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Sir Francis Forbes - Chief Justice

Skellatar - Map 7

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Sir Francis Forbes - Chief Justice

Francis Forbes was born in Bermuda and after studying law in London became attorney general of Bermuda. He married Amelia Sophia, daughter of Dr David Grant of Harley Street, but formerly of Kingston, Jamaica. In 1816, after the end of the American war he was appointed Chief Justice of Newfoundland.

Appointed Chief Justice

In London in the early 1820's he influenced the drafting of the Act for the better Administration of Justice in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land under which the Legislative council was formed. He was officially appointed as Chief Justice of the new Court of New South Wales on 13 October 1823.

Arrival in the Colony

Chief Justice Francis Forbes and family arrived in Sydney on the Guildford on 5th March 1824

Land Grant

He was granted 120 acres at Emu Plains and 2560 acres which he located in the Upper Hunter Valley. This land was increased by purchase and used as a cattle run known as Skellatar.

Select here to find some of the convicts assigned to Sir Francis Forbes at Skellaar

Francis Allman Joseph Bettington William Buchanan William Cox Henry Dumaresq Francis Forbes George Forbes George Forbes Donald McIntyre John Pike Samuel Wright Muswellbrook History

By 1828 he was in conflict with landholders over the breaking up of large holdings; and with Governor Darling who attempted to have him recalled.

Return to England

Unwell, he returned to England in 1836 and was knighted in 1837.

While in England he gave Evidence before the Select Committee on Transportation.

Return to Australia

Sir Francis and Lady Forbes returned to Australia on the Alfred in 1838.


Sir Francis Forbes died in 1841 at Leitrim Lodge, Newtown, Sydney.

Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes died in 1886.

Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes


In 1846 10,049 acres, part of the Skellatar estate was purchased by George Bowman.

Notes and Links

1). Sir Francis Forbes - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

2). Lady Forbes.......The Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland for 1860 by Robert P. Dod, Esq

3). Reminiscences of Thirty Years' Residence in New South Wales and Victoria, By Roger Therry. Click on text to continue

4). Descendants of Sir Francis Forbes (Truth (Sydney) 4 June 1899) Frequent mention has been made in Mr, Russell's book of ' Skellator,' the old home of the family of the first Chief Justice, Sir Francis Forbes, and kindly reference is also made to a son, Frank Forbes, who died all too young in California during the gold fever of 1849, I think.

Frank Forbes' hobby was a flying machine, of which he had drawings and designs. He had an idea that ho could with his machine knock the bottom out of the modern steam ship for passenger traffic. Some of the aeronautic efforts of the present day are supposed to be based, so Russell thinks, on Frank Forbes' original conception. On Friday, May 19, another son of the first Chief Justice, David Grant Forbes, celebrated in Sydney his 80th birthday. May the kindly and courteous old gentleman have many more. Mr. Forbes was called to the Bar in 1819. He had been P.M. at the old Central Police Court, was then appointed Crown Prosecutor for the Southern District, and for many years had been the senior District Court Judge, from which position he retired only last year. Australia owes much to Sir Francis Forbes. He it was who brought out the first charter of justice, established trial by jury, and gave liberty to the press when Governor Sir Ralph Darling tried to strangle it

5). Select here to find portraits of the Forbes family Frances Wise in later life, known as Fanny in all Milbourne's correspondence. Born Frances Mary Ann Marsh and married George Foster Wise. Came to Australia in 1839 with her Aunt Lady Forbes, wife of Sir Francis Forbes. George Foster Wise, her future husband, was also on board the ship Alfred and that is where they met. He kept a detailed diary of the journey

6). Obituary of Lady Amelia Sophia Forbes

7). Skellatar House - Designed to Edmund Blacket and built in 1881

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