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Andrew Joseph (Andy) Kelly (1854–1913)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

The death occurred, yesterday in the city of Mr. A. J. Kelly, M.L.A., the member for the Lachlan.

Mr. Kelly, who has been missing from the ranks of the State Ministerial party for the whole of the present session, has for a considerable time been suffering from a lingering illness, and died at 1.30 p.m. of internal cancer. A fortnight ago it was recognised that the illness would be fatal. During the past few days he was visited by members of all sides of the House, including the leader of the Opposition, Mr. C. G. Wade. Yesterday morning Mr. Kelly was conscious, and expressed a wish to see Mr. McGowen and Mr. Holman. Both the Premier and Mr. McGowen visited the sick-bed, but only to find that Mr. Kelly had relapsed into unconsciousness.

There have been few Parliamentarians who, quite apart from their political views, enjoyed such a measure of personal popularity as the late Mr. Kelly, who was familiarly known as "Andy." He was one of the four original Labour members, consisting of Messrs. G. Black, J. D. Fitzgerald, and T. M. Davis, who were returned in a bunch for West Sydney, and may be said, with a few others, to have pioneered the Parliamentary Labour party in New South Wales, which first saw its birth as a solidified political force. His hustings declaration after election that they would never find him wearing "a tall hat" created no small amusement and acclaim, not only in the ultrademocratic electorate to which the strange political pledge was given, but throughout the State.

But the fates did not decree that Mr. Kelly's career as a direct representative of unionism should be altogether smooth, and owing to a vote cast by him in favour of Sir George Dibbs's handling of the Barrier strike Mr. Kelly found himself opposed at Ultimo a few years later by another candidate nominated by the unions, and was defeated. After a break of seven years in his political life he came back to the Labour fold, and since 1901 has held a seat in the House, first for Denison, a city constituency, and since 1904 for the Lachlan.

His Parliamentary career began in June, 1891, so that he may be considered one of the veteran members of the Assembly. Andrew Joseph Kelly was born 59 years ago in Dublin, Ireland, and in his life played many parts, generally in a vigorous role. First a wharf labourer in the old country, he became a man-o'-warsman in the American navy. As a sailor man, a wreck left him penniless, and he eventually found himself working on the wharfs in Sydney. He became identified with the Wharf-labourers' Union. Later he was a familiar figure in the streets of Sydney as a driver for a well-known city house, and became a prominent figure in the Trolly and Draymen's Union. He had the distinction of being elected a president of the Trades and Labour Council, a position he filled with the utmost credit.

His public activities were not confined to Parliament or the Trades Hall, and since 1900 he occupied the position of alderman in the City Council. Possessed of a rugged eloquence, he was a strong man for his side always in a campaign or a debate, and cheery disposition won him warm personal friends, even amongst those opposed to him politically. It was the aggressive attitude he took up over the first maritime strike, the first so-called Labour "wave," that brought him under public notice. He was officially associated with the conduct of the strike.

His unconventionality on one occasion brought him into contact with the then Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Sir Joseph Abbott), as custodian of the dignity of the House. The weather was warm, and the now Labour representative sought to dispense with his coat, and appeared in his place in his shirt sleeves. The coatless phenomenon at once arrested the attention of the Speaker, who was the very soul of Parliamentary decorum, and the occupant of the chair read the new member such a lesson that he probably never forgot it. At a meeting at Ultimo, where no Speaker held sway in the chair, Mr. Kelly on another occasion indulged himself by doffing his coat and addressing the gathering in his shirt sleeves, the weather being sweltering hot.

A kindly-natured man, Mr. Kelly soon made great progress in the Assembly as a debater, and it was his protectionist tendencies that were primarily responsible for the adhesion he accorded to Sir George Dibbs' Administration, and led to his temporary estrangement from the Trades Hall. During his retirement from politics Mr. Kelly became a licensed victualler, first in the country and next in the city, and he has ever since been an active member of the Licensed Victuallers' Association. His bright wit and his pleasant face will be missed from Parliament House, where on occasions of the end-of-the-session festivities he was wont to delight fellow-members with his pleasing tenor voice. In him politics has lost a sturdy democrat.

The funeral leaves St. Francis' Church, Albion-street, city, at 2.30 p m. to-day for the Waverley Cemetery.

Speaking of the late Alderman Kelly yesterday, the Lord Mayor, Alderman A. A. C. Cocks, M.L.A., said that he always held the esteem and respect of opponents as well as friends. A staunch believer in Labour representation, Mr. Kelly upheld and maintained his principles with firmness and consistency throughout the whole of his aldermanic career, and his confreres feel that upon his successor will fall the mantle of a man of whom friends and foes may say, at the close of his career, that he was a sterling friend and an upright and straightforward opponent.

The finance committee of the council, which met yesterday afternoon, adjourned for a time, out of respect to the memory of the late alderman, and, on the motion of Alderman Evan Jones, a resolution of sympathy with the relatives was passed. The flag at the Town Hall was flown at half-mast.

Original Publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 5 September 1913, p 10

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Kelly, Andrew Joseph (Andy) (1854–1913)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Andy Kelly, 1901

Andy Kelly, 1901

City of Sydney Archives, 681870

Life Summary [details]


Dublin, Ireland


3 September, 1913 (aged ~ 59)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

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