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Richard Clive Teece (1877–1965)

by J. M. Bennett

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Richard Teece

Richard Teece (1847-1928), actuary, and Richard Clive Teece (1877-1965), barrister, were father and son. Richard was born on 29 April 1847 at Paihia, New Zealand, second son of William Teece, a gold prospector from Wales, and his English-born wife Catherine, née Hassett. The family moved in 1854 to the 'Snowy Mountain diggings' in New South Wales, then to Lambing Flat (Young) before settling at Goulburn. Richard was educated at Goulburn Grammar School and the University of Sydney (1865-67). An accomplished sportsman, he was secretary of the University Boat Club and played in early intervarsity cricket matches and later with the Albert and I Zingari clubs. On 10 February 1876 at Pitt Street Congregational Church he married with Methodist forms Helena (d.1914), daughter of Benjamin Palmer, mayor of Sydney.

Leaving the university without a degree, at the age of 19 Teece had joined the Australian Mutual Provident Society as an actuarial clerk, advancing to chief clerk at 25. Qualified as an actuary, he soon had a leading position and became a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, London, the Faculty of Actuaries of Scotland and the Actuarial Society of America. He was successively secretary, general manager and actuary (from 1890) and a director (1917-27) of the A.M.P. Society, and was described as the 'master-mind behind [its] stupendous growth'.

A Freemason, Teece was deputy grand master of United Grand Lodge (1897-98).

He was president of the Australian Economic Association, Actuarial Society of New South Wales, Insurance Institute of New South Wales, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, Free Trade and Liberal Association, and the New South Wales Club (1914-19), vice-president of the Sydney Philharmonic Society and honorary secretary of the New South Wales Cricket Association. A fellow of the university senate (1889-1919), he was a founder and council-member of Women's College (1892-1902).

While temporarily deranged, Teece shot himself at his Point Piper home on 13 December 1928; he was buried in the Anglican section of Gore Hill cemetery. Four sons and three daughters, including Linda Littlejohn, survived him.

His eldest son, known as Clive, was born on 24 September 1877 at Woolloomooloo. Educated at Sydney Grammar School and St Andrew's College, University of Sydney (B.A., 1899; M.A., 1901; LL.B., 1903), he thrice graduated with first-class honours and won the University medal (for classics, modern history and law). His many prizes included the 1902 Beauchamp prize for his essay, 'A Comparison of the Federal Constitution of Canada with that of Australia'. Having read in the chambers of Dr Richard Sly and (Sir) Adrian Knox, he was admitted to the Bar on 29 October 1903.

Tempted by academic life, Teece became acting professor of law at the University of Tasmania (1905), but returned to professional practice in Denman Chambers, Sydney. Family connexions marked out a career in commercial and property law, equity and appellate work. He served in 1910 as vice-principal of his old college. On 6 July 1911 he was married by Henry Lowther Clarke, the Anglican archbishop of Melbourne, to Fanny Frederica (d.1950), daughter of Frederick Grimwade, at Holy Trinity Church, Balaclava; they were to have a son and three daughters. The family lived in Sydney at Bellevue Hill and later at Vaucluse, and had a country retreat at Leura.

Teece's practice thrived: he became King's Counsel in December 1922, being reciprocally admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1932. He described his recreations as 'golf, with occasional irruptions into political controversies' on the conservative side. Much of his time outside the law was devoted to the Church of England: Teece was chancellor of the diocese of Bathurst (1928-36) and a member of the Sydney diocesan synod; as chairman of committees of the general synod, he was principal draftsman of a proposed new constitution for the Australian Church. When senior counsel for the informants in the 'Red Book Case' in the Supreme and High courts (1944-48), Teece succeeded in having the bishop of Bathurst restrained from making major liturgical changes. About the same time he was retained to advise private banks on the Federal government's proposed legislation to nationalize banking.

From 1940, when war service depleted the Sydney University Law School staff, Teece lectured in legal ethics for over twenty years. His lectures were published as Law and Conduct of the Legal Profession in New South Wales, in 1949 with W. N. Harrison and in 1963 on his own account. A strict disciplinarian as lecturer, Teece cut a sartorial figure with rose-bud buttonhole and distinctive monocle. In 1946 the majority of the practising barristers on the faculty—still simmering at the senate's refusal to delay filling vacant chairs in law until after the war—took their revenge by electing Teece 'caretaker' dean, thereby blocking the immediate aspirations of the few full-time academic members.

A proponent of the corporate organization of the legal profession, Teece was a member of the Council of the Bar, and foundation president of the New South Wales Bar Association (1936-44) and of the Law Council of Australia (1934-35, 1937-38). He had practised for just over fifty years on his retirement in October 1953. Continuing to lecture for over a decade, he regularly dined at the Union, University and Australasian Pioneers' clubs. Survived by his four children, Teece died at Randwick on 6 November 1965 and was cremated after a service at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point.

Select Bibliography

  • T. C. Hammond (ed), The Bathurst Ritual Case (Syd, nd)
  • Cyclopedia of N.S.W. (Syd, 1907)
  • Fifty Years of Service (Syd, 1916)
  • J. M. Bennett (ed), A History of the New South Wales Bar (Syd, 1969)
  • R. A. Littlejohn, Richard Teece, 1847-1924 (Syd, 1979)
  • University of Sydney News, 27 Mar 1974
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Dec 1928, 8, 9 Nov 1965
  • Anglican, 18 Nov 1965
  • Reminiscences of Clive Teece Q.C. (held by New South Wales Bar Assn, Sydney)
  • private information.

Additional Resources

Citation details

J. M. Bennett, 'Teece, Richard Clive (1877–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 September, 1877
Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


6 November, 1965 (aged 88)
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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