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.

Richard Henry (Dick) Gill (c. 1868–1921)

This article was published:

Richard Henry (Dick) Gill (c.1868-1921) maltster, trade union official and mayor 

Birth: probably on 26 July 1868 at Emerald Hill (South Melbourne), Victoria, and registered as Henry, son of Irish-born parents Henry Gill (b.1841), a mariner from County Wexford, and Mary, née Sullivan (b.1823), from County Clare. Marriage: 16 August 1904 at Carmelite Priory, Port Melbourne, to native-born Catherine Ahearn (1862-1950), servant. They had two sons, one born in 1898 and the second in 1905. Death: 21 February 1921 in St Vincent’s hospital, Fitzroy, Melbourne. Religion: Catholic. 

  • In 1893-1894 he was active honorary secretary of the Catholic Young Men’s Society at St Joseph’s Port Melbourne.
  • In November 1901 was one of three Maltster’s Society’s nominees to first Malt Wages Board, Melbourne. Employed at Barrett Brothers malthouse attached to Castlemaine Brewery, South Melbourne.
  • In March 1902 was elected vice-president of Brewery and Malsters’ Employees Association; elected president in 1902.
  • ‘Hardworking maltster’ and founder/secretary Liquor Trades Union, Melbourne, 1904. Remained full-time secretary until 1921, expanding union into allied trades, 1912, establishing federal union 1908 and first federal award 1911. Federal secretary 1911. Established many rural branches between 1910 and 1920.
  • Active in local government. Elected as pledged Australian Labor Party member to Port Melbourne Municipal Council in 1910. Was mayor in 1911-1912 and 1918-1919.
  • Leading member of Australian Natives Association, organising sports events. Committee member, League of Victorian Wheelman. A surf bather, he was active in the movement to popularise mixed bathing.
  • Active in ALP as a member of the Port Melbourne Political Labor Council, municipal committee, central committee, chairman of agenda committee, state conference. Prominent anti-conscriptionist, 1916-17.
  • Prominent member of the Eight Hour Committee, vice-president in 1916, president in 1917 and sometime secretary of the sports committee.
  • Cause of death: cirrhosis of liver and toxaemia.

Alleyn Best, The History of the Liquor Trades Union in Victoria (North Melbourne, 1990); Labor Call, 24 February 1921, 24 August 1950; Australian Worker, 3 June 1915; Worker, 10 May 1906.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Gill, Richard Henry (Dick) (c. 1868–1921)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 26 July, 1868
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


21 February, 1921 (aged 52)
Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

cirrhosis of the liver

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.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism