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John Thomas (Jack) Goggin (1866–1932)

by John Dean

This article was published:

Jack Goggin, n.d.

Jack Goggin, n.d.

John Thomas (Jack) Goggin (1866-1932) professional boxer, miner, trade unionist, hotelier and Labor activist

Birth: 12 October 1866 at Burketown, Araluen, New South Wales, fifth of eleven children of Daniel Goggin (1835-1908), gold miner, navvy and hotel-keeper, and Mary Ann, née Goggin (1834-1918), who conducted a boarding house establishment for workers engaged on railway work. Both parents had migrated from County Cork, Ireland, in 1856. Marriages: (1) 13 November 1891 in St John’s Catholic church, Clifton Hill, Victoria, to native-born Mary Ann McGrogan (1869-1927). They had two sons and divorced in October 1896. (2) 13 July 1909 in St Barnabas Anglican church, Sydney, NSW, to native-born Eleanor Mary Wotton (1888-1974). They had three daughters and one son and separated in 1918. Death: 27 November 1932 in hospital at Barry, near Blayney, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Family moved from Burketown to a railway construction camp at Manton’s Creek near Yass in 1874 and over the next ten years they lived an itinerant life following the expansion of the railway to many places in N.S.W. Jack was educated at Araluen and temporary schools at railway construction camp sites. He completed his education in Bethungra. The family also lived in Swamp Oak near Tamworth, Dungaree near Mudgee, Bungendore/Queanbeyan and Ingalara Creek near Cooma. In this time Jack worked as a railway navvy and honed his skill at boxing.
  • Jack and the family arrived in the boom mining town of Captain’s Flat circa 1888. Jack worked primarily as a miner but also for a short time held the licence of the Captains Flat Hotel. Later, the hotel was transferred to his mother who became the owner. She was affectionately known as ‘mother’ to the residents of Captain’s Flat.
  • From his base at Captain’s Flat in early 1890 Jack embarked on a boxing tour that took him to Broken Hill and thence Sydney. Back in Captain’s Flat Jack was confronted by a marked decrease in mining so he left and went to Mt Zeehan in Tasmania to work as a miner. Whilst there he also boxed local opponents, defeating the Tasmanian Champion Morris Evans by knockout. Jack returned to Captain’s Flat in 1892 and from 1 November 1892 to 1 June 1893 he was the manager of the ‘Great Western Mine’ at Peak Hill, NSW, employing twenty-seven underground miners. In August 1893 Jack returned to Captain’s Flat to work at mining. In March 1894 he went to Western Australia to prospect for gold leaving behind at Captain’s Flat his wife, who gave birth to their 2nd child, Patrick, in his absence.
  • On return from WA in mid 1894 Jack and his family, together with his brother Michael Goggin and brother-in-law Denis Hartigan ventured to Wyalong, where gold was discovered the previous year. On 8 February 1895 Michael Goggin transferred the licence of the Imperial Hotel at West Wyalong to Denis Hartigan, and returned to Captain’s Flat and built the Lake George hotel. Over the next twenty years, at the behest of its owner and Jack, the Imperial Hotel was to feature as the rallying point for much political and industrial action. Jack was first known to become involved in politics on 16 January 1898 when he was nominated as chairman of a Wyalong Political Labor League committee to support William Holman in what was to become the successful Labor candidate for the 1898 election for the seat of Grenfell, which was held by G. H. Greene, a farmer and Freetrader.
  • In 1901 Holman stood for re-election to the State seat of Grenfell but there was a determined effort by conservative forces to defeat him because of his opposition to Australia’s involvement in the Boer War. In the campaign Holman was once again assisted by Jack who, as president of the Wyalong PLL, was responsible for overseeing local campaign strategy. In a speech on 30 June to a public crowd at West Wyalong Jack declared, to much applause, that Holman was a good and proper person to represent the electors of Grenfell. In the election held on 3 July Holman topped the poll but was elected by a mere 86 vote majority. Overall, he did best at West Wyalong where he beat his conservative opponent by 100, polling 337 votes to 237. Some historians have declared that if Holman had lost this election he may have departed politics forever. Holman never forgot the assistance he got from Jack and thereafter remained friends with the Goggin family.
  • Jack became President of a newly-formed branch of the Amalgamated Miner’s Association on 26 March 1898. The other officials were Denis Hartigan as Treasurer and Fred Hancox as Secretary. The decision to establish a branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association (AMA) was given urgency when a worker, J. Stanford, lost his life in a mining accident at Wyalong in February. Jack was then the manager of the Perseverance mine when the union branch was formed, and was elected chairman of a committee to raise money for Stanford’s widow and children. In his quest for money Jack arranged for his mother to have a fund-raising event at Captain’s Flat for the cause. In December 1900 Jack and Fred Hancox were selected to participate in the Commonwealth Federation parade scheduled for Sydney on 1 January 1901. In the procession they rode on trolleys dressed in orthodox mining togs. A photo of Fred winding a windlass appeared in the Sydney Mail on 5 January.
  • On 15 September 1904 Jack's brother-in-law, Denis Hartigan, died suddenly at West Wyalong. Jack had been struck down with enteric fever a few months earlier in May, which nearly took his life, and was convalescing in Sydney at the time. When his brother-in-law died he returned to West Wyalong to support his sister. As a means of recovering his strength he returned to boxing and in 1905 fought a number of contests, the last one of note being against Bill Squires on 3 June, which Squires won on points. In April 1906 Squires was recognised as the Heavyweight Champion of Australia.
  • In early 1906 Jack decided to leave West Wyalong and again try his luck at prospecting in Western Australia. Supporters paid tribute to him by presenting him with a gold watch and chain at a valedictory dinner attended by over three hundred people. The Wyalong Star reported that he had engaged in many mining ventures and been the manager of many local mines, only resigning management of the Barrier Mine a few days previous. The paper also noted that he was president of the miner’s association for a considerable time and took an active part in politics, being staunch and genuine in his advocacy of the Labor cause. Others also gave praise to his deeds.
  • In 1906 Jack is recorded as prospecting at Burtville near Coogardie. In 1908 he returned to NSW and on 13 July 1909 he married for a second time in Sydney. Later in 1909 he was working as a miner at Cobar where his brother-in-law, Richard Hawkins, was secretary of the local branch of the AMA. From Cobar he went to Canbelego where he worked at Mt Bobby Mine and was proprietor of the Federal hotel.
  • In 1912 Jack returned to Western Australia with his family and ventured to Meekatharra as a gold miner. In 1916, as the endorsed candidate of the Amalgamated Workers Association (AWA), he was elected by miners to the position of safety inspector of mines for the East Murchison district. He resigned this position in November 1923 following being deserted by his wife in 1918 and left to care for their four children. In December he returned with his children to NSW. Before retiring in 1931 he was employed as a mine manager for Newton Boyd Syndicate.
  • Jack McCarthy, Australian Workers Union organiser and president of the Eastern Goldfields Council of the Australian Labor Party, paid tribute to a number of Jack’s deeds in WA including: being a staunch supporter of the One Big Union; an advocate of the amalgamation of the Murchison AWA and the AWU, which took place in 1921; being an office holder of the Murchison branch of the ALP; and never missing a meeting of the miner’s union. Jack was a member of the Meekatharra AWA from 1912 to its amalgamation and in 1918 was a trustee of the branch.
  • Cause of death: lobar pneumonia.
  • Most of the family was involved with Labor politics.

Information from Chris Cunneen, 2001; Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 27 June 1889; Barrier Miner, 25 March 1890; Referee, April 1890, 10 June 1891; NSW Department of Mines: Register of Underground Mine Managers; Wyalong Star, 12 February 1895, 2 July 1901; Cobargo Chronicle, 14 June 1901, 19 December 1913, 5 November 1921; Wyalong Argus, 2 April 1898, 2 March 1898, 9 February 1898; Wyalong Star, 11 December 1900, 11 January 1901; Wyalong Advocate, 22 June 1904, 7 June 1905, 9 February 1906; Federal Electorate Roll 1906; Sands Directory, 1911; WA Government Gazette, 17 March 1916, The Western Australian Worker, 14 December 1923.

Citation details

John Dean, 'Goggin, John Thomas (Jack) (1866–1932)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jack Goggin, n.d.

Jack Goggin, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


12 October, 1866
Araluen, New South Wales, Australia


27 November, 1932 (aged 66)
Barry, New South Wales, 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.

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