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Edwards, David Sutherland (1871–1936)

Judge David Sutherland Edwards, a former Judge of the District Court, and Electoral Commissioner for New South Wales, died at his home at Ashfield on Tuesday night, aged 65 years. He resigned from the Bench in July, 1935, because of failing health.

He had a brilliant scholastic career, and upon his retirement the Attorney-General (Mr. Manning) expressed publicly, on behalf of the Government, appreciation of the distinguished service rendered by Judge Edwards. In his younger days he was an outstanding tennis player, having represented the State on seven occasions. He also achieved success at athletics, cricket, and football.

Judge Edwards was a son of the late Mr. Frederick William Edwards, S.M., and was born at Coonabarabran on September 19, 1871. From the local Public school he won a scholarship at the West Maitland High School. Three years later, when his father was promoted from police magistrate to stipendiary magistrate and was transferred to Sydney, he became a pupil at Newington College. At the Sydney University he graduated B.A., with first-class honours in Latin and second-class honours in Greek, in 1895, and gained his LL.B. degree in 1899.

Legal Record
From 1895 to 1897 he was on the teaching staff of Newington College, and subsequently he read for the Bar with the late Mr. C. B. Stephen and the late Sir Langer Owen. After his admission he practised at the Bar with great success until his elevation to the District Court Bench, in succession to Judge Hamilton, on July 1, 1924. Previously he had acted as a District Court Judge and Chairman of the Quarter Sessions on several occasions for short periods. He was appointed Electoral Commissioner for New South Wales in succession to Mr. E. B. Harkness, Chief Electoral Officer, on February 19, 1929, and retained that position, in addition to his Judgeship, until November, 1934, when Mr. H. V. Gould was appointed Commissioner. He was chairman of the Commission which dealt with State electoral boundaries in 1931, and also sat on the Royal Commission on the Federal Land Tax.

He was the author of a Manual for Justices, and, in collaboration with Mr. (now Judge) Curlewis, he wrote a book on prohibitions, both at common law and under the Justices Act. In collaboration with Mr. E. A. A. Russell, K.C., he edited a standard work on the Commonwealth Bills of Exchange Act in 1912, and he also collaborated with Mr. W. Tighe and Mr. (now Mr. Justice) Halse Rogers in producing a work on the Workers' Compensation Act in 1916.

Fine Sporting Record
While at Newington College, the late Judge Edwards gained a reputation as a fine all-round sport.

Known among tennis enthusiasts of his day as "Judy" Edwards, he had an outstanding record in this sphere of sport. He represented New South Wales against Victoria in 1896, 1898, 1899 (twice), 1900, and 1901 (twice). On one occasion, though not in an interstate match, he defeated Norman Brookes.

In 1910 he married Miss Beatrice Elmer, who survives him.

There are three sons, Colin, Philip David, and Maxwell Sutherland, and one daughter, Elmer Nancy. The funeral will take place at the Rookwood Cemetery to-day, after a service at St. Andrew's, Summer Hill.

Royal Commission's Regrets
When he was informed yesterday of the death of Judge Edwards, Judge Markell, sitting as a Royal Commission on starting-price betting convictions, said that when he was a young man at the Bar he first came in contact with Judge Edwards.

"I have always regarded him as a close friend," his Honor added, "and I feel that his retirement from the Bench was possibly one reason why I was appointed. I am sure that counsel-appearing before the Commission will agree that we all feel a very deep sense of regret at the loss of a friend and a gentleman who had been of very great service to us all."

Mr. Windeyer said that counsel appearing before the Commission regretted the death of Judge Edwards, as they appreciated his keen sense of duty and great ability.

Minister's Tribute
The Minister of Justice (Mr. Martin), expressing deep regret last night at the death of Judge Edwards, said he had rendered distinguished service to the community. At the Sydney University he had had a brilliant career, and was well-known as an athlete.

Mr. Martin was a contemporary of Judge Edwards at the University.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Edwards, David Sutherland (1871–1936)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/edwards-david-sutherland-32708/text40647, accessed 27 September 2022.

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