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JUDGE HUGH MONTGOMERIE HAMILTON, GLACIER CLIMBER, PHILATELIST

Only the front of this registered cover was available, but the addressee was easily identifiable by his distinctive name and the name of his residence. It was sent from Melbourne with a MARKET STREET/ 19 MY 30/ MELBOURNE postmark on a reddish violet 4½d KGV head stamp and a R6 Registration label for Market St. Melb. Victoria. It was addressed to Judge H. Montgomerie Hamilton, "Tomabil", Strathfield, Sydney, N.S.W. (Figure 1).

Hugh Montgomerie Hamilton was born at Parramatta on 28 June 1854, the son of Hugh Hamilton, a pastoralist from Ayshire Scotland and his Australian wife. He was educated at Geneva, Edinburgh and Marlborough College, England in 1868-72 and he represented Scotland in Rugby in 1874 and 1875. He was a good athlete and boating enthusiast.Hamilton took up law at the University of London, passing the intermediate examination in 1878, and completed his studies at the University of Heidelberg. He was called to the Bar in 1878, practised on the northern circuit and was counsel to the Treasury in 1884-89. On 18 March 1880 at Chorley, Cheshire, he married Adelaide Northcott. He returned to Sydney in 1889 and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar that year.

He visited New Zealand in the first exploration of Murchison Glacier and his name is attached to Mount Hamilton. With G. C. Addison he published The Crimes Act, 1900 ? and Piracy Punishment Act, 1902. It became a standard textbook as Criminal Law and Procedure, New South Wales and was revised from time to time. Hamilton had drafted both Acts. On many occasions from 1901 he acted as a judge of the District Court and chairman of Quarter Sessions, and sat in every court of the State except Broken Hill, Bourke and Cobar. On 15 May 1914 he was appointed a permanent District Court judge and chairman of Quarter Sessions, serving in the Northern District, then from 1918 in the Southern and Hunter District.

A capable, fearless and kindly judge, he was prone to sit for long hours and in civil cases tried to eliminate technicalities and abstruse legal questions. Well-versed in criminal law, 'he had almost a Dickensian character, looking older than his years, having a pronounced limp'. On four occasions between 1902 and 1917 he acted as a royal commissioner and in 1920 was appointed chairman of the Compensation Assessment Board under the Liquor (Amendment) Act, 1919.

Hamilton was grand master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales in 1909 and he held high offices in other branches of Masonry. As well he was an honorary life-governor of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, chairman of the United Charities Fund and of the Australian Metropolitan Life Assurance Co. Ltd. He was also president of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, the Horticultural Society, and a vice-president of the Royal Agricultural Society, Furlough House, the New South Wales Rugby Union, and the local Philatelic Society and a member of the Australian Club from 1890. He built up a fine collection of antique china and was a keen judge of dogs. His postage stamp collection was celebrated particularly for its New South Wales and New Zealand sections.

In 1924 Hamilton retired and continued to live at his home Tomabil, Strathfield, where he died on 11 August 1930, three months after he received this cover. He was survived by two sons and a daughter by his second wife Minnie née Redfearn, who died in 1924.

This paper is largely based on the on-line edition of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 


 
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