Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 08/02/1954 - 02/10/1969
Judge in Admiralty, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 01/01/1955 - 02/10/1969
Judge of Appeal, Court of Appeal, New South Wales, 01/01/1966 - 02/10/1969
Justice, High Court of Australia, 03/10/1969 - 29/11/1973
Sir Cyril Ambrose Walsh was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 15 June 1909, the son of Michael John Walsh, a labourer and later dairy farmer, and his wife Mary Ellen nee Murphy. He was educated at Parramatta High School and St John's College at the University of Sydney (BA Hons 1930, LLB Hons 1934). He was awarded a Public Exhibition Bursary to the University of Sydney based on his results in the Leaving Certificate of November 1926. (1)
Walsh was an award winning student. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours in English, Philosophy and Latin and won the University Medals for English and Philosophy. He achieved First Class Honours in his law degree and won the University Medal for Law. During his time at the University he received many other awards. In 1928 he was awarded the Josiah Symon Scholarship (English) and the MacCallum Prize (English, shared with RB Farrell). In 1929 he won the Thomas Henry Coulson Scholarship (English) and GS Caird Scholarship (Philosophy). In 1930 he received the James Coutts Scholarship (English) and Wigram Allen Scholarship II. Whilst studying law he won the Pitt Cobbett Prize No.I (1931, shared with WT Morck), the George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No.I (1932, shared with CR Shannon), the George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No.II (1933) and the Pitt Cobbett Prize No.II (1933). In 1934 he shared the John George Dalley Prize for the most distinguished Law student with three others. (2)
As well Walsh won prizes awarded through St. John's College: the John George Dalley Prize (1928, 1930, 1931), the Richard Bede Dalley Scholarship (1929) and the O'Connell Scholarship (1932). In 1930 he was vice-president of the Sydney University Literary Society. (3) His association with St John's College continued after he left University. He tutored in law at St John's from 1935 to at least 1942. From 1956 to his death, he was a Fellow of the College. In 1938 he also tutored in law at Sancta Sophia College for Women at the University. (4)
Walsh was called to the New South Wales Bar on 25 May 1934. He practised primarily in Equity, out of 174 Phillip Street and, from 1939, at 142 Phillip Street. He was the author of two publications: 'The Married Woman's Property Act, 1901, New South Wales...' (Sydney, 1950, with RE Walker) and 'The Defamation Act, 1958 and the Common Law'. (5)
On 8 February 1954 Walsh was appointed as a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales at the age of 44 years, despite not being a member of the Senior Bar. From 1955 to 1969 he was one of the Judges in Admiralty and from 1958 to 1962 he was in charge of a separate commercial causes list. When the Court of Appeal was established on 1 January 1966 he was appointed a Judge of Appeal. He went on leave of absence in 1966 from 10 February to 28 August and travelled in the United Kingdom and Europe. He resigned as a Supreme Court Judge and a Judge of Appeal on 2 October 1969 and was transferred to the High Court of Australia from 3 October. (6) The Australian Law Journal highlighted his 'incisive intellect with a particular flair for cool analysis and the patient disentanglement of problems'. (7) On 1 January 1971 he became a Privy Councillor. (8)
Walsh was made Knight Commander (Civil) of the Order of the British Empire on 21 November 1969 for his services to law. From 1945, he was a foundation member of the St Thomas More Society. (9)
Sir Cyril Ambrose Walsh died in office at Sydney on 29 November 1973, survived by his wife, Mary Agnes nee Smyth whom he married in 1942, and their three sons. (10)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melb., Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, 1955, p.782; 1959, p.819; 1962, p.876; 1965, p.872; 1968, p.873; 1971, p.931; Australian Law Journal (ALJ), Vol.47, p.752 (December 1973); John Kennedy McLaughlin, 'Walsh, Sir Cyril Ambrose (1909-1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160570b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); University of Sydney Calendar, 1927, p.520, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 12 May 2008).
2. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1927, p.727; 1928, pp.413, 445, 530-1, 535; 1929, pp.407, 419; 1930, pp.391, 409, 467, 568-71; 1931, pp.392, 422, 523, 775, 780; 1932, p.522; 1933, pp.396, 421, 523-4; 1934, pp.434, 448, 531; 1935, p.861 (cited 12, 27 May, 11 November 2008).
3. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1928, p.784; 1930, pp.827-8, 985; 1931, p.729; 1933, p.780 (cited 12, 27 May 2008).
4. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1935, p.813; 1936, p.849; 1937, p.719; 1938, pp.745, 765; 1939, p.777; 1940, p.360; 1941, p.311; 1942, p.244; 1956, p.538; 1972, p.292, (cited 27 May, 21 June 2008, 18 Jan 2010).
5. Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 17 February 1927 - 10 June 1955; Reel 2147, p.8; ALJ, Vol.27, p.607 (18 February 1954); New South Wales Law Almanac, Syd., NSW Govt Printer, 1935, p.81; 1939, p.82; 1954, p.81; National Library of Australia, Trove, http://trove.nla.gov.au, (cited 14 Jan 2010).
6. State Reports New South Wales, Syd., Law Book Company of Australasia Ltd, Vol.54 (1954); Vol.55 (1955); Vol.64 (1963-64), Vol.66 (1965-66), Vol.69 (1967-68); New South Wales Law Almanac, op.cit., 1964, p.54; 1965, p.58; 1966, p.60; 1967, p.60; 1968, p.60; 1969, p.59; 1980, pp.46, 57, 63; John Kennedy McLaughlin, 'Walsh, Sir Cyril Ambrose (1909-1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, op.cit.; ALJ, Vol.27, p.607 (18 February 1954); Vol.43, p.636 (31 December 1969); George Williams, 'Judge quietly rebuffs his critics', Australian, 23 September 1969.
7. ALJ, Vol.43, p.636 (31 December 1969).
8. John Kennedy McLaughlin, 'Walsh, Sir Cyril Ambrose (1909-1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, op.cit.
9. It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au (cited 23 January 2008); John Kennedy McLaughlin, 'Walsh, Sir Cyril Ambrose (1909-1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, op.cit.
10. New South Wales Law Almanac, op.cit., 1980, pp.46, 57, 63; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.