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Cecil Horace Murphy (1891–1935)

This article was published:

Cecil Murphy, 1921

Cecil Murphy, 1921

Murphy, Cecil Horace (Cec) (1891-1935) grocer, schoolteacher, estate agent and Labor parliamentarian 

Birth: 1 April 1891 at Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Michael John Murphy 1859-1924), plumber, of Irish descent, and Catherine Ann, née Clarke (1862-1939, whose father was born in Middlesex, England, and mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. Marriage: 8 August 1925 in a Catholic ceremony at North Sydney to Genevieve Mary Taylor. They had three daughters and one son. Death: 14 September 1935 at Sydney; buried with Anglican rites. Religion: Unitarian. 

  • Member of the Australian Workers’ Union 1908 and Millers' Union 1910;
  • Teacher trainee Hereford House, Sydney, 1912. Worked as a teacher in New Zealand.
  • Was a Grocer at Camperdown, Sydney, in 1915.
  • Had served for nine months in the New Zealand Cadet Force. Enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 30 September 1915, when he was described as 5 ft 4 inches in height weighing 113 lbs, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair and a scar on his left shoulder. Gave his religion as Unitarian. Served in the 18th and 20th Battalions. Embarked for Egypt from Sydney on 23 December 1915, was promoted corporal. Having dislocated his right shoulder, falling from a camel, and diagnosed with epilepsy Private Murphy was discharged, medically unfit, in England on 8 August 1916, and granted a pension.
  • Active in NSW Returned Soldiers' No-Conscription League 1917, and in 1918-19 president of pro-Labor Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Political League.
  • Schoolteacher Education Department, Artarmon 1917, Cleveland Street 1917-1920. Student at University of Sydney 1919 or 1920. Later estate agent.
  • Active Returned Servicemen’s League and Young Australia League. President Sons of Australia.
  • Secretary of Bankstown Labor League 1912-1913. Member Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party 1918-1920 and member of Organising Committee 1918-1919. Contested North Sydney (Federal) electorate in 1919.
  • Elected member of the NSW Legislative Assembly for North Shore on 20 March 1920. Known in the house as “the little corporal”. Was caught up in sectarian campaign against Labor parliamentarians in 1925. Seat was abolished on 7 September 1927. Having fallen foul of the Lang regime, he stood as Independent Labor for Rozelle in 1927 and as federal Labor candidate for North Sydney in 1932.
  • Was in financial difficulties in 1935. Cause of death: poisoning by phenobarbitone, (luminal), suicide.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); information from Terry King 1991; Australian Worker, 3 April 1919 p 10, 13 November 1919 p 13, 22 November 1919 p 5, 10 November 1926 p 1.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Murphy, Cecil Horace (1891–1935)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Cecil Murphy, 1921

Cecil Murphy, 1921

Life Summary [details]


1 April, 1891
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


14 September, 1935 (aged 44)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Military Service
Key Organisations
Political Activism