STEPHEN, George Milner (1812-1894)


STEPHEN, George Milner (1812-1894)
South Australian pioneer and faith healer
was the fifth son of John Stephen, judge of the supreme court of New South Wales, and younger brother of Sir Alfred Stephen (q.v.). He was born in England on 18 December 1812 (Johns's Aust. Biog. Dict.) and came to Sydney with his father in 1824. In 1831 he was appointed clerk of the supreme court at Hobart, went to South Australia in 1838, and became advocate-general at Adelaide and a member of the legislative council. When Governor Hindmarsh (q.v.) left the colony in 1838 Stephen administered the colony under great difficulties from July to October. There were no funds in the treasury, and Stephen had to advance the pay of the police force from his own pocket. He "carried out a heavy duty with honour, zeal, intelligence and integrity" (A. G. Price, Foundation and Settlement of South Australia, p. 130). He was colonial secretary of South Australia from October 1838 to July 1839. Unfortunately he became involved in a land transaction which led to his being accused of perjury. He was acquitted, but was unsuccessful in an action for libel brought against the South Australian Register in connexion with this matter. He went to England to continue his law studies and was called to the bar early in 1845. He then returned to Adelaide and practised as a barrister, and removed to Melbourne about 1851 where he also practised with success. He was in England from 1853 to 1856 and then returned to Australia. In August 1859 he was elected a member of the Victorian legislative assembly for Collingwood. A few years later he went to Sydney where for two years he was acting parliamentary draughtsman. He became interested in spiritualism and believed that he could heal people by the "laying on of hands". For many years both in Sydney and Melbourne he practised in this way, and received hundreds of letters testifying to the benefits received by his patients. He died at Melbourne after a long illness on 16 January 1894. He married a daughter of Sir John Hindmarsh about the year 1840 and was survived by three sons. He was a man of unusual ability, a good administrator and a capable lawyer, interested in science, art and music, all of which he had studied. His early unfortunate experience in speculating in land was continually brought up against him in later years, and militated against his public career. His work as a healer created a great deal of interest at the time.
H. W. H. Stephen, George Milner Stephen and his Marvellous Cures (contains a short account of his life by a son); The Age, 17 January 1894; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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