Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Rogers, John Warrington (1822–1906)

by H. A. Finlay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

John Warrington Rogers (1822-1906), barrister and judge, was the son of John Warrington Rogers of London, and his wife Rebecca. His father and grandfather were solicitors. Rogers entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1844 (M.A., 1854); he was a member of the Middle Temple from June 1843 and was called to the Bar on 20 November 1846. In 1848 with Henry Riddell he compiled an index to public statutes, and in 1850 published in London a work on the County Court Extension Act.

Described as having 'a character without reproach and [of] perfect competency' Rogers was offered in November 1854 the post of solicitor-general of Van Diemen's Land at a salary of £600. Despite good prospects in England he accepted, probably because of impressions of the colony 'imbibed, when a Boy from an Uncle who made a fortune there'. He arrived at Launceston on 4 August 1855 via Melbourne, took his seat in the Legislative Council as an official nominee and was admitted to the Tasmanian Bar on 7 August. On 19 December he accepted the consolidated posts of solicitor-general, crown solicitor and clerk of the peace on condition that it was a permanent appointment free of political changes; he took up duties in March 1856 but in September won Launceston in the new House of Assembly. He was solicitor-general in the Champ ministry, but in February 1857 declined office in the new government. He continued to be vocal in parliament but settled in Melbourne and in October resigned his seat.

Rogers was admitted to the Bar in Victoria and on 7 January 1858 was appointed a County Court judge and judge of the Court of Mines for the Ballarat district at a salary of £1500. In January 1878 he was a victim of Berry's 'Black Wednesday' retrenchments but in early February he was reappointed, only to resign at the end of June when the ministry refused to make the tenure of office for the County Court the same as for the Supreme Court. As a judge he was remembered as 'dignified and refined'. On 2 July he became a Q.C., practised at the Victorian Bar and in 1880 was a member of the royal commission into the constitution of the Supreme Court. He published articles, mostly on legal topics, in the Melbourne Review and the Victorian Review.

Active in Anglican affairs Rogers was also interested in education. In 1869-70 he had drafted the constitution of the Ballarat School of Mines and served as its first vice-president in 1870 and as trustee and council member in the 1880s. He was a member of the Council of the University of Melbourne in 1861-81 and in 1881-93 lectured on the doctrines of equity and the general principles of procedure. In 1881 he was appointed to the royal commission on education, serving as chairman from December 1881 until February 1884 when he went to Hobart to act as puisne judge of the Supreme Court. His draft report, submitted before he left Melbourne, was so amended by some of the commissioners that Rogers dissociated himself from it and made a separate report with special recommendations for Roman Catholic schools. Neither report was acted on.

After a year in Tasmania Rogers returned to the Victorian Bar. His public lecture at the Wilson Hall in October 1888 on imperial federation was published in pamphlet form. In September 1893 he retired to England, where he died at Ealing on 10 February 1906. He was survived by his wife Eliza, née Carter, whom he had married on 10 July 1856 at New Town, Tasmania, five sons (all then living in Australia) and four daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • J. L. Forde, The Story of the Bar of Victoria (Melb, 1913)
  • A. Dean, A Multitude of Counsellors (Melb, 1968)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1884, 3 (47)
  • Australasian Sketcher, 16 May 1882
  • Advocate (Melbourne), 17 Feb 1883
  • Argus (Melbourne), 14 Feb 1906
  • 'Obituary', Times (London), 13 Feb 1906, p 12
  • GO 1/95/14 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

H. A. Finlay, 'Rogers, John Warrington (1822–1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rogers-john-warrington-4498/text7353, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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