Percy Shortland

Percy Shortland [1895-1954]

Mayor of Strathfield 1933-38

shortland-p-alderman-strathfield-council-1932Percy Douglas Shortland [1895-1954] was an Alderman and Mayor of Strathfield [1933-38]. Shortland’s period on Council coincided with the Depression and according to Holt’s biography A Court Rises [1976: 227-229] he did much to help Strathfield residents in difficult circumstances and introduced a roster system for Council workers so staff wouldn’t be retrenched.  Shortland originally trained as a teacher and while headmaster of Mudgee High School, he completed examinations to qualify for admission to the bar. Shortland was admitted as a barrister in 1922 and in June 1939 appointed as a Judge to the District Court. Shortland resigned from Strathfield Council upon his appointment as a Judge.

Shortland also held a long interest in politics. He was President of the Sydney Debating Club at age 21. He contested the State seat of Wammerawa [now Mudgee] as a National Party candidate and came close to victory. In 1925, Shortland contested the Federal electorate of Reid as a candidate for the Nationalist Party.  The electorate of Reid included Homebush from 1922 to 1934, when the boundaries were changed and shifted west to Auburn and Granville.  The electorate of Reid has been held by the Australian Labor Party since 1922, but Shortland through strenuous campaigning achieved a 5.2% swing at the 1925 election. Shortland was defeated by Labor’s Percy Coleman, who was also a resident of Strathfield, living on the corner of Homebush Rd and Burlington Rd.

Shortland’s wife, Edith Shortland was also politically active. Edith became the first woman Vice-President of the Liberal Party and contested the federal Electorate of Lowe in 1949 as a Liberal Independent. The seat was won by the Liberal Party’s William McMahon but Edith Shortland achieved 6.4% of the primary vote. McMahon held the seat for the Liberal Party until 1982, when he retired.

Elsie St was renamed Shortland Avenue after Percy Shortland.

An obituary for Percy Shortland was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7 July 1954, p5:


Judge Percy Douglas Shortland, who retired from the District Court bench in 1950, died yesterday afternoon at his home in Cooper Street, Strathfield.

A Sydney University Arts and Law graduate, he was formerly headmaster of Mudgee High School

He became an alderman of Strathfield Council, and later was Mayor of Strathfield for six years.

He resigned from the council on his appointment to the District Court bench in 1939.  Sydney barrister Mr. F. C. Hidden, speaking at a farewell to Judge Shortland in 1950, said that members of the legal profession considered Judge Shortland the hardest-worked judge in the State, with his circuit extending from Parramatta to Bourke.

Judge Shortland was interested in sport, and was president of the Western Suburbs Cricket Club and of the University Rugby Union.

Married in 1919, he is survived by Mrs. Shortland, one son, and two daughters-Mrs. Donald Taylor and Mrs. Montagu Hicks – all of Sydney.

The funeral will take place tomorrow at 9 a.m., after a service at St Anne’s Church of England, Strathfield.


Adam Carr’s Electoral Archive at http//

Death of Judge Shortland, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 1954, p5

Holt, T E, A Court Rises: the lives and times of the Judges of the District Court of New South Wales [1859-1959], Law Foundation of NSW, 1976

Jones, C ‘Ellesmere: 59 Mackenzie St Strathfield’, SDHS Newsletter March 2004 Vol.27 No.3

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