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Edith Ellen Williams, c.1871

Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co

albumen silver photograph, hand-coloured on paper (frame: 64.5 cm x 59.5 cm, sheet: 47.5 cm x 36.0 cm)

Hartley Williams (1843–1929), judge, was the third child and second son of Edward Eyre Williams and his wife, Jessie. Born in Melbourne, he was sent to England to be educated, eventually attaining his BA from Oxford in 1866. He returned to Melbourne in 1867 and was admitted to the colonial Bar having gained some experience as a solicitor in London. In December 1870, in Hobart, he married Edith Ellen Horne (1851–1885), the daughter of a high-ranking public servant. The couple’s first child was born in December 1871; five more children followed, with the family occupying a number of fine houses in Melbourne’s inner-eastern suburbs, most notably Flete, an Italianate villa in Malvern built for Williams in 1882–83. In 1881, he was nominated to fill the vacancy on the bench of the Victorian Supreme Court created by Sir Redmond Barry’s passing the previous year, making Williams the youngest appointee to the state’s judiciary to that date. Edith died in Melbourne in 1885; Williams remarried in 1887. A keen sportsman – known for his interest in rowing, cycling and boxing in particular – he was knighted in 1894 and retired from the bench nine years later. Williams then went to England, living in Gloucestershire and London, where he died in July 1929.

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

Accession number: 2016.56

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co

Edith E. Williams (age 20 in 1871)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

Donated by

Ross O'Connell (3 portraits)

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