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Members’ biographical register

John Waters Kirwan

Principal Honours
Knight (Kt) (1930), Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) (1947)
Date: 2 December 1869
Place: Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Arrival in WA
To WA November 1895
Son of Nicholas John Kirwan, gentleman farmer, formerly of Galway, Ireland, and Mary, nee Waters
Marriage and Family
Married 2 May 1912, Sydney, NSW to Teresa Gertrude Quinlan (born circa February 1888 and died circa October 1966), daughter of Timothy Francis and Teresa Connor
Children: three sons
Date: 9 September 1949
Place: Subiaco, Western Australia
Cemetery: Karrakatta Cemetery, Western Australia
Editor and businessperson
Employment History
After leaving school worked for two years for Dublin Morning Mail and Evening Mail
Also freelance journalism
Joined brother on
Brisbane Courier–Mail for a few months, went to Melbourne (December 1889), worked for Daily Telegraph and rural newspapers at Kerang and Casterton
To Sydney 1893 then to New Zealand writing for Australian newspapers
Became editor of
Port Augusta DispatchSouth Australia
To WA November 1895 to become editor of
Western Argus and Kalgoorlie Miner, also became part owner of both papers, latter became sole daily paper on goldfields
Edited until 1901 again 1903–1908 but took long vacation overseas
Independent Free Trade in Federal Parliament
Date Elected
22 May 1908
Inaugural Speech
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by John Kirwan
Year Retired/Resigned
South Province
Parliamentary Service

  • MLC South Province 22 May 1908–21 May 1946
  • Contested North East Province 9 May 1898

  • President Legislative Council 10 August 1926–21 May 1946

  • Chairman of Committees 1 August 1923–10 August 1926

Parliamentary Associations
  • Founding member and senior president of Empire Parliamentary Association WA Branch
  • 1931 Australian delegate to 17th and 18th Conferences Parliamentaire Internationale, at Prague and Rome


  • MHR Kalgoorlie 29 March 1901–16 December 1903
  • Contested Kalgoorlie (House of Representatives), 16 December 1903
Sailed for Australia 26 May 1889
Justice of the Peace 1896
Delegate to 1st Empire Press Conference London 1909, second Ottawa 1920 and third Melbourne 1925
Senate University of Western Australia 1912–1924
Coolgardie Licensing Bench 1906–1923
Member of WA Historical Society, contributed numerous articles to
Early Days and other papers and periodicals including The Times, Empire Review and Review of Reviews
  • The Financial and Economic Structure in Australia (London 1931)
  • A Hundred Years of the Legislative Council in Western Australia (Perth, 1932)
  • An Empty Land (London, 1934)
  • My Life’s Adventures (London, 1936)
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume one 1870-1930, Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2001, p. 114-115.
Further Information
The Australian Encyclopaedia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1958.
Battye, J.S. The Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1, p. 328–29.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook
Papers of Sir John Kirwan 1898–1935 (National Library of Australia)
Simpson, Pat. 'Kirwan, Sir John Waters (1869–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, Accessed 10 January 2013.
West Australian, 14 May 1908, 10 September 1949.
Wilson, J. Graham. Western Australia's Centenary 1829-1929 : first century's progress with antecedent records 1527-1828, p. 124.