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Henry Jason (Harry) Kelly (1880–1947)

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Henry Jason Tonner (Harry) Kelly (1880-1947) miner, labourer, musician, newspaper vendor and Labor activist

Birth: 1880 at Fizroy, Melbourne, Victoria, son of John Tonner Kelly (1844-1920), coachbuilder, later engine-driver, born at Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and Ellen, née Drew (1842-1909), born at St Andrews, Middlesex, England. Marriage: 1900 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, to Bertha Elizabeth Douglas (1882-1951), born at Adelaide, South Australia. They had three daughters and two sons. Death: 24 October 1947 in hospital at Broken Hill; usual residence Morgan Street, Broken Hill. 

  • Moved to Broken Hill about 1894. His father was sometime president of the local branch of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens’ Association of Australasia.
  • Harry worked along the line of lode then in the open cut on the Proprietary mine. He seems to have resided in Victoria for a few years in 1909-1916. In 1917 he joined the Barrier Daily Truth as a paper deliverer. After 1920 he worked for time in Adelaide but in 1926 returned to the delivery staff of the Daily Truth and remained there till he retired in ill health in 1946.
  • He was a capable pianist and a very fine singer. Played a significant role in the anti-conscription campaign and in the big strike of 1919-1920.Worked for the labour movement, the unemployed and for the hospital cause in Broken Hill. Always a member of the Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia, he was WIUIA delegate on the Barrier District Assembly of the Australian Labor Party, of which he was several time president. Often spoke at and led Labor demonstrations with inspiring songs.
  • Kelly had a very great interest in the hospital, being a member of the board of management in 1918, from 1922 to 1925 then from 1928 until his death. He was “chief inaugurator” of the Workers’ Contribution Fund [WCF] scheme, reputedly “the forerunner of all contribution schemes in Australia”.
  • Cause of death: congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis and carcinomatosis of unknown cause.

Barrier Miner
(Broken Hill), 27 October 1947, p 3.

Citation details

'Kelly, Henry Jason (Harry) (1880–1947)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


24 October, 1947 (aged ~ 67)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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