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John Bishop Griggs (1824–1886)

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John Bishop Griggs (1824-1886) bricklayer and trade union official

Birth: 1824 at Elm, near Wisbeach, Cambridgeshire, England, son of William Griggs (1777-1850?), bricklayer and Sarah or Mary (maiden name unknown). Marriage: 16 September 1850 at the parish Church of St James, Westminster, Middlesex, England, to Hannah Amilia (Amelia) Betts (c.1822-1894), a publican’s daughter and a dressmaker, also born at Wisbeach, Cambridgeshire. They had one son. Death: 16 May 1886 at his residence in Provost Street, West Hotham (North Melbourne), Victoria. Religion: buried with Wesleyan forms. 

  • In 1851 John, 23, a bricklayer, and Amelia, 25, a dressmaker, were living at Marylebone, London
  • They arrived in Victoria about 1856. He is listed as a bricklayer, qualification freehold at Warrick Street, claiming to be entitled to vote in Melbourne in June 1856.
  • Griggs was a founder and president of the Bricklayers’ Society, Melbourne in 1856.
  • Trustee, Trades Hall from 1874 to 1886. President, Trades Hall Council for several years.
  • Pioneer of the Eight Hours movement. President of the 8 Hours Committee in 1871-1872, 1874-1877 and 1879-1880.
  • Employed as foreman by Martin & Peacock, contractors and ‘assisted in the erection of many of the handsome buildings which adorn the principal streets’ of Melbourne.
  • Member of Loyal Alliance Lodge, No. 4561, Manchester United Independent Order of Oddfellows, Hotham.
  • Cause of death: Erysipelas.
  • His portrait was among the first to hang on the walls of the old Trades Hall in Lygon Street, Carlton, demolished in 1921.

W. E. Murphy, H. J. Gibbney & A. G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987); Age (Melbourne), 18 May 1886; Merrifield papers, State Library of Victoria.

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'Griggs, John Bishop (1824–1886)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Elm, Cambridgeshire, England


16 May, 1886 (aged ~ 62)
North Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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