FISHER, Sir James Hurtle (c. 1789-1875)

FISHER, Sir James Hurtle (c. 1789-1875)
son of James Fisher a London architect, was born in 1789 or 1790. He studied law and practised as a solicitor in London from 1811 to 1832. In 1836 he was appointed resident commissioner in South Australia, and sailed for that colony on the Buffalo in July 1836 as representative of the South Australian board of commissioners. He arrived with Governor Hindmarsh (q.v.) on 28 December 1836. Unfortunately authority was divided between Hindmarsh as governor and Fisher as representative of the commissioners, with the powers of neither clearly defined. It was a contest between a bluff, honest, somewhat tactless man and a shrewd lawyer, and the quarrels that ensued were not entirely creditable to either. There were difficult financial problems and Fisher's management of them was unsatisfactory, though no doubt he was much hampered by the impossibility of carrying out his instructions. Hindmarsh was recalled and when his successor Gawler (q.v.) arrived on 12 October 1838 he combined the offices of governor and resident commissioner. Fisher then began private practice in the law, and was subsequently for some years leader of the bar at Adelaide, well known as a painstaking and fighting advocate. He was elected first mayor of Adelaide in 1840, and between then and 1853 was five times re-elected to that position. He was chosen a member of the legislative council in 1853, lost his seat at the next election, but was in the council again in 1855 as a nominee member and was unanimously elected speaker. He was elected to the council in 1857 under the new constitution and was its president for eight years. He retired from his profession about 1860 and from politics in 1865, He lived to be 85, retaining his mental faculties to the end, and died on 28 January 1875. He married and was survived by four sons and four daughters. Personally Fisher was a man of ready wit, humour and courtesy, who filled the positions of speaker and president with impartiality and distinction. He was knighted in 1860.
The South Australian Advertiser, 29 January 1875; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; A. Grenfell Price, The Foundation and Settlement of South Australia.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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