Students at the University of Sydney

Early students

Sydney Burdekin

Sydney Burdekin attended the University of Sydney from 1854 and graduated Bachelor of Arts on 18 July 1859.


His early years

Younger brother of Marshall, who graduated in 1856, Sydney Burdekin was born on 18 February 1839 and educated at William Timothy Cape's School, Darlinghurst.

His student days at the University of Sydney

Burdekin attended the University of Sydney from 1854, winning prizes in Chemistry and Experimental Physics in 1854 and 1855, and passing his BA exams in December 1857.

He graduated Bachelor of Arts on 18 July 1859, the first Commemoration of Benefactors and Conferring of Degrees ceremony and the first held in the Great Hall.

His career

Sydney was for some years articled to a solicitor, but was apparently not admitted to practice. For many years he managed the pastoral runs which he and his mother held in Queensland and northern New South Wales. He was most closely associated with Attunga, near Tamworth, where he stayed for long periods planning improvements and supervising their implementation with evident success, for when he sold out in 1875 he claimed that Attunga was returning him £9000 a year. As well as attending to the family's real-estate empire he was a director of a number of public companies, and after permanently returning to Sydney became increasingly involved in public life.

He served almost continuously in the Legislative Assembly in 1880-94, representing in succession Tamworth, East Sydney and the Hawkesbury. He was an active and prominent member of the free trade movement.

Burdekin was an alderman of the Sydney Municipal Council in 1883-98; as mayor from January 1890 to April 1891, when he resigned to visit Europe, he was able to put into practice the administrative measures which he felt would achieve the judicious economy that he had always advocated, insisting on an overall plan instead of the earlier piecemeal efforts. Burdekin was a director of Sydney Hospital in 1878-99 and a member of the Aborigines' Protection Board in 1887-99. In 1885 he was appointed a magistrate for the colony of New South Wales and in 1890-91 presided over the royal commission on the city and suburban railways. Interested in sport and music, he held office in the Sydney Liedertafel as vice-president in 1888-91 and as president in 1892-99.

Sydney Burdekin on being re-elected Mayor in 1890.

Sydney Burdekin on being re-elected Mayor in 1890, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 27 December 1890, NLA Newspapers.

On 24 January 1872 he married Catherine, daughter of Keyran Byrne, farmer of Attunga, and his wife Catherine, née Balkin: they had eight children.

He died on 17 December 1899, survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters, one of whom, Florence, married Alexander Hay.