KNOX, Sir Adrian (1863-1932)

KNOX, Sir Adrian (1863-1932)
chief justice of the high court of Australia
was born at Sydney on 27 November 1863. His father, Sir Edward Knox (1820-1901), was born in Denmark of English parents in 1820. Coming to Australia in 1840 he was appointed manager of the Australasian Sugar Company in 1843 which in 1855 became the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. He was associated with this company all his life, and proved himself to be one of the most able organizers in Australia. At the jubilee celebration of the company he referred with pride to the absence of labour troubles during his administration. He was also prominently connected with the Commercial Banking Company, and was for many years a member of the legislative council. He was knighted in 1898, and died on 7 January 1901. His son, Adrian Knox was educated at Sydney, Harrow, and Cambridge, where he graduated LL.B. He was admitted to the inner temple and returned to Sydney in 1886. At Sydney he read with his brother, George Knox, a leading equity barrister of the period, who died soon afterwards. He succeeded to his brother's practice and became a leader at the bar. He stood for the legislative assembly at Woollahra in 1894, and held the seat until 1898 when he retired from politics. Becoming a K.C. in 1906 he was subsequently offered a supreme court judgeship but declined it. He was much interested in racing and won the Sydney Cup with his own horse Vavasor in 1910. He was a member and chairman of the committee of the Australian Jockey Club for some years. During the 1914-18 war Knox gave up his large practice in Sydney to go to Egypt as a commissioner for the Red Cross, where his talent for organization was very valuable. In October 1919 he succeeded Sir Samuel Griffith as chief justice of the high court of Australia, and was most successful in this position. In 1926 he was made a member of the privy council, and subsequently sat as a member of the judicial committee at the hearing of legal questions relating to the powers of the British government to constitute an Irish boundaries commission. He resigned his position as chief justice of the high court at the end of March 1930, having been made the residuary legatee of the estate of his old friend John Brown, which necessitated his taking an interest in the business. This, he felt, could not be compatible with the retention of his judicial office. He died at Sydney on 27 April 1932. He married in 1897 Florence Lawson, who survived him with one son and two daughters. He was created C.M.G. in 1918 and K.C.M.G. in 1921. His elder brother, Edward William Knox (1847-1933), who succeeded his father in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company showed the same admirable business qualities.
Adrian Knox was a great advocate, suave, persuasive, clear, and never labouring his points. He was especially effective in arguing before courts of appeal. His extraordinary quickness of perception, wide knowledge of the world and common sense, united with his fine grasp of law and keen judicial mind, made him eminently fitted for the great position he held as chief justice of the high court.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 1907, 28 April 1932, 26 June 1933; The Argus, Melbourne, 1 April 1930.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Knox family — /nɒks/ (say noks) noun an Australian family noted in the fields of business, law, and diplomacy. 1. Sir Edward, 1819–1901, commercialist and state politician; became manager of the Australian Sugar Company, now CSR, in 1842. 2. his son, Sir… …  

  • Knox — /nɒks/ (say noks) noun 1. Sir Adrian, 1863–1932, Australian judge; chief justice of the High Court 1919–30. 2. James Robert, Cardinal, 1914–83, Australian Roman Catholic prelate; archbishop of Melbourne 1967–74. 3. John, 1505?–72, leader of the… …  

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