Charles Dashwood (judge)

Charles James Dashwood (17 July 1842 – 8 July 1919) was an Australian public servant and judge. He was the longest-serving Government Resident of the Northern Territory, and showed a concern for the rights of Aborigines.

Early life and education

Dashwood was born on 17 July 1842 at Dashwood's Gully near Kangarilla, South Australia. His parents were English-born[1] Captain George Frederick Dashwood, a naval officer and public servant, and Sarah Rebecca née Loine. He was educated at the Collegiate School of St Peter in Adelaide and later completed a year's study of civil engineering at the University of Ghent in Belgium.[1]

After studying in Belgium, Dashwood returned to Australia and spent six years working as a farmer.[2] He then entered the legal profession, spending some time working as a clerk of courts before being admitted to the Bar in 1873. Initially, he worked in partnership with W. H. Bundey, and with E. W. Hawker as "Bundey, Dashwood & Hawker" from 1879 to 1883. He practised alone from 1884 until 1890, at which point he began working with C. G. Varley.[1] While working as a solicitor, he also began his political career, representing Noarlunga in the House of Assembly from 1887 to 1892.[2]

On 24 February 1892, Dashwood was appointed judge and Government Resident of the Northern Territory. He was the first Australian-born individual to hold this position, and he also became the longest-serving, continuing in office for 13 years.[2] As a judge, he became known for his concern about the legal treatment of Australian Aborigines and his defence of their rights. The Northern Territory Times and Gazette praised his approach on more than one occasion, writing of him in 1896 as 'the personification of kindness in his dealing with aborigines'.[1] He spoke out against violence committed by Europeans against Aborigines, warned against securing convictions solely on the basis of confessions, and was sometimes lenient in his sentencing of Aborigines.[3] In 1899, Dashwood proposed a bill to improve employment law for Aborigines, but this bill was rejected by the South Australian government.[1][4]

After resigning from being Government Resident in January 1905, Dashwood continued to practise law, initially as the Crown Solicitor of South Australia before being appointed a King's Counsel in 1906. He continued in the legal profession until he retired in August 1916.[2]

Personal life

Dashwood was married twice. His first marriage was to Kate Allen, with whom he had one son outside of marriage.[2] He later married Martha Margarethe Johanna Klevesahl on 5 February 1916. They had no children.[1]

He died from heart failure on 8 July 1919.[2] Dashwood Place in Darwin is named in his honour.[2]


  1. Loughlin, Graham. "Dashwood, Charles James (1842–1919)]". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  2. "Charles James Dashwood" (PDF). Northern Territory Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  3. Gray, Stephen (2004). Criminal Laws: Northern Territory. Federation Press. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-1-86287-495-4.
  4. Raftery, Judith (2006). Not part of the public: non-indigenous policies and practices and the health of indigenous South Australians 1836–1973. Wakefield Press. pp. 118–120. ISBN 978-1-86254-709-4.


Government offices
Preceded by
John George Knight
Government Resident of the Northern Territory
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Herbert
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