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William John Evans (1856–1914)

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Evans, William John (1856-1914) railway engine driver, trade union leader and politician 

Birth: 18 April 1856 in Ballarat, Victoria, son of John Evans, railways time-keeper, and Harriet, née Denman, both born in England. Marriage: 18 January 1882 to Elizabeth Jane Simmons. They had four daughters. Death: 22 August 1914 in private hospital at Surrey Hills, Melbourne, Victoria. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Grocer’s boy at Ballarat. Moved with family to Melbourne and joined Victorian Railways as carriage-cleaner, later became fireman and engine-driver.
  • Sometime president and then general secretary Locomotive Engineer Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Victoria, retired due to ill-health in 1900 but returned to assist reorganisation after 1903 strike. A ‘shrewd, cautious man’ and opponent of strikes.
  • One of first two Australian Labor Party representatives to be elected to Legislative Council of Victoria, representing Public Officers and Railway Officers from June 1904 to 1907 and Melbourne North province from June 1907 to his death. Contested seat of Essendon for Labor in the Legislative Assembly in 1907.
  • Attorney General, Solicitor General and Minister for Public Health in Elmslie’s short-lived ministry in December 1913.

Geoff Browne, Biographical register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84 (Melbourne, 1985); Locomotive Journal, May/June 1985.

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Citation details

'Evans, William John (1856–1914)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

William Evans, n.d.

William Evans, n.d.

Labor Call (Melbourne), 27 August 1914, p 3

Life Summary [details]


18 April, 1856
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia


22 August, 1914 (aged 58)
Surrey Hills, Melbourne, Victoria, 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.

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