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Ivy Jessie Lorimer (c. 1871–1919)

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Ivy Jessie Lorimer, née Murray, late Parkinson (c.1871-1919) waitress, gaoled Socialist and community activist 

Birth: about 1871 at Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, daughter of Andrew Murray, a warehouseman and draper, and Jessie (Janet), née Wilson.  Marriages: (1) 22 April 1892 in St David’s Anglican church, Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, to Alfred Parkinson (1868-c.1908), a Sydney-born painter. They had at one son and one daughter. (2) 12 June 1908 at Whitefield Congregational Church, Sydney, to George Lorimer (1881-1944), a cook, born at Glasgow, Scotland. Death: 10 April 1919 in hospital at Sydney, late of Palmer Street. Religion: buried with Socialist forms. 

  • Arrived in NSW about 1881.
  • Described herself as a waitress, 21, living at Napier Street Paddington, on her first marriage certificate. Her eldest child had been born the previous year. She was at one time a resident of Coonamble.
  • Owing to the chronic illness of her second husband she “had to earn her livelihood by constant and arduous toil, yet she always found time to lend a willing hand to others in distress”.
  • Active in Sydney socialist circles prior to World War I, advocating industrial unionism. In January 1909 she refused to pay a fine for addressing a meeting of the International Socialist Group, and was gaoled at Darlinghurst for a day and a half until a friend, Scott Bennett, paid the fine and she was released. Soon after, she spoke to “a couple of thousand interested people in the Domain” about her experience in Darlinghurst gaol.
  • Joined Socialist Labor Party in 1910. Acting secretary of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Club in Sydney, speaking at meetings in favour of direct action, urging women to join IWW.
  • Resigned from Socialist Labor Party (SLP) in January 1915 after successful moves by J. O. Moroney and E. E. Judd to thwart unification of SLP and the Australian Socialist Party (ASP).
  • Joined ASP, becoming member of Newtown Branch and later honorary secretary of Sydney branch. Founding member Anti-Conscription League of NSW (September 1915) and only woman committee member; leading participant in 1916 anti-conscription campaign and travelled to country districts to spread the word. Regular speaker at Sydney Domain.
  • Abandoning industrial unionism for parliamentary socialism, she resigned from ASP; in January 1917, with Fred Sinclaire and others co-founded Social Democratic League of NSW, serving as treasurer during 1917 strike. Again, a prominent Domain speaker during this dispute, also working on relief committee set up to help strikers' families.
  • Subsequently joined Australian Workers Union and Australian Labor Party, becoming secretary of King branch and a member of Women’s Organising Committee.
  • Died after contracting 'Spanish Influenza' during 1919 epidemic.
  • The Queensland Worker lamented that Sydney had lost one of its most “energetic and sincere workers”.
  • Cause of death: pneumonic influenza.

Joy Damousi, Socialist Women in Australia, c.1890-c.1918, Ph.D thesis, 1987; R. Sharpe MA thesis, 2003; International Socialist, 3 May 1919.

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Citation details

'Lorimer, Ivy Jessie (c. 1871–1919)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Murray, Ivy Jessie
  • Parkinson, Ivy Jessie

c. 1871
Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand


10 April, 1919 (aged ~ 48)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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