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William Egbert Lawless (1853–1913)

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William Egbert Lawless (1853-1913) shearer, trade union official and agent 

Birth: 1853 at Shelford, Victoria, son of John Lawless (1815-1897), a labourer, born at Warwickshire, England, and Jane, née Grant (1825-1913), born in Scotland. Marriage: 1877 at Rokewood, Victoria, to Elizabeth, née Houghton, late Barby (1849-1932), a widow, born at St Neots, Buckden, Huntingdonshire, England, with six children. They had seven daughters and four sons. Death: 14 March 1913 at Dereel, Rokewood, Victoria. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Was secretary of the Victorian Shearers’ Union, actively forming branches in the Western District of Victoria in 1880.
  • Amalgamated Shearers' Union organiser, Victoria, 1886. Organised along Darling River 1887. One of the founders of the Australian Workers’ Union.
  • Later was a commission agent at Dereel, near Rokewood, and prominent member of the local branch of the Political Labor Council.
  • Samuel Barby (1798-1880), the father of his wife’s former husband Henry, had arrived at Hobart, Tasmania, as a convict aboard the Sir Godfrey Webster on 24 December 1823.
  • Cause of death: Bright’s disease.

John Merritt, The Making of the AWU (Melbourne, 1986).

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Ballarat Star (Vic), 18 March 1913, p 2
  • photo, Australian Worker (Sydney), 29 January 1936, p 2

Citation details

'Lawless, William Egbert (1853–1913)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Shelford, Victoria, Australia


14 March, 1913 (aged ~ 60)
Dereel, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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