The Honourable Edmund Sheppard

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  • Taunton
  • London

Judicial Career

  • Judge, Supreme Court of Queensland (1874-1882)
  • Judge, District Court of Queensland (1866-1874)

Pre-judicial Career

  • Admitted as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland (1865)
  • Admitted as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (1858)
  • Admitted as a Barrister by Inner Temple, London (1857)

Biographical Notes

Edmund Sheppard was born on 1 November 1826 at Taunton, Somerset, England, son of Samuel Sheppard (jeweller) and his wife, Harriett Deane (nee Allen). He was educated in Taunton and London, before being admitted as a barrister of the Inner Temple in London (1857). Upon emigrating to Sydney, he was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (1858) and commenced practice as the private bar, serving for a period as an acting judge of the District Court. He married Mary Grace Murray on 17 July 1860. They had five sons – Edmund, William, Arthur, Alfred and Herbert. Mary Grace died in 1869, and Sheppard married Adela Letitia Georgiana Murray on 20 December 1871.

Sheppard was chosen for appointment as one of the three inaugural judges of the District Court of Queensland. He was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland (1865), and appointed to serve in the Metropolitan District of the District Court (based in Brisbane) from 1 December 1865. In 1873, during the illness of Lutwyche J, Sheppard was given a commission appointing him an acting judge of the Supreme Court ‘until the return of Mr Justice Lutwyche, or the appointment of his successor’. Whilst Cockle CJ held this form of appointment to be valid in a contested hearing on 12 March 1873, Sheppard resigned this commission the next day.

On 17 July 1874, Sheppard was appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland as the inaugural Northern Judge, based in Bowen. On 13 July 1880, he applied to the Full Court to be recognized as the senior puisne judge of the court, with an entitlement to return to Brisbane. This application was unsuccessful. By early 1882, however, continuing ill health caused Sheppard to obtain a year’s leave of absence. He died in London, at the age of 56, on 22 December 1882.

In 1975, Sheppard’s service as the first Northern Judge of the court was recognised by naming the new court complex in Townsville – where the Northern Judge is based – the Edmund Sheppard Building.

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