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James (Jim) Mathews (1863–1934)

This article was published:

Jim Mathews, by T. Humphrey & Co, 1908

Jim Mathews, by T. Humphrey & Co, 1908

National Library of Australia, 23366629

James (Jim) Mathews, also known as Matthews (1863-1934) tailor, trade union official and parliamentarian

Birth: 1863 at South Melbourne, Victoria, son of Abraham Mathews (c.1829), tailor and former soldier, and Grace, née Spargo (1837-1922), born at St Austel, Cornwall, England. Marriage: 5 December 1894 at St David’s Anglican Church, Sydney, New South Wales, to Sydney-born Agnes May Hardy (b.1876). They had no children. Death: 16 October 1934 at Windsor, Prahran, Victoria; usual residence Park Street, South Melbourne. Religion: Protestant. 

  • His father served in the Royal Artillery in the British Army. Jim spent seven years in Ceylon as a boy.
  • Educated at Smith’s Primary School in South Melbourne. Became a tailor and went into business in South Melbourne.
  • Moved to Sydney, NSW, in 1893. Secretary of Australian Labor Party Fitzroy (Woolloomooloo) branch in 1893-1895.
  • Returned to Melbourne in 1898. Was an original member of the Sydney and Melbourne branches of the Tailors Union.
  • Active in ALP in Victoria from 1902. Secretary and vice-president of the Political Labor Council (PLC) South Melbourne branch; vice-president of the Albert Park branch. Delegate to annual conferences for approximately 11 years.
  • Contested Federal seat of Melbourne Ports for Labor in 1903. Elected Labor member of the House of Representatives for Melbourne Ports on 1906. Retired in 1931 due to ill health.
  • Member of the standing committee on public works 1917-1925. Executive member of the Parliamentary Labor Party from 1910 to 1915. Member of Public Works Committee for nine years. Chairman Health Commission which inquired into the causes of invalidity in 1915-1917. Campaigned against conscription and was prosecuted under the War Precautions Act. He represented himself and was acquitted.
  • Honoured for services rendered to the labour movement in 1932.
  • Cause of death: apoplexy - spastic (10 years), paralysis (10 years) and sthenia (2 years).

Joan Rydon (ed.), A biographical register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901-1972 (ANU Press, 1975); Worker, 5 July 1906 p 2; Labor Call (Melbourne), 20 August 1925 p 9, 30 June 1932, 18 October 1934; Westralian Worker (Perth), 9 November 1934 p 2; Age (Melbourne), 27 June 1932; Herald (Melbourne), 24 December 1932, 16 October 1934.

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Citation details

'Mathews, James (Jim) (1863–1934)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jim Mathews, by T. Humphrey & Co, 1908

Jim Mathews, by T. Humphrey & Co, 1908

National Library of Australia, 23366629

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Matthews, James

South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


16 October, 1934 (aged ~ 71)
Windsor, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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.

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