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David McEwan (1857–1931)

by Peter D. Gardner

This article was published:

David McEwan (1857-1931) coal miner and trade union leader

Birth: 16 June 1857 at Shettleston, Lanarkshire, Scotland, son of Irish-born William McEwan (1815-1887), and Mary Jane, née Gilfillan (1821-1889) from Kirkudbright, Scotland. In the 1871 Scotland census both parents and their four sons, including 3-year-old David, were described as coal miners. Marriage: 29 June 1877 at Shettleston, to Margaret Robertson (1860-1915). They had three daughters and seven sons. Death: 21 April 1931 in hospital at Cessnock, New South Wales. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Arrived in Sydney, NSW, on 14 April 1879 aboard the Ellora, with his wife and an infant daughter who had been born during the voyage. His older brother Andrew and family were also unassisted passengers on the Ellora.
  • The McEwans lived in the Mittagong district and the shale-mining town, Joadja Creek, until about 1889, when they moved to Victoria.
  • McEwan was president of Victorian Coal Miners' Association during great coal strike of 1903-04. Also president of Outtrim Co-operative Coal Mine Committee. With Arthur Wilson, travelled to NSW to seek monetary support for the strikers from the delegates of the northern, western and southern district miners associations.
  • Left district when blacklisted, was replaced as VCMA president by John Connolly.
  • Shifted to Collie, Western Australia, where was a machine man in the Proprietary Colliery by July 1906. And was then dismissed.
  • After residing in WA for some years McEwan moved to the Hunter Valley, probably about 1914. He was a member of the Aberdare Miners’ Lodge at his death
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia, chronic nephritis and myocarditis.

Outtrim News
; Korumburra Times; Victorian Electoral Rolls; P. D. Gardner, Too old to rat: the radical miners of South Gippsland 1893-1904 (Ensay, Victoria, 1994).

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Citation details

Peter D. Gardner, 'McEwan, David (1857–1931)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


16 June, 1857
Shettleston, Lanarkshire, Scotland


21 April, 1931 (aged 73)
Cessnock, New South Wales, 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.

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.

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