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James (Jim) Mooney (1860–1918)

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James (Jim) Mooney (1863-1918) shearer, New Australia settler in Paraguay and trade union official 

Birth: 31 May 1860 at North Melbourne, Victoria, son of Irish-born parents William Mooney (1831-1905)), a police officer, from County Tipperary, Ireland, and his first wife Mary Ann, née Hickson (1838-1863) from County Limerick. Unmarried. Death: 27 October 1918 in Struan hospital at Launceston, Tasmania. Religion: buried with Catholic rites. 

  • Jim was one of twins. His mother and twin brother died shortly after his birth and his father remarried five years later. He became a station hand in New South Wales when young, then a shearer in various stations in that state.
  • A founding member of the Amalgamated Shearers' Union, he was active in the struggles of 1886, 1888 and 1890, as an organiser in Riverina and Darling River area. Chair of Wagga branch during 1890 strike, forming lasting friendship with Arthur Rae. He put up Rae's £40 candidate's deposit for seat of Murrumbidgee at 1891 elections.
  • Played a significant role in production in Wagga in 1891 of the first issue of the Hummer, later to become the Australian Worker.
  • Trustee of New Australia movement, organising in Riverina for the venture. Sailed for Paraguay with first batch of settlers in July 1893.
  • Returned in 1894 at the request of William Lane to organise new recruits, but the operation was suspended after settlement split.
  • Went shearing on the Darling and became an Australian Workers' Union (AWU) organiser. Settled White Cliffs opal field and managed Workingmen's Club.
  • Organising secretary Tasmanian branch AWU from 1910 until his death.
  • A “Laborite all his life” he was Labor candidate in April 1918 for the Federal seat of Bass held by Jens Jensen.
  • Cause of death: cerebral haemorrhage.

H. J. Gibbney & Ann G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 2 (Canberra, 1987); G. Souter, A Peculiar People: the Australians in Paraguay, (Sydney, 1968); Denis Murphy (ed), Labor in Politics: State Labor Parties in Australia, 1880-1920 (St Lucia, Qld, 1975); John Merritt, The Making of the AWU (Melbourne, 1986); Labor News, 2 November 1918; Australian Worker (Sydney), 31 October 1918.

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Citation details

'Mooney, James (Jim) (1860–1918)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


31 May, 1860
North Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


27 October, 1918 (aged 58)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

brain hemorrhage

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