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John William (Jack) Doyle (1875–1951)

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John William (Jack) Doyle (1875-1951) printer, trade union leader, alderman and politician 

Birth: 8 February 1875 at Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, son of John William Doyle (1842-1912), a labourer born in Tipperary, Ireland, and his first wife Catherine ‘Kate’, née Wilson (d. 1877), born in Yorkshire, England. Marriage: 3 October 1906 in St Patrick’s Church, Church Hill, Sydney, to Mary Anne Smith (1878-1948). They had three daughters and four sons. Death: 25 May 1951, after a long illness, at the Sacred Heart hospice, Darlinghurst, Sydney. Religion: Catholic. 

  • His parents married in Ireland and arrived with his elder sister in Sydney as assisted immigrants in December 1874 aboard the Samuel Plimsoll. His mother died when Jack was aged 2 and his father remarried in 1884.
  • Worked as a printer and became a foundation member of the Letterpress Machinists’ Union of NSW in January 1901. He was secretary of the union in 1907-1909, prominent as a wages board member and advocate and represented it on the Labor Council.
  • He was vice president (1907) then president (1908) of the Sydney Eight Hour Day Committee and organising secretary from 1911 to 1917. He was appointed justice of the peace in 1912. An ardent Home Ruler, and active in Friendly Society movement, for two years he was warden of St Benedict’s branch of the Australasian Holy Catholic Guild (a benefit society), and was an executive trustee of the guild for some years.
  • Doyle was elected president of the NSW Political Labor League at the watershed Easter conference of April 1916, defeating E. H. Farrar and H. Lamond. Described as one of the more moderate of the industrial section, he was nominal leader of an executive that was dominated by a new force, including A. C. Willis, J. Bailey, T. D. Mutch, C. C. Lazzarini and W. J. McKell. (No women were elected.) As president, on 30 October Doyle issued the list of candidates who were expelled from the party for supporting conscription. He became secretary of the No Conscription Movement.
  • When on 24 March 1917 Doyle was elected ALP member of the NSW Legislative Assembly for the seat of Phillip, (previously held by R. D. Meagher), he was replaced as PLL president by W. H. Lambert. Doyle held Phillip to 18 February 1920 and the seat of Balmain from 20 March 1920 to 17 February 1922. In addition to his parliamentary duties he was Alderman Sydney City Council for Phillip Ward from 1918 to 1921.
  • He failed to be selected by caucus for a ministry in John Storey’s government in April 1920, probably because of his Catholicism. He became, instead, secretary of the parliamentary party. As a politician no longer eligible to hold executive position in the party machine and lacking influence in the government, he saw his brilliant career winding down.
  • On 25 March 1922 Doyle was defeated for the seat of Balmain after a notably sectarian campaign.
  • He was publican, Commercial Hotel, Darling Street, Balmain from December 1922, until his health broke down, after which he lived privately at Lewisham.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979).

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Citation details

'Doyle, John William (Jack) (1875–1951)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


8 February, 1875
Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


25 May, 1951 (aged 76)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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