Robert Randolph Garran

Submitted by Maddi on Mon, 10/21/2013 - 04:01

Notes -- A little biography I did for school. This man was truly brilliant. I thought it was time you Americans learnt a bit of Australian history. :D
And also, the reason the dates are written "On 10 February, 1867" instead of "On the 10th of February, 1867" is because the public service (in Australia, anyway) has changed it's way of doing it. I know this because my dad works for the public service and marks my writing. Just thought I'd slip the disclaimer in :)


On 10 February, 1867, Robert Randolph Garran was born to Andrew and Mary Garran. Robert grew up in a family of six children, of which he was the youngest and only male.

Both Andrew and Mary Garran were strong supporters of social justice. Mary campaigned for woman’s rights, such as the right of education for women. Andrew was involved in promoting federation. Robert grew up in a federation movement environment with a view supporting federation.

Robert started attending Sydney Grammar School at age ten. He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1888, and a Bachelor of Laws in 1889. He won the University’s Philosophy medal and after graduating was employed as an associate for Justice William Charles Windeyer. In 1891, Robert became a trial lawyer, majoring in equity.

As a devoted federation supporter, Robert became involved with Edmund Barton’s campaign. He worked as a secretary, drafting and organising meetings. At the same time, Robert was leading the NSW federation movement instead of Sir Henry Parkes, who was ill.

In 1897, Robert’s book, The Coming Commonwealth was published. As a popular best seller, the book comprised the history of the Federation movement and listed several debates on the 1891 draft Constitution of Australia. Soon after the book’s publication, NSW’s Premier, George Reid requested Robert to be his secretary. At the Constitutional Convention, Reid appointed him secretary of the Drafting Committee and a member of the Press Committee at the request of Barton.

On the day that the nation of Australia came into existence, 1 January 1901, Garran was appointed secretary of the Attorneys General, becoming the first public servant for the government of Australia. He was responsible for organising the first federal election that commenced in March, 1901. Garran spent thirty-one years in this position.

In 1902, Garran married Hilda Robson. Together they had four sons while living in Melbourne.

Billy Hughes was elected as Prime Minister in 1915. He appointed Garran to be the first Solicitor General in 1916. A friendship grew between the two men, despite their different personalities. Garran appeared to be the more wise and gentlemanly of the two, while Hughes had a reputation for a fiery temper. As their partnership grew, Garran continued to act as an advisor to Hughes.

In 1927, Garran moved from his home in Melbourne to live in Canberra. Two years later he formed the Canberra University Association. He organised the establishment of the Canberra University College in 1930 and was chairman of its council for twenty-three years.

Garran retired in February 1932, only to return to public life as a Barrister. A month passed and he was appointed a King’s Counsel.

Garran died in Canberra, 11 January 1957, age eighty-nine. He was given a state funeral, the first to have been bestowed to a public servant.

Outside of public life, Garran’s personal interests included singing and playing the clarinet. He won a national song competition in 1946.

Garran wrote daily columns for the Evening News in 1898. He composed poems for The Bulletin, humouring the opposition leaders of federation.

Author's age when written