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.

Fanning, Michael (Mick) (1855–1893)

by Martin Sullivan

This article was published:

First Australian Labour Federation Executive (Qld), 1890 [Fanning is second from right, top row]

First Australian Labour Federation Executive (Qld), 1890 [Fanning is second from right, top row]

from Worker (Brisbane) 27 February 1940, p 12

Michael Fanning (1855-1893) shearer, gaoled trade union leader

Birth: 23 February 1855 in Castleroan, parish of Dunkerrin, Offaly, Ireland, son of Patrick Fanning (1829-1869), a farmer, and Sarah Jane ‘Sally’, née Doyle (1831-1901). Unmarried. Death: 23 August 1893 in Melbourne, Victoria. Religion: Catholic.

  • Arrived in Melbourne with his parents and siblings aboard the Empire of Peace on 6 June 1864. Brought up in Blanket Flat (Eganstown) where his father, a miner, died from injuries received in an explosion at the Band of Hope sawmill, Bullarook Forest.
  • Michael Fanning was appointed an organiser for the Queensland Shearers' Union (QSU) in Warrego district, Queensland, in January 1889. In 1890 he represented the QSU at Bourke, New South Wales, conference of Amalgamated Shearers' Union (ASU) but returned to Queensland declaring against amalgamation with ASU.
  • In 1890 he was elected Barcoo District Council delegate to General Council of Australian Labour Federation (ALF), Brisbane. Appointed ALF vice-president. Co-author of ALF's socialist political platform and organiser ALF's Central District Council.
  • Charged with intimidation during organising work in St. George area 1890, but summons withdrawn. Arrested near Oakwood 28 March 1891 after leading a party of c.200 mounted strikers to intercept group of blacklegs under police escort. He was convicted on two intimidation charges and sentenced at Charleville in April to a total of five months imprisonment from that date. A charge of conspiracy was withdrawn.
  • Served his time in Roma gaol where he was frequently ill in harsh conditions. On release he continued to work as a paid organiser. In May 1893 he was very ill in Rockhampton hospital.
  • Was on his way to New Australia, Paraguay, when he died in Bourke Street, Melbourne, of an aortic aneurism.

Sources
John Merritt, The Making of the AWU (Melbourne, 1986); Stuart Svensen, The Shearers' War: the story of the 1891 shearers' strike (Brisbane, 1989); Daily Northern Argus (Rockhampton, Qld), 25 April 1891, p.5. Worker (Brisbane), 20 May 1893, p.4, 28 October 1893, p.2

Additional Resources

  • death notice, Argus (Melbourne), 30 August 1893, p 1
  • tribute, Worker (Brisbane), 28 October 1893, p 2

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Martin Sullivan, 'Fanning, Michael (Mick) (1855–1893)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/fanning-michael-mick-32268/text39934, accessed 5 December 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

First Australian Labour Federation Executive (Qld), 1890 [Fanning is second from right, top row]

First Australian Labour Federation Executive (Qld), 1890 [Fanning is second from right, top row]

from Worker (Brisbane) 27 February 1940, p 12