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John Fortunatus (Jack) Higgins (1881–1936)

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Jack Higgins, n.d.

Jack Higgins, n.d.

John Fortunatus (Jack) Higgins (1881-1936) journalist and politician 

Birth: 31 October 1881 at Glenorchy, Hobart, Tasmania, and registered as John Francis, son of Matthew (Mat) Higgins (1843-1931), a police constable, born at Kilkenny, Ireland, and native-born Anne Maude (Annie), née Foley (1858-1940), dressmaker. Marriages: (1) 8 February 1913 in the Methodist parsonage at Redfern, Sydney, to Marion Honoria Harlow (1887-1914), born at Dumdum, India. (2) 24 December 1914 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, to Felicitas Perpetua (Mina) Laverty (1888-1965), born at Hyde, New Zealand. They had one daughter. Death: 28 July 1936 at Rose Bay, Sydney. Religion: buried with Catholic rites. 

  • His father became an orchardist at Glenorchy, Tasmania; a notable professional athlete in the 1860s and 1870s and “champion all-round runner of Australia”, he was also a famous trainer.
  • Jack was educated at New Town Public School, then employed as a compositor in the Government Printing Office, Hobart. Reputedly, he was a lifelong member of the Australian Workers’ Union. He joined the Australian Labor Party about 1900 and was a candidate for Labor pre-selection in Tasmania.
  • He moved to the Goulburn valley district of Victoria. Worked as a journalist on the Dookie and Katamatite Recorder. Shifting to Sydney, he became sub-editor, business manager and trustee of the Australian Worker.
  • Editor of Labor News (Sydney), from 1919 to 1922, he then edited Tatler in 1922-1923. He was also a sometime journalist on the Daily Mail, Sydney, and advisory editor of World 1931.
  • He was a member of the Old Writers’ and Artists’ Union and of the Australian Journalists’ Association 1917. In 1922 to 1923 he was a director of the Benevolent Society of NSW and a member of the central executive of the ALP from 1919 to 1923. In 1923 he founded the non-partisan and non-sectarian All-Australia League.
  • Higgins was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of NSW on 30 August 1921. He severed connection with the ALP under Lang when the “Red” Rules were adopted in 1927 and supported the Federal Labor Party, of which he was parliamentary secretary. Re-elected to the reconstructed Legislative Council on 7 November 1933 he held the seat until his death.
  • From about 1928 to 1936 he was managing editor of Constructional Review, the trade journal of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association.
  • A “well-known follower of sport and a member of a famous athletic family”, he was a boxing enthusiast and a keen surfer who helped in the improvement of several Sydney beaches.
  • Cause of death: cardiac failure, chronic myocarditis and chronic alcoholism.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton (eds), Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Journalist, 15 December 1930, 31 August 1936

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Higgins, John Fortunatus (Jack) (1881–1936)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jack Higgins, n.d.

Jack Higgins, n.d.

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Higgins, John Francis

31 October, 1881
Glenorchy, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


28 July, 1936 (aged 54)
Rose Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism