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William Littlefair (1868–1953)

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William Littlefair (1868-1953) miner, gaoled trade unionist 

Birth: 14 April 1868 at Stonehouse, Scotland, son of Joseph Littlefair, journeyman tailor, and Helen, née Barr. Marriage: 19 September 1892 in Merewether, Newcastle, New South Wales, with with Free Methodist forms, to Yorkshire-born Mary Jane Brown (1872-1952). They had two daughters and two sons. Death: 15 May 1953 at Adamstown, Newcastle, New South Wales. Religion: Methodist.

  • Wheeler in coalmine, Scotland c.1878. Arrived in Australia 1888.
  • Worked in Burwood mine, many mines around Newcastle and some around Maitland. Miners’ Federation delegate and participated in mineworkers strike led by Peter Bowling of 1909-1910 while working in the New Lambton colliery. Served prison term in Maitland jail in connection with strike and became undernourished.
  • Angry that union didn’t keep its promise that they would pay the men 100 pounds on release, which was the amount they were initially fined in default of a gaol term. Presented with medal upon release, with 12 other union delegates and officials and made his views be known.
  • Did not expect that he would he hired again after strike and gaol term, but was hired at Hebburn No. 1 colliery, owned by J & A Brown, near Maitland, and later at Aberdare Extended, near Maitland.
  • Assisted in forming the first Labor League on the coalfields.
  • Died of renal failure and arteriosclerosis.

Common Cause
, Sept. 29 1951 p.5 

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Citation details

'Littlefair, William (1868–1953)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


14 April, 1868
Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, Scotland


15 May, 1953 (aged 85)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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 Places
Political Activism