The Judge Willis Casebooks

The Judge Willis Casebooks

Five criminal casebooks, one civil casebook and other papers of Judge Willis, the first judge in Port Phillip (later Victoria) from March 1841 to July 1843, have survived and were passed to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) in 1909 by James Palmer Savage, and are now in the manuscripts collection of the RHSV. The Judge Willis Casebooks are an invaluable record of Victoria’s early legal jurisdiction and early Port Phillip life.

The Judge Willis Casebooks exist on this site as transcriptions with commentaries, with a name index and supporting documents all completed by His Honour Paul R. Mullaly QC. Original scans are available alongside the transcripts and all that is available on this site can be seen on the Willis Collection Overview. Other contextualising materials exist on this website at the support materials page.

A podcast of the talk given by The Honourable Chief Justice Marilyn Warren marking her launch of the site on 16 September 2014 is available. Also there is a podcast of a conversation between Janine Rizzetti, Richard Broome, Damien Carrick and Jon Faine on the ABC ‘Conversation Hour’ about Judge Willis on 19 September 2014.

The original casebooks and/or their high resolution digitised originals can be viewed at the RHSV by genuine researchers. The RHSV’s collection also contains another fifteen casebooks relating to New South Wales, which have not been transcribed, but which can be consulted at the RHSV – again in original or digitised form.

Copyright in the Willis papers resides with the RHSV. Copyright of the materials on this website reside with the authors, as indicated, but may be used with fair dealing for research and educational purposes.


The Royal Historical Society of Victoria

The RHSV is an Incorporated body that is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Victoria and the city of Melbourne.

It is a membership organisation, that is supported in its activity by volunteers from across the Victorian community.

It maintains a significant research collection which is available to members and other researchers by appointment.


In 2014, The Judge Willis Casebooks website was developed with support from the Wilson Trust & His Honour Paul R Mullaly QC.  The website was created by Jason Odering. In 2018, the RHSV website was rebuilt and the Judge Willis Casebooks have been reconstructed with respect to the original layout and design. Judge Willis Casebooks: Terms of Use