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Keith Cameron Waugh (1886–1974)

by C. C. Creswell

This article was published:

Keith Cameron Waugh (1886-1974), Commonwealth crown solicitor, was born on 24 March 1886 at Wollongong, New South Wales, eldest child of native-born parents Rev. Robert Hope Waugh, Presbyterian minister, and his wife Annie Eliza, daughter of Rev. James Cameron. In 1893 the family moved to Neutral Bay, Sydney. Keith attended Sydney Grammar School and studied mining and metallurgy at the University of Sydney (B.E., 1908). His interest switched to the law, and he was articled to Aubrey Halloran and later to J. S. Cargill. On 19 February 1914 he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 28 September that year, Waugh served with the 13th Battalion at Gallipoli from April 1915. He was severely wounded in the shoulder on 18 August and evacuated to Egypt. Becoming a storeman, he served there until September 1916 when he was sent to England. In November he was attached to the A.I.F. Kit Store, London, rising to staff sergeant in December 1917. He returned to Australia in April 1918 and was discharged on 17 May because of asthma.

Waugh joined the New South Wales branch of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor's Office as a clerk in the professional division on 17 March 1919. At the Holy Trinity Church, Kew, Melbourne, on 7 December 1925 he married with Anglican rites Bertha Winifred Simm, a clerk; they were childless. He was in charge of the Canberra office from November 1926 until the crown solicitor moved there from Melbourne the following year.

On his friend H. F. E. Whitlam's appointment as crown solicitor, Waugh succeeded him as assistant crown solicitor on 4 February 1937. Acute staff shortages occurred during World War II and, with only four officers holding substantive positions in the office, Waugh supervised all legal work arising in the Australian Capital Territory. In the immediate postwar period he gave most of the office's formal opinions. He was appointed crown solicitor on 10 November 1949, holding the position until his retirement on 23 March 1951.

Except for a period spent at Manly, Sydney, Waugh lived at Forrest, Canberra. His pastimes included growing and grafting fruit trees, weaving, golf and, late in life, walking for exercise. Vice-president (1938-48) and a life member (1947) of the A.C.T. Rugby Union, he was the first life member of the Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Football Club. He was a respected member of the Barton sub-branch of the Returned Services League of Australia. A foundation member of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Forrest, he was secretary of the board of management for about twenty years. Of strong, stocky build with a shock of white hair, he was a kindly man who enjoyed the company of children and played popular tunes on the piano by ear. Survived by his wife, he died on 9 March 1974 at the Allambee Nursing Home, Aranda, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • H. E. Renfree, History of the Crown Solicitor's Office (Canb, 1970)
  • Echo (Canberra), no 175, Apr 1974
  • Canberra and District Historical Society, Newsletter, no 153, May 1974, p 10
  • Canberra Times, 11 Mar 1974
  • private information.

Citation details

C. C. Creswell, 'Waugh, Keith Cameron (1886–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 24 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 March, 1886
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia


9 March, 1974 (aged 87)
Aranda, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.