About Senate

Secretaries to Senate

Hugh Kennedy

Hugh Kennedy (1829 - 1882) was the University of Sydney Registrar and Secretary from 1853 to 1882. The position of Registrar included the role of Secretary to Senate.


BA Oxf
Registrar and Secretary: 1853 - 1882


Hugh Kennedy was born in Ireland on 19 September 1829. In 1847 he matriculated to Balliol College Oxford and studied divinity, classics, mathematics and logic. There is some doubt as to whether or not Kennedy ever took out a degree but he always claimed he had a BA Oxon.

He married in 1852 and in that year the couple left England for Sydney where in January 1853, he became a clerk in the Colonial Secretary's office. He later transferred to the Customs Department.

His career at the University of Sydney

In September 1853, he took up his new appointment as Secretary and Registrar at the University of Sydney.

Kennedy was to spend the rest of his life in the service of the University. In addition to his work as Registrar, in 1855 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Classics and allowed a quarter
of the lecture fees. This was however a purely nominal role by the 1870s. Kennedy was considered "quite handsome" by the students but was considered by many as "more ornamental than useful" and did not build up a reputation as a gifted lecturer.

As a Registrar however, he appears to have been very competent. He was required to keep detailed records including registers, correspondence files and the Minutes of the Senate and other meetings. He also watched over problems of student accommodation. His long term in office gave stability to the administration of the young institution and the records he kept so carefully, today form the basis of the Archives of the University. These records include the earliest members of the Senate, the Matriculation registers and also the correspondence files.

Hugh Kennedy

Hugh Kennedy, photo, Mitchell Library of New South Wales, Digital order number: gpo1_12249.

In 1880 Kennedy was granted leave of absence because of mental illness and he died on 26 May 1882.

From an article by Ursula Bygott, University of Sydney Archives 'Record", September 1990