Patrick Glynn

Patrick Glynn (1855 – 1931) barrister and politician
At the final session of the Constitution Convention in Melbourne in 1898 Glynn made his best-known contribution to the Constitution, a reference to God in the preamble (‘humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’).

On 21 July 1883 Patrick (Paddy) Glynn was admitted as a practitioner of the South Australian Supreme Court (he took out his LL.B. from Trinity in December), and by 1886 had done well enough to buy the Kapunda practice for £155. He retained it when he moved to Adelaide in 1888 and opened a practice in Pirie Street. In 1883-91 he was also editor of the Kapunda Herald. Alongside his legal and editorial work, he entered quickly into the political life of the colony, and in 1884 helped to found the South Australian Land Nationalisation Society, for which he himself wrote a manifesto. The basic views, taken from Henry George, involved land nationalization, complete free trade, and a single tax, namely the land-tax. He became for many years president of the Irish National League in South Australia.

In April 1887 Glynn was elected to the House of Assembly as junior member for Light. During his first term, by advocating free trade he aligned himself with the conservatives; by supporting payment of members, female suffrage and reform of the Upper House, he found himself with the liberals and radicals; while his championing of land nationalization tended to isolate him. He lost his seat in 1890—partly through the farming community’s dislike for his philosophy of land tenure. In 1893 he stood again for Light without success, but in 1895 he was returned in a by-election for North Adelaide. He was a close friend of the premier, Charles Kingston, though they differed on many political issues. Glynn lost his seat at the election next year, but won it back in a by-election of 1897 and, retaining it in 1899, became attorney-general in the short-lived Vaiben Solomon government.

In 1897 ‘Paddy’ Glynn was elected as one of the ten South Australian delegates to the federal convention. At the first session in Adelaide he established a reputation for his knowledge of constitutional law, thorough research into the topic under discussion, rapid delivery, broad brogue and general learning. Alfred Deakin believed that ‘if not the best-read man of the Convention’, Glynn ‘certainly carried more English prose and poetry in his memory than any three or four of his associates’. With Henry Bournes Higgins and (Sir) Josiah Henry Symon, Glynn led the judiciary committee, which together with the constitutional and finance committees prepared a draft bill. During the Sydney session of the convention in September he brightened proceedings by what the Bulletin called his ‘meteor-like rush into matrimony’. Within a week he wrote a letter of proposal, was accepted by telegram, slipped down to Melbourne, married Abigail Dynon on 11 September at St Francis Church and returned to Sydney. King O’Malley was his best man. At the final session of the convention in Melbourne next year Glynn made his best-known contribution to the Constitution, a reference to God in the preamble (‘humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’).

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