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Robert Augustine (Bob) Hewitt (1857–1914)

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Bob Hewett, 1892

Bob Hewett, 1892

gaol entrance photo, NSW State Archives

Robert Augustine (Bob) Hewitt (1857-1914) silver miner and gaoled trade union official

Birth: 29 December 1857 at Ballarat, Victoria, son of Thomas Joseph Hewitt (1830-1912), gold miner, born at Leamington Priors, Warwickshire, England, and Johanna Sheehan (1829-1920), born at Brandon, Cork, Ireland. Marriages (1): 20 June 1885 at Beaufort, Victoria, with Primitive Methodist rites, to native-born Marion Ogilvie (1861-1939). They had four daughters and three sons; two children died in infancy. (2) about 1900 formed a de-facto relationship with Catherine Anne Fahey (1874-1920), born at Melrose, South Australia. They had one son and one daughter. Death: 7 July 1914 at his home in Central street, South Broken Hill, NSW. Religion: Buried in Catholic cemetery. 

  • To Broken Hill about 1889. Worked as a silver miner. Was elected unopposed as vice president of the Broken Hill branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association in 1891. Chaired public meeting to form a new progress committee at South Broken Hill in February 1892.
  • Having had experience in previous strikes, was a member of the Miners’ Defence Committee and organiser of pickets in the 1892 mining strike. Arrested with J. Bennett, W. J. Ferguson, Hermann Heberle, E. J. Polkinghorne, Richard Sleath and two others on 15 September 1892 and charged with seditious conspiracy. Apparently, this was the first prosecution for such an offence in the colony.
  • Tried at Deniliquin, on 29 October 1892, Hewitt was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for eighteen months and confined in Parramatta gaol [all the convicted strikers were sent to different prisons]. Spent his term as chief cook, and had sixteen men under him. Was released by the Reid government — exercising the prerogative of mercy on the occasion of the royal wedding of Prince George and Princess Mary of Teck [later King George V and Queen Mary] — on 7 July 1893.
  • Following his release returned as a “Labor martyr” to Broken Hill.
  • Was on the management committee of the Barrier Daily Truth in its early years.
  • Active in 1909 strike. President, Broken Hill Amalgamated Miners' Association. Chairman, Barrier Labour Federation.
  • Organiser, Shop Assistants and Warehouse Employees' Federation of Australia.
  • A refreshment shop-keeper in his later years, he encountered financial difficulty and apparently scarpered to Port Pirie, South Australia in January 1910. Helped by friends, he returned to Broken Hill and was exonerated.
  • Cause of death: his obituary stated "that he died from 'a complication of complaints chiefly caused through lead in the system, he having just left a white lead slope in the Central Mine'; his death certificate stated 'gastroenteritis and syncope, injury to chest, broken ribs'.
  • A benefit concert was arranged a few years later for Mrs Hewitt and their two young children.

Sources
H. J. Gibbney and Ann G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987), p 327; Barrier Daily Truth, 8 July 1914 p 3, 6 September 1933; George Dale, The industrial history of Broken Hill, (Melbourne, 1918) pp 48, 100.

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Citation details

'Hewitt, Robert Augustine (Bob) (1857–1914)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/hewitt-robert-augustine-bob-34116/text42780, accessed 1 March 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Bob Hewett, 1892

Bob Hewett, 1892

gaol entrance photo, NSW State Archives

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hewett, Robert Augustine
Birth

29 December, 1857
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Death

7 July, 1914 (aged 56)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

gastroenteritis

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