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Harold St Aubyn Mercer (1882–1952)

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Harold Mercer, by May Moore, 1927

Harold Mercer, by May Moore, 1927

National Library of Australia, 3085050

Mercer, Harold St Aubyn (1882-1952) né Bailey, also known as St Aubin and Hamer, writer, trade union official, chess player, and poet 

Birth: 22 February 1882 at Kelvin Grove, Queensland, son of Thomas Adams Bailey (1842-1935), a clerk, born at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, and Gertrude Frances, née Mercer (1851-1937), born at Plymouth, Devon, England. Marriage: 14 November 1905 at Sydney, New South Wales to Florence Annie Brierley. They had three daughters and three sons. Death: 13 June 1952 at Bondi, usual residence Ocean Street, Bondi. Religion: Catholic on his service record, buried with Anglican rites. 

  • Came from a writing family, his grandmother Elizabeth Ord wrote for the Westminster Gazette and his grandfather wrote religious works. His mother reverted to her maiden name after divorcing Harold’s father in Sydney in 1893.
  • As ‘Harold St Aubyn ‘was a noted “boy chess player”.
  • His first published verse appeared in the Bulletin in 1897. He continued to write and also managed a touring theatre company. After marrying he worked as a clerk then an accountant.
  • Was a foundation member of the Clerks’ Union. Second secretary of the union in 1907 and later became honorary secretary, PMG sub-section, up to 1947.
  • Enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 April 1917 and was invalided to hospital in June 1918 with pulmonary tuberculosis while serving with the 1st Battalion in France. Was later a corporal in the War Records Section in London. Returned to Australia in May 1919 and was discharged in Sydney on 9 June 1919.
  • Divided his time between using journalist skills to earn a living and organise the Federated Clerks Union. Granted life membership in 1947.
  • Was bankrupted in 1926 and had separated from his wife in 1929.
  • A freelance author, widely known as ‘Hamer’, ‘Percy Pawnticket’ and ‘Harold Hardup’, he wrote prolifically for the Bulletin (Sydney) and other publications including the Worker (Wagga) and the Australian Women’s Weekly.
  • Was an early honorary secretary of the Chess Association of NSW. At the age of seventy still “a tower of strength in organising various chess tourneys”.
  • Cause of death: fractured skull when struck by a motor car in Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach.

, November-December 1947, p 10; Harold Mercer entry in AustLit, .

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Mercer, Harold St Aubyn (1882–1952)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Harold Mercer, by May Moore, 1927

Harold Mercer, by May Moore, 1927

National Library of Australia, 3085050

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Mercer, Harold St Aubin
  • Mercer, Harold Hamer
  • Bailey, Harold St Aubyn
  • St Aubyn, Harold
  • Bayley, Harold St Aubyn
  • Percy Pawnticket
  • Harold Hardup
  • Hamer

22 February, 1882
Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


13 June, 1952 (aged 70)
Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

motor vehicle accident

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.

Military Service
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