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.

William Davies (1830–1889)

This article was published:

William Davies, also known as William Davis (1830-1889) coal miner and trade union official 

Birth: 1830 in Monmouthshire, South Wales, son of Jonathan Davies (1805-c.1840) and his wife Elizabeth. Marriage: 12 March 1853 in Monmouthshire, Wales, to Maria Turvey (1833-1908), an iron stone stacker. They had three daughters and three sons. Death: 1 July 1889 at the Junction, Newcastle, New South Wales. Religion: Primitive Methodist. 

  • Was a tin furnace man at Trevethin, Wales, in 1851. Arrived in New South Wales with his wife and eldest, son George, aboard the Truro on 1 June 1855. George died soon after. By 1857 William and Maria were living at the Pits, Newcastle. William worked as a coal miner.
  • Founding president/chairman Hunter River Coal Miners' Mutual Protective Association in 1860. President/chairman of revived association, 1870.
  • In 1873 went against miners' sectionalism by advocating admission of wheelers and other non-miners to union, pointing out "it was the duty of the miners to look after the interests of the unorganised as in many cases they were their own children".
  • With John Wood, he led successful 1873 campaign for 10-hour day and for general agreement with mine owners providing for arbitration and sliding scale of wages. Visited Southern NSW coalfields in 1876 and again in 1879 to advise Southern miners on rates and encourage union amalgamation.
  • Resigned presidency after inconclusive Northern coalfields strike of 1888.
  • Cause of death: tumour of the liver.

Robin Gollan, The coalminers of New South Wales: a history of the Union (Melbourne, 1963); Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970.

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Newcastle Morning Herald (NSW), 4 July 1889, p 5

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Davies, William (1830–1889)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Monmouthshire, Wales


1 July, 1889 (aged ~ 59)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (liver)

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