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Charles Clifford Hart (1857–?)

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Charles Clifford Hart (1857?-?) quarryman, newsagent, Socialist and Labor party founder 

Birth: possibly the Charles Clifford Hart born in 1857 at Tillingham, Essex, England, son of William Hart (1828-1917), agricultural labourer, and Mary, née Playle (1823-1887). Marriage: details unknown. Death: details unknown. 

  • According to his letter in December 1889, replying to an opponent’s press challenge about his connexions with trade unions, he was a member of the National Agricultural Labourers’ Union, Tillingham, Essex, England, in 1872; the Coal Miners’ Union, Spinneymore, Durham, in 1873 and 1874; later the Seamen’s union in London and another in Port Adelaide in 1877.
  • Arrived in Sydney about 1885, lived at Foucart Street, Balmain, and worked as a quarryman. Became a prominent community activist, joined the Balmain West Debating Club and was a frequent contributor to the local press. From 1888 he was an active member of Protection Associations at Balmain (founded in May 1887) and later at West Balmain and in June 1890 was appointed a delegate to the National Protection Committee.
  • Unemployed in July 1887, he took three months work for Balmain Council. Became assistant secretary and then president of the Balmain Associated Labourers' Union (forerunner of Ship Painters' & Dockers' Union).
  • Organiser and managing director for the Labor Council of New South Wales’s newspaper The Australian Workman, having been instrumental in the newspaper's foundation (1890).
  • Co-founder of the Labor Electoral League (LEL), Balmain, in April 1891 (first branch of Labor Party). Member of parliamentary committee which drew up the first programme and  platform of LEL. A protectionist and socialist.
  • Represented BALU on Labor Council of NSW. Vice-president of Labor Council of NSW.
  • Critical of Labor Member of the Legislative Assembly Frank Cotton in 1891, alleging electoral malpractice.
  • In 1892 spoke at mass meeting in Domain in support of Broken Hill miners' strike.
  • About 1894 opened a newsagency in Erskine Street, Sydney.
  • Left for South Africa in 1895.

Issy Wyner, With Banner Unfurled: the early year of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, (Sydney, 1983); Bruce Scates, ‘Millenium of Pandemonium?’: radicalism in the Labour Movement, Sydney, 1889-1899’ Labour History, No 50, May 1986, pp 78, 79, 81 & 85.

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Citation details

'Hart, Charles Clifford (1857–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Tillingham, Essex, England

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