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William Peter Barry (1859–1939)

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William Peter Barry (Snr) (1859-1939) labourer and trade union leader 

Birth: 11 June 1859 at Westbury, Tasmania, eldest of ten children of Irish-born parents James Barry (1811-1885), ex-convict, and Ellen, née Hegarty, later Nugent (1834-1902). Marriage: 7 April 1890 at Collingwood, Melbourne, to Susan Agatha Robinson. They had three daughters and two sons. Death: 26 August 1939 at North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Religion: Catholic. 

  • Led Mount Bischoff strike c.1889 in Tasmania.
  • Moved to Melbourne where established Quarrymen’s Union.
  • After period gold mining in W.A. returned to Victoria to take active part in forming first Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Union; also member of Australian Workers’ Union committee. Organised Municipal Employees’ Union in Victoria, then travelled interstate to replicate initiative, assisting rise in membership from 400 to 4000.
  • Foundation member of Australian Labor Party Carlton branch.

Labor Call
, 31 August 1939 

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Age (Melbourne), 29 August 1939, p 10

Citation details

'Barry, William Peter (1859–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


11 June, 1859
Westbury, Tasmania, Australia


26 August, 1939 (aged 80)
Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism