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Andrew Joseph (Andy) Kelly (1854–1913)

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Andrew Joseph (Andy) Kelly (1854-1913) wharf labourer, drayman, trade unionist, politician, hotel-keeper 

Birth: 1854 Dublin, Ireland. Unmarried. Death: 3 September 1913. Sydney, New South Wales. Religion: Catholic.

  • Educated at the National School, Dublin. Immigrated first to Liverpool, England, where he worked for a time as a wharf labourer; then to sea, spending time in New Orleans, serving in the US Navy for 3 years and losing all his possessions in a shipwreck; then returned to dockwork in Liverpool and London.
  • Immigrated to Sydney 1881; worked as a wharf labourer; was active in a strike which accompanied the formation of the Wharf Labourers' Union in 1882, becoming union treasurer. Commenced work as a carter soon afterwards, although retained ties with Wharf Labourers'. Delegate for Eskbank Ironworkers to Trades and Labour Council of NSW 1883-86, becoming staunch protectionist.
  • With Edward William O'Sullivan published Democrat, 1884, which failed. Helped found Sydney Trolley and Draymen's Union 1888, president 1888-91. Contested presidency of Wharf Labourers' Union in December 1888, chairing meeting at which he declared himself elected to position amid claims that he was no longer a bona fide member of the union; relinquished position six month later.
  • Western Miners' delegate to Trades & Labour Council NSW 1888-90. Elected to TLC presidency in 1889, having contested the position unsuccessfully the previous year. As TLC president, chaired Domain meetings to raise funds to support London dockers' strike. Active in the Labour Defence Committee which ran the 1890 Maritime Strike.
  • Member Australian Socialist League; foundation member NSW Labor Party.
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, NSW for West Sydney, June 1891-June 1894 (defeated). Favoured protection; expelled from party in 1893 for supporting Dibbs government in 1892. Widely known as 'plug hat' Kelly following 1891 hustings pledge that electors would 'never find Andy Kelly wearing a top hat', but once elected consorted 'ostentatiously with aristocrats and dressed accordingly'.
  • After 1894 defeat, hotelkeeper, Exchange Hotel, West Wyalong, 1895-99 ('at which self-respecting workers never drank'), then Miners' Arms Hotel, Sydney, 1900-04. Member Licensed Victuallers' Association.
  • Contested seat of Grenfell 1898; readmitted and represented Labor from 1901; Member of the Legislative Assembly for Sydney-Denison, July 1901-July 1904; for The Lachlan, August 1904 – September 1913.
  • Alderman, Sydney City Council, 1900-13
  • Organiser Irish Home Rule Movement demonstration 1902.

N. Connolly, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901 (ANU Press, Canberra, 1983); Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905, (Sydney, 1985); Mark Bray and Andrew Rimmer, Delivering the Goods; the Transport Workers’ Union in New South Wales 1888-1986 (Sydney, 1987).  

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 5 September 1913, p 10

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Kelly, Andrew Joseph (Andy) (1854–1913)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Andy Kelly, 1901

Andy Kelly, 1901

City of Sydney Archives, 681870

Life Summary [details]


Dublin, Ireland


3 September, 1913 (aged ~ 59)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

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