Lilley Family Collection

  • Donor
    Mr Richard Lilley QC
Sir Charles Lilley
Portrait of Sir Charles Lilley, Level 3, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law


Papers belonging to a prominent Queensland legal family, the Lilleys, were donated to the Library by Brisbane Barrister Mr Richard Lilley QC.  The collection comprises 121 items, including letters, certificates, handwritten books and notebooks, notes of cases, newspaper clippings, petitions, bills of sale and lecture notes.  Many of the papers come from the Solicitors firm operated by Lilley's sons and span the period from 1895 to 1942. These materials contain many invaluable insights into the workings of the Lilley family solicitors and also the legal profession in Queensland during this early period.

Sir Charles Lilley

The Lilleys have had a considerable representation on the legal profession in Brisbane since the days of Sir Charles Lilley, the second Chief Justice of Queensland.  Charles Lilley was born on 27 August 1827 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Northumberland, England.  Having been orphaned at an early age, Lilley was educated at St Nicholas Parish School.  In 1849, he began articles of clerkship with a Newcastle solicitor, working in his London office and studying at University College, London.

Lilley migrated to Sydney in 1856, and moved immediately to Moreton Bay where he undertook a further period of articles to the crown solicitor, Robert Little. He married Sarah Jane Jeays on 10 April 1858. They had five daughters – Annie, Ethel, Gertrude, Sibyl and Grace – and eight sons – Edwyn, Charles, Walter, Harold, Arthur, Alfred, Bertram and Wilfred. Many of his children went on to enter the legal profession.  On 14 August 1858, Lilley became the first solicitor to be admitted to practice by the Supreme Court at Moreton Bay.  In 1860, Lilley was elected to Queensland’s first Legislative Assembly as the member for Fortitude Valley.  He continued to serve in parliament for the next 14 years, with several periods as attorney-general (during 1865-69), and a period as premier (1868-1870). Having been admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland on 22 November 1861, he also practiced at the bar from chambers in Brisbane, becoming the colony’s first Queen’s Counsel on 27 December 1865.  On 16 February 1874, Lilley was appointed an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, receiving a permanent appointment on 4 July 1874.  After the resignation of Cockle CJ, he was appointed second Chief Justice of Queensland on 24 June 1879. He was knighted in 1881. Lilley resigned from the court on 13 February 1893 at age 65. He died on 20 August 1897.

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