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George Launder (1838–1914)

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George Launder (1838-1914) carpenter and trade union founder and leader 

Birth: 5 July 1838 at Sevenoaks, Kent, England, son of George William Launder (1811-1855), upholsterer, later builder, and Sarah, née Gardener (1813-1892). Marriages: (1) 30 September 1864 in Brisbane, Queensland, to Jane Walker (1844-1890), born in Donegal, Ireland. They had nine sons. (2) 1899 in Victoria, to Alice Louisa, née Hoare, late Topping, a widow with four children. Death: 26 May 1914 at his residence, Wallace Street, Preston, Melbourne, Victoria. 

  • Arrived in Victoria (then Port Phillip) aboard the barque Pestonjee Bomangee in April 1851 with his mother and siblings. His father had presumably preceeded them.
  • Joined father in building and contracting line in Melbourne and became carpenter. When gold diggings started formed he was one of a party of six to travel to Ballarat in September 1851. Shifted to Mount Alexander in October 1851 and unearthed two hundred ounces.
  • Active in Eight Hours Movement and attended most meetings in 1856. Participated in the inaugural Eight Hours Day procession on Whit Monday 12 May that year.
  • Member of the Progressive Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Melbourne.
  • Moved to Queensland in 1861 and pursued profession of architect. Became town surveyor of Roma. Continued activity in Eight Hours Movement which had then recently started in Brisbane. Appointed by NSW Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows to open first lodge of that order in Queensland.
  • He was a member of the Brisbane Rifles, Queensland Volunteer Force. A marksman of note, he won, among other prizes, the National Rifle Association’s medal in Brisbane in 1863.
  • In 1862, there being no Trade Union Society in the colony, Launder had called a meeting and formed a Carpenters and Joiners Society of fifty members. Returned to Melbourne in 1868 and rejoined his former society.
  • Started his own business as a contractor and builder in 1872. Insolvent in July that year and in 1906.
  • Corporal in the Engineer Corps, in the volunteer force, in 1877.
  • Foundation and committee member of the Eight Hours Pioneers’ Association in 1885 and elected honorary secretary in 1886 and held that office (except for two years) until 1912.
  • In May 1914 he, Francis Lyons and John McKay were the only surviving Eight Hours pioneers.
  • Was the father of Councillor Frederick A. Launder of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Merrifield Card Index, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne; Labor Call (Melbourne), photo, last of the pioneers, 18 April 1912, photo and obituary, 4 June 1914, p 7, in memoriam, 25 June 1914, p 2; Labour Year Book, 28 June 1914.

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Citation details

'Launder, George (1838–1914)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

George Launder, 1914

George Launder, 1914

Leader (Melbourne), 6 June 1914, p 33

Life Summary [details]


5 July, 1838
Sevenoaks, Kent, England


26 May, 1914 (aged 75)
Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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