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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 16 No 1 (1998) Misplaced Traditions: British Lawyers, Colonial Peoples

A Convict Conservative: George Crossley and the English Legal Tradition

Bruce Kercher

George Crossley was a thoroughly dishonest attorney. He also has the strongest claim to the title of the founder of the legal profession in Australia. Other qualified lawyers arrived before he did in 1799, but none had as extensive or long-lasting a legal practice. Crossley was de facto legal adviser to Governor Bligh, a practitioner in the first civil court, and lawyer to some of the wealthiest people in the colony of New South Wales. More importantly, he was the first strong adherent to the view that the colony’s law was essentially that of England. His dishonesty played a central role in the conflict between formal and informal law which characterised the reception of English law in this most distant, and strangest, of its colonies.

(1999) 16(1) Law in Context 17

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