London, South Kensington
22 September 2004
BANNISTER, Saxe (1790-1877). Statements and Documents relating to Proceedings in New South Wales, in 1824, 1825, and 1826, intended to support an Appeal to the King by the Attorney General of the Colonel, Cape Town: by W. Bridekirk, 1827. 8° (216 x 137mm). Annotated printed volume bound together with handwritten notes and pasted articles. (Occasional offsetting and staining.) Contemporary tooled calf with gilt tooled borders and spine, binder's label pasted inside upper cover (rebacked, extremities slightly rubbed, some staining).
ATTORNEY GENERAL BANNISTER'S PERSONAL PROOF COPY of this work which forms part of his ongoing petitions to the Crown to redress certain 'gross slanders published against me' and obtain compensation for his removal from colonial office.
Saxe Bannister was appointed Attorney General of New South Wales in October 1823 and served until his dismissal in October 1826. He was a maverick figure in British colonial politics - so much so that he was considered 'mentally unbalanced' by his seniors - and was devoted to promoting the rights of natives, convicts and children, and their fair treatment under British law, an approach detailed in his Statements and Documents.
Also evident from Statements and Documents is the extent to which colonial power struggles marred Bannister's time in office. He had an uneasy relationship with Governor Darling, who interpreted his ethical defiance as insubordination and eventually forced his resignation. But more damaging was Bannister's bitter rivalry with Robert Wardell, which perhaps had its roots in Wardell being passed over in favour of Bannister for the position of Attorney General. Wardell established himself as editor of the Australian, and lost no time in ridiculing Bannister and claiming his appointment was due to nepotism not merit. Things soured further when Bannister sued Wardell for libel and called him 'the scum of London' in court. Wardell, being a Yorkshireman, took umbrage and challenged Bannister to a duel. Thankfully, both sides missed.
This proof copy with handwritten notes and pasted-in newspaper clippings, marks the beginning of Bannister's ultimately fruitless seventeen year battle to save his professional reputation and claim some pecuniary compensation for his unfair dismissal. 'My commission has cost me more than £3,000: and after swallowing up the little which family misfortunes had left, it has brought me largely into debt; but still less can I afford to give up my reputation: without it poverty and shame will follow me to my grave.' Ferguson 1103 lists three copies only.
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