Sybil Enid Vera Munro Morrison

18 August 1925
Petersham, New South Wales, Australia
29 December 1961
Collaroy, New South Wales, Australia
Barrister, Lawyer and Solicitor
Alternative Names
  • Gibbs, Sibyl (alternative spelling)
  • Gibbs, Sybil Enid Vera Munro (birth name)

Sybil Enid Vera Munro Morrison became the first female barrister in New South Wales in June 1924. She was often briefed by fellow pioneering female lawyers, Christian Jollie Smith and Marie Byles, to whom she referred as her 'sisters-in-law'.

Sybil Morrison (nee Gibbs) was born on 18 August 1895 at Petersham, Sydney. She had an uncle and half-brother who were lawyers, and graduated from law at the University of Sydney in 1924. She interrupted her legal studies to visit Britain in 1923 where she married a ranch owner, Charles Carlisle Morrison. Known for her fashionable dresses, Morrison asserted that 'the law is one of the best professions you can take up and one for which women are particularly suited'. She was a member of the National Council of Women of New South Wales and convener of their laws committee. In 1926, when the National Council of Women was advocating uniform Federal marriage and divorce laws, she presented a paper on divorce in Australia.

Sybil divorced Charles Morrison in 1928 and travelled to London where she was called to the Bar in 1930. She returned to Sydney and married architect Carlyle Greenwell in 1937. After her marriage she ceased to practice as a barrister. In 1940 she was first president of the Law School Comforts Fund, becoming a life vice-president in 1942. She was also involved with the Business and Professional Women's Club of Sydney. Sybil Morrison died at Collaroy on 29 December 1961.

Sources used to compile this entry: Brodsky, Juliette, 'Sybil Morrison Biography', in Pioneering Women at the NSW Bar: 1921-1975, New South Wales Bar Association, 2011,; Kerwin, Hollie and Rubenstein, Kim, 'Law', in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia, Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain (eds), Australian Women's Archives Project, 2014,; O'Brien, Joan M., 'Morrison, Sibyl Enid Vera Munro (1895-1961)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Sibyl Enid Morrison in a wig and gown with another barrister and gentleman walking past 149 Phillip Street, Sydney, ca. 1920s [picture] [Image].

Prepared by Nicola Silbert