Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edward Parnell (Ted) Kinsella (1893–1967)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

Edward Parnell (Ted) Kinsella (1893-1967), judge, was born on 10 June 1893 at Glen Innes, New South Wales, second of six children of Patrick Kinsella, a sheriff's officer from Ireland, and his native-born wife Mary Jane, née Shannon. Patrick had twelve children from a previous marriage. Educated at St Patrick's College, Goulburn, Ted joined the Department of Lands as a cadet draughtsman on 10 June 1910 and was stationed at Wagga Wagga, Moree and Glen Innes.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 28 August 1914, embarked for Egypt with the 2nd Battalion and served in the Gallipoli campaign from the landing to the evacuation. Transferred to the 54th Battalion, Sergeant Kinsella sailed for France in June 1916 and was commissioned on 23 August (lieutenant 28 December). He took leave in Australia in June-July 1918 and returned to France in November where he was posted to the 56th Battalion. On 2 August 1919 he married Marie Louise Josephine Graff at the Town Hall, Marchienne-au-Pont, Belgium.

Back in Sydney, Kinsella returned to the Department of Lands in February 1920. His A.I.F. appointment terminated on 25 July. From June 1923 he worked as a clerk in the returned soldiers' settlement branch. Despite bouts of illness, he continued to study part time at the University of Sydney (LL.B., 1927) and was admitted to the Bar on 5 May 1927. As the Australian Labor Party's candidate, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for George's River in 1930, but was defeated in 1932 and 1935 when he supported the Lang Labor Party.

In the 1930s Kinsella developed a sound practice from Chancery and University chambers, mainly in common law and industrial work. On 19 January 1943 he was appointed a District Court judge. He joined the Industrial Commission of New South Wales from 7 October; his work included chairing the Crown Employees' Appeal Board. Six ft 4 ins (193 cm) tall, he wore striped trousers, a black coat and a homburg. On 18 January 1950 he was elevated to the Supreme Court bench. Austere and dignified, with a passion for justice, he ran a tight court and wrote careful judgements. Kinsella twice served as royal commissioner, inquiring in 1951-52 into Frederick Lincoln McDermott's conviction for murder and in 1962-63 into off-course betting. He was also judge in Admiralty from 1961 until he retired on 6 June 1963.

A leading Catholic layman, Kinsella was a foundation member (1952) and chairman (1961-67) of St Vincent's Hospital's advisory board and president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Association of New South Wales. He was a keen racegoer and was elected to the Australian Jockey Club in 1942. Although he also belonged to the University Club, the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Hunters Hill Bowling Club, he was not gregarious and most enjoyed fishing. In 1964 he was appointed C.B.E. Kinsella died on 20 December 1967 at Darlinghurst and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery; his wife, two daughters and two of their three sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Law Journal, 27 June 1963, p 60
  • Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 15 Apr 1962
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 21 Dec 1967
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 1930, 20 Jan, 7 Oct 1943, 25 Nov 1952, 4 Sept, 23 Nov 1962, 5 Apr 1963, 21 Dec 1967
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Kinsella, Edward Parnell (Ted) (1893–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 June, 1893
Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia


20 December, 1967 (aged 74)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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