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Joseph Edward (Eddy) Brown (1900–1971)

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Joseph Edward ‘Eddy’ Brown, also known as Joseph Edward Browne (1900-1971) wireworker and trade union leader 

Birth: 9 May 1900 in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, son of Irish-born parents Henry Brown (1859-1919), a wood and coal merchant from Dublin, and his first wife Honora Teresa ‘Nora’, née Conroy (1860-1907), born in Kilmeany, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland. Marriage: 7 April 1934 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Randwick, to native-born Jean Schwartz (1911-1998). They divorced in May 1945. Death: May have been the Edward Joseph Browne, cleaner, who died of a heart attack on 12 December 1971 at Lidcombe hospital, Sydney, and was buried in the Anglican cemetery, Field of Mars, though his religion was said to have been Catholic. 

  • Reputedly served in First AIF, but as he was underage, he possibly enlisted under an assumed name.
  • In the 1930s and early 1940s was secretary and effective leader of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association (FIA), Balmain branch, a close associate of Jack A. Beasley and part of Lang Labor machine in Western Sydney.
  • In 1936 was defeated by Ernest Thornton for secretaryship of FIA. ‘Inarticulate, pragmatic, a “wheeler-dealer” with the employers, sometimes slapdash in his working methods…but…close to the membership’. At first worked harmoniously with communists, but fell out over refusal to endorse the Communist Party of Australia’s advocacy of all-out war effort.
  • Third force in internecine dispute on Balmain waterfront between Communists and Trotskyists.
  • in 1943 he became tired of the fight and retired. Took job as personnel officer with Nicol Brothers, a waterfront shop, leading to the communist taunt that he and the Balmain executive of FIA were ‘bosses men’.
  • According to his Ancestry file, he lowered his age and enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force on 7 November 1939 under the name Edward Joseph Browne. Served in the 2nd 1st Australian General Hospital, Australian Army Medical Corps, in the Middle East. Returned to Australia in September 1941 and was discharged in Sydney, medically unfit, on 28 November that year.
  • Nothing further known of him until he seems to have resided in a psychiatric hospital.

Robert Murray & Kate White, The Ironworkers, A history of the Federated Iron-workers' Association of Australia (Sydney, c1982); Hall Greenland, Red Hot: The Life & Times of Nick Origlass 1908–1996 (Sydney, 1998).

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Citation details

'Brown, Joseph Edward (Eddy) (1900–1971)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Browne, Joseph Edward

9 May, 1900
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


12 December, 1971 (aged 71)
Lidcombe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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