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John Frederick Burcher (1884–1955)

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John Frederick Burcher, born Hans Frederick Carl Böttcher (1884-1955) tramway ganger, trade unionist and municipal councillor 

Birth: 27 January 1884 at Angermünde, Brandenburg, Prussia [Germany], son of Wilhelm August Christian Böttcher (1860-1928), fireman, and his first wife Wilhelmina Louise Christine, née Dahn (1860-1904). Marriage: 30 May 1908 in St Paul’s Church, Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales to Rachel Young (1882-1964), who had been born in New Ross, Ireland. They had one son and one daughter. Death: 27 May 1955 at Ashfield, Sydney. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, aboard the Bulimba with his parents and siblings on 22 August 1887. The family moved to New South Wales about 1890.
  • Was a labourer at Erskineville, Sydney, in July 1907 when he applied for naturalisation. This was granted in August 1907, after which he changed his name.
  • Rank and file tramway worker, as labourer, ballast guard then a ganger supervisor from 1936 to 1954. Was a councillor of Permanent Way Division, NSW Branch of the Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Service Association [later ARU]. Labour movement connection dated to 1909.
  • Held positions of secretary and president of the Redfern Branch of Australian Labor Party.
  • Resided at Cleveland Street, Redfern, until 1935. Unsuccessful candidate for Redfern municipal council in December 1922. Appointed justice of the peace on 3 October 1923.
  • Was elected as ALP candidate to Redfern Municipal Council at a by-election in May 1924. Failed to be re-elected in December 1925.
  • A ‘straightforward unionist… highly respected’.
  • According to his family, Burcher became a friend of his fellow Redfernite – and St Paul’s church parishioner — (Sir) William McKell.
  • Was a pensioner at his death.

Railways Union Gazette
, n.d.

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Citation details

'Burcher, John Frederick (1884–1955)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 3 March 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Böttcher, Hans Frederick

27 January, 1884
Angermünde, Brandenburg, Germany


27 May, 1955 (aged 71)
Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales, 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.

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