Students at the University of Sydney

The first 24 students

William Charles Windeyer

In 1852, William Charles Windeyer gained a scholarship to the University of Sydney, and graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1856 and Master of Arts in 1859.


His early days

William Charles Windeyer was the only child of Richard Windeyer and his wife, Maria Camfield, and was born in London on 29 September 1834. He arrived at Sydney in 1835 as an infant with his parents, and was educated at William Timothy Cape’s Elfred House Private School and later at the King’s School, Parramatta.

His student days at the University of Sydney

William was 18 when he gained a scholarship and was admitted in the first cohort of students to the University of Sydney in 1852.

During his course he gained the following:

  • Dr Woolley's Prize for the best English Essay in 1853
  • First class honours in Classics in 1853 and 1854
  • the University Classical Scholarship in 1854
  • the Wentworth Medal (for the best English Essay) in 1854 and 1855
  • First class honours in Logic in 1855
  • First class honours in Moral Philosophy in 1855


Windeyer ran the 'Sydney University Magazine'. His uncle John Thompson described him at this time as 'rather a favourite with us all – very impulsive, original & independent' (from the ADB biography).

He graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1856 (it is accepted that he was the first graduate) and Master of Arts in 1859.

His career

Windeyer, who read law in the chambers of E Broadhurst and was admitted to the Colonial Bar in 1857, had a distinguished career in politics and the law.

As well as maintaining his legal practice, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1860 and served in several government administrations in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1878-79, he was Attorney-General.

On his resignation from parliament in 1879, he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court, retiring in 1896.

He was knighted in 1891.

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His membership of Senate

A Fellow of the Senate for over 30 years (1866-97), he was elected Vice-Chancellor from 1883 to 1886 and Chancellor from 1895 to 1896.

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