Skip Navigation
Online Bookstore Book Supplements Newsletter Subscription For Academics For Bookshops For Authors About Us JournalsHolt Prize
Military Law in Colonial Australia

Military Law in Colonial Australia

By Neil Preston


This book breaks new ground in reviewing the naval and military law of the Australian colonies before their federation in 1901. Its particular focus is on the disciplinary codes contained in Acts of Parliament and subordinate legislation. A disciplinary code takes a certain form having regard to the nature of the force to which it is to apply, which in turn depends on the circumstances in which the force is raised and its proposed role.

Matters dealt with include:

  • An examination of the colonies’ many disciplinary codes and a discussion of their adequacy.
  • The political development of the colonies to the stage where they were prepared to raise local forces.
  • The development of the British part-time forces and the British naval and military disciplinary codes, because the colonies looked to Britain for precedents for the kinds of forces they might raise and the disciplinary codes they might provide.
  • The various kinds of naval and military forces that the colonies experimented with.
  • The colonies’ responses to the withdrawal of British regular army troops in the period 1860-70.
  • The colonies’ responses to the reports of senior British officers sent to the colonies to advise on defence matters, including the colonial forces.
  • The naval and military law applying to colonial forces serving in the Sudan, the Boer War and the Boxer rebellion in China.

Military Law in Colonial Australia is erudite, beautifully written and advances important new scholarship. The author, Neil Preston OAM, has provided an invaluable service to all those interested in both military history and Australian legal history.


About the Author
Meanings of Terms Used

1.     Establishing a penal colony
2.    Loyal association: the first authentic local military force
3.    Other local forces actual or proposed before 1850
4.    The English experience with the raising of armed forces: a short survey to 1850
5.    The struggle for responsible government and its influence on the raising of local forces
6.    Background to the raising of local forces
7.    Factors in the development of disciplinary codes for local forces
8.    Private armies: the common law volunteers
9.    The South Australian volunteers and militia
10.  Embryonic permanent naval forces: 1855-1865
11.   The Colonial Naval Defence Act 1865: myth and reality
12.   The volunteers: attempts to improve their quality and quantity: 1858-1877
13.   The Canadian and New Zealand experience after being granted responsible government
14.   The raising of colonial permanent forces – the early 1870s
15.   The Jervois reviews and consequent changes: 1877-1885
16.   A trend towards coordinated action: 1883-1900
17.   Aid to the civil power
18.   Summary and conclusions

             2A       Loyal association: disciplinary regulations
             4A       Details of the raising of additional troops by Charles II and James II and of actions by James which contributed to his overthrow
            4B        Details of English militia and volunteers law: 1757-1815
            10A      A note on the Indian navy
            11A       Suggested clauses appropriate for inclusion in a colonial Act intended to accord with the Colonial Naval Defence Act 1865 (Eng)
            12A       The governor as commander-in-chief
            15A       Tasmania: summary of offences prescribed in regulations made in 1884 under the Military Discipline Act 1878
            18A       Table showing the sources of certain colonial Acts
            18B       Example of modifications of the English naval code

Select bibliography


Published 16 December 2015
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760020347
Australian RRP $89.95
International Price $85.00
currency converter


Law - Military Law
Law - Legal History
Australian History / Studies

        BACK TO TOP