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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hart, Percy Lloyd (1874–1944)

by Aladin Rahemtula

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

This is a shared entry with Graham Lloyd Hart

Percy Lloyd Hart (1874-1944) and Graham Lloyd Hart (1906-1974), judges, were father and son. Percy was born on 20 November 1874 at New Farm, Brisbane, sixth child of Graham Lloyd Hart, a solicitor from India, and his native-born wife Sarah Ellen Cooper, née Roberts. Educated locally at J. S. H. Schmidt's school and at Brisbane Grammar School (1887-93), Percy was a keen Rugby Union footballer and a gymnast. He passed the Barristers' Board examinations and was admitted to the Bar on 22 March 1898. At Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, on 12 July 1904 he married with Presbyterian forms Margaret Beatrice Crombie. Hart built up an extensive practice, especially in Equity, constitutional and ecclesiastical law. On 1 May 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Commissioned in March 1917, he sailed for England twelve months later and served in France from August 1918 to January 1919, first with the 25th and then with the 26th battalions.

Back in Brisbane, Hart became a legendary figure. His vast fund of knowledge and memory for details—particularly case names and citations—stood him in good stead in court where he excelled in bluffing and was noted for protracting argument in case something might be turned up. He was always willing to help junior members of the profession. In 1933-38 he was an acting-judge of the Supreme Court. Following his dissenting judgement in the Ithaca election case (1938), the government did not offer him a full-time commission. A man of integrity and strong principles, Hart was a councillor of the Bar Association of Queensland and a member of the barristers' examination board. He was an Anglican synodsman and chancellor of the diocese of Brisbane, and president and trustee (1924-42) of Brisbane Grammar School's Old Boys' Association. Survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters, he died of cancer on 10 July 1944 at Clayfield and was cremated.

His eldest child Graham was born on 6 January 1906 at Ascot, Brisbane. Educated at Eagle Junction State and Brisbane Grammar schools, he was described at the latter as being 'industrious and public spirited', qualities he was to display throughout his life. In 1925 he enrolled at the University of Queensland intending to study medicine, but, within a year, went to work on the family property at Longreach; he started as a jackeroo and became an overseer. Returning to Brisbane in 1929, he studied law as an associate to Justice H. H. Henchman and was admitted to the Bar on 6 June 1933. Having been commissioned lieutenant in the Militia, Hart was seconded to the A.I.F. on 15 June 1940. He served with the 2nd/2nd Anti-Tank (Tank-Attack) Regiment in the Middle East (1940-42) and Papua (1942-43), and rose to captain in 1942. His A.I.F. appointment terminated in Queensland on 5 February 1944. At St John's Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane, on 21 July 1942 he had married 23-year-old Helen Constance Bryant.

Hart resumed his varied and successful practice, and took silk in 1953. A member of the Liberal Party, he held the seat of Mount Gravatt in the Legislative Assembly from August 1957 to January 1963. During his years in parliament he made many contributions, particularly in debates on aspects of the law. On 11 February 1963 he was appointed to the Supreme Court bench. Intolerant of delays in the administration of justice, he delivered his judgements promptly. His decisions often reflected his interest in legal history and were illustrated with numerous historical examples to support his analyses. Innate kindness characterized his judgements, as well as his personal relations, and he was held in high regard by the profession.

President (1961-63) of the Bar Association of Queensland, Hart was instrumental in forming the Australian Bar Association, of which he was vice-president (1962-63). As chairman (1959-63) of Barristers' Chambers Ltd, he was largely responsible for the decision to build the Inns of Court in Brisbane because he believed that members of the Bar should lead a collegiate life. He contributed to professional journals, maintained an interest in French literature and was chairman (1967) of the Supreme Court's library committee. A gentle man with an infectious sense of humour, he loved people and had interests that ranged from the Brisbane Agricultural Society to Legacy. He was also prominent in the Anglican synod. Survived by his wife, daughter and two sons, he died of myocardial infarction on 18 April 1974 in Brisbane and was cremated. His three children entered the legal profession.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Johnston, History of the Queensland Bar (Brisb, 1979)
  • B. H. McPherson, The Supreme Court of Queensland 1859-1960 (Brisb, 1989)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 11 July 1944, 19 Apr 1974
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 19 Apr 1974
  • E. J. D. Stanley, A Mingled Yarn (unpublished manuscript, (Supreme Court Library, Brisbane)
  • Supreme Court, Judges' biography files, SCL/JB and newsclippings (Supreme Court Library, Brisbane).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Aladin Rahemtula, 'Hart, Percy Lloyd (1874–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 30 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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