Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bryan Cecil Fuller (1888–1956)

by Susan Emilsen

This article was published:

Bryan Cecil Fuller (1888-1956), barrister, Presbyterian layman and tennis administrator, was born on 17 August 1888 at Dunmore, New South Wales, thirteenth child of George Laurence Fuller, a farmer from Ireland, and his native-born wife Sarah Cunningham (Conyhame), née Miller. A brother of (Sir) George and C. D. Fuller, Bryan was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, and St Andrew's College, University of Sydney (B.A., 1910; LL.B., 1913). He was admitted to the Bar on 8 May 1913 and was associate to Chief Justice Sir William Cullen. Three years later Fuller began practice as a barrister with Alexander Thomson, K.C.

On 14 December 1916 at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton, Fuller married 20-year-old Isabel Mary Deane. Developing an extensive practice in commercial law, he was regularly briefed over many years as senior counsel for the State commissioner of railways. He was appointed K.C. on 30 March 1938 and was an acting-judge of the District Court from October to December. Fuller was also a councillor (from 1936) and treasurer (1939-46) of the New South Wales Bar Association; he represented the association on the university's faculty of law and served as vice-president (1950-51) of the Law Council of Australia.

A leading Presbyterian layman, Fuller was a council-member of Knox Grammar School (1923-45) and St Andrew's College (from 1921; chairman, 1938-55). In 1936 he was appointed procurator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and in 1937 of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. A committee-man par excellence, he was notable for his grasp of the law, both civil and ecclesiastical, for his vast experience of committee procedure (which he brought to bear 'impartially and firmly'), and for his remarkable knowledge of people and places.

Fuller's chief recreation was tennis. He was a councillor (from 1921) and vice-president (1926-36) of the New South Wales Lawn Tennis Association. As president from 1936, he was responsible for transferring the association's courts from Double Bay to White City, Rushcutters Bay. He frequently clashed with Sir Norman Brookes and challenged Victorian domination of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia. In 1946 Fuller accused Arthur Calwell of 'gross abuse of his executive powers' in refusing passports to the Australian squad who wanted to compete at Wimbledon.

A man of wide interests, Fuller was a leading member and a long-term vice-president of the University Club, which he joined in 1909; on the death of Sir Percival Halse Rogers in 1945, he was elected president. He also belonged to the Australian Club. Struck by a motor vehicle in Bent Street on 23 March 1956, he died in Sydney Hospital that day from the injuries he had received and was cremated. His funeral service at St Stephen's Church, Macquarie Street, was attended by one thousand people. He was survived by his wife, daughter and son (Sir) John Bryan Munro Fuller, government leader (1968-76) in the Legislative Council.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Dougan (compiler), The Andrew's Book (Syd, 1970)
  • S. E. Emilsen, A Whiff of Heresy (Syd, 1991)
  • New South Wales Presbyterian, 6 Apr 1956, p 1
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Mar, 12 Sept 1936, 31 Mar, 6 Apr, 15 June, 20 Oct 1938, 6 Sept 1939, 25 July 1945, 27, 28 Mar, 4 Apr 1946, 28 May, 13, 25 June 1947, 18 May 1949, 6 Aug 1951, 24 Mar 1956.

Citation details

Susan Emilsen, 'Fuller, Bryan Cecil (1888–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 August, 1888
Dunmore, New South Wales, Australia


23 March, 1956 (aged 67)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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