"Two judges - father and son" : an analysis of the careers of Henry Samuel Chapman and Frederick Revans Chapman (1991)
AuthorsSpiller, Petershow all
The main focus of this thesis is on the legal and judicial careers of Henry Samuel Chapman (1803-1881) and his son Frederick Revans Chapman (1849-1936). Henry Chapman served as judge in Wellington (1844-1852) and Dunedin (1864-1875) and was also a barrister, law lecturer and acting judge in Victoria (1854-1864). Frederick Chapman was a member of the Dunedin bar (1872-1903), President of the New Zealand Court of Arbitration (1903-1907), and judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court and Court of Appeal (1903-1924). Besides examining their legal careers, I outline their personal and educational backgrounds and their wide range of extra-legal activities. I study each man's career in chronological order, with convenient subdivisions relating mainly to their shifting geographical locations. In an appendix I sketch the career of Martin Chapman, whose life was intertwined with those of his father Henry and brother Frederick and therefore forms a useful reference-point for the thesis. The structure of my study is determined by my conviction that, as far as possible, one must allow historical material to suggest its own significance and not try to shape it according to conscious predetermined convictions. This thesis is of human interest in itself. The combination of a rare collection of family papers, official records and published accounts produces a detailed and intimate account of the lives of Henry and Frederick Chapman and of their periods. The thesis also sheds light on the characteristics and values of the educated, aspirant middle class to which the Chapmans belonged. These included a strong commitment to the work ethic, an emphasis on self-improvement in a wide range of areas, a benevolent tolerance, and a devotion to family life. Finally, the thesis illuminates important aspects of colonial legal development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and in particular the continued strength of inherited English legal traditions counterbalanced by the steady growth of a unique New Zealand jurisprudence.