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Kearsley, William (Bill) (1863–1921)

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William Kearsley, n.d.

William Kearsley, n.d.

Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

William Kearsley (1863-1921) Methodist minister, miner, parliamentarian 

Birth: 2 September 1863 in Stafford, Staffordshire, England, son of Thomas Kearsley, contractor, and Elizabeth, née Paton. Marriage: 18 August 1898 in Greta, New South Wales, to Betsy Wilkinson. They had two sons and a daughter. Death: 19 June 1921 at Granville, New South Wales. Religion: Methodist. 

  • Employed as a city missionary in Manchester, then briefly as a missionary in the fishing fleet of the North Sea.
  • Studied for three years at Hulme Cliffe College [later known as Cliff College] Calver, Derbyshire, founded by Henry Grattan Guinness.
  • Arrived in NSW aboard RMS Cuzco on 14 September 1891. Served in Primitive Methodist ministry in Newcastle district. Was later a Methodist lay preacher.
  • Became miner at Kurri Kurri, then at Dudley and Pelaw Main, Cessnock, where wife's family selected land, and Aberdare (1910).
  • Active freemason and autodidact, his socialism informed by protestant notions of natural rights and justice rather than Marxism. Official of Colliery Employees' Federation from about 1907, advocating union amalgamation. Member of the Royal Commission on Coal Mining Disputes 1909.
  • Member of the Australian Labor Party. Unsuccessful candidate for Federal seat of Hunter in 1906. Member of the Legislative Assembly, NSW, for Northumberland from March 1910 to November 1913, for Cessnock from December 1913 to February 1920 and for Newcastle from March 1920 to June 1921.
  • His sudden death led to a well-attended funeral, with collieries and businesses closed.
  • The town of Kearsley was named for him.

Resources
Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979; Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970); Andrew William Metcalfe, For freedom and dignity: Historical  agency and class structures in the coalfields of NSW (Sydney 1988).

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Kearsley, William (Bill) (1863–1921)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/kearsley-william-bill-32474/text40277, accessed 1 December 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

William Kearsley, n.d.

William Kearsley, n.d.

Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection