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.

Thomas Clifton (Tom) Cartwright (1856–1911)

This article was published:

Thomas Clift or Clifton (Tom) Cartwright (1856-1911) railway engineer and trade union official 

Birth: 24 July 1856 at Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, son of Samuel Cartwright (1814-1878), land surveyor, and Catherine, née Clift (1821-1878).  Marriage: 1877 at Crew, England, to Emma Salmon (1857-1917) born in Cheshire. They had six daughters and three sons. Death: 24 June 1911 in an old mens’ home at Fremantle, Western Australia. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Arrived in Sydney with his wife as an assisted immigrant aboard the Strathleven on 27 October 1879. Their daughter had died on the voyage. Worked as railway engineer in New South Wales. Moved to Western Australia about 1895.
  • From 1897 was founding general secretary of Locomotive Engine Drivers, Firemen’s and Cleaners’ Union, WA, who ‘travelled night and day in brake vans, and on the footplates of engines, urging upon the engine men the necessity to build up a strong union’.
  • Was instrumental in the 1900 strike.
  • Preselection candidate for Federal seat of Fremantle in 1903.
  • Under investigation over irregularities in union funds he left his family in Fremantle in March 1904 to work as an engine driver in Singapore and then Calcutta, India, where he met British Labour leader Keir Hardie.
  • Had returned to Fremantle by 1908, when was secretary of the unemployed there. Strain on health caused premature retirement.
  • Cause of death: epileptic stroke.
  • Son Thomas Clift Cartwright (1895-1916) enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915 and was killed in action at the 3rd Battle of Fromelles on 20 July 1916.

Westralian Worker (Perth), 30 April 1937, p 7: and 28 December 1945, p 7.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Cartwright, Thomas Clifton (Tom) (1856–1911)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


24 July, 1856
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England


24 June, 1911 (aged 54)
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death


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.

Passenger Ship
Key Organisations