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.

Sarah Maud Kenna (1862–1933)

This article was published:

Sarah Maud (Maud) Kenna, neé Mitchell (1862-1933) tailoress, feminist and trade union official 

Birth: 20 June 1862 at Goulburn, New South Wales, eighth of twelve children of Henry Armstrong Mitchell (1819-1897), a bus driver and mail contractor, born in London, England, and Sydney-born Sarah, née Hanslow (1834-1909). Marriage: 5 March 1884 at St Peter’s Anglican church, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, NSW, to Percy [Pierce O’Donnell] Kenna also known as Kenah (1857-1943), a woolsorter, later druggist, born in Ireland. They had four daughters and two sons before separating. Death: 11 November 1933 at Wells Street, Newtown, Sydney. 

  • Her maternal grandfather Peter Hanslow (1798-1866), born at Birmingham, Warwickshire, was a convict. He married twice and had eighteen children.
  • In 1890 her husband was charged with assaulting her. Soon after, he appears to have departed Sydney for New Zealand where he remarried in 1899 and had another family.
  • She was one of the founders of the first branch of the Australian Labor Party at Annandale.
  • With Harry Holland, Maud Kenna led the Tailoresses' Union (Sydney), formed in July 1901. She was founding vice-president and secretary from 1903 to 1910. In 1908 she was acquitted on a charge of insulting language for having called a man a “scab’.
  • Represented the Tailoresses' Union in Arbitration Court hearings. Was associated with Kate Dwyer, Mrs A. Freeman and others in “obtaining many reforms in the conditions endured, rather than enjoyed, by girl and women shop assistants”.
  • Was an old age pensioner in her later years. Cause of death: diabetes mellitus, diabetic coma.

Sources
Edna Ryan, Two-thirds of a Man: Women and Arbitration in New South Wales 1902–08 (Sydney, 1984); Bradon Ellem, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (Sydney, 1989

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kenna, Sarah Maud (1862–1933)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/kenna-sarah-maud-34241/text42967, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Mitchell, Sarah Maud
Birth

20 June, 1862
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia

Death

11 November, 1933 (aged 71)
Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

diabetes

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.

Occupation
Key Organisations
Political Activism
Social Issues