KERFERD, George Briscoe (1831-1889)

KERFERD, George Briscoe (1831-1889)
(The printed D.A.B. had his name listed as 'Kerford'. ebook Editor.)premier of Victoria
son of G. B. Kerferd, merchant, was born at Liverpool in 1831. He was educated at the Collegiate Institute, Liverpool, and it was intended that he should study law, but circumstances necessitated his entering his father's business. He came to Melbourne in April 1853, intending to open a branch house of this business, but he found difficulties in doing so, and decided to try his fortunes on the goldfields. He worked for some time in the Bendigo and then in the Ovens districts, before settling at Beechworth as a wine and spirit merchant and brewer. He took much interest in local affairs, was elected a councillor, and on four occasions was mayor. He was elected to the legislative assembly in 1864, began the study of law, and was admitted to the Victorian bar in 1867. In May 1868 he took office in the Sladen (q.v.) ministry as minister for mines, but this government was defeated a few weeks later. In June 1872 he became solicitor-general, and later attorney-general, in the Francis (q.v.) ministry, which was in office for over two years. On the retirement of Francis, Kerferd became premier and attorney-general, and was able to pass a local government act which remained the basis of local self-government for a very long period in Victoria. In the next session, finding himself with a bare majority of one in a test vote on the budget, Kerferd asked for a dissolution, and, on this being refused, resigned. He was again attorney-general in the fourth McCulloch (q.v.) ministry, which was in power from October 1875 to May 1877, and in the first Service (q.v.) ministry from March to August 1880. When after a period of turmoil Service and Berry (q.v.) formed a coalition government in 1883 Kerferd as attorney-general worked with immense industry on a series of valuable bills which were eventually passed. These included a judicative act, the public service act, the railway management act, and the early closing of shops act. Kerferd made a reputation in the house by his reasonableness and honesty when in charge of a bill. He was always willing to accept a really valuable amendment, or consider a reasonable objection. In 1883 he was one of the Victorian representatives at the federal convention, and on 28 December 1885 he resigned to become a supreme court judge. His appointment caused some feeling as there were several barristers available with longer standing. Kerferd, however, had had eight years experience as attorney-general, and had shown great ability in the position. He was denied the usual courtesies extended by the bar to new judges, but his industry, general intelligence and courtesy wore down opposition, and it was agreed that he filled his new position with dignity and distinction. He died after a short illness while on a holiday at Sorrento Victoria, on 31 December 1889. He left a widow, five daughters and three sons. He published in 1871 in collaboration with J. B. Box A Digest of the Cases decided in the Supreme Court of Victoria 1846-1871.
The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 1 January 1890; H. G. Turner, A History of the Colony of Victoria.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • George Kerferd — Infobox Premier | name =George Briscoe Kerferd nationality =Australian order =10th Premier of Victoria term start =31 July 1874 term end =7 August 1875 predecessor =James Francis successor =Graham Berry deputy = caption = birth date =21 January… …   Wikipedia

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