Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pettifoggers revealed

Andrew Lemon on the left and Simon Smith on the right with the new book.
.."and it is because of a set of meddling pettifoggers have been permitted unmolested to stir up ingredients with their vile "chop sticks" that the working thereof have become unbearable."

Pettifoggers have always had bad press, but now they have Simon Smith peering at a sample of early legal practitioners and poking them with their own "chop sticks" to see what would happen.  In his new book, Barristers Solicitors Pettifoggers, Simon Smith introduces us to some very appealing characters, such as the hapless Sidney Stephen, who was struck off not once, but twice in his career in the Australian colonies; and James Erskine-Murray whose splendid double-barrelled name was no hindrance when he decided to give up lawyering and take up piracy. Irascible judges, sugar plantation slave-owners, and ladies of dubious reputation all make an appearance on these pages.

Young friends of the author provided a little frivolity to the occasion with their paper wigs.
After being welcomed by current RHSV President Associate Professor Don Garden, the book was launched on Tuesday evening by RHSV Past President, Dr Andrew Lemon before an appreciative crowd.

The book is available at the RHSV for $39.95 plus postage.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Generous review of Simon Sleight's book and the RHSV

A recent review by Dr Andrew May of Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914, by Simon Sleight, gives generous recognition of the role played by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria in providing resources for researchers, both in our collections and in our contribution in holding conferences and publishing research. 

Sleight's book was launched at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria headquarters in A'Beckett Street, in 2013.

There was a certain appropriateness in the choice of venue for the launch of Sleight’s Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne – not only does the Royal Historical Society of Victoria hold a treasured collection of historical materials dating from the infant origins of the city (a collection which Sleight himself has usefully mined in his research for the book), but also because a line might be drawn back from this recent contribution on the youthscapes of colonial Melbourne to the biennial conference of the RHSV in 1979, the International Year of the Child. Collected papers from that event were published in 1981 as The Colonial Child, with contributions from historians including Ken Inglis, Chris McConville and June Factor.

See the full book review here.

We can't help you with copies of Simon Sleight's book, but we do have a few remaining copies of The Colonial Child, referred to by Dr May. Only $5 plus postage! Just call in to our headquarters, 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne, email, or phone 9326 9288.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Willis Casebooks on the radio! UPDATED!

Listen to Jon Faine, ABC Radio 774, on the Conversation Hour on Friday 19 September, 11 am, to hear Professor Richard Broome Janine Rizzetti (La Trobe University) talk about the Willis Casebooks Online Dr Simon Smith about his new book Barristers, Solicitors, Pettifoggers.

UPDATE:  You can listen to the Conversation Hour with Richard, Janine and Simon on

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Judge Willis Casebooks 1841-1843 Online

A Royal Historical Society of Victoria project,  Judge Willis Casebooks 1841-1843 Online, was launched last night by The Honourable Chief Justice of Victoria, Marilyn Warren, AC, QC.   Other speakers were His Honour Paul Mullaly, QC, whose transcriptions and commentary on the Willis Casebooks are the basis of this new website; and Janine Rizzetti (La Trobe University) who provided much of the support material about Judge John Walpole Willis.
Judge Paul Mulally and Chief Justice Marilyn Warren at the launch last night.

One of the Willis Casebooks in the RHSV collection.
Five criminal casebooks, one civil casebook and other papers of Judge Willis, the first judge in Port Phillip (later Victoria) from March 1841 to July 1843, have survived and were passed to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) in 1909 by James Palmer Savage, and are now in the manuscripts collection of the RHSV. The Judge Willis Casebooks are an invaluable record of Victoria's early legal jurisdiction and early Port Phillip life.

The Casebooks exist here in transcriptions with commentaries, case index, a name index and supporting documents all completed by His Honour Paul R. Mullaly QC, which are detailed in the About this Project web page. Other contextualising materials exist on this website at the support materials page.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Melbourne Day at the RHSV

From left Karen Jackson, Professor Richard Broome, Dr Liz Rushen, Genevieve Grieves, and Reuben Berg
To celebrate Melbourne Day this year, today we had a panel discussion on Mapping Melbourne , presented jointly by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.

The speakers brought personal perspectives on what Melbourne means to them, and were received warmly by the assembled audience.  The discussion was facilitated by Karen Jackson.

Rueben Berg is a Gunditjmara man, a founder of Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria, and a graduate architect. Rueben is also the Indigenous Heritage Advocate for the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Monash University Department of Architecture. Rueben is passionate about Aboriginal perspectives on place, and about sharing these perspectives with the broader community.
Emeritus Professor Richard Broome practised History at university for thirty-five years, much of that time at La Trobe University, where he taught Australian and Indigenous history. He has won teaching awards, been involved in secondary school curriculum review, is Patron of the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria and is Vice President of the RHSV. He is the author of eight books, including the prize winning Aboriginal Victorians. A History since 1800 (2005) and Aboriginal Australians. A History since 1788 (2010) in print since 1982 in four editions. He has just completed a history of the Aborigines Advancement League which will be published early next year.
Genevieve Grieves is Worimi - traditionally from mid north coast New South Wales - and has lived on Kulin country for many years.  She is currently a Lecturer in the Indigenous Studies Program, University of Melbourne where she is also undertaking her PhD in memorialisation and frontier violence. Genevieve was the Lead Curator of the First Peoples exhibition, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum, which opened in September 2013. She has previously worked with the Koorie Heritage Trust where she developed the Mission Voices website for the ABC and, later, as a field producer and online content developer on the First Australians project.  She wrote and directed a documentary called Lani’s Story and creates video art, most notably Picturing the Old People.
Dr Liz Rushen’s passion is researching and writing about immigrant women. After receiving her doctorate from Monash University in 1999, Liz was the Executive Director of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. She is a member of the Professional Historians’ Association, on the board of the History Council of Victoria and an Adjunct Research Associate in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University. Her books include Single & Free: female migration to Australia 1833-1837, several other books on female migration to Australia and a social history of Bishopscourt, Melbourne.
Karen Jackson is Yorta Yorta and Director of the Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit at Victoria University.  She is an advocate for culturally safe spaces that enable Aboriginal people to aspire to personal, family and community goals and the delivery of relevant educational programs by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people.

Monday, 28 July 2014

August 2014 History News

The August-September issue of History News is now available to be downloaded from our website:

Victorian History Blogs

Following a discussion on the RHSV Forums about blogs, the following list has been created. If you would like to add to these history blogs, you can mention it in the comments below or in the Forum, and they can be added to the list. There will be a link in the sidebar of RHSV News back to this post.

Here is a link to a toolkit for bloggers:
Busy Archivists Blogging Toolkit:

Historical Society Blogs

Port Melbourne:   updated already!

Stratford Bulletin:  new


Yarra Plenty:

Carol’s Headstone Photographs:

Conversations with Grandma (Wangaratta)  new
Fading Victoria:

Fighting the Kaiser (Coburg):
Geelong and District:

Odd Australian History (Berwick/Packenham)    new
Resident Judge of Port Phillip:

Shire at War (Alberton)

The Empire Called (Essendon and Flemington)