Acting Judge, District Court of New South Wales, Metropolitan District, 07/06/1933 - 30/06/1933
Acting Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Metropolitan District, 07/06/1933 - 30/06/1933
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 17/03/1941 - 30/04/1941
Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 16/05/1955 - 05/06/1965
Keith Aubrey Ferguson was born on 6 June 1895 at Bexley, Sydney, New South Wales, the son of David Gilbert Ferguson and his wife Alice Rosa Annie nee Curtis. He was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (1906-1913) and at the University of Sydney (BA 1919, LLB 1922). (1)
Ferguson's university education was interrupted by his service in World War I. He matriculated in November 1913 with Honours in French and entered the first year of the Bachelor of Arts course in 1914. Whilst at the University he joined their militia regiment, the Sydney University Scouts, for six months before transferring to the 26th Infantry Brigade. He was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant on 16 March 1916 and on 15 May 1916 applied for a commission with the 3rd Cyclist Company, Australian Imperial Forces. He signed his attestation papers on 17 May and the next day left for Europe on the HMAT A64 'Demosthenes'. On 7 September he was transferred to the 20th Battalion and by 1 January 1917 was seconded to the 4th Division Headquarters, France, as Aide-de-camp to the General Officer Commanding, General William Holmes. On 31 March 1917 he was shot in the right arm at a frontline outpost north of Lagnicourt by snipers whilst accompanying Holmes. Awaiting evacuation, he was wounded in the head by shelling. Hospitalised in England, he returned to Australia on 16 July 1917 per HMAT 'Kanowna' and was medically discharged on 12 March 1918. He had a steel plate inserted in his head and his vocabulary was affected, although he overcame this in his early career as a barrister. (2)
Ferguson returned to his education in 1918, completing both his Bachelor of Arts degree and the first year of the Law course. From 1918 to 1921 he was employed at the Supreme Court of New South Wales as Clerk to his father, Justice David Ferguson. Keith finished his law degree in 1921 and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 1 June 1922. He practised, mainly in Common Law and commercial matters, out of 30 Wentworth Court (1923), Chancery Chambers (1924-1935), 170 Phillip Street (1936-1938) and 142 Phillip Street (1939-1955). He was described as a very logical cross-examiner who achieved 'great distinction as a common law pleader and a man of unhurried and dependable judgement'. (3) He was made a King's Counsel on 29 November 1944. A member of the Council of the Bar of New South Wales and its successor the New South Wales Bar Association from 1933/1934 to 1943/1944 and from 1946/1947 to 1954/1955, he was vice-president of the New South Wales Bar Association from 1950/1951 to 1951/1952 and president from 1952/1953 to 1953/1954. (4)
Ferguson followed in the footsteps of his father, David Gilbert Ferguson, when he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Keith Ferguson was an Acting Judge of the District Court in the Metropolitan District and Chairman of Quarter Sessions from 7 to 30 June 1933. He was an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court from 17 March to 30 April 1941. Appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court from 16 May 1955, he retired on 5 June 1965. (5)
During World War II, Ferguson was deputy chairman of the New South Wales Hiring Committee. The Central Hiring Committee regulated the hire, and later de-hire, of property within Australia needed by the Commonwealth Government for defence and military purposes under the National Security (General) Regulations, 1939 No.87. The Committee prioritised hiring needs, set conditions, standards and procedures for hiring, and resolved conflicts with property owners, while the Army Hiring Service implemented those decisions. The Central Hiring Committee delegated its authority to Local Hiring Committees in Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville. (6)
Ferguson died on 2 September 1978 at St Luke's Hospital, Darlinghurst, survived by his three daughters. His wife, Viola Margaret Meares nee Sly, known as Madge, was the daughter of Justice Richard Meares Sly. They had married on 23 March 1921 at Sydney and she died on 11 January 1967. (7)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, 1947, p.330; 1950, p.254; 1955, p.274; 1959, p.279; 1962, p.293; 1965, pp.296-7; 1968, p.301; 1971, p.334; 1974, p.363; Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, pp.714-5 (December 1978); Sydney Morning Herald 6 September 1978, p.8; NSW marriage certificate 3118/1887 David G Ferguson and Alice R A Curtis; University of Sydney Calendar, 1919, p.435; 1920, p.677; 1922, p.503; 1923, pp.611, 628, 773, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 12 May and 1 December 2008).
2. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1914, pp.339, 454, 482; 1915, pp.387-9, 391, 500, 530; 1916, pp.397, 509, cited 12 May 2008; National Archives of Australia: B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; 'Ferguson Keith Aubrey', http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/ItemDetail.asp?M=0&B=3553269 (cited 1 December 2008); Australian War Memorial, AIF Nominal Roll, File 17-005, http://www.awm.gov.au/nominalrolls/ww1/page.asp?Folder=17&Page=5&Surname=Ferguson (cited 1 December 2008); CEW Bean, The AIF in France 1917, Vol.IV Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, p.358, fn.7, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, Eleventh edition, 1941, http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/5/chapters/10.pdf (cited 1 December 2008); Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, p.715 (December 1978).
3. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1918, p.544; 1919, pp.435, 446; 1920, pp.468, 604; 1921, pp.481, 633; 1922, p.503, cited 12 May and 1 December 2008; Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 1876-1926; Reel 2147, p.24; New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1923, p.63; 1924, p.63; 1936, p.74; 1939, p.74; 1955, p.78; Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, p.715 (December 1978); Vol.29, p.18 (26 May 1955), Vol.39, p.110 (30 July 1965).
4. Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42917] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941; New South Wales Law Almanac, op.cit, 1934, p.57; 1935, p.57; 1936, p.58; 1937, p.58; 1938, p.58; 1939, p.58; 1940, p.60; 1941, p.60; 1942, p.60; 1943, p.60; 1944, p.60; 1947, p.55; 1949, p.55; 1950, p.55; 1951, p.57; 1952, p.57; 1953, p.61; 1954, p.65; 1955, p.67; 'Bar Councillors 1940-1950', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1940_1950.php (cited 2 December 2008).
5. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.88 (9 June 1933), p.1986; No.33 (14 March 1941), p.1025; State Reports New South Wales, Vol.55 (1955), p.ii; Vol.65 (1964-1965), p.vi; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1970, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1970, p.55; Australian Law Journal, op.cit..
6. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; 'National Archives of Australia - Series notes for Series B985' [Property hiring files], http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/SeriesDetail.asp?M=3&B=B985 (cited 2 December 2008).
7. Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 1978, p.20; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 1967, p.18.