Sir Robert Randolph Garran GCMG QC was an Australian lawyer and public servant. He was the first federal government employee after the federation of the Australian colonies. He served as the departmental secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department from 1901 to 1932. After 1916 he also held the position of Solicitor-General of Australia. He died in 1957 and was granted a state funeral upon his death.
About Robert Garran in brief
Sir Robert Randolph Garran GCMG QC was an Australian lawyer and public servant. He was the first federal government employee after the federation of the Australian colonies. Garran was born in Sydney, the son of the journalist and politician Andrew Garran. He studied arts and law at the University of Sydney and was called to the bar in 1891. He served as the departmental secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department from 1901 to 1932, and after 1916 also held the position of Solicitor-General of Australia. He published at least eight books and many journal articles throughout his lifetime, covering such topics as constitutional law, the history of federalism in Australia, and German-language poetry. In addition to his professional work, he was also an important figure in the development of the city of Canberra during its early years. He founded several important cultural associations, organised the creation of the Canberra University College, and later contributed to the establishment of the Australia National University. He died in 1957 and was granted a state funeral upon his death in 1957, the firstFederal public servant to receive one. His funeral was held in Sydney’s Macquarie Street, around the corner from the corner of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in the corner corner of Macquarie and Macarthur Streets. He is buried in the Garran Memorial Park, in the inner-city suburb of Waverly, in Sydney. His wife, Mary Isham, was a former member of the NSW House of Representatives and the first female member of parliament for the Sydney City Council.
She died in 1998, and he is survived by their three children, three grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. His great-great-grandchildren include the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his great-nephew, Michael Garran, who was a judge at the Australian Court of Appeal. The Garran family is still living in the Sydney suburb of North Sydney, where he was a member of Sydney’s Legislative Council from 1891 to 1916. He had a close relationship with Billy Hughes during World War I, and accompanied him to the Imperial War Cabinet and the Paris Peace Conference. His mother kept a cow in the backyard, which would walk on its own to The Domain each day to graze and return twice a day to be milked. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1888 and subsequently won the University’s Medal in Philosophy when he was conferred with a Master of Arts with first-class honours in 1899. In 1891, Garran commenced practice as a barrister, working primarily in equity and equity cases. His first duty was to write the inaugural edition of the Commonwealth Gazette, which contained Queen Victoria’s proclamation authorising thecreation of a federal government. Over the following three decades, he provided legal advice to ten different prime ministers, from Barton to Joseph Lyons. In 1917, in 1920 and in 1937 he was knighted three times for his service to the Commonwealth, in 1917, and in 1937.