05/1865
Acting Chief Commissioner for Insolvent Estates, 22/01/1851 - 31/10/1851
Chief Commissioner for Insolvent Estates, 01/11/1851 - 31/12/1855
Additional Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 01/01/1856 - 31/03/1857
Resident Judge of Moreton Bay, Supreme Court of Moreton Bay, 01/04/1857 - 31/01/1859
Primary Judge, Court of Equity, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1857 - 26/05/1865
Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 01/02/1859 - 26/05/1865
Samuel Frederick Milford was born on 16 September 1797 at Exeter, England, the son of Samuel Frederick Milford and his wife Sophia Jane nee Foskett. He was educated in Exeter and at St John's College, Cambridge University (BA 1819, MA 1822). Admitted to Lincoln's Inn, London, on 1 February 1819, he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn on 10 May 1822. His law practice was in Bristol where he was also sometimes a Judge of the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Court. (1)
Deciding to emigrate to Australia to improve his health, in August 1842 Milford was recommended for the position of Master in Equity in New South Wales. Embarking on 9 September 1842, he arrived in Sydney on 1 January 1843 onboard the barque 'Hamlet', with his wife Eliza nee Butler and their six children. Admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 23 January 1843, he was sworn in and commenced his duties as Master of Equity on 24 January 1843, although his appointment was gazetted on 10 January. (2)
Milford occupied many other legal roles in New South Wales, most without extra salary. On 1 August 1844 he was appointed Acting Commissary of the Vice-Admiralty Court of New South Wales, while the Chief Justice Sir James Dowling was ill. On 22 October 1844 he was made Deputy Commissary of the Vice-Admiralty Court. When seeking an increase in his salary in February 1848, he stated he had carried out the duties of Curator of Intestate Estates since August 1844, although the position itself was not created until October 1847 under 'An Act for the Better Preservation and Management of the Estates of Deceased Persons in Certain Cases' (Act 11 Vic., No.24). The Act expanded the responsibilities of the Curator and imposed a 2,000 pounds bond upon Milford. As Master in Equity he was by April 1847 an examiner of clerks seeking admission as attorneys. On 22 January 1851 he was appointed Acting Chief Commissioner for Insolvent Estates during the illness of William Henry Kerr and from 1 November 1851 until 31 December 1855 he was Chief Commissioner of Insolvent Estates. (3)
Milford was appointed an additional Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 1 January 1856 under 'An Act for the appointment of an Additional Judge of the Supreme Court, and to provide for the more effective administration of Justice in the District of Moreton Bay until the establishment of a separate Court therein [30th November, 1855]' (Act 10 Vic. No.31). This Act allowed for the temporary appointment of a fourth Judge to the Supreme Court of New South Wales, utilising the salary set aside for the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay (i.e. Brisbane), until a Supreme Court was created there. This new judge could sit in any jurisdiction of the Court. But the Act specified that the person appointed would become the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay when the position was finally established. In the meantime Circuit Courts were to be held at least three times a year at Moreton Bay. Due to the distance, the Judge hearing cases there would have wider powers and jurisdiction than in other localities, combining those of the Supreme Court with the Circuit Court and the Court of Quarter Sessions. Milford heard cases at Brisbane as well as in other parts of New South Wales. (4)
Milford remained Deputy Judge and Commissary of the Court of Vice-Admiralty. By 1857 he was also the Primary Judge of the Court of Equity. (5)
In 1857 the Supreme Court at Moreton Bay, and therefore the position of Resident Judge of Moreton Bay, commenced under 'An Act to provide for the better Administration of Justice in the District of Moreton Bay [11th March, 1857]' (Act 20 Vic. No.25). Milford believed his appointment in 1856 covered New South Wales generally and not just Moreton Bay. He claimed the right to return to New South Wales as a Judge when and if Moreton Bay became a separate colony. In January 1857 the Attorney General, W M Manning, stated that because Milford's appointment in 1856 was under 19 Vic. Act No.31 he had to become the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay. If Milford declined this appointment, there would be no salary available for him to be a Judge in New South Wales. The Solicitor General J B Darvall, agreed that the temporary fourth Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales was automatically the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay. When and if a new colony was created, Milford would cease to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. On 1 April 1857 Milford was appointed the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay. His claims were not tested as he gained a permanent position as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales six months before the colonies eventual separation date of 6 June 1859. (6)
Even after his appointment as Resident Judge of Moreton Bay, Milford continued to hear cases in Sydney. Following an appeal from the Chief Justice, Alfred Stephen, the Attorney General, James Martin, gave permission on 22 February 1858 for Milford's temporary transfer back to Sydney until April, to ease a backlog of Equity cases. On 27 February Stephen wrote to the Colonial Secretary highlighting the heavy workload of the Court and the need for a permanent fourth judge. Although a fourth judge was recommended by a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly, Parliament did not pass the necessary legislation. (7)
Milford was gazetted as the third Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 22 February, following Sir Roger Therry's retirement on 31 January 1859. Milford's appointment started on 1 February. Also on 22 February Alfred J P Lutwyche was gazetted the fourth and temporary Judge in New South Wales and the Resident Judge of Moreton Bay. (8) On 9 March 1859 Sir Alfred Stephen again appointed Milford as Deputy Judge and Commissary of the Vice-Admiralty Court. He continued also to be Primary Equity Judge. (9)
Milford died on 26 May 1865 at Maitland where he had gone to sit court. He was survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters. (10)
1. JH Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time, Sydney, George Robertson, 1879, Modbury, Archive CDBooks, 2007, pp.137-8; John Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses 1261-1900, Part II 1752-1900, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1951, Vol.IV, p.412; Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography, Truro, Netherton, 1897, p.874; HTE Holt, 'Milford, Samuel Frederick (1797-1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A050287b.htm (cited 11 January 2008).
2. ibid.; Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Sydney, Govt Printer, 1971 reprint, Vol.22, pp.226, 699; Colonial Secretary; NRS 1291, Reports of Vessels Arrived (or Shipping Reports) 1826 - 1859, [4/5223] Hamlet 1843; Reel 1270; Supreme Court; NRS 13664, Roll of Barristers and Solicitors, 1824-1876; Fiche 852, p.4A; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.12, 3 February 1843, p.181; No.13, 7 February 1943, p.208; Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony [Blue Books], [4/276] 1843; Fiche 3, pp.232-3.
3. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.72, 9 August 1844, p.1010; No.97, 25 October 1844, p.1316; No.34, 16 April 1847, p.429; No.65, 8 May 1849, p.768; No.10, 24 January 1851, p.155; No.124, 31 October 1851, p.1745; No.55, 11 April 1855, p.1104; Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony [Blue Books], [4/278] 1845; Fiche 3, pp.234-5; [4/280] 1847; Fiche 3, pp.250-51; [4/284] 1851; Fiche 4, pp.334-5, 338-9; Historical Records of Australia, op.cit., Series 1, Vol.26, p.433.
4. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.5, 8 January 1856, p.57; No.9, 15 January 1856, p.118; Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony [Blue Books], [4/289] 1856; Fiche 6, pp.588-9.
5. Ibid, [4/290] 1857; Fiche 5, pp.444-45.
6. Ibid, [4/290] 1857, Fiche 5, pp.452-3; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.51, 3 April 1857, p.815; Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly during the session 1859-60, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1860, Vol.2, pp.511-3.
7. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly during the session 1858, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1858, Vol.1, pp.1157-60, 1203-4; JM Bennett, A History of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sydney, Law Book Company Ltd, 1974, pp.40-43.
8. Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony [Blue Books], [4/289] 1859, p.70; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.30, 22 February 1859, p.413.
9. Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony [Blue Books], [4/289] 1860, p.77; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.42, 11 March 1859, p.603.
10. John Venn, op.cit.; Frederic Boase, op.cit.; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.103, 27 May 1865, p.1129; Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 1865, p.8.