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William Charles Hayes (1873–1912)

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Hayes, William Charles Joseph (1873-1912) engine-driver and gaoled trade union official 

Birth: 30 May 1873 at Forbes, New South Wales, son of native-born parents of Irish heritage, John James Hayes (1843-1925) and Rebecca, née Stewart (1845-1916). Marriage: 1898 at St Patrick’s Church, Cooma, to native-born Clara Helena Evans (1870-1923). They had four children. Death: 4 July 1912, Lithgow, New South Wales. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Engine-driver at Lithgow coal mine from about 1906. Member, Delegate Board of Coal Miners' Mutual Protective Association of the Western District.
  • Dismissal by mine owner Charles Hoskins in early 1911 for absenting himself from work to attend Delegate Board meeting triggered rioting and 10-month strike.
  • Prosecuted under 1908 ‘Coercion Act’ and imprisoned with John Dixon and other union officials. Sentenced by Judge Pring to fifteen months imprisonment with hard labour, he served seven and a half months. Worked in the boot-making shop “and had nothing to complain of on the score of treatment by the authorities”.
  • Released from prison on 3 June 1912, and was met at the gate by his wife and William Brennan, secretary of the Newcastle Collieries’ Association, who had previously been imprisoned in the same gaol.
  • Member of the local Hibernian Society.
  • Reinstated after strike but was accidentally killed by a train one month after his release from gaol.
  • Benefit events were organised by the Trades Hall for his widow and children — the eldest of whom was thirteen.

Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney], 1970.

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Citation details

'Hayes, William Charles (1873–1912)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


30 May, 1873
Forbes, New South Wales, Australia


4 July, 1912 (aged 39)
Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

workplace accident

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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