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Patrick Joseph (Paddy) Lynch (1867–1944)

by David Black

This article was published:

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Patrick Joseph Lynch (1867-1944), by A. Collingridge, 1930s

Patrick Joseph Lynch (1867-1944), by A. Collingridge, 1930s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23366285

Patrick Joseph (Paddy) Lynch (1867-1944), politician, was born on 24 May 1867 at Skeark, Meath, Ireland, son of Michael Lynch, farmer, and his wife Bridget, née Cahill. Patrick was educated at Cormeen National School and Ballieborough Model School, Cavan, continuing casual schooling while working on his father's farm.

In 1886 he migrated to Queensland, hewing railway sleepers in the north, then trekking 900 miles (1448 km) from Charleville in the south-west to the newly discovered Croydon goldfield. At Port Darwin in 1888 when he learned that his next destination, the Cossack goldfield in Western Australia, was a failure he became a stoker on coastal and island ships. During seven years at sea he qualified as a marine engineer and won a Royal Humane Society award for a life-saving attempt at night in shark-infested waters near Fiji. Lynch then worked as an engineer on a Fijian sugar-plantation, and in the gold mines at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. A picturesque orator with a musical brogue, Paddy Lynch was one of the founders and then general secretary of the Goldfields & Engine-drivers' Association in 1897-1904. He served on the Boulder City Council in 1901-04 and won a reputation as a lucid and forceful advocate for various labour groups before the Western Australian Arbitration Court. On 21 November 1901 at Boulder he had married Annie Cleary.

In June 1904 Lynch was elected unopposed to the Legislative Assembly as Labor member for the new seat of Mount Leonora. He became minister for works for two months from June 1905 but the Daglish government fell; in November 1906 he was elected to the Senate. He was a member of the royal commission on the fruit industry in 1912-14 and vice-chairman of the newly created Joint Standing Committee on Public Works (October 1914–November 1916). He was also first chairman of the River Murray Commission in 1916. At the same time he farmed 2500 acres (1012 ha) at Three Springs, jointly owned with his brother.

As the first Federal Labor parliamentarian to advocate conscription, Lynch followed W. M. Hughes out of the Labor caucus on 14 November 1916. When the North Coolgardie district council sent him to the Labor interstate conference in Melbourne on 4 December he was refused admission, with two other Western Australian conscriptionist delegates. He was expelled from the State Labor party in March 1917. Lynch served briefly as minister of works and railways (November 1916–February 1917) in the Hughes ministry but then had to make way for an ex-Liberal.

With Henry Gregory he reported in March 1922 on the possibilities of settling migrants on lands in Western Australia. He was again a member of the Public Works Committee in July 1923–June 1926 and served on a Senate committee on the standing committee system in 1929-30. He was president of the Senate from August 1932 to June 1938. Defeated at the 1937 election, he unsuccessfully contested the State seat of Geraldton in 1939.

The neatly bearded but generally dishevelled Irishman was an avid reader and an artless and friendly companion. A fiery advocate for those causes he supported, he doubtless contributed, with Archbishop Clune, to the strong 'Yes' vote in Western Australia in the conscription referenda; but he was overshadowed for ministerial appointment by his State colleague (Sir) George Pearce.

On 1 May 1933 Lynch had married Mary Brown at Narrogin. He died on 15 January 1944 at Mount Lawley and after a state funeral was buried in the Catholic section of Karrakatta cemetery. His wife and two daughters and a son of his first marriage survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1912)
  • Punch (Melbourne), 23 Nov 1916
  • British Australasian, 18 Jan 1917
  • To-Day (Melbourne), 1 Apr 1934
  • West Australian, 30 Oct 1905, 17 Jan 1944
  • Kalgoorlie Miner, 10 Oct 1916
  • J. R. Robertson, The Scaddan Government and the Conscription Crisis 1911-1917 (M.A. thesis, University of Western Australia, 1958)
  • E. S. Buttfield, The Daglish Ministry 1904-05 (M.A. thesis, University of Western Australia, 1979).

Citation details

David Black, 'Lynch, Patrick Joseph (Paddy) (1867–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Patrick Joseph Lynch (1867-1944), by A. Collingridge, 1930s

Patrick Joseph Lynch (1867-1944), by A. Collingridge, 1930s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23366285

Life Summary [details]


24 May, 1867
Skeark, Westmeath, Ireland


15 January, 1944 (aged 76)
Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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