In September 1854 Fellows was returned for the Loddon district to the Legislative Council where he showed an active and lasting interest in legal reform. He followed
Robert Molesworth as solicitor-general in the Haines
government in June 1856 and in August contested the Central Province seat in the first Legislative Council under responsible government. At Emerald Hill in his only campaign meeting Fellows repelled electors by his high-handed manner and lost. He campaigned
again more amicably in September and was returned for St Kilda to the Legislative Assembly. In February 1857 he succeeded (Sir) William Satawell
as attorney-general but lost office in March when the Haines ministry resigned. He was solicitor-general in the second Haines ministry from April 1857 to March 1858. In May 1858 he was elected for Central Province by a majority of one to the Legislative Council.
He represented the Nicholson ministry in the council without portfolio from October 1859
to November 1860; he failed to modify the council's attitude towards the Nicholson land bill and his attempted compromise in August helped to bring down the government. In October 1863 he became postmaster-general in the McCulloch
ministry but found its liberal policy uncongenial and withdrew in March 1864.
During the tussle between the two Houses in the 1860s Fellows doggedly defended the constitutional rights of the council. After a tedious tirade in July 1865 he moved that the assembly's appropriation-cum-tariff bill 'be laid aside'.
As leader of the Opposition in the council he was sought by Governor Sir Charles Darling
in 1866 to form a ministry but his terms were too difficult. In 1867 he angrily moved the council's rejection of the Lady Darling grant tack to the appropriation bill in August and then declined, unless elevated to ministerial status, to advise the governor.
To strengthen the constitutional party in the assembly, Fellows contested St Kilda in the general election of February 1868; he was returned and from May to July, as minister of justice in the Sladen
cabinet served as leader of the government in the Legislative Assembly.
When conflict between council and assembly abated Fellows accepted other public roles. In 1870 he was appointed a trustee of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery and a commissioner of the planned intercolonial legislation
and federal union inquiries. In 1872 he helped to organize Victorian exhibits for the London International Exhibition of 1873 and served in the commission on the accommodation needs of the Supreme Court branches. Fellows's legal career culminated with his
appointment as fifth judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in December 1872. To attract him from his large and lucrative common law practice at the Bar, the salaries of puisne judges were raised from
2500 to £
3000. Fellows was not an outstanding judge but
was valued for his clear expositions, memory for precedent and intimate familiarity with statute law.
Among other activities Fellows was a Prahran councillor in 1861-64 and, because of his attachment to Queenscliff where he spent his summers, was elected one of the first borough councillors in 1863 and mayor in 1865. As a devout
Anglican, Fellows gave generously to the Church of England at Queenscliff and to the Anglican school and church near his home in South Yarra, and was privately beneficent. In his youth he was a keen sportsman and in Melbourne often rowed on the Yarra River
and played regularly with the South Yarra Football Club. His wife Jane, n
e e Hemmons, and his brother, Rev. Walter Fellows, were present when he died on 8 April 1878 at his home i
n South Yarra and the Crown Law Offices were closed on the day of his burial at St Kilda cemetery.
Author : Carole Woods ,
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 160-161.
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