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John William (Jack) Croft (1871–?)

This article was published:

Jack Croft, Swiss Studios, 190?

Jack Croft, Swiss Studios, 190?

National Library of Australia, 24081609

John William (Jack) Croft (1871-?) bootmaker, seaman, clerk, trade union official and Senator 

Birth: 20 January 1871 at Newcastle, New South Wales, son of Newcastle-born James Thomas Croft (1845-1929), labourer, later businessman, and Annie, née Bassett (1848-1925), born at Finsbury, Middlesex, England. Marriage: 22 June 1891 at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Queensland, to Emma Bracey (1868-1946), born at Aston, Warwickshire, England. They had two sons and two daughters. Death: possibly at sea about 1913. Religion: Protestant. 

  • His grandfather James Crofts had been transported for life for highway robbery and married another convict, Mary Smith. In 1910-1911 his father was mayor of Wickham, Newcastle, as was his brother Clarence in 1925.
  • Jack was educated at the Public School, Tighes Hill. He was apprenticed to the bootmaking trade, but followed various occupations, including bootmaker, windjammer and clerk.
  • Spent some time in Brisbane, Queensland, where his eldest child was born, and Adelaide, South Australia, where two more children were born, before moving to Perth, Western Australia. Joined the Bootmakers’ Union and from 1899 to 1903 was secretary of the Coastal Trades and Labour Council; from 1900 was also secretary of the Coastal Executive of the Political Labor Party.
  • Agent for number of unions before WA Industrial Board and Court. Represented workers on Royal Commission on Collie Coal Industry in 1900. Member of the executive of the WA Federal League.
  • Was elected for the Australian Labor Party to the Australian Senate in December 1903 and took his seat on 1 January 1904. From 1904 to 1910 he lived in Melbourne with his sister Alice. Close to bankruptcy as the result of defamation case against him, he did not contest his Senate seat in April 1910 and so left the senate on 30 June.
  • He was a Freemason.
  • Little is known of him subsequently. He was said to have gone back to boot-making. According to other reports in 1912 he worked for John Wren at unregistered racing courses in Melbourne. He was rumoured to have disappeared in the Pacific Islands about 1913.
  • Emma and the four children moved from Perth to Melbourne, Victoria, where she ran a boarding-house at Hawthorn.

Joan, Rydon (ed), A biographical register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901-1972 (ANU Press, 1975); D. J. Murphy (ed), Labor in Politics: State Labor Parties in Australia, 1880-1920 (St Lucia, Qld, 1975; Julian Croft, John William Croft (1871-?), Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate:

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Croft, John William (Jack) (1871–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jack Croft, Swiss Studios, 190?

Jack Croft, Swiss Studios, 190?

National Library of Australia, 24081609

Life Summary [details]


20 January, 1871
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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