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William Parry (Bill) Colborne (1859–1945)

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William Parry Colborne (Col) (1859-1945) compositor, printer and Labor politician 

Birth: 17 April 1859 at Ipswich, Suffolk, England, son of Thomas Sendal Colborne, compositor, and Elizabeth, née Chamberlain. Marriage: (1) 11 June 1890 in St Marys Presbyterian Church, Ipswich, Queensland, to native-born, Catherine Kelly. They had four sons and two daughters. (2) 20 May 1908 in New Jerusalem Church, Brisbane, to Queensland-born Kathleen Mary Davey, housekeeper. Death: 8 July 1945 at Brisbane. Religion: Brisbane Society of the New Church. 

  • Followed his father’s trade as compositor. Served in England in the 1st Norfolk Rifle Volunteer Corps 1874-76.
  • Arrived in Australia about 1880. Joined Australian Rifles Regiment, C Company in 1881.
  • Printer. Joined Melbourne Typographical Society 1878 and South Australian Typographical Society in 1880.
  • Joined Sydney Typographical Association 1882.
  • To New Zealand and joined the New Zealand Typographical Association in October 1882 and Otago branch in 1882.
  • To United States and joined the San Francisco Typographical Union in August 1883. Joined Chicago Typographical Union in September 1883. Joined the Big 6, New York Typographical Union in March 1884.
  • Returning to Australia, joined Queensland Typographical Association in Brisbane in  November 1884. Vice president Queensland Typographical Association 1885 and president 1886, 1898-1900. Secretary Queensland Typographical Association and Printing Industry Employees' Union of Australia [PIEUA] from about 1903 to 1939 (retired);
  • Representative at triennial conferences of ATU held in Hobart in 1907, Brisbane 1910 and Perth, 1913. Took active role in discussions in 1915 leading to the formation of the PIEUA in 1916.
  • Federal president PIEUA 1921-22, vice-president for four terms and councillor representing Queensland branch from 1916, upon its establishment, until retirement, except for 1918.
  • Played active role in strike in printing trade in Brisbane in 1889. Member of strike committee in Brisbane 1912. Unemployed for some years from 1890 and “carried his swag” from Brisbane to Melbourne. One of the first representatives of employees on the Printing Trades Wages Board.
  • First Secretary Queensland Trades and Labor Council (TLC) 1885 and Treasurer Brisbane Trades Hall board of management in 1890 and secretary from 1896 for several years. President Eight-Hour Committee 1889-90. Delegate to Third Australian Trade Union Congress in Brisbane in 1888, where Labor decided on political activity.
  • Promoted Labor Party to secure workers' representation in Parliament 1885. Contested Fortitude Valley for Labor 1888, being selected by the TLC. Contested Toombul for Labor in 1902.
  • Member of the Legislative Council in Queensland from 1920 to 1922.
  • Queensland delegate to the Commonwealth Trade Union Conference in Sydney in 1902 which launched the initial Federal Labor platform and subsequent Commonwealth Political Convention later in 1902.
  • Worked on the Boomerang with William Lane of New Australia fame and with Henry Lawson.

Duncan B. Waterson, Biographical Register of the Queensland Parliament 1860-1929 (second revised edition, Sydney 2001); Labor Call, 28 November 1935 p.13; Printing Trades Journal, 16 March 1920, p.50-51; 12 June 1934 p.99, March 1939 p.47, July 1945.

Citation details

'Colborne, William Parry (Bill) (1859–1945)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

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