THOMAS HORNE, THE COLOURFUL BANKRUPT ATTORNEY GENERAL

Thomas Horne.png
 

Thomas Horne (1800-1870)

In 1836, Thomas Horne bought land at 26 Fitzroy Place and built a house. Born in London in 1800, educated at Westminster School and Christchurch Oxford and called to the bar in 1827, he arrived in Hobart Town with his wife and two daughters in January 1830. Within a year of being admitted to the Supreme Court in February 1830, he became involved in lively politics. He was a Judge, Attorney General, first member for Hobart in the Legislative Council and later President.

He started to get involved in some questionable goings on, being in the company of Anthony Fenn Kemp (see more below), one of the key participants in the "Rum Rebellion" that removed William Bligh, the appointed governor of the colony, and established an interim military government. He was later permitted to settle in Van Diemen's Land and became a successful merchant and farmer there.

1830 12 11 Courier.png

Horne's finances were precarious: at one point he admitted to losing £20,000 in trading with New Zealand and was forced to sell properties. Despite this recklessness, he was appointed Solicitor General in 1841 with a salary of £900. In December 1843 he offered his resignation to Lieutenant-Governor Sir Eardley Wilmot in order to claim the benefit of the Insolvent Act. The lieutenant-governor refused to accept his resignation and offered him every possible assistance, including appointing him for a time acted as Attorney General in 1844.

Sprent map 1874.jpg

On 12th May 1838 and again on 10th August 1838, the Hobart Town Courier advertised Bishopscourt for sale by auction currently occupied by Thomas Horne and described as being substantial “with a view to carrying it two storeys higher”. The advertisements continued in 1840, 1850, 1856, 1857 through to 1858 when it was finally sold to pay creditors.

Capture.PNG

The Complicated Life of Thomas Horne

With a salary of £900 and the right to private practice, Horne's prospects seemed more settled but, when he replaced Algernon Montagu as puisne judge in January 1848, much criticism was levelled at his financial embarrassment. The appointment was challenged in the press and the Supreme Court, but upheld by the chief justice, Sir John Pedder. Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison ignored the criticism of his puisne judge but in 1854 when Pedder retired Denison recommended the solicitor-general, Valentine Fleming, as chief justice, arguing that Horne's independence of judgment was threatened by his precarious finances. Despite Horne's protests and a petition with more than 2500 signatures, Fleming's appointment was confirmed by the Colonial Office.

With the advent of responsible government, Horne was elected to the Legislative Council as member for Hobart, and a special Act was passed in January 1857 to enable him as a judge to be also president of the council without salary. In September 1860 he was attacked in the council byWilliam Archer over the judgment of the acting chief justice, Robert Molesworth in the case ofHorne v. Gilles in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The judge found that Horne and his cousin Francis Sharpe Horne had exerted undue influence on the latter's father in the execution of his will. At the same time Joseph Solomon alleged that, while a plaintiff in a suit to be heard before Horne, he had been approached by Horne for a loan of £500 which he had refused. To prevent his amoval, Horne resigned and an Act was hurriedly passed to grant him a full pension of £800 though he had been a judge for only thirteen of the fifteen statutory years.

This unusual action caused some indignation but did not prevent Horne from topping the poll for Hobart in the House of Assembly elections in May 1861. In July an appeal by F. S. Horne against the judgment in Horne v. Gilles was upheld and with his cousin he was cleared of any fault but imprudence. Horne served in the assembly until 1866. Aged 70 he died at his home in Collins Street on 23 September 1870 and was buried at St David's burial ground. He left no real property; his large house in Fitzroy Place had been sold in 1857 and other investments had gone to pay creditors. Even his detractors acknowledged his 'benevolence and kindness of character' and although not brilliant as lawyer or judge he was competent and painstaking in his profession.

Anthony Fenn Kemp (1773–1868)

Anthony Fenn Kemp (1773?-1868), soldier and merchant, was born near Aldgate, London, the son of Anthony Fader Kemp, merchant, and Susannah, née Fenn. After being educated in Greenwich by Dr Knox, he travelled in the United States for about a year and then in France. In July 1793 he was commissioned ensign in the New South Wales Corps and arrived in Sydney with a detachment of the regiment about two years later. During 1795-97 he served a tour of duty on Norfolk Island. He was promoted lieutenant in March 1797 and captain in November 1801. Towards the end of 1800 he left for London on leave. On his return to Sydney in 1802 he married Elizabeth, the sister of Alexander Riley, by whom he had seven sons and eleven daughters, and so qualified in one sense for the soubriquet he longed for, 'the father of Tasmania'.

In September 1802 Kemp was received into the grade of Ancient Masonry at the first lodge known to have assembled in Australia. Two of the three members were officers of Le Naturaliste, one of the three ships of Captain Nicolas Baudin's expedition. This was not, however, the most important of Kemp's involvements with the French. When the Atlas arrived with a cargo of brandy Governor Philip Gidley King refused to let the cargo land, but allowed Baudin to buy 800 gallons (3637 litres) to stock his ships. Kemp led an outcry against the governor's action and, on doubtful evidence, accused the French of bringing brandy ashore and selling it at 25s. a gallon. King questioned two of the French officers and was convinced of their innocence. Some of them spoke of challenging Kemp, but Baudin restrained them; under pressure from his fellow officers, Kemp tendered Baudin a written apology but the incident reveals his extremism.

From 1824 to 1836 Kemp found the authority of Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur as irksome as that of his predecessors. Kemp expressed republican sympathies, and opposed many official measures; through the press, public meetings, petitions and correspondence, he advocated the independence of Van Diemen's Land from New South Wales (granted in 1826), the establishment of an elected Legislative Council, the abolition of press censorship, and the adoption of the English jury system. In 1837 Arthur's successor, Sir John Franklin, who was more sympathetic to the development of free institutions, appointed Kemp to the board to inquire into applications for secondary grants, and in October Franklin reappointed him a justice of the peace.