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Hugh Baron Bignold (1870–1930)

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Hugh Baron Bignold (1870-1930), barrister, was born on 22 June 1870 at Calcutta, India, third son of Thomas Frank Bignold, judge, and his wife Sophia Mary, née Howe. Educated at Stafford Grammar School and Buxton College, Derbyshire, England, he completed his studies at Hanover, Germany. On 7 June 1886 in the Flora the family arrived in Hobart; next year his father died and Hugh joined the Union Bank of Australia. In 1889 as 'Baroni' he published Adrian North, a book of short stories and verse. He matriculated to the University of London in 1892 and two years later moved to the bank's Sydney office. A part-time student-at-law from 1895, he was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in December 1899. On 30 January that year he had married Nellie Elena Gertrude Norton Raines at St James's Anglican Church, Sydney. Next year he resigned from the bank.

According to the Bulletin, though he was equipped to have made a success at the Bar, 'a certain nervousness and diffidence handicapped him and his literary tastes interfered with his profession'. Bignold's career consisted largely of writing and editing legal works, mainly commentaries on statutes. His first annotated edition of a New South Wales statute, the Wills, Probate and Administration Act, with W. A. Walker (1898), was followed by a series of such works, including one on the Police Offences and Vagrancy Acts (1905 and successive editions). Bignold's Banking Manual … (1909) was another work. He was editor of the Magistrate in 1905-14 and compiled indexes for New South Wales and Commonwealth statutes. He contributed articles on imperial defence to the United Service Magazine and other journals in the early 1900s. He wrote a deal of published and unpublished verse and short stories, and Likewise (1919), a collection of epigrams, and frequently contributed to the press on political and economic subjects.

In 1895-1911 Bignold conducted the chess column in the Sydney Morning Herald. A prominent player in both Hobart and Sydney, he edited the Australian Chess Annual (1896), was vice-president, sometime president of the New South Wales Chess Association, and played against Victoria nine times in 1906-22. He published Auction Simplified in 1922, and in 1927 was president of the Sydney Auction Bridge Association. From 1924 he was a councillor of the Millions Club of New South Wales.

Bignold died of coronary vascular disease on 24 January 1930 and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, daughter and son Esme, a barrister who was a prominent crown law officer, and later a Supreme Court judge in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

Select Bibliography

  • W. H. and L. F. Maxwell, A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations vol 6 (Lond, 1958)
  • Australasian Chess Review, 20 Feb 1930
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Jan 1930
  • Bulletin, 19 Feb 1930
  • CSD 30/19/20 38 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

'Bignold, Hugh Baron (1870–1930)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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