Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hugh Kennedy (1829–1882)

by G. L. Fischer

This article was published:

Hugh Kennedy (1829-1882), by unknown photographer

Hugh Kennedy (1829-1882), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 12249

Hugh Kennedy (1829-1882), university registrar, was born on 19 September 1829, the second son of Hugh Kennedy of Cultra, County Down, Ireland, and his second wife Sophia, née Lowe. In 1847 he matriculated to Balliol College, Oxford, and studied divinity, classics, mathematics and logic. He left, probably without a degree, although he later claimed a B.A. Oxon. In 1852 Kennedy married Eliza Ann, née Lloyd, and went to New South Wales. In January 1853 he became a clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office and in March transferred to the Customs Department as seventh clerk. He resigned in September to become registrar and secretary of the University of Sydney. In 1855 he was also appointed assistant professor of classics and allowed a quarter of the lecture fees.

With less than a hundred students enrolled, Kennedy's duties as registrar were not onerous, but he was required to keep detailed minutes of senate and other meetings, registers (some in Latin) and deal with correspondence. These records, often in Kennedy's own handwriting, form the basis of the University of Sydney's official archives. His duties included keeping a watchful eye on the condition of student lodging-houses. His long term of office gave administrative stability to the university. Although his teaching of classics involved the centre of university education, his lecturing role had become purely nominal by the 1870s. To many students he was 'particularly handsome' but 'more ornamental than useful'. He was a member of the Linnean Society of New South Wales.

By 1880 Kennedy had become affected by mental illness and was granted leave of absence by the University Senate. The Bulletin, 8 January 1881, attributed his illness to unsuccessful land speculations. Kennedy died intestate at the Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville, on 26 May 1882 and was buried in the Anglican section of Rookwood cemetery. He was predeceased by his first wife, who had died on 1 September 1866, and survived by a daughter. He was also survived by his second wife Ellen, née Fitzpatrick, whom he had married on 26 September 1868, and by four children.

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  • University of Sydney Archives.

Citation details

G. L. Fischer, 'Kennedy, Hugh (1829–1882)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 15 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Hugh Kennedy (1829-1882), by unknown photographer

Hugh Kennedy (1829-1882), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 12249

Life Summary [details]


19 September, 1829
Cultra, Down, Ireland


26 May, 1882 (aged 52)
Gladesville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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