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Flinn, William Dudley (1858–1917)

William Dudley (known as Dudley) Flinn (1858-1917) clerk and political activist. 

Birth: 6 August 1858 in North Melbourne, son of Irish-born parents Michael Flinn (1830-1871), carrier, and Frances ‘Fanny’ Dudley. Unmarried. Death: 19 May 1917 at St Vincents Hospital, Melbourne. Religion: Anglican. 

  • In 1883 visited United Kingdom and United States of America, where for three years was a ‘diligent student of political, economic and social conditions’.
  • Returned to Melbourne in 1888. In 1889 successfully inaugurated unemployment agitation on large scale in Victoria and same year one of founders and honorary secretary of Social Democratic League, Melbourne. A founder of Democratic Club. Pioneer member of Progressive Political League [Labor Party].
  • Later described as being, in 1891, ‘a blond-haired, blue-eyed, well-knit young man, a clarion-voiced, logical speaker, whose eloquence was ebullient”; Dudley Flinn and Max Hirsch, were ‘the then leading exponents here of collectivism and individualism’.
  • Wrote for Commonweal and Sydney Worker. Represented Melbourne socialists at socialist conventions in 1893 (Sydney), 1896, 1897 and 1899. Essay on world federation published by E.W. Cole.
  • Stood unsuccessfully for St George, New South Wales Legislative Assembly election in 1901 and for Melbourne, Victorian Legislative Assembly election 1907. By this year he was said to have spent seven years in States other than Victoria. He was best known, however, as a “Yarra-bank orator”.
  • In later years ceased activity in militancy but retained interest in industrial and political questions and acted as secretary to Dr Maloney’s Melbourne campaign. Continued to attend Socialist Party meetings and never missed a May Day gathering at the Yarra Bank’.
  • Friends William Maloney and George Pendergast, spoke at his graveside.

Sources
H. J. Gibbney & A. G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987); Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905, (Sydney, 1985); The Socialist, 9 March 1907, p 6: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/240671861

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Citation details

'Flinn, William Dudley (1858–1917)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/flinn-william-dudley-32407/text40188, accessed 7 July 2022.

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