Paddy Glynn

Patrick McMahon Glynn KC (25 August 1855 – 28 October 1931) was an Australian lawyer and politician. He served in the House of Representatives from 1901 to 1919, and was a government minister under three prime ministers, as Attorney-General (1909–1910), Minister for External Affairs (1913–1914) and Minister for Home and Territories (1917–1920). Prior to entering federal politics, Glynn was involved in the drafting of the Constitution of Australia. Born in Ireland, he arrived in Australia in 1880 and served three terms in the South Australian House of Assembly, as well as a brief stint as Attorney-General of South Australia.

Paddy Glynn

Paddy Glynn 1903.jpg
Minister for Home and Territories
In office
17 February 1917 – 3 February 1920
Prime MinisterBilly Hughes
Preceded byFred Bamford
Succeeded byAlexander Poynton
Minister for External Affairs
In office
24 June 1913 – 17 September 1914
Prime MinisterJoseph Cook
Preceded byJosiah Thomas
Succeeded byJohn Arthur
Attorney-General of Australia
In office
2 June 1909 – 29 April 1910
Prime MinisterAlfred Deakin
Preceded byBilly Hughes
Succeeded byBilly Hughes
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Angas
In office
16 December 1903 – 13 December 1919
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byMoses Gabb
Member of the Australian Parliament
for South Australia
In office
30 March 1901 – 16 December 1903
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byDivision abolished
Personal details
Born(1855-08-25)25 August 1855
Gort, County Galway, Ireland
Died28 October 1931(1931-10-28) (aged 76)
North Adelaide, South Australia
Political partyFree Trade (1901–06)
Anti-Socialist (1906–09)
Liberal (1909–17)
Nationalist (1917–19)
Abigail Dynon
(m. 1897; died 1930)
Alma materTrinity College, Dublin

Early lifeEdit

Glynn was born in Gort, County Galway, Ireland and educated at the French College, Blackrock and Trinity College, Dublin. Glynn graduated with a BA and LLB, and was the medallist for Oratory at the Law Students Debating Society of Ireland in 1880. The same year saw Glynn immigrate to Australia.

Glynn was admitted to the Victorian bar. His time in Victoria was not a success and in 1882 he moved to Kapunda, South Australia to open a branch of an Adelaide-based law firm. His success in Kapunda allowed him to open his own law firm in Adelaide and involve himself in the political sphere. He also edited for some time the Kapunda Herald.

South Australian politicsEdit

Glynn served as president of the South Australian branch of the Irish National League and helped found the South Australian Land Nationalisation Society. His community profile assisted him in his election to the South Australian House of Assembly as the member for Light in 1887. As an advocate of free trade, Glynn was considered a conservative but his support of progressive issues like female suffrage and land nationalisation isolated him from his conservative colleagues.

Glynn was defeated at the 1890 election and stood unsuccessfully for Light again at the 1893 election but returned to South Australian colonial politics in 1895 as the member for North Adelaide. With this victory, he became the first person in Australia to be elected under adult suffrage (whereby females had the right to vote). While he was defeated a year later at the 1896 election, he returned to parliament in a by-election for the seat of North Adelaide in 1897. Glynn briefly served as Attorney-General of South Australia in 1899 and remained in parliament until 1901.

Constitutional conventionEdit

Glynn in 1898

Glynn was a member of the Convention that framed the Australian Commonwealth constitution in 1897–98. He was regarded as one of the ablest authorities in Australia on constitutional law. He made major contributions to Murray River water rights, free trade, standardising rail gauges and universal suffrage. He also contributed a reference to God in the preamble to the Australian Constitution, and helped found the Free Trade Party, one of the major parties of Australian politics in the early 20th century.

Federal politicsEdit

First federal electionEdit

Glynn in profile

In the lead up to the inaugural federal election, Glynn acted as the informal deputy leader of the Free Trade Party and managed the Free Trade election campaigns in South Australia and Western Australia, while Free Trade leader George Reid oversaw the rest of Australia.[1] As a result, Glynn was not only comfortably elected to the single statewide Division of South Australia but, together with Reid, he is said to have "created Australia's first national political campaign."

Government ministerEdit

At the 1903 election, the statewide constituency was abolished and Glynn was returned unopposed in the Division of Angas. He was re-elected on five further occasions, and was unopposed at three consecutive elections (1910, 1913 and 1914).

Despite his ties with Reid, Glynn was not offered a place in the Reid Government (1904–1905). He joined the new Liberal Party after the 1909 "fusion" with the Protectionists, and subsequently served as Attorney-General under Alfred Deakin from 1909 to 1910. He returned to ministerial office in 1913 as Minister for External Affairs in the Cook Government, holding the position until the government's defeat at the 1914 election. In 1917, the Liberals merged with Prime Minister Billy Hughes' National Labor Party, forming the Nationalist Party. Glynn's final ministerial post was as Minister for Home and Territories from 1917 until his defeat at the 1919 election. In that capacity he handled the Darwin rebellion of 1918.

Later lifeEdit

Glynn in later life

Glynn retired from politics in 1919, and died at North Adelaide in 1931. He married Abigail Dynon, who predeceased him, and was survived by two sons and four daughters. He was a fine Shakespearian scholar; several of his literary papers were published, as were also various legal and political pamphlets.


In 2016, the Australian Catholic University established a new public policy think tank based at its North Sydney campus, which was named the PM Glynn Institute.[2]

See alsoEdit

Citations and referencesEdit

  1. ^ McGinn, W. (1989) George Reid, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
  2. ^ "Catholic solutions to public policy problems: ACU launches PM Glynn Institute think tank". The Catholic Weekly. 20 October 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Billy Hughes
Succeeded by
Billy Hughes
Preceded by
Josiah Thomas
Minister for External Affairs
Succeeded by
John Arthur
Preceded by
Fred Bamford
Minister for Home and Territories
Succeeded by
Alexander Poynton
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for South Australia
Served alongside: Batchelor, Bonython,
Holder, Kingston, Poynton, Solomon
Divided into single-
member divisions
New division Member for Angas
Succeeded by
Moses Gabb