Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Andrews, Richard Bullock (1823–1884)

by Robin Millhouse

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Richard Bullock Andrews, by Hammer & Co, c1870

Richard Bullock Andrews, by Hammer & Co, c1870

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 7014

Richard Bullock Andrews (1823-1884), lawyer, was born on 11 May 1823 at Epping, Essex, England, the eldest of nine children of Richard Bullock Andrews, attorney, and his wife Emma Ann. From 1825 his father was described as a solicitor and in December 1839 Richard was articled to him for five years. He was admitted an attorney of Queen's Bench on 22 November 1845 and a solicitor in the High Court of Chancery on the 24th. On 15 August 1846 at the parish church in Epping he married Elizabeth, daughter of John Holdrich Holtaway, solicitor. They had two children: Elizabeth Fanny Emma (b.1847) and Agnes Reid (b.1848).  

Andrews practised at Epping as an attorney and solicitor until, apparently threatened with tuberculosis, he left England with his family in the steamship Sydney. They arrived in South Australia on 14 December 1852 and, when his health justified, he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of South Australia on 3 May 1853. For some time under the old form regulating legal procedure he practised in the Local Court at Mount Barker, and then set up an office in Adelaide.

Andrews began his political career in 1857. Early that year he was defeated for Sturt and failed to become an original member of the first South Australian House of Assembly. However, with strong support from (Sir) Robert Torrens he won a by-election at Yatala on 5 June. Although appointed attorney-general in the short-lived ministry of Torrens in September, he was not well enough to attend regularly and took no part in debates on Torrens's real property bill. Andrews was defeated at the elections in March 1860 and for the next three years concentrated on his legal practice. In November 1862 he was returned to the assembly for Sturt. As attorney-general he served under Francis Dutton in July 1863, under (Sir) Henry Ayers until July 1864, under Dutton again in March-September 1865 and then under Ayers for a month and from May 1867 to September 1868 and for three weeks from 13 October. He resigned from the assembly when appointed crown solicitor and public prosecutor on 18 January 1870 at a salary of £800 with the right of private practice.

At the Bar Andrews had already won repute in the criminal jurisdiction and in 1865 he became Queen's Counsel. Although his forensic abilities were not great, he became known for fairness and impartiality towards the prisoners he had to prosecute. For some years he served on the Council of Education. At his family home, Monalta, at Belair, Andrews indulged his hobby as an amateur viticulturist, planting some seventeen acres with many varieties of vines and making his own wine. Although always unobtrusive, he caused amusement one hot day in the Supreme Court when Judge (Sir) James Boucaut discarded his wig and invited counsel to do likewise; only Andrews refrained, explaining that his wig protected his bald cranium from promenading flies.

In March 1881, after Edward Gwynne retired from the Supreme Court Bench, (Sir) William Morgan's ministry appointed Andrews in his stead at a salary of £1700. Because of his experience and attainments it was hoped that he would be most useful in the criminal jurisdiction. Unfortunately his health was failing and he was unable to cope with his duties. Late in 1883 he was granted six months leave and sailed with his wife for Tasmania. The change of climate did not restore him; after a long and painful illness he died from 'enlargement and dilatation of heart' at Hobart on 26 June 1884. He was survived by his widow and younger daughter Agnes, wife of Mortimer Giles.

In parliament old colleagues spoke warmly of his quiet success as a lawyer, politician and citizen. According to an obituarist, 'he was a most amiable and kind-hearted man, always ready to sympathise with and assist those who, he believed, really needed help … Nature never endowed him with a greatly developed bump of combativeness, and wrangling, whether legal or political, was not much to his taste. It was only when he felt very strongly on any subject that he overcame his natural diffidence and espoused what he earnestly believed to be the right cause'.

Select Bibliography

  • Adelaide Times, 31 May 1853
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 18 Apr 1862, 27 June 1884
  • Register (Adelaide), 26 Nov 1878, 27 June 1884
  • Observer (Adelaide), 28 June, 5 July 1884
  • records (Supreme Court of South Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Robin Millhouse, 'Andrews, Richard Bullock (1823–1884)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/andrews-richard-bullock-2889/text4139, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 23 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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