Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

Redmond Barry: The University of Melbourne's first chancellor

Sir Redmond Barry is one of the best-known of Melbourne's 19th century citizens. Whilst he neither studied nor taught at the University of Melbourne, he was a significant and central figure in the University's early history.

Barry was born in Ireland, graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and was admitted to the Irish Bar in 1838. He arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and was soon an active member of Melbourne's legal community. He was appointed solicitor-general of the newlyfounded colony of Victoria in 1851 and judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1852. Barry is often remembered as the judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to death in 1880.

Barry played a significant role in the creation of some of Melbourne's oldest cultural institutions, including the State Library of Victoria, the National Gallery of Victoria and the University of Melbourne. As the University's founding Chancellor, he took the leading role in the development of its first law course in 1857. He was also instrumental in founding or assisting in the development of organisations such as the Athenaeum, the Melbourne Club, the Philharmonic Society, the Royal Society and the Melbourne Hospital and received several honours in recognition of his service to the colony.

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