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.

Hamilton Knight (1888–1964)

This article was published:

Hamilton (Ham) Knight (1888-1964) miner, trade union official and parliamentarian 

Birth: 9 December 1888 at Sofala, New South Wales, son of George Henry Knight (1855-1926), a miner, born at St Dennis, Cornwall, England, and Mary, née Semple (1864-1918), born at Tambaroora, NSW. Marriage: 22 December 1907 at Runanga, New Zealand, to Muriel Florence Priest (1882-1956), born at Tamworth, NSW. They had one daughter and two sons, one of whom died at the age of two. Death: 14 January 1964 at Marrickville, Sydney, NSW. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Educated at Crudine and Wallaby Rocks public schools. Went to Wellington, New Zealand, in 1907 where he associated with his uncle, Bob Semple, trade unionist and later politician in NZ.
  • Worked in mines, becoming president of Papaora Miners’ Union. Returned to NSW in 1914.
  • Worked in various mines until 1917 strike when he was blacklisted by coal-owners.
  • Moved to Queensland and worked in the Howard district.
  • Returned to NSW. Found employment under assumed name of James Hill at Lithgow Valley mine. He was dismissed when discovered. Employed as men’s check-weighman at shale mines in Wolgan Valley. Worked in Lithgow Valley colliery and later State mine, Lithgow, from 1924 to 1927.
  • Royal Commissioner into Safety in Mines in 1926. President, Western Districts Miners’ Federation. Member of the central council and vice-president of the Miners’ Federation of Australia.
  • Alderman on Lithgow City Council from 1921 to 1928.
  • Contested seat of Bathurst in the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1925. Having defeated former premier Jim Dooley in the Labour preselection ballot, he was elected for the seat of Hartley on 8 October 1927.
  • Successfully promoted amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide workers with greater protection by enforcing more safeguards to prevent accidents to be installed in workplaces and a widening of the scope of the Act to cover employees whilst travelling to and from their homes to work.
  • Lang supporter. Member, Central Executive ALP from 1928 to 1929. Secretary of Macquarie electorate council. Chairman, Parliamentary Labor Party from 1930 to 1939. Minister for Labour and Industry and for Social Welfare in McKell government from May 1941 and briefly in Jim McGirr’s ministry.
  • Resigned from parliament to become Commonwealth Industrial Commissioner on 29 October 1947. Resigned as commissioner in 1953.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Labor year book, 1933 p 171, 1934-1935 p 232; Shop Assistant, April-June 1946; Common Cause, 25 January 1964 p 7.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Knight, Hamilton (1888–1964)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Hamilton Knight, 1943

Hamilton Knight, 1943

State Library of New South Wales, 29091

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hill, James

9 December, 1888
Sofala, New South Wales, Australia


14 January, 1964 (aged 75)
Marrickville, 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.

Key Events
Key Organisations
Political Activism