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Martin Hannah (1865–1953)

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Martin Hannah  (1865-1953) timber worker, bricklayer, trade union leader, Socialist, politician 

Birth: 28 February 1865 at Whroo, Victoria, son of Scottish-born parents James Smith, miner, and Elizabeth, née Irving. Marriage: (1) c.1886 to Elizabeth Ann May. They had two sons and two daughters. (2) c.1921 to Jane Elizabeth Satchell. Death: 27 March 1953 in Parkville, Victoria. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • His father was “one of the first on the Peg Leg, Bendigo, and an advanced Scotched Radical”. Educated in country schools in Victoria, young Hannah was an alluvial miner and timber worker at Murchison, and an apprentice bricklayer, Melbourne.
  • After the land crash he went to Western Australia. Organised unemployment conference.
  • Returned to Victoria. First president of the Political Labor Council [Australian Labor Party]. Federal conference delegate. Co-organised Melbourne May Day parades in 1890s. Secretary of the Bricklayers' Society. Secretary of the Building Trades Vigilance committee. President, Melbourne Trades Hall Council. President of the Victorian Socialist League.
  • Founding member of Women's Suffrage League, and of the Social Democratic Party 1902. Member, Orange Lodge.
  • Contested (for the Federal parliament) seat of Bourke in 1901 and 1903 and seat of Melbourne in 1902.
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria for special railway officers electorate from June 1904 to November 1906 (resigned). Organised building workers' strike 1906. Contested Prahran in Legislative Assembly in 1907. MLA Victoria for Collingwood from December 1908 to August 1921 (defeated). Chair federal Tariff Conference of Trades.
  • Expelled from Labor in 1910 over membership of Commonwealth Protectionist League, but was later readmitted. Member of the Railways Electrification committee 1912. Chaired Royal Commission on Brick Manufacturing 1913-14. Minister without Portfolio in Victoria’s first Labor government under G. A. Elmslie in December 1913. Lost Labor endorsement 1920 & expelled after winning seat as Independent Labor candidate. Contested Batman (Federal) 1922 & Brighton 1928.
  • Advocate of forestry development and an enthusiast for Australian timbers.

Geoff Browne Biographical register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84 (Melbourne, 1985); Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905, (Sydney, 1985).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Hannah, Martin (1865–1953)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


28 February, 1865
Whroo, Victoria, Australia


27 March, 1953 (aged 88)
Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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.

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