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Henry (Harry) Fowler (1827–1917)

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Henry (Harry) Fowler (1827-1917) tailor and trade union official 

Birth: probably in 1827 at Harewood, Yorkshire, England, son of John Fowler (1784-1858), horse breaker and troop sergeant in the British Army, and his wife Mary (c.1789-1835). Marriage: 24 April 1853 in the parish church at St Pancras, Middlesex, England to Mary Ann Pape (1829-1902). They had seven daughters and four sons. Death: 2 June 1917 in his residence at Cobden Street, South Melbourne. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Worked as a tailor in London.
  • Arrived in Melbourne aboard the Appleton on 27 January 1857 with his wife and two children. Worked as a coat-hand and tailor.
  • Secretary of Melbourne Tailors' Trade Protection Society/Amalgamated Society of Tailors from 1871 to 1904.
  • Committed to liberalism in politics and to the preservation of male craft dominance. On taking office he led organisational work in thirteen major factories, cut fees and helped secure increased rates by mid 1872, although the society thereafter lost momentum until the mid 1880s.
  • In 1880s he vehemently opposed proposals by the society's delegate to Melbourne Trades Hall Council, Duncan McIver, for recognition and organisation of women workers.
  • Fowler was credited with being the pioneer of the Friendly Society Dispensary movement in Victoria. In 1868 he had begun the process which resulted in the founding of the Emerald Hill [later South Melbourne] United Friendly Societies’ Dispensary in January 1869. He was secretary of this institution, for which he received a small honorarium, until his death, i.e. for forty-seven years.
  • Was a member of several friendly societies at his death, including the Ancient Order of Foresters, Court Benevolence No. 3000, and Court King of the Forest, and the Loyal Duke of Edinburgh Lodge No 57, Emerald Hill, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he was secretary in 1876.
  • Cause of death: senile decay and exhaustion. A granite memorial tablet at the dispensary was unveiled in November 1917.

Bradon Ellem,, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (Sydney 1989); Labor Call (Melbourne), 22 April 1909, p 7.

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'Fowler, Henry (Harry) (1827–1917)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Harewood, Yorkshire, England


2 June, 1917 (aged ~ 90)
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

general debility

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