These items, relating to the life of the Honourable John Laskey Woolcock, were donated by his daughter-in-law Mrs Dorothy Woolcock. The 159 items in this collection include letters, photographs, invitation cards, newspaper articles and certificates. Woolcock’s scholarly and creative output is well represented by handwritten essays and lecture notes on literary subjects, as well as original poems and even two detective stories. The collection also includes lectures that Woolcock presented on the Australian, British, Canadian and American Constitutions. Personal items, such as a copy of Woolcock’s school record from Brisbane Grammar, his degree certificate and a medal awarded to him by the University of Sydney, his marriage certificate, and a collage of poems and photographs are also included. These materials shed light on the career and personality of a Queensland judge and on life and letters in Queensland at the turn of the century.
The Honourable John Laskey Woolcock
John Laskey Woolcock was born on 7 November 1861 in Cornwall, England. His family emigrated to Queensland in 1866. Woolcock studied at the Brisbane Normal School and Brisbane Grammar School (1875–80) before winning a scholarship to the University of Sydney, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (1883). He commenced his legal studies while reading in Samuel Griffith’s chambers and working as his private secretary during Griffith’s premiership (1883-88). On 6 December 1887, Woolcock was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland. Over the next 39 years, he combined his practice at the bar in Brisbane with a wide range of other interests. Woolcock was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, at the age of 65, on 1 February 1927. His time in office was cut short by his untimely death in 1929.
In 2005, June Macintosh completed a biography on Woolcock, The Guiding Hand: the life of John Laskey Woolcock. Macintosh illustrated not only Woolcocks legal career, but also his contributions to the development of early Brisbane, particularly to the development of education and the establishment of the University of Queensland. Woolcock was a member of the Commission into the Establishment of a University for Queensland (1891) and then served as an inaugural member of the senate of the University of Queensland (1910-16).