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William Tyson Kendall (1851–1936)

by Harold E. Albiston

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This is a shared entry with Ernest Arthur Kendall

William Tyson Kendall (1851-1936) and Ernest Arthur Kendall (1876-1938), veterinary surgeons, were father and son. Kendall senior was born on 10 February 1851 at Sunny Bank, Torver, Lancashire, England, son of William Kendall, wood turner and later veterinary surgeon, and his wife Elizabeth, née Jackson. He graduated at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, London, in 1873. On 8 September 1875 at Lowick, Lancashire, he married Elizabeth Park (d.1904).

Kendall arrived in Melbourne in 1880 en route for New Zealand. Finding a city with only four veterinary surgeons, he stayed to establish a practice first at Bourke Street West (Melbourne), then at Fitzroy; his wife and three infants followed him out. He founded a veterinary association and several journals and in 1884, when he published The Diseases of Australian Horses, he succeeded in obtaining a board of inquiry on bovine tuberculosis. Next year he established a veterinary hospital at Fitzroy. In January 1888, after enactment of the veterinary surgeons bill (1887) which Kendall had drafted and which provided for the registration of qualified veterinary surgeons, he opened the Melbourne Veterinary College with government assurances of legal protection for its graduates, but without a subsidy. The college, offering a four-year course with examinations conducted by the Veterinary Board of Victoria (of which Kendall was president in 1897-1906 and 1912-24), was absorbed into the University of Melbourne in 1909 under J. A. Gilruth. Kendall, who graduated D.V.Sc. from the university in 1909, remained on the staff as lecturer until 1918; from 1914 he was sub-director of the Stock Diseases Research Institute.

Kendall was an honorary associate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (1891) and had an oration established in his honour in Canberra in 1930. He died at West Brunswick on 11 August 1936 survived by five sons and a daughter from his first marriage, and by his second wife Elizabeth, formerly Todd, née Coward, whom he had married on 29 June 1905 at the Australian Church, Melbourne. He was buried in Melbourne general cemetery. A portrait by Frederick McCubbin is held by the veterinary clinical centre of the University of Melbourne, Werribee, and the student residential hall there is named after him.

His eldest son Ernest was born on 30 August 1876 at Ambleside, Westmorland, England, and was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, the Melbourne Veterinary College whose teaching staff he joined in 1897, and the University of Melbourne (B.V.Sc., 1911) where he was a temporary lecturer in veterinary medicine and obstetrics in 1909-10. In 1901 he joined the public service as a veterinary officer in the Department of Agriculture, becoming assistant chief veterinary officer in 1908. On 9 February 1910 he married Alma Cresswell Connelly at All Saints Pro-Cathedral, Bendigo.

Kendall was keenly interested in the volunteer forces of Victoria. Joining the Victorian Mounted Rifles as a private in April 1897, he was commissioned captain in the Australian Army Veterinary Corps and as veterinary officer, Victorian Mounted Rifles, in October. During the South African War he was responsible for the creation and organization of the veterinary section of the 5th Victorian contingent, 1st Australian Regiment, and saw active service. Promoted major, A.A.V.C., in January 1904, he was appointed principal veterinary officer, 3rd Military District, in April. In November 1913 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel.

On the outbreak of World War I Kendall became acting director of veterinary services in the central administration; in October 1915 he joined the Australian Imperial Force as lieutenant-colonel and senior veterinary officer, 2nd Australian Remount Unit. He served in Egypt and France. Promoted deputy director of veterinary services and temporary colonel in February 1916 (confirmed in February 1918), he was mentioned in dispatches and appointed C.M.G. in December 1917. He returned to Australia in 1919.

Resuming his career in the Department of Agriculture, Kendall succeeded W. A. N. Robertson as chief veterinary officer in August 1926. After considerable criticism of the Melbourne milk supply, in 1933 Kendall chaired an investigating committee and as first chairman of the resulting Milk Board made his outstanding contribution as a public servant in Victoria.

Kendall helped to form the Veterinary Association of Victoria in 1913, was secretary until 1924 and president in 1928 and 1929. A leading Freemason, he enjoyed golf and gardening. He died at North Brighton of coronary vascular disease on 21 March 1938 and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery, survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons.

Ernest's brothers, William Augustus (1878-1959) and John (1882-1945) also combined veterinary and military careers. Both were graduates of the Melbourne Veterinary College: William established a veterinary practice at Prahran, John at Seymour. They were both commissioned in the A.A.V.C., and promoted captain in 1913. Both joined the A.I.F. as captains on 20 August 1914 and served as veterinary surgeons in Egypt and France. John, who was also present at Gallipoli, was appointed O.B.E. Both continued service with the A.A.V.C. and were promoted lieutenant-colonel on 1 August 1924. Their sister, Eleanor Jane (1880-1957), served in World War I with the Australian Army Nursing Service. Another brother, Elverene Park, was a civil engineer.

William Tyson's fifth son and successor to his Fitzroy practice, Hector (1885-1961) was educated at Wesley College, the Melbourne Veterinary College and the University of Melbourne (B.V.Sc., 1917). For thirty years he was veterinary surgeon to the Royal Society of Victoria, the Victorian Society for Protection of Animals and the Victorian Trotting and Racing Association. In 1933 he was appointed assistant director of the Royal Zoological and Acclimatisation Society with the right of succession to the director Andrew Wilkie — an agreement reluctantly ratified by the Legislative Assembly when, on Wilkie's retirement late in 1936, a Zoological Board was formed.

Kendall's association with the board remained uneasy; he publicly blamed the board for the death of 100 monkeys after alterations to their enclosures, and other disagreements led to his dismissal in September 1945. He developed a practice at Sunbury and died in Melbourne on 3 October 1961.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1901, 3 (36), p 242
  • Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science (Section K), Report of Meeting, 1913
  • Australian Veterinary Journal, 12, 1936, 14, 1938, 52, 1976
  • Australian Veterinary Association, Annual Conference Handbook, May 1970
  • Argus (Melbourne), 12 Aug, 23, 24 Oct, 6, 19 Nov 1936, 22 Mar 1938, 23 Jan, 28 Sept 1945
  • W. T. and E. A. Kendall papers (University of Melbourne Archives).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Harold E. Albiston, 'Kendall, William Tyson (1851–1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 February, 1851
Torver, Lancashire, England


11 August, 1936 (aged 85)
Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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