Randolph Isham Stow

Randolph Isham Stow

Randolph Isham Stow (1828-1878) was an Australian judge, born in England on 17 December 1828 and the eldest son of the Rev. T. Q. Stow. He came to Adelaide with his father in 1837, and was educated at home and by D. Wylie. M.A.

He showed much ability as a boy and was articled to a firm of lawyers, Messrs Bartley and Bakewell. Shortly after the completion of his articles Stow became a junior partner, but about 1859 started for himself. Subsequently Messrs T. B. Bruce and F. Ayers became partners with him.

He entered the South Australian House of Assembly as member for West Torrens in 1861, and in October became Attorney General in the Waterhouse (ministry which held office until July 1863. He was Attorney General again in the Ayers and Blyth ministries from July 1864 to March 1865 and then lost his seat. He was now one of the leaders of the South Australian bar, and became a Queen's Counsel in this year. He was elected to the Electoral district of Light in 1870, but did not hold office again. By 1875 he was the unchallenged leader of the bar at Adelaide, and on 15 March 1875 was appointed judge of the Supreme Court, an appointment which gave him much satisfaction. His health, however, had not been good for some time, much heavy work fell on his shoulders, and he died in his fiftieth year on 17 September 1878. He left a widow, four sons and two daughters.

As a member of parliament Stow showed himself to be a first-rate debater and took a leading part as Attorney-General in putting through legislation of much value. As an advocate he was eloquent and ready, with an accurate knowledge of law, but he made his greatest impression as a judge though he was on the bench for less than four years. At the time of his death there was a general feeling that South Australia had lost a great judge, and many years later Sir John Downer who became a Q.C. in the year Stow died, said of him that he was

"one of the greatest judges Australia ever had. A commanding presence, a striking face, an exquisite voice, unusual swiftness in comprehension, with an immense combination of eloquence and power". (Quoted at the time of Downer's death in the South Australian Advertiser, 3 August 1915).

References

*The South Australian Register and The South Australian Advertiser, 18 September 1878.


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