People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

William (Bill) Kearsley (1863–1921)

This article was published:

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.

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,, accessed 30 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

William Kearsley, n.d.

William Kearsley, n.d.

Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

Life Summary [details]


2 September, 1863
Stafford, Staffordshire, England


19 June, 1921 (aged 57)
Granville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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.

Passenger Ship
Key Organisations
Political Activism