Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Alban Charles Stonor (1817–1866)

This article was published:

Alban Charles Stonor (1817-1866), barrister, was born in Oxfordshire, England, the son of Charles Stonor, a colonel in the Spanish army, and his wife Mary, daughter of Charles Butler, a prominent advocate of Catholic emancipation. In the best tradition of his old Catholic family he was called to the Bar, at Lincoln's Inn.

Stonor arrived in Sydney in January 1842 with a royal warrant as crown solicitor in Van Diemen's Land at a salary of £250. In Hobart Town he claimed the additional position of clerk of the peace at £250, insisting that the Colonial Office had promised him both posts in order to relieve him of the need for private practice. When Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin refused the dual appointment, Stonor appealed successfully to Downing Street. He was granted leave from September 1843 to January 1844 and on his return applied for the vacant position of solicitor-general, claiming to have discharged his difficult and laborious duties with efficiency and to be eligible by precedent for promotion. Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Eardley-Wilmot admitted his diligence but, having no faith in his eminence at the Bar, he did not recommend Stonor for the post.

On 18 November 1844 at Christ Church, Longford, Stonor married Eliza Anne, the eldest daughter of A. R. Truro. Next year he spent some months as crown prosecutor in the Criminal Court of Norfolk Island. Back in Hobart as editor of the Spectator he supported the unpopular Eardley-Wilmot and in 1846, prompted by the establishment of Christ College, 'the noble seminary of native talent', published his Poetical Fragments, translations from Lucan's Pharsalia, Hesiod's Theogony, Cleanthes' Hymn and other extracts. The local press had no sympathy with his politics, but admired the beauty of his poetry, praised his cultivated mind and proclaimed his work as 'far surpassing any colonial production we have yet seen'.

In January 1847 Stonor and his wife left for London on leave at half-pay. He gave evidence before the House of Lords committee on transportation in May 1847, but his chief aim was to arrange a trust fund for his mother. He stayed in England for eighteen months, partly because of his own and his wife's ill health and partly because he could not get a suitable passage. During his absence the senior legal posts in Van Diemen's Land were reshuffled. Stonor found himself promoted to solicitor-general at a salary of £600, but his duties were too much for his precarious health. After two months at New Norfolk in 1851 he was examined by the Medical Board, who found him 'labouring under melancholy' and recommended at least two years leave. In 1852 he returned to England, leaving his wife in Hobart. When asked to resign in December 1853 he applied for a pension, supported by the Duke of Newcastle and Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison, who warmly praised his zeal and legal skill, attributed his illness to anxiety in the performance of duty and lamented his mental collapse. After long demur the Treasury granted him a gratuity of £425, equivalent to one month's salary for each year of service exclusive of leave, poor recompense for his integrity in office that exposed many frauds by contractors and landgrabbers. He died in 1866, without issue.

Select Bibliography

  • correspondence file under Alban Stonor (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

'Stonor, Alban Charles (1817–1866)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Oxfordshire, England


1866 (aged ~ 49)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.