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Cadden, John William (Jack) (1871–1940)

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John William (Jack) Cadden (1871- 1940) wharf labourer and trade union leader

Birth: 26 April 1871 in Geelong, Victoria, son of William Ross Cadden, a miner born in Glasgow, Scotland who became an original member of Melbourne Wharf Laborers’ Union, and Eliza, née Griffin, who had been born in Borrisokane, Tipperary, Ireland. Marriage: 13 April 1895 in the Manse, South Melbourne, to New-Zealand-born Emily Faulkner. They had three sons and four daughters. Death: 29 February 1940 in Prince Henry Hospital, Melbourne. Religion: Presbyterian.

  • In 1905 joined Melbourne Wharf Laborers’ Union, becoming vice-president 1908-09.
  • 1910 elected president, resigning 1911 to become vigilance officer.
  • 1919-1922 union secretary and later president, serving 30 years for union cause and Melbourne branch Waterside Workers’ Federation.
  • Charged with incitement to strike during 1928 dispute, though trying to settle strike.
  • Active in municipal politics of South Melbourne, rank and file Australian Labor Party member, Montague Branch. South Melbourne councillor 1919-1922.
  • For some time member of the board of management of Prince Henry Hospital and life governor of Melbourne Hospital.
  • Cause of death: arteriosclerotic myocarditis, liver abscess and enlarged prostate.

Margo Beasley, Wharfies: the history of the Waterside Workers’ Federation (Rushcutters Bay, 1996); Labor Call (Melbourne), 28 October 1924, p 8 [sketch and profile], 6 June 1935, p 7 [50th birthday waterside workers union]; 7 March 1940, p 5 [obituary].

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Citation details

'Cadden, John William (Jack) (1871–1940)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 6 June 2023.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jack Cadden, 1940

Jack Cadden, 1940

Maritime Worker (Melbourne), 13 April 1940, p 7

Life Summary [details]


26 April, 1871
Geelong, Victoria, Australia


29 February, 1940 (aged 68)
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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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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