Following colonisation, Resident Magistrates (also known as Police Magistrates and Government Residents) were established in key areas of the State in the 1800’s to officiate in legal and administrative matters.
As well as acting as the Magistrate for the Local Court, the Court of Petty Sessions and the Licensing Court, Resident Magistrates were often required to conduct other functions such as Electoral Registrar, Collector of Customs and Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. These functions were eventually passed to other government agents. The responsibility of customs, for example, was transferred to the Commonwealth soon after Federation in 1901. Court functions were taken over by Clerk of Courts and Resident Magistrates were effectively abolished by 1910.
A substantial amount of information about the various Resident Magistrates can be gleaned from their correspondence to and from the Colonial Secretary’s Office. Indexes to this correspondence are kept in the State Records Office Search Room.
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