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Edward Rennix (Ted) Larkin (1880–1915)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Edward Rennix Larkin (1880-1915), football administrator and politician, was born on 3 January 1880 at North Lambton, Newcastle, New South Wales, third child of William Joseph Larkin, quarryman and miner, and his wife Mary Ann, née Rennix, both native born. Ted Larkin was educated at St Benedict's School, Chippendale, Sydney, and St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, passing the junior and senior public examinations. He became a journalist on the Year Book of Australia. On 24 July 1903 he married May Josephine Yates at St Joseph's Catholic Church, Newtown. They had two sons. Larkin had played Rugby Union football at school, and then with the Endeavour Club, Newtown. Later he played first grade for Newtown and was captain in 1903. That year as a forward he played for the State against New Zealand and Queensland and for Australia against New Zealand. He was an able cricketer, swimmer and boxer. A 'ready and eloquent speaker', he was a member of St Joseph's (Newtown) Literary and Debating Society.

When Larkin joined the Police Force in October 1903 he was described as 5 ft 10½ ins (179 cm) in height, weighing 13 stone (83 kg), with blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was a foot-constable in the Metropolitan Police District until promoted ordinary constable in January 1905. Having parliamentary aspirations, he found the political restrictions of the force irksome, and in June 1909 resigned to become first full-time secretary of the newly formed New South Wales Rugby Football League. An excellent organizer, he quickly remedied the disordered administration and was a prominent advocate for the new code, believing in 'honest professionalism as against quasi amateur football'. He persuaded Marist Brothers' schools to play Rugby League in 1913. Under his guidance the code came to be the dominant winter sport in Sydney.

In 1911 Larkin became a justice of the peace. He was a 'keen student of social problems, and was seldom without a Socialist book or pamphlet in his pocket'. On 13 December 1913 to general surprise he won the seat of Willoughby in the Legislative Assembly for the Labor Party. He was appointed government representative on the board of Royal North Shore Hospital. On 17 August 1914 he enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, and became a sergeant. After showing 'conspicuous gallantry' Larkin was killed in action at Pine Ridge, Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915. A memorial service was held in St Mary's Cathedral.

Larkin was an important figure in Rugby League: his career was an early indication of the link between it and the Labor Party. His enlistment and death helped to counteract accusations that the code was unpatriotic for continuing grade competition during World War I. A tablet commemorating him and Lieutenant-Colonel George F. Braund, who also died on Gallipoli, was unveiled in the Legislative Assembly in November 1915.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac (Syd, 1921, 1924)
  • R. Cashman and M. McKernan (eds), Sport in History (Brisb, 1979)
  • Referee (Sydney), 23 June 1915
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 17 June 1915
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 17, 18, 21 June 1915
  • Australian Worker, 24 June 1915.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Larkin, Edward Rennix (Ted) (1880–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012