Sir Herbert Angas PARSONS


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1892
NFC Games:
NFC Goals:
Debut: 1892


There is solid circumstantial evidence that Angas Parsons – later a prominent politician, judge and knight of the realm - played at least one game for Norwood in 1892, though we cannot be absolutely certain.

We do know that the A. Parsons who appears in a Norwood team photograph that year bears a fair resemblance to the Angas Parsons as depicted elsewhere.  Parsons is a small man in the photo, as Angas Parsons was in life. We also know that The Advertiser of 12 September 1892 named Parsons as full back in the Norwood team  which lost to Port Adelaide  two days before.  Angas Parsons was 20 at the time.  Through his life he took an interest in sport.  He advocated the use of the parklands  as playing grounds  for children at state schools to enjoy clean and manly sport like their counterparts at the bigger colleges.  In 1915 he gave the Parsons Shield, named after his father, a former education minister, for competition among public high schools.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to say he played football at Prince Alfred College, which he left in 1891, at Roseworthy Agricultural College, where he lasted one term in 1892, or anywhere else.  If did play against Port, it was in a match of little consequence as South Adelaide already had the premiership in the bag.  Port won 8.15 to 5.10 before a disappointing Adelaide Oval crowd of 4,000.

Herbert Angas Parson was born at North Adelaide on 23 May 1872, the only son of John Langdon Parsons, businessman, politician and one-time Baptist preacher, and his wife Rosetta, a grand-daughter of pioneer settler George Fife Angas.  Angas Parsons dallied with pastoral and financial pursuits for three years before turning to the law.  He was admitted to the Bar in 1897 and became a partner of the lawyer and political activist Patrick McMahon Glynn.  In 1900 he married Mary Elsie, daughter of (Sir) Langdon Bonython of The Advertiser, in the Pirie Street Methodist Church.

Gregarious, with a loud, cheery laugh, he was an avid pamphleteer like his father.  From 1912-15 and from 1918-21 he sat in the House of Assembly, being briefly attorney-general and education minister in 1915. A member of the Liberal Union, he was a reformer with a disregard for party.  He advocated increased salaries for teachers to raise the standard of education, arguing that democracy could not thrive without an active and informed citizenry, and reform rather than punishment for prisoners.

He was appointed a King’s Counsel in 1916, a Supreme Court Judge in 1921, senior puisne judge in 1927, acting Chief Justice in 1935 and, on occasions, deputy governor.  He espoused many organisations such as the SA Cornish Association, the Royal Empire Society, the Prison Reform Association and the Automobile Association of SA.  He was warden of the University of Adelaide Senate and vice-chancellor in 1942-44. He spent many convivial hours in the Adelaide Club.  Following his father as consul for Japan from 1904, he was honoured with the Order of the Rising Sun in 1921.  

He was knighted in 1936 and appointed KBE in 1945.  Survived by Lady Parsons and their two sons, he died of cirrhosis of the liver on 2 November 1945.

 P. Robins Jan 2020

Reference: Elizabeth Kwan, 'Parsons, Sir Herbert Angas (1872–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 9 February 2020


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