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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Sir Edward Eyre Williams, 1872

Thomas Foster Chuck

hand-coloured albumen silver photograph (frame: 74.5 cm x 64.3 cm, image/sheet: 60.6 cm x 50.5 cm)

Sir Edward Eyre Williams (1813–1880), judge and barrister, arrived in Port Phillip in 1842 having been admitted to the Bar in London nine years earlier. The son of a sugar plantation owner resident in Trinidad, Williams is said to have intended to become a colonial landowner himself, but within a few weeks of his arrival in Melbourne was persuaded by fellow lawyer Andrew McCrae to return to practising his profession. With his wife Jessie, whom he had married in London in March 1841, and their eldest two children, he settled initially in Fitzroy before moving to Como, a riverside property at South Yarra, in 1847. He thereafter became active in various charitable and community affairs: helping to found the Diocesan Society, for instance; serving on the committees of the Mechanics’ Institute and the Melbourne Hospital; and as a member of the Bourke District Council. In 1852, after a period during which he had been commissioner of the Court of Requests, chief commissioner of Insolvent Estates, chairman of Quarter Sessions and Solicitor-General, Williams was appointed to the bench of the Victorian Supreme Court, formed following Victoria’s formal separation from New South Wales the previous year. Serving alongside Redmond Barry and William Stawell, Williams was heavily occupied with circuit court hearings, occasionally attracting criticism for the haste with which he attended to matters in one regional courthouse so as to be on time to preside over hearings in another. Eventually, his workload began to compound his already poor health, and he retired from the bench on doctor’s orders in April 1874. In May that year, he and Jessie returned to England, settling eventually in Bath. Williams was knighted in 1878 ‘in recognition of the services he had rendered to the colony in the various public positions that he had filled’, and died in Bath, aged 67, in May 1880.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Ross and Judy O'Connell 2016

Accession number: 2016.54

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Thomas Foster Chuck (age 46 in 1872)

Sir Edward E. Williams (age 59 in 1872)

Donated by

Ross O'Connell (3 portraits)

Related information

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.