PARKER, Sir Stephen Henry (1846-1927)


PARKER, Sir Stephen Henry (1846-1927)
chief justice of Western Australia
was the son of Stephen S. Parker, M.L.C., and was born at York, Western Australia, on 7 November 1846. He was educated at the Bishop's School, Perth, and was called to the bar in 1868. He became a member of the legislative council and advocated responsible government for the colony. In 1878 he moved for the introduction of a bill to amend the constitution. His motion was lost, but in 1882 he asked that the governor should obtain definite information from the secretary of state as to the conditions on which responsible government would be granted. The reply from the British government was, however, discouraging, and nothing effective was done until Parker succeeded in carrying a series of motions in 1888 which dealt with details involved in the general question. The elections held in January 1889 showed that there was a strong feeling in favour of the proposal. The constitution bill was passed by the legislative council on 26 April, but met with some opposition in the British house of commons. It was suggested and agreed that a delegation consisting of the retiring governor, Sir Frederick Broome, Sir T. Cockburn-Campbell (q.v.) and Parker should go to London to see the bill through the British parliament. This delegation was able to give a good answer to all objections raised, and the bill became law.
At the first election under he new constitution it was generally felt that the choice of the first premier lay between Forrest (q.v.) and Parker. The former secured the larger following, formed the first ministry, and remained in power for over to years from December 1890. Parker was colonial secretary in this ministry from October 1892 to December 1894 when he retired. He went to London early in 1900 as the Western Australian representative on the Australian delegation appointed to see the Commonwealth bill through the Imperial parliament, and soon after his return to Western Australia he was appointed puisne judge of the supreme court. He was appointed chief justice in 1906 and retired at the end of 1913. His last years were spent at Melbourne where he died after a long illness on 13 December 1927. He married in 1872 Amy Katherine Leake who predeceased him; he was survived by three sons and six daughters. He was knighted in 1908 and created a K.C.M.G. in 1914.
Parker in his youth was a good boxer and amateur rider. As a young man he was interested in municipal and political affairs, was mayor of Perth in 1878, 1880, 1892 and 1901, and was taking a leading part in the government of the colony from 1878 until he became a judge in 1901. His most important work was the part he took in the struggle for responsible government.
J. S. Battye, Western Australia: A History; The Argus, Melbourne, 14 December 1927.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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