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Charles John Burge (1873–1938)

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Charles John Burge (1873-1938) timberworker and trade union leader 

Birth: 3 May 1873 at Lyndoch, South Australia, son of Henry John Burge (1845-1933) and Elizabeth, née Filsell (1847-1877). Marriage: 1900 at Norwood, Adelaide, SA, to native-born Alma Eliza Scott (1883-1965). They had three daughters and five sons. Death: 24 October 1938 at Ballarat, Victoria. 

  • First became associated with the Federated Sawmill, Timber yards, and General Woodworkers’ Employees’ Association of Australasia when working in Victoria.
  • On return to South Australia was elected to represent the Port Adelaide sub-branch of the union on the Port Adelaide Trades and Labor Council.
  • Joined the South Australian branch of the union and was president from 1901 to 1905 and 1908-1910.
  • Elected secretary of the South Australian Timberworkers’ Union in September 1912 and continued in office until his death. Appeared before the Federal Arbitration Court and the State Industrial Court on numerous occasions. Responsible for introduction of 44-hour week in industry.
  • Sometime Federal president and vice-president of the Timberworkers union. Also served as president of the Adelaide Trades and Labor Council from August 1904 to February 1905. Member of the Timber Trades Wages Board in 1917.
  • Always active in the United Labor Party, assisted in returning the first Labor members for Port Adelaide, and with A. A. Kirkpatrick and Batchelor established local committees in the Boothby electorate. First president of the St Peters Democratic Club. Was ULP candidate for the House of Assembly plebiscite in January 1917.
  • While breaking his journey to Melbourne for a meeting of the Federal council of the timber workers’ union he died suddenly in his hotel at Ballarat. Death due to “heart trouble”.
  • At his burial he was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites A.D. Northern Star Tent No. 1.
  • Tributes praised him as “an enthusiastic and capable worker in the industrial cause”.

Northern Standard
(Darwin), 25 Oct 1938, p 9.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Chronicle (Adelaide), 27 August 1904, p 44
  • profile, Daily Herald (Adelaide), 24 January 1917, p 3
  • photo, Herald (Adelaide), 23 January 1909, p 3

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Burge, Charles John (1873–1938)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012