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Ivor MacGillivray (1840–1939)

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Ivor MacGillivray, n.d.

Ivor MacGillivray, n.d.

Ivor MacGillivray (1840-1939) seaman, gold-miner, lumper and parliamentarian

Birth: 24 May 1840 at Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland, son of Thomas McGillavry (1808-1888), labourer, and Margaret Anne, née Fraser (1806-1850). Marriage: 10 August 1880 at Adelaide, South Australia, to Eleanor (Ellen) Pippet (1854-1939). They had five daughters and one son. Death: 16 January 1939 at Adelaide. Religion: His son was Methodist. 

  • Educated at Nairn, Scotland. Worked on a farm about 1851. Apprentice merchantman and engaged in the East India and China trade from about 1855 to 1859.
  • Arrived in Victoria in 1859 on recommendation of a relative who had been successful in the goldfields. Worked on Bendigo diggings in 1859-1861. Moved to New Zealand where he worked on the goldfields from 1861 to 1873.
  • Visited England and Scotland and returned to Australia in 1874, working on a quartz reef in Western Australia.
  • Arrived in South Australia in 1875 and settled in Port Adelaide. Chairman of Port Adelaide Working Men’s Association from 1887 to 1903?
  • Waterside Workers Federation three times, trustee for seventeen years and chairman of trustees 1905 at least.
  • Delegate from Port Adelaide Working Men’s Association at Brisbane Trades Union Congress in 1888. Represented SA maritime Labour bodies in Sydney in 1890 during the great maritime strike.
  • Prominent in forming the Maritime Labor Council in 1886; held positions of treasurer, vice-president and president. President, District Trades and Labour Council (when the Maritime Labor Council was included in the new body). President of Coasting Seamen’s Union.
  • Gazetted onto the commission of the peace in 1887. Worked as a lumper undertaking contract work but along with many others demoted to day labourer.
  • Vice-chairman of Parliamentary Labor Party from 1908 to 1912. A leading figure in formation of United Labor Party. Elected member of the House of Assembly for Port Adelaide from 1893 until defeated in 1918 — (Labor until 1917, then Nationalist).
  • Director of Herald, a Labor paper, for several years.
  • Elected Chief of Port Adelaide Caledonian Society in 1904.
  • Chairman, Port Adelaide Industrial Cooperative Society, from 1896 to at least 1905.
  • Cause of death: hypostatic pneumonia following fracture of left femur due to accidental fall.
  • His only son Ivor Eric MacGillivray (1895-1915), was killed in World War I.

Howard Coxon, John Playford and Robert Reid, Biographical Register of the South Australian Parliament 1857-1957 (Adelaide, 1985); T. H Smeaton, From Stonecutter to Premier (Adelaide, 1924), p 194; Jim Moss, Sound of trumpets: history of the labour movement in South Australia (Cowandilla,1985], pp 132, 254; Worker, 25 March 1905 p 2.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Weekly Herald (Adelaide), 24 April 1896, p 1

Citation details

'MacGillivray, Ivor (1840–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Ivor MacGillivray, n.d.

Ivor MacGillivray, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


24 May, 1840
Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland


16 January, 1939 (aged 98)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

fracture (femur)

Cultural Heritage

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