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Henry Belfrage (1842–1928)

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Henry Belfrage (1842-1928) seaman, trade union leader 

Birth: 29 March 1842 in Edinburgh, Scotland, son of Henry Belfrage, drayman, and Jane, née Berwick. Marriage: 26 March 1878 with Independent Congregationalist forms in West Melbourne to Scottish-born Jane Laidlaw. They had six sons and four daughters. Death: 9 August 1928 at Yarraville, Footscray, Victoria. Religion:Presbyterian. 

  • Was indentured to seafaring at an early age from South Shields, England.
  • In 1864 moved from New York to Victoria. From 1864 to 1867 worked in coastal shipping trade. Member, Eight Hour Committee.
  • From 1867 to 1876 was an itinerant gold miner in Australia and New Zealand then returned to Victoria to resume work as mariner.
  • Secretary of Victorian Seamen’s Union for 21 years, president for some years, and vice-president, 1909. Was actively involved in 1890 Maritime Strike. In 1893 helped to organise resistance to wage-cut. In 1907 voted against transfer of union head office to Sydney.
  • Appointed to Commonwealth Maritime Board as successor to Tom Walsh in July 1922.

Westralian Worker
, 17 August 1928; Tocsin, 21 April 1898, 20 April 1899, W.E. Murphy, History of the Eight Hour Movement, Spectator Publicity Co. Ltd., Vol. 1 (Melbourne, 1896); Brian Fitzpatrick and Rowan J. Cahill, The Seamen’s Union of Australia: a history, (Sydney, 1981).

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Citation details

'Belfrage, Henry (1842–1928)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Henry Belfrage, 1899

Henry Belfrage, 1899

Tocsin (Melbourne), 20 April 1899, p 5

Life Summary [details]


29 March, 1842
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


9 August, 1928 (aged 86)
Yarraville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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