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Andrew Joseph Thynne (1847–1927)

by Brian F. Stevenson

This article was published:

Andrew Joseph Thynne (1847-1927), solicitor and politician, was born on 30 October 1847 at Ennistymon, Clare, Ireland, third son of Edward Thynne, farmer, and his wife Bridget Stuart, née Fitzgerald. Educated at the local Christian Brothers' school and by a private tutor, he matriculated at Queen's College, Galway, in 1861 and entered its faculty of arts. Andrew arrived in Queensland with his parents in 1864 and joined the public service as a clerk. Resigning within the year, he was articled to Graham Hart and was admitted as a solicitor in December 1873. 'A brainy and industrious lawyer', he formed a partnership with (Sir) Edward Macartney and represented some of Queensland's largest corporations.

In January 1882 Thynne was appointed to the Legislative Council, remaining a member until its abolition in 1922. He was the only councillor in cabinet in 1888-90 when he served as minister of justice in the McIlwraith and Morehead governments. In subsequent cabinets he was minister without portfolio (1893-94), postmaster-general (1894-97) and secretary for agriculture (1896-98); he helped to establish the Queensland Agricultural College at Gatton. Thynne represented his colony at the National Australasian Convention in Sydney in 1891, at a colonial conference held in Ottawa, Canada, in 1894 and at a postal conference in Hobart in 1895. In March 1898 he resigned his portfolio in order to give more time to his other professional interests.

As leader of the government in the Legislative Council and principal of the firm handling the Chillagoe Pty Co.'s legal interests, Thynne argued successfully for government assistance to his corporate client. In late 1916 he clashed acrimoniously with Premier T. J. Ryan over the attempted transformation of the company into a state-owned mining enterprise. He accused Ryan of forcing his clients to sell 'at a wrecker's price'. The bill associated with the sale was defeated in the council.

Thynne was president of the City (later Queensland) Ambulance Transport Brigade from 1892 until his death. A founder of the Rifle Association, he captained Queensland shooting teams in intercolonial competitions and won the local Queen's prize in 1882 and 1884. Having joined the volunteers as a private in 1867, he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and command of the Volunteer Corps, Queensland Defence Force. In 1892 Colonel (Sir) George French, the retiring commandant of the Q.D.F., publicly stated that the volunteers were not providing an adequate return for taxpayers' money. Thynne was affronted. During the ensuing dispute with French's successor, Major General (Sir) John Owen, Thynne submitted his resignation. The premier, Sir Samuel Griffith, intervened and Thynne retained his command until 1896. On the outbreak of World War I, despite his age, he worked sixteen hours a day as chairman of the State Recruiting Committee.

Appointed to the first senate of the University of Queensland in April 1910, Thynne was elected vice-chancellor in 1916 and chancellor in 1925. A traditionalist to the core, he argued successfully against fellow senate member A. H. Barlow who advocated that criteria other than matriculation be used for university entry. As vice-chancellor, Thynne reaffirmed the position of the original senate that university professors should not be involved in politics.

Thynne had married Mary Williamina Cairncross (d.1918) on 3 June 1869 in St Stephen's Catholic Church, Brisbane. On 11 October 1922 he married a widow Christina Jane Corrie, née Macpherson, in the vestry of St Patrick's Catholic Church, Sydney. At 50 Thynne might readily have been taken for 40: he was 'still as straight as a gun-barrel, and as nimble as a possum'. Throughout his adult life he kept himself fit by rifle-shooting, bowls and gardening. As a speaker, his debating skill, command of language, personal charm and persuasiveness compensated for his soft voice and his tendency to touchiness.

With his friend Archbishop (Sir) James Duhig by his bedside, Thynne died on 27 February 1927 at Thoonbah, his home in Highgate Hill. After a requiem Mass he was buried in South Brisbane cemetery. He was survived by his wife, and five daughters and three of the four sons of his first marriage. His estate was sworn for probate at £21,264. Notions of duty and obligation had propelled Thynne to become an extraordinarily energetic and versatile public man who made many influential friends. In his panegyric Duhig praised him as 'an ideal adviser in the many weighty matters of state and private interest with which he was called to deal'.

Select Bibliography

  • C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty (1859-1919) Years (Brisb, 1920)
  • D. H. Johnson, Volunteers at Heart (Brisb, 1974)
  • D. J. Murphy, T. J. Ryan (Brisb, 1975)
  • M. I. Thomis, A Place of Light & Learning (Brisb, 1985)
  • Queenslander, 6 Feb 1897, 5 Feb 1898, 5 Mar 1927
  • Daily Mail (Brisbane), 16 Apr 1918, 28 Feb 1927
  • Brisbane Courier, 28 Feb 1927.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Brian F. Stevenson, 'Thynne, Andrew Joseph (1847–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 20 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

Andrew Thynne, c.1910

Andrew Thynne, c.1910

State Library of Queensland, 116396

Life Summary [details]


30 October, 1847
Ennistymon, Clare, Ireland


27 February, 1927 (aged 79)
Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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