THERRY, Sir Roger (1800-1874)

THERRY, Sir Roger (1800-1874)
was born in Ireland on 22 April 1800. He was called to the bar in Ireland in 1824 and in England in 1827. His A Letter to the Right Hon. George Canning on the Present State of the Catholic Question, published in 1826, second edition 1827, probably led to his acquaintance with that statesman, who employed him to edit his speeches and prepare them for publication. They were published after Canning's death in 1828 with a life of Canning written by Therry. By the influence of Canning's widow and friends Therry was appointed commissioner of the court of requests for New South Wales, and in July 1829 he set sail for Sydney. He was a Roman Catholic, and on his arrival found that most of his co-religionists were poor, and few held positions of importance in Sydney. He also found that while the Anglican Church was comparatively well subsidized by the state, very little was allowed to the Roman Catholic clergy. He endeavoured with considerable success to improve their position, and for the next 30 years held an important place among the Catholic laity. He was made a magistrate in 1830 and in 1839 refused an acting judgeship. Governor Gipps (q.v.), in a dispatch notifying this to Lord Glenelg, referred to Therry as one of the "two most distinguished barristers of New South Wales". He was appointed acting attorney-general in 1841, and at the first election for the legislative council held in 1843 he was elected as the representative of Camden. In December 1844 Therry was appointed resident judge at Port Phillip and held the position until February 1846, when he became a judge of the supreme court of New South Wales. He visited England in 1847 and retired on a pension in 1859. His Reminiscences of Thirty Years Residence in New South Wales and Victoria was published at the beginning of 1863 and immediately withdrawn. The new edition which appeared in the same year was not, however, an "expurgated version" as has been stated. Some errors were corrected, but the changes are not considerable. The most important were that the author did fuller justice to the work of three governors, Gipps (q.v.), Fitzroy (q.v.), and La Trobe (q.v.), and a map was added. Therry died on 17 May 1874. He was survived by Lady Therry and probably a family, as when he applied for leave of absence in July 1846, he mentioned that he had two daughters being educated in England. He was knighted in 1869.
Therry was a good lawyer and a good citizen who did valuable work for Roman Catholics in New South Wales, at a time when they were being treated with little justice.
Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. XVII-XXV; R. Therry, Reminiscences of Thirty Years' Residence in New South Wales and Victoria. This also gives interesting and generally kindly reviews of the men of his period; Aubrey Halloran, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XII, pp. 46-51; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; E. M. O'Brien, The Life of Arch-Priest J. J. Therry; British Museum Catalogue.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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