Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 17/11/1939 - 16/06/1940
Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 17/06/1940 - 14/10/1940
Justice, High Court of Australia, 15/10/1940 - 31/07/1958
Sir Dudley Williams, KBE MC, was born on 7 December 1889 at Milsons Point, Sydney, the son of Prosper Orleans Williams and his wife, Florence Mary nee Milson. He was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School and at St Paul's College, University of Sydney (BA 1912, LLB Honours Class II 1915). (1)
Williams was an active and award winning student. He was involved with the Sydney University Boat Club (committee member 1911), the Sydney University Lawn Tennis Club (one of the Honorary Secretaries 1914, one of the vice-presidents 1915), and the Sydney University Sports Union (general committee member 1914-15). He shared with Kenneth Whistler Street the 1912 Wigram Allen Scholarship for general proficiency in Part I of the LLB examination and the 1912 Pitt Cobbett Prize for constitutional law. Awarded the 1914 George and Matilda Harris Scholarship for Section II of the Intermediate LLB, he was ruled ineligible because he had taken three years to complete the Intermediate LLB rather than two. In March 1915 he passed his final examinations for his Bachelor of Law degree. (2)
Williams was called to the New South Wales Bar on 2 July 1915. However he sailed to England so he could enlist in the British Army. He served in France from 19 November 1915 with the 32nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, rising to the rank of Acting Captain and Adjutant and was awarded the Military Cross. Twice Mentioned in Despatches, he returned to Australia in mid 1919. (3)
On 28 July 1919 he was appointed as an Associate and Clerk of Arraigns to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Sir William Cullen. He held this position until March 1921 when he established his law practice. He practised out of University Chambers (1920-1921) and Selborne Chambers (1922-1940), specialising in Equity, including companies, wills, intellectual property and taxation, and appeared before the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. He was made King's Counsel on 26 February 1935. A Member of the Council of the Bar Association of New South Wales in 1935/36, he was also a member of its successor organisation, the New South Wales Bar Association, from 1936/37 to 1937/38. (4)
William's judicial career began when he was appointed an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 17 November 1939 to 16 May 1940. He received a second commission covering 17 May to 16 June 1940. On 17 June he was appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. However on 14 October 1940 he resigned when appointed a Judge of the High Court of Australia. He served on the High Court from 15 October 1940 to 31 July 1958 and was Acting Chief Justice of the High Court from May to August 1952. (5)
He was made a Knight Commander (Civil) of the Order of the British Empire on 10 June 1954 as a Judge of the High Court. (6)
Sir Dudley Williams died on 8 January 1963 at Paddington, survived by his wife, Catherine Agnes Rua nee Webster (known as Rua), whom he married on 15 March 1919 at London, and their four daughters and son. In 1969 his family established the Dudley Williams Prize at the University of Sydney in his memory. It is awarded to the Laws Honours graduand placed second in order of merit. (7)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald and Weekly Time Ltd., 1941, p.692; 1944, p.849; 1947, p.872; 1950, p.757; 1955, p.809; 1959, p.848; 1962, p.908; Grahan Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'William, Dudley' in Tony Blackshield et al. (eds.), Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia, South Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp.713-4; Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 1963, p.16; Graham Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'Williams, Sir Dudley (1889-1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160654b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); University of Sydney Calendar, 1912, p.436; 1913, p.516; 1916, pp.481, 571, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 18 March and 12 May 2008).
2. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1909, pp.388, 404; 1910, pp.314-6, 318, 429, 445; 1911, pp.320-21, 323, 435, 438, 451, 525; 1912, pp.271, 296, 337-8, 348, 461, 472; 1913, p.457; 1914, pp.51, 367, 463, 551, 554; 1915, pp.411, 643; 1916, pp.366, 530 cited 18 March and 12 May 2008.
3. Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 15 June 1876 - 1 December 1926; Reel 2147, p.20; Graham Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'Williams, Sir Dudley (1889-1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, op.cit.; The National Archives: Public Records Office WO372 War Office: Service Medals and Award Rolls Index, First World War, c.1914-1922, [Williams, Dudley, MC], http://www.ancestry.com.au (cited 28 November 2008).
4. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.193, 1 August 1919, p.4292; No.32, 4 March 1921, p.1504; New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1920, pp.38, 67; 1921, pp.40, 70; 1922, p.72; 1936, p.58; 1937, p.58; 1938, p.58; 1940, p.73; Australian Law Journal, Vol.32, p.57 (23 June 1958); Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42917] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941; Graham Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'Williams, Sir Dudley (1889-1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, op.cit.
5. State Reports New South Wales, Sydney, Law Book Company of Australasia Pty Ltd, Vol.39, 1939; Vol.40, 1940; NSW Government Gazette, No.178, 10 November 1939, p.5259; No.76, 17 May 1940, p.2203; No.88, 14 June 1940, p.2535; Australian Law Journal, Vol.24, p.118 (12 July 1940); Vol.32, p.57 (23 June 1958); Grahan Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'William, Dudley' in Tony Blackshield et al. (eds.), Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia, op.cit.
6. It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au (cited 23 January 2008).
7. Graham Fricke and Simon Sheller, 'Williams, Sir Dudley (1889-1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, op.cit.; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1970, p.478, (cited 10 August 2008); Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 1963, p.16; 18 April 1963, p.5.