VIEWS AND COMMENTS
REAL PROPERTY ACT TORRENS NOT SOLE AUTHOR To The Editor
[letter from STEPHEN PARSONS]
Sir—Your numerous readers should feel deeply grateful to the Hon. W. J. Denny for his lucid and instructive article in "The Advertiser" on Friday.
on the Real Property Act and its operations. Mr. Denny, however, is not quire correct in attributing this beneficent measure wholly to Sir Robert Torrens. About, three years ago. when urging through the press the claims of John Ridley to public recognition for his invention of the reaping machine. I get into touch with Miss Ridley, of London (the last sur viving member of the family) who sent me a budget of her father's let ters. Among these was correspond- ence between Anthony Forster and Sir Robert Torrens during 1857. These letters are now deposited in the public archives. Mr. Forster, who was editor cf "The Register"' in the fif- ties, and member of the Legislative Council, was an intimate friend of John Ridley, and was attorney for the latter during his absence from South Australia; hence the connection. In writing to Miss Ridley in 1892 An- thony Forster, thcn living in England, says -'I send you a letter from Mr. (later Sir) Robert Torrens, to be placed among your memorabilia of the Colony of South Australia. It is his- toric. and will be perused with interest by early colonists who witnessed the struggles connected with the great measure of law reform which bears Mr. Torrens's name. There are two things which stand out prominently as the greatest boons ever conferred on the colony, viz, the invention of the reaping machine, and the passing of the Real Property Act. The former was the work of your father, and the latter was chiefly the work of Mr. Torrens. I may, however, say, at the close of a long life, that the Real Property Act originated in a series of leading articles that I wrote in the South Australian 'Register.' calling attention to the great and un- necessary expense of the transfer of land under the system of conveyanc- ing then prevailing. I pointed out especially the absurd and apparently unfair practice of charging heavy fees for the retrospective investigation of title in every separate transaction, al though the same title had been inves tigated a dozen times before. Mr. Tcrrens was a:tracted by those articles, and he conceived the happv idea of getting rid of deeds altogether, and substituting for them an indefeasible certificate of title which was to be registered in the Real Property Office, a counterpart being issued to the trans- feree. But as all the lawyers in the colony were hostile to the proposed new measure, it could never have I been brought to a final consummation but for the official help of a German lawyer. Dr. Hubbe. who has unfortu- nately had too little recognition in connection with it. The provisions of the Bill were settled by Mr. Torrens and a few friends, and put into proper form by Dr. Hubbe. and passed trium- phantly through the local legislature, notwithstanding the fierce and uncom- promising opposition of the lawyers. Mr. Torrens took charge of it in the House of Assembly, and I in the Legis lative Council. We had the whole colony at our back. This is in a few words the history of the Real Property Act. Yours sincerely, Anthony For ster." Thus Forster evidently inspired the measure and Dr. Hubbe acted as legal friend and adviser - I am, Sir, &c, STEPHEN PARSONS