People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Michael (Mick) Burke (c. 1864–1937)

by Peter Sheldon

This article was published:

Michael ‘Mick’ Burke (1864-1937) labourer, rockchopper, goldminer, union official and Labor parliamentarian

Birth: in Bansha, Tipperary, Ireland, and baptised on 3 September 1864, son of Thomas Burke, farmer, and Annie, née Quirke. Marriage: 16 December 1889 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, New South Wales, to Lucy Agnes Lloyd, a Sydney-born servant. They had one son and five daughters. Death: 5 July 1937 in Summer Hill, Sydney, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Arrived in NSW in 1887. Gave his occupation as “miner” on his marriage lines. Employed by Sydney Harbour Trust as a labourer.
  • Joined United Laborers’ Protective Society (ULPS) in 1900. Was active as a part-time and voluntary official, and delegate to Sydney Trades and Labor Council, 1901-09. An increasingly conservative full-time organiser for ULPS 1909-17.
  • Foundation member of the Australian Labor Party. Delegate to ALP conferences. Was a member of its central executive 1904-13 and 1915-17. Secretary, Combined City Political Labor Leagues, 1907-09. Justice of the Peace, 1913.
  • Alderman on Sydney City Council, from 1909 to 1927. In this capacity was found corrupt by the Royal Commission conducted by Sydney Ernest Lamb in 1924.
  • Lived in inner city Pyrmont, his political base. Seemingly popular for his ability to use his position to dispense patronage, and work for genuine improvements for poorly paid.
  • Labor Member of the Legislative Assembly for Belmore from March 1917 to February 1920; for Sydney from March 1920 to February 1922 (defeated) and from May 1925 to September 1927; for Phillip from October 1927 to September 1930 (retired). A supporter of Jack Lang from 1925 to 1927.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); J. Lang, I RememberLabor News, 1921-3; Labor Daily, 1927; Peter Sheldon, Maintaining control: a history of unionism among employees of the Sydney Water Board, PhD thesis University of Wollongong, 1989; United Laborers’ Protective Society minutes 1900-05; TLC of NSW, minutes 1901-15; Parliamentary Papers of New South Wales, 1925, pp. 139-152. Labor Party leaflets (State Library of NSW), for example 329.31/N.

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Peter Sheldon, 'Burke, Michael (Mick) (c. 1864–1937)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1864
Bansha, Tipperary, Ireland


5 July, 1937 (aged ~ 73)
Summer Hill, 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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism