Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Landor, Edward Willson (1811–1878)

by M. Medcalf

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Edward Willson Landor (1811-1878), solicitor, writer and pioneer, was born in England, a distant cousin of Walter Savage Landor, the English author. He apparently had some legal training in England and in 1834 his uncle gave him a junior partnership in his attorney's practice. He did not persevere in this and, accompanied by his two brothers, Henry and G. W., he emigrated to Western Australia for health reasons and arrived in the Advocate in August 1841.

The three brothers took up land near York but the youngest was left to run the property while Edward remained in Perth as a barrister and Henry practised medicine in York. In November 1842 Edward was appointed commissioner of the new Court of Requests in Perth, Guildford and Fremantle. He was granted leave in 1846 and resigned in 1847. He returned to England, where he married, and in 1847 published his partially autobiographical book, The Bushman or, Life in a New Country. It described his voyage to Australia and gave an entertaining and useful record of colonial life. It is valued as one of the few books on early Western Australia; according to Rev. John Wollaston, it gave the most accurate and just account of colonial policy which he had read. Landor returned to Western Australia in 1859 with his wife and three children, and resumed legal practice in Perth, now as a solicitor. He took a keen interest in the political life of the colony and as a journalist and lecturer was highly popular. He was a prolific contributor to the press using various pen-names, the best-known being Colonicus, under which he wrote often for the Inquirer. For a time he acted as editor of the Perth Gazette. In 1866 he gave up a good legal practice to become police magistrate for Perth. He was suspended from this office in 1872 by Governor (Sir) Frederick Weld for partiality in committing L. C. Burges for trial on a charge of shooting an Aboriginal with intent to commit bodily harm rather than on a charge of murder. An account of the affair was published by Landor's friends, The Case of E. W. Landor, Esq., J.P., Police Magistrate, Western Australia (Perth, 1872). He was subsequently cleared and reinstated on instructions from the Colonial Office, and his dignified attitude to the affair earned him public respect. He continued in his office until his death on 24 October 1878. He left three daughters and a son, his wife having predeceased him by two years.

Select Bibliography

  • E. M. Russell, ‘Early Lawyers of Western Australia’, Journal and Proceedings (Western Australian Historical Society), vol 4, part 3, 1951, pp 32-53.

Additional Resources

Citation details

M. Medcalf, 'Landor, Edward Willson (1811–1878)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/landor-edward-willson-2324/text3023, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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