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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Lilley, Hon. Sir Charles

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Lilley, Hon. Sir Charles, Chief Justice of Queensland, is the son of the late T. Lilley, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was born on May 27th, 1830, and received the chief part of his education at University College, London. He was articled to an eminent London solicitor. He arrived in Moreton Bay in 1856, and re-entered upon the profession of the law as an articled clerk to Mr. Robert Little, Crown Solicitor, and was editor and joint lessee of the Moreton Bay Courier, in partnership with Mr. C. Belbridge. On the separation of the colony from New South Wales, Mr. Lilley was elected member for Fortitude Valley, which electorate he continued to represent until the end of his parliamentary career. In 1861 he was called to the bar, and in 1865 appointed Q.C. In September of the same year he became Attorney-General in the Herbert Ministry, and continued to hold that office under Mr. Macalister's premiership until July 1866. Mr. Herbert came into power again for another month, with Mr. Pring for his Attorney-General; but in August, when Mr. Macalister was reinstated, Mr. Lilley returned to his old post, and held office till August 1867. He became Premier and Attorney-General in Nov. 1868, and whilst in power established free education throughout the colony. In May 1870 he resigned, in consequence of Parliament censuring him for having ordered the building of the steamer Governor Blackall without Parliamentary sanction. In 1874 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice in June 1879, and was knighted by patent in 1881. Sir Charles Lilley has always taken a very active part in educational matters, and is at present chairman of trustees of the Brisbane Grammar School, an institution he was mainly instrumental in founding. He was chairman of the Royal Commission on Education, which resulted in the adoption of free, secular, and compulsory education. He was also the means of the Queensland Judicature Act being passed. Sir Charles Lilley has recently headed a movement for the establishment of a Queensland University. Sir Charles was one of the most active advocates of the separation of Moreton Bay from New South Wales, and its formation into the separate colony of Queensland. He now seems equally desirous to see Australia severed from the United Kingdom, some letters which he has recently published embodying the sentiment of Australian nationalism in its most extreme form. They have attracted considerable attention, owing to the outré language in which they are couched, and also owing to the fact that no colonial public man of anything like Sir Charles Lilley's standing has as yet taken up similar ground. He is also the most thorough-going advocate of the claims of the "Labour" party among all the prominent public men of Australia; and in laying the foundation of the Trades Hall, Brisbane (1891), he delivered a most sympathetic and outspoken address. As Premier, Sir Charles Lilley, who at any rate has the courage of his convictions, discouraged the popular borrowing policy, and refused to take office in 1874 under Mr. Macalister. He married in 1858 Sarah Jane, daughter of Joshua Jeays, sometime Mayor of Brisbane.