Fellows of Senate

Alexander Oliver

One of the first 24 matriculants at the University of Sydney in 1852, Alexander Oliver was a Fellow of Senate of the University of Sydney from 1879 to 1904.


BA Oxf MA Sydney
Fellow of Senate: 1879–1904

His early years

Alexander Oliver was born in Sydney in 1832, the eldest son of Mr Andrew Oliver of Manchester, an early pioneer settler who, after a fruitless attempt to take up land for horse-breeding purposes at Swan River in the year 1830, and subsequently in New Zealand, finally settled in New South Wales.

Oliver was educated at William Timothy Cape’s school in O'Connell Street, and at George Taylor’s school in Fort Street.

After leaving Mr Taylor's school, he went again to Mr Cape's school, then at Darlinghurst, where he remained until, by a gun accident at Bondi, his left arm was shot away. After recovery he went as a prlvate pupil to Mr Henry Carey's school at Darling Point.

His student days at the University of Sydney

Oliver matriculated at the University of Sydney amongst the first students in 1852, gaining a scholarship shorly afterwards. He and won a Classics prize in the yearly examinations and obtained first class honours in Classics in 1853.

Whilst keeping his University terms Oliver was articled to Mr G K Holden, of the firm of Holden and McCarthy, solicitors.

He was, however, obliged to cut short both University studies and articles in order to accompany his family to England.

Oliver later graduated Master of Arts from the University of Sydney in 1869.

His career

In 1856 he was admitted to the Inner Temple, graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1860 from Exeter College, Oxford, and was called to the Bar in 1862. He practised as a barrister in England until he returned to Sydney in 1864.

He enjoyed a distinguished career in the public service of the colony, holding a wide variety of positions including Parliamentary Draftsman, and Secretary to the Law Reform Commission. In 1892 he was appointed President of the Land Appeal Court, a position which he held until his death on 2 June 1904 at his home 'Shelcote' in Neutral Bay.

As well as his ordinary work, he published a number of books on legal subjects.

His membership of Senate

He was a Fellow of the Senate of the University from 1879 to 1901.

The following resolution was unanimously adopted by the Senate on 13 June 1904: "The Senate desires to place on record its sense of the great loss sustained by the University through the death of His Honour Alexander Oliver, Esq, MA. One of the first matriculated Students of the University of Sydney, he had a brilliant academic career in this University and afterwards in the University of Oxford. As a Fellow of the Senate for a period of twenty-five years, he rendered important and valuable service to the University, while his services to the community of New South Wales in his official capacities have been no less valuable. That a copy of the above resolution be forwarded to Mrs Oliver, together with an expression of the sympathy of the Fellows of the Senate with her in her bereavement."