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Griffin, Patrick Francis (Paddy) (1856–1919)

by Martin Sullivan

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Griffin is seated second from left in second row from top]

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Griffin is seated second from left in second row from top]

State Library of Qld, 64845

Patrick Francis ('Paddy') Griffin (1856-1919) shearer, gaoled trade union leader, bookstall proprietor

Birth: 1856 at Kinvarra, Galway, Ireland, son of John Griffin, labourer, and Bridget, née Hannan. Unmarried. Death: 29 October 1919 in Cairns district Hospital, Queensland, Religion: Catholic. 

  • According to his death certificate he arrived in Australia about 1864. He was probably the Patrick Griffin, 8, born in Kinvarra, who arrived with his father John, a labourer, and brother as assisted immigrants to New South Wales in the Sandringham, on 26 June 1864. None of the three could read or write; his mother, Bridget, was already in Sydney Town.
  • His prison records state that he arrived in Queensland overland in 1881. At the beginning of shearers' strike in January 1891 Paddy was elected chairman of Gordon Downs strike camp, near Capella. Of small stature, stout build, possessed of a long red beard and 'remarkable command of profane adjectives', he led the Capella contingent during the Peak Downs 'riot' of March 1891.
  • Was arrested, with others, on charges of conspiracy and molesting a hired servant, January, February and March 1891. He was convicted before Judge George Harding at Rockhampton Supreme Court in May 1891 and sentenced to three years hard labour.
  • Prison records describe him (wrongly) as a native of NSW, able to read and write, aged 34, stout, and 5ft 7¼ inches (168 cm) tall, with a fair complexion, red hair and grey eyes. He lost half his rations twice and was cautioned three times for various offences in St Helena prison including having a copy of the Sydney Bulletin of 4 March 1891.
  • His fellow inmate Julian Stuart later recalled that Paddy was “an artist at step-dancing. He would start a jig on his feet and finish up on his head.”
  • Griffin was released in November 1893. He went north and took up mining, “meeting with indifferent success”. In failing health, he took charge of the bookstall at Cairns railway station.

Sources
Stuart Svensen, The Shearers' War: the story of the 1891 shearers' strike (Brisbane, 1989); QSA, St Helena Penal Establishment, General Record and Description of Prisoners, July 1879-April 1985, PRI 2, 7/A; Shearers’ Strike, 1891, unionists arrested.

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Martin Sullivan, 'Griffin, Patrick Francis (Paddy) (1856–1919)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/griffin-patrick-francis-paddy-32302/text39987, accessed 4 July 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Griffin is seated second from left in second row from top]

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Griffin is seated second from left in second row from top]

State Library of Qld, 64845