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William Job Clarke (1899–1988)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

William Job Clarke, also known as William Clark (1899-1988) seaman, socialist, trade union leader, journalist 

Birth: 13 July 1899 in Litherland, [baptised in St Thomas’s Anglican church, Seaforth] Lancashire, England, son of William Job Clarke (1872-1912?), engine driver (stationary), and Donaldeina, née Cameron (1875-1935). Marriage: 16 December 1941 at St Stephen's Anglican Church, Richmond, Victoria, to NSW-born Lilian Marie Stanley (1906-1982), clerk. They had one son. Death: 15 May 1988 in Hornsby hospital, Sydney, New South Wales. 

  • Arrived in Australia about 1920.
  • In 1924, with Jacob Johnson and Bill Casey, was a founding member in Melbourne of the resurrected Socialist Party of Australia.
  • In January 1926 against the wishes of the general president, Tom Walsh, Clarke, his SPA ally Jacob Johnson and another member of the Sydney branch of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia (SUA) proceeded to Melbourne to investigate the branch there. Thereafter Clarke was active in opposition to Walsh and also to the influence of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in the SUA. In 1928 he became assistant-secretary and in 1929 general secretary of the union’s Victorian branch.
  • Unsuccessful Socialist candidate for the seat of Melbourne Ports in the federal parliament in September 1934, when he lost his deposit.
  • Clarke was honorary general president of the SUA in 1930-1931 & 1935-1937 and editor of the SUA’s bulletin, The Seamen’s Journal, in 1935. Following the loss of power by the Johnson faction, he resigned as general president and as secretary of the Victorian branch of the SUA in July 1937.
  • For a time, he remained active in the SUA and contested the position of Victorian secretary in January 1943, won by William Bird. By later that year Clarke and his wife had moved to NSW.
  • Clarke had joined Australian Journalists’ Association in about 1939. In NSW he worked as a secretary and journalist. In 1953, when employed on the Goulburn Evening Post, he contested a vacancy for the position of secretary of the NSW district of the Australian Journalists’ Association.
  • Cause of death: cerebral haemorrhage and atherosclerosis.

L. J. Louis, ‘Recovery from the Depression and the Seamen’s Strike 1935-6’, in Labour History, November 1981, No. 1, p 74-86; Donald Sinclair Fraser, Articles of agreement: The Seamen’s Union of Australia, 1904-1943 a study of antagonised labour, PhD thesis (University of Wollongong, 1998).

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Clarke, William Job (1899–1988)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Clark, William Job

13 July, 1899
Litherland, Lancashire, England


15 May, 1988 (aged 88)
Hornsby, Sydney, New South Wales, 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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism