Redmond Barry (1813–1880) was an Anglo-Irish lawyer who arrived in Melbourne in 1839 to establish his legal career. He served as standing counsel for Aboriginal people from 1842 and became the first puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1853. Though best known today for sentencing to death the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly in 1880, he was knighted for his efforts in establishing and developing the cultural, educational and intellectual life of Melbourne, rather than for his legal career. This is largely due to his roles as inaugural chancellor of the University of Melbourne and chair of trustees of the Melbourne Public Library, now known as State Library Victoria, as well as in founding or supporting numerous other cultural, scientific, educational and philanthropic endeavors.
Barry is generally considered the founder of the University of Melbourne. At the University council’s first meeting in April, 1853 Barry was elected chancellor, an honorary position he held until his death on 23 November 1880. He was the figure who was the most immersed in its governance and day-to-day administrative matters, including those of the Law Faculty and the University Library. To date, Barry’s 27-year tenure as chancellor makes him the University’s longest-serving chancellor. The Law Library Rare Books Collection includes an incomplete set of The Statutes at Large. A number of volumes were formerly owned by Barry. Evidence of Barry’s ownership is found by way of his bookplates, signature and annotations.