Judge Thomas McCawley
|5th Chief Justice of Queensland|
1 April 1922 – 24 April 1925
|Preceded by||Pope Cooper|
|Succeeded by||James Blair|
|Born||24 July 1881|
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
|Died||16 April 1925 (aged 43)|
|Resting place||Toowong cemetery, Brisbane|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Mary O'Hagan|
|Children||Five (four sons and a daughter)|
|Known for||Role as a leading judge in Queensland|
McCawley was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. He was of Irish-Catholic background, his father having been born in County Leitrim, Ireland. On his mother's side he had German ancestry, his mother coming from Darmstadt, Germany. He was educated at the Sisters of Mercy's Hibernian Hall and a state school in Toowoomba. At the age of 14 he took a job for three years as a clerk in the Toowoomba firm of solicitors, Hamilton & Wonderley. Later, McCawley was employed by the Queensland Government Savings Bank, and was successively transferred to the offices of the public service board and the Department of Justice. Studying after hours, he passed the prescribed examinations and was admitted to the Queensland bar on 7 May 1907. In November 1910, at the age of 29 he was appointed crown solicitor, an appointment which was controversial at the time.
McCawley was a staunch Catholic. This, and his links with the Labor Party in Queensland, attracted criticism from some parts of the legal profession in Queensland when he was appointed to a number of senior legal positions in the state There were objections from some quarters, both on political grounds and on the grounds of his lack of experience as practising barrister, when he was appointed as the first president of the Queensland Court of Industrial Arbitration in January 1917, and then puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland in October 1917. Challenges to his appointment in the Supreme Court of Queensland, and in the High Court of Australia, were successful but were overturned by the Privy Council in London. During the next few years, until his premature death, he made a significant contribution to industrial relations law.
McCawley made contributions to industrial law and relations, and framed an award for railway employees. McCawley was made chief justice of Queensland on the retirement of Sir Pope Cooper on 1 April 1922 when he became the youngest chief justice in the British Empire. McCawley held office until 16 April 1925 when he died suddenly of a heart attack at the Roma Street railway station in Brisbane while running to catch a train to Ipswich to attend to legal affairs. He was survived by his wife, four sons and one daughter.
On 13 December 1927 a bronze bust of McCawley was unveiled at the Board of Arbitration in Brisbane.
In September 1961, McCawley Street in the suburb of Watson in Canberra was named after him in recognition, among other things, of his contributions in the field of industrial law and industrial arbitration.
- List of Judges of the Supreme Court of Queensland
- Judiciary of Australia
- Background to the McCawley family name
- Serle, Percival (1949). "McCawley, Thomas". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Malcolm Cope, 'McCawley, Thomas William (1881 - 1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, 1986.
- Murphy, D.J (1975). T. J. Ryan: A political biography. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.
- 'The Honourable Thomas W McCawley', Supreme Court Library of Queensland.
- Murphy, D.J (1978), p. 109.
- Murphy, D.J (1978) also discusses in detail the political and social issues surrounding the role of the Australian Labor Party and the Catholic community in Queensland at the time. The context is also discussed in considerable detail in Nicholas Aroney, 'Politics, Law and the Constitution in McCawley's Case', (2006) 30(3) Melbourne University Law Review 605.
- Scott Guy, Kanchana Kariyawsam and Barbara Hocking, 'The philosophical ideals and political orientation of Thomas McCawley: A social democrat or a pragmatist?', (2007) 19(2) Bond Law Review 58.
- In re McCawley  St R Qd 62, (22 August 1918), Supreme Court (Full Court) (Qld).
- McCawley v R  HCA 55, (1918) 26 CLR 9 (27 September 1918), High Court (Australia).
- McCawley v The King  UKPC 22,  AC 691; (1920) 28 CLR 106 (8 March 1920), Privy Council (on appeal from Australia).
- Murphy, D.J (1978), pp. 346, 358, 373, 391, 477 & 478.
- Paul de Jersey, Chief Justice of Queensland, My Younger Predecessors, Paper from the Supreme Court of Queensland Library, Wednesday 19 August 1998.
- "NOTABLE CAREER CLOSED". The Brisbane Courier. 17 April 1925. p. 7. Retrieved 14 December 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
- McCawley Thomas William — Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
- Australian Capital Territory Government, Street and suburban names, accessed 17 February 2017. Streets in Watson are named after Australian judges and other leading members of the legal profession.
- McCawley Thomas William — Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search
Pope Alexander Cooper
| Chief Justice of Queensland