June 12, 2014

Horse 1692 - The Curious Tale Of A Premier Of Queensland And A Cabinet Minister

Frederick Isambard Morton, born 17th July 1877, was the son of a pastoralist in the Maryborough region of Queensland.
At the age of 8, whilst working out in the top paddock; trying to chase some loose kangaroos, he was thrown from horseback and landed with such a heavy thud that he broke his pelvis and several bones in his right leg. The impact with the ground also left him blind, and whilst he recovered from his broken bones, he never recovered from his blindness; hence his famous epithet.
As young Frederick was unable to continue work in the fields and indeed most rural settings, he attended diligently to academic study and not only graduated his school as dux but would go on to study Law at The University of Queensland; which he passed with distinction.

After working for several years at a few law firms including Dewey, Cheatem & Howe and later at Buckleys & Nunn, it was at the law firm Screuham & Burnham that he would really make a name for himself when he defended Queensland State MP for Chatsworth, Lawrence Phurphey against a murder charge.
Phurphey was apprehended by the Queensland Police at the scene of the crime, in which the victim had had his head hacked off with a one-inch butter palette. The room in which Phurphey was found, was locked from the inside, no fewer than 29 signed confession notes were strewn about the room and on his person and Phurphey was himself, covered from head to toe in blood. Phurphey was still brandishing the one-inch butter palette and whistling "I Wish I Was in Dixie" when police arrived.
Frederick was able to argue that certain aspects of Phurphey's case were presented incorrectly under the terms of Queensland's Criminal Code Act 1899 and so all charges against Lawrence Phurphey were dropped.

Having been acquitted of murder and the case declared Nolle Prosequi, Lawrence Phurphey stayed on as MP for Chatsworth and would rise to become Premier of Queensland in 1919. Two years later during a by-election, Frederick Morton would become Member for Ashgrove and was appointed State Minister for Justice and Law soon after.
The increasingly jovial Premier Lawrence Phurphey was said to have been more than happy when Frederick Morton personally oversaw the Constitution Amendment Act 1921 which abolished Queensland's Upper House (Queensland Legislative Council) on the 23rd of March 1922.

In doing the research for this post, many of the accounts were found to be fabrications of that particular Premier of Queensland and had that State Minister for Justice and Law been still alive today, his sharp intellect would have seen this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's no such person as Lawrence Phurphey.
He was never Premier of Qld.