Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mein, Charles Stuart (1841–1890)

by M. Carter and A. A. Morrison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Charles Stuart Mein (1841-1890), barrister, politician and judge, was born on 14 June 1841 in Maitland, New South Wales, son of John Stuart Mein, bank manager, and his wife Mary, née Hall. Educated at Cape's school and Sydney Grammar School, he entered the University of Sydney (B.A., 1863; M.A., 1865), where he met (Sir) Samuel Griffith who was to be his lifelong friend. Mein taught for some years at Sydney Grammar School. As private secretary to the attorney-general of New South Wales he went to Queensland in 1867 and in 1870 was entered on the roll of solicitors. He attracted attention by his advocacy in the courts and the lucidity of his opinions. In 1873 at the Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, he married Annie Theresa McCarthy; they had no children.

In July 1876 Mein was appointed to the Legislative Council and made postmaster-general in George Thorn's ministry, also holding the post under John Douglas until 21 January 1879. In the Opposition during the McIlwraith ministry in 1879-83 he led the Liberals in the Legislative Council with an old-time distrust of Gladstonian innovations. In June 1884 he became postmaster-general under Griffith and in January 1885 secretary for public instruction. In April he was offered appointment as judge. At first he was strongly opposed by the barristers who had objected to the Legal Practitioners' Act which made possible the raising of a solicitor to the bench. At his installation the Bar was conspicuous by its absence, but his skill and general demeanour enabled him to overcome the obstacle. Well read and an interesting conversationalist, he had a most kindly and generous nature.

Like many other leading citizens he was interested in the voluntary forces. Commissioned major in the 1st Infantry Regiment on 5 July 1880, he became lieutenant-colonel of the 1st Queensland (Moreton) Regiment on 24 February 1885 and commanded the Easter encampment but retired when appointed to the bench. He died of kidney disease at his home, Lauraville, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, on 30 June 1890, and was buried in Toowong cemetery, Brisbane.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1866, 2, 638, 663
  • Brisbane Courier, 1 July 1890
  • Queenslander, 5 July 1890
  • Griffith papers Q186 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

M. Carter and A. A. Morrison, 'Mein, Charles Stuart (1841–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mein-charles-stuart-4182/text6721, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 17 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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