Sheila McClemans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A 1943 painting of Sheila McClemans by Nora Heysen

Sheila Mary McClemans (1909–1988) Chief Commander, CMG, OBE, SJM was an Australian servicewoman, lawyer, barrister and company director. She set up the first all female law firm in Western Australia and was the first female barrister to appear before the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Early life[edit]

Sheila McClemans was born to Ada Lucy Walker and William Joseph McClemans in Claremont, Western Australia on 3 May 1909.[1][2] She attended the Perth Modern School[3].

Legal career[edit]

McClemans was one of the first graduates of the law school at the University of Western Australia in 1930.[1][2][4] She was admitted to the Bar on 16 May 1933.[1][5] When McClemans and her friend Molly Kingston were unable to find work in a law firm they set up the first all woman law firm in Western Australia.[1] She was the first woman barrister to appear before the Supreme Court of Western Australia.[3] Sheila held several leadership roles in the legal profession including secretary of the Western Australia Law Society[1], foundation member of the Western Australia Legal Aid Commission[1][6] and the State Parole Board of Western Australia[1][4].

Military service[edit]

McClemans enlisted in WW2, entering the first WRANS officer training course at HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria.[3] rising to the rank of Director of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service.[1][7][8][4][9][3][10].


McClemans was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1951[1] and a Companion of the Order of St Michael & St George (CMG) in 1977[1]. She was also awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977[1] Her portrait painted by Nora Heysen is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Personal life[edit]

McClemans married Frank Morrison Kenworthy (1899–1976) in 1949.[1][4] She died in Dalkeith, Western Australia, on 10 June 1988.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ion, Judith. "Sheila Mary McClemans". Australian Women Lawyers as Active Citizens. University of Melbourne. Retrieved 3 May 2018. 
  2. ^ a b National Foundation for Australian Women; The University of Melbourne. "McClemans, Sheila Mary". Woman - The Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 3 May 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d Spurling, Kathryn. "McClemans, Sheila Mary (1909–1988)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 3 May 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d Davies, Lloyd (2000), Sheila : a biography of Sheila Mary McClemans, Desert Pea Press, ISBN 978-1-876861-01-8 
  5. ^ "Women in the World", The Australian woman's mirror, 9 (37): 20, 1933-08-08, retrieved 3 May 2018 
  6. ^ "Attorney-General's Department Commonwealth Legal Aid Commission Act 1977 APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONERS AND DEPUTIES OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH LEGAL AID COMMISSION". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette. General (G18). Australia, Australia. 8 May 1979. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "1943-1, Members of the First WRANS Office Training Corps. From left to right, back row: Chief ..." Retrieved 3 May 2018. 
  8. ^ Miss Sheila McClemans, retrieved 3 May 2018 
  9. ^ "Farewell To WRANS Director". The Argus (Melbourne) (31,326). Victoria, Australia. 24 January 1947. p. 8. Retrieved 3 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "NAVAL FORCES OF THE COMMONWEALTH". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (98). Australia, Australia. 5 June 1947. p. 1503. Retrieved 8 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia.