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Sydney John (Syd) Kearney (1870–1923)

This article was published:

Syd Kearney, n.d.

Syd Kearney, n.d.

Sydney John (Syd) Kearney (1870-1923) solicitor, land agent, politician and mayor

Birth: 18 August 1870 at Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Timothy Joseph Kearney (1843-1904), solicitor, and Sarah Margaret, née Trim (1849-1921). Marriage: 10 May 1903 to Harriet Johannah Hughes. They had three daughters and three sons. Death: 16 April 1923 at Armidale, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Moved with his parents to Armidale as a child. His maternal grandfather John Trim (1813-1892), born in Bristol, Somerset, England, had arrived in NSW as a convict and was mayor of Armidale. His paternal grandfather (Denis David Kearney (or Carney)) (1823-1872), a hotel-keeper, born in County Clare, Ireland, was an assisted (bounty) immigrant.
  • Syd was educated at New England Grammar School and St Joseph’s College, Sydney.
  • Articled to his father in 1889 and for four months to R. P. Abbot of Abbot and Dodds. Admitted as a solicitor in 1894. Partner with his father who retired in 1896.
  • Member of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association in 1904.
  • Secretary of the Armidale Federation League 1899, later of the Freetrade and Liberal Association. Vice-president of the Liberal and Reform League until 1907.
  • Elected member of the Legislative Assembly for Armidale at a by-election on 12 December 1903. Retired in 1907.
  • Struck off as a solicitor in 1917, he worked as land agent.
  • Alderman at Armidale from 1908 to 1917. Mayor in 1913. Secretary of the Armidale No-Conscription League in 1917. President of the Armidale branch of the Australian Labor Party from 1920 until his death. Contested seat of New England (Federal) as endorsed Labor candidate in December 1922.
  • Secretary of the Armidale Hospital for about twenty years. Honorary secretary of the Armidale Citizens’ Band committee for seventeen years. Sometime president of the Armidale Pastoral and Agricultural Society, chairman of trustees of Armidale Sports Ground, president of New England cricket association, member of the Catholic Debating Society and of the Irish National Association and president of Armidale Eight-Hour Day Committee (1915).
  • In his youth he was “an athlete of no mean ability”. Later he was a referee of the Rugby Union code and became secretary, then president, of the New England Rugby Football Union. He was president of the local Rugby League from its inception in 1923 until his death.
  • Brother of Timothy Ray Kearney (1879-1907), editor and proprietor of the Armidale Argus. Father of Victor Dennis Kearney (1903-1982), ALP member of the Federal House of Representatives for Cunningham from 1956 to 1963.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton (eds), Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Labor News, 5 May 1923, p 5; Australian Worker, 9 May 1923 p 15.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kearney, Sydney John (Syd) (1870–1923)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

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