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DWYER, John Patrick (1879-1966)

DWYER, Sir John Patrick (1879-1966)

Sir John Patrick Dyer

Sir John Patrick Dyer from a portrait

Sir John Dwyer, Chief Justice, was born on 24 June 1879 at Aberfeldy, Victoria, son of Thomas Dwyer, a butcher from Ireland, and his Melbourne-born wife Elizabeth, née Donaldson. He was enrolled by Mrs Donaldson and his entry address was given as Morwell.

John was educated at Geelong College from 17 February 1890 to 1893 where he played for the 1st Football XVIII and cricket for the 1st XI. He was dux in his final year at age 14. He was listed in the Annual Reports with the following awards:
1890, 1st, Latin, 3rd Class.
1891, 1st, Arithmetic, University Class.
1891, 1st, English, University Class.
1891, 2nd, History, University Class.
1892, 1st, Latin, University Class.
1893, Dux of School.
1893, 1st, English, Honours Class.
1893, 1st, History, Honours Class.

He qualified in law at Melbourne University and was admitted to the Victorian Bar on 1 August 1902 and that of Western Australian on 19 December 1904.

Dwyer pursued an articled clerk's course through the University of Melbourne in 1897 before working with Haynes & Robinson in Albany, Western Australia from 1908. After practising in partnership with M L Moss in Fremantle he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 30 May 1916, eventually rising to Lieutenant in the 44th Battalion to which he was commissioned on 16 May 1917. He returned to Australia and the law in 1919.

Dwyer sat on a committee which considered the establishment of a law school at the University of Western Australia and became a foundation lecturer of the newly-created law faculty in 1928. In 1929, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. In 1946, he was appointed Chief Justice of Western Australia and held this position until his retirement on 28 February 1959. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St John (KCMG)in 1949.

Sir John was also Lieutenant Governor of Western Australia. His other activities included service as Chief Scout of Western Australia in 1942, Knight Commander of the Order of St John in 1947, and trustee of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery from 1947 to 1954. He was chairman of the Stae Electoral Commission in 1948.

He was regarded as a classical lawyer and is reported to have been 'one of the finest, most incisive minds' of Western Australia had known. Dwyer died at Perth, Western Australia on 25 August 1966 at the age of 87. He was accorded a State funeral.

A painting of Sir John Dyer was donated to the School by his family.

Sir John Dwyer was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.

Hon Justice John Dwyer.

Hon Justice John Dwyer.

Sir John Dyer (Pegasus 1959).

Sir John Dyer (Pegasus 1959).

Sources: Pegasus June 1959 p44; Ad Astra September, 1966 Page 4; Jeremy Birman, 'Dwyer, Sir John Patrick (1879 - 1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996, pp 65-66.
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