Sir (Bill) William John MCKELL (1891 - 1985)**

  • Date of Birth: 26/09/1891
  • Place of Birth: Pambula, New South Wales, Australia
  • Date of Death: 11/01/1985
  • Place of Death: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Parliamentary Service

Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly24 Mar 19176 Feb 194729yr(s) 10mth(s) 14day(s)
Member for Redfern24 Mar 191718 Feb 19202yr(s) 10mth(s) 26day(s)
24th (1917 - 1920)
Member for Botany20 Mar 192017 Feb 19221yr(s) 10mth(s) 29day(s)
25th (1920 - 1922)
Member for Botany25 Mar 192218 Apr 19253yr(s) 25day(s)
26th (1922 - 1925)
Member for Botany30 May 19257 Sep 19272yr(s) 3mth(s) 9day(s)
27th (1925 - 1927)
Member for Redfern8 Oct 192718 Sep 19302yr(s) 11mth(s) 11day(s)
28th (1927 - 1930)
Member for Redfern25 Oct 193018 May 19321yr(s) 6mth(s) 24day(s)
29th (1930 - 1932)
Member for Redfern11 Jun 193212 Apr 19352yr(s) 10mth(s) 2day(s)
30th (1932 - 1935)
Member for Redfern11 May 193524 Feb 19382yr(s) 9mth(s) 14day(s)
31st (1935 - 1938)
Member for Redfern4 Mar 193818 Apr 19413yr(s) 1mth(s) 15day(s)
32nd (1938 - 1941)
Member for Redfern10 May 194124 Apr 19442yr(s) 11mth(s) 15day(s)
33rd (1941 - 1944)
Member for Redfern27 May 19446 Feb 19472yr(s) 8mth(s) 11day(s)
34th (1944 - 1947)
Assistant Minister of Justice13 Apr 192021 Dec 19208mth(s) 9day(s)
Minister of Justice22 Dec 192010 Oct 19219mth(s) 19day(s)
Minister of Justice10 Oct 192120 Dec 19212mth(s) 11day(s)
Minister of Justice20 Dec 192113 Apr 19223mth(s) 25day(s)
Minister of Justice and Assistant Colonial Treasurer17 Jun 19257 Jun 19271yr(s) 11mth(s) 22day(s)
Minister for Local Government4 Nov 193017 Jun 19317mth(s) 14day(s)
Minister of Justice17 Jun 193113 May 193210mth(s) 27day(s)
Premier 16 May 19416 Feb 19475yr(s) 8mth(s) 22day(s)
Colonial Treasurer16 May 19416 Feb 19475yr(s) 8mth(s) 22day(s)

Political Party Activity

Australian Labor Party (ALP). Member of central executive from 1916 until 1917; leader from 1939 until 1947, voted for R.J Heffron as successor.

Qualifications, occupations and interests

Boilermaker. Moved with parents to Sydney in 1897. Educated at Bourke Street public school; father died when aged ten; worked in city chemist shop; served an apprenticeship at Mort's Dock, later named Poole and Steele, boilermaker of Railways Department from 1913 until 1914; Hoskins Iron Works and Australian Gas Light Company; formed apprentice's union representing it at the state arbitration court ; assistant secretary of Boilermakers' Union from 1915 until 1917; called to Bar in 1925; member of Malayan Constitutional Commission in 1956; purchased a grazing property near Goulburn in 1930's; keen sportsman, continued with amateur boxing championships from 1908 until 1909, played grade football for Balmain; trustee of Sydney Cricket Ground, chairman in 1938; author in 1945.

Honours Received

Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) 1951. Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) University of Sydney 1952. King's Counsel (KC) in 1946, Privy Councillor in 1948

Membership of other Parliaments & Offices Held

Governor-General of Australia 1947 - 1953.


Son of Robert Pollock McKell, butcher, and his wife Martha Shepherd. Married 7 January 1920 to Mary Pye, daughter of James Pye, and had issue, 1 son and 2 daughters. Church of England.

Additional Information

Christopher Cunneen, William John McKell, Boilermaker, Premier, Governor-General, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2000. Personal papers in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales: 1. William McKell - papers, 1920 - 1974 (MLMSS 2027); photographs in the PICMAN Database. 2. Sir William McKell - further papers, ca/1925 - 1974 (MLMSS 2027 ADD-ON 686 [K 21948-K 21950] 3. Sir William McKell, further papers (MLMSS 2027, ADD-ON 1130), 4. Sir William McKell, papers, 1917 - 1985, (MLMSS 4603) [MLK 03886-MLK 03900] 5. Sir William McKell, transcript of interview conducted by the National Library of Australia, 29 April 1971 (MLDOC 3252) 6. McKell Family - Papers of Sir William McKell, Lady McKell and Betty McKell, 1943 - 1995. (MLMSS 7347); photographs in the PICMAN Database. Personal and Related Papers in the New South Wales Parliamentary Archives: PRS 486.LA/P: McKell Collection, 1939 - 1946. PRS 256.L, Parliamentary Library, Oral History Tapes: PA Tapes A9 - A12 (Sir William McKell in conversation with Ken Turner, Department of Government, Sydney University; Heather Radi, Department of History, Sydney University; and David Clune, NSW Parliamentary Library. Recorded 1977).