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Beattie, Robert (c. 1860–1910)

by Chris Cunneen

Robert Beattie, also known as ‘Ike Konoklast’ and ‘Adam Tramp’ (c.1860–1910) mechanical draftsman, anarchist, labourer, writer 

Birth: c.1860 in Lancashire, England. Death: 21 December 1910 at Fremantle, Western Australia. 

  • Arrived in Melbourne from Lancashire in 1880s. Active in Social Democratic League and Anarchists Club, reading papers on political questions and calling for debate. He was one of 'a band of cranks, reformers, political refugees, Nihilists, Socialists, firebrands and revolutionists’ including J. A. Andrews, W. D. Flinn, J. W. Fleming, David A. Andrade, S. A. Rosa and others.
  • To Sydney in 1894. Camped in a cave in North Sydney. Active in Arthur Desmond’s Active Service Brigade. Given to cutting stencil plates in elegant Roman lettering suggesting ‘inflammatory and seditious’ political action, which he fixed to walls on his travels. Sayings such as ‘Anarchy is Liberty’, ‘Long Live the Social Revolution’ and ‘The Free Man has no Master’ appeared in the city and countryside.
  • Member of the Queensland Democratic Vanguard and caretaker of its premises in Brisbane. In the 1890s and early 1900s wrote articles for Queensland Worker and other papers under nom de plume ‘Adam Tramp’.
  • Not invited to be part of New Australia experiment, but about January 1903 worked his passage from Newcastle, New South Wales, to Valparaiso, Chile, and walked over the Andes to Cosme in Paraguay. His anarchist views and disdain for leadership of any kind, however, soon conflicted with Lane and others at Cosme.
  • By November 1903 he had decided to return to Australia by fashioning a canoe from a large log. When this exercise failed he took a job as a caretaker in Supacay. He eventually drifted back to Australia where he worked as a labourer. He was in Brisbane again by June 1905.
  • While living in premises at the Madrid Restaurant, High Street, Fremantle, Western Australia, aged 50, he committed suicide by taking cyanide.
  • ‘Rebel, rover, free-lover, anarchist, stoic, satirist and philosophic savage’.

Sources
Worker
(Wagga Wagga), 13 Dec 1902, p.6 [http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145882084]; Ernest Henry Lane, Dawn to dusk-Reminiscences of a rebel (1939).

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Beattie, Robert (c. 1860–1910)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/beattie-robert-32406/text40175, accessed 30 June 2022.

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