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Thomas Richard Morgan (1871–1936)

by Don Dingsdag and Henry Lee

This article was published:

Thomas Richard Morgan (1871-1936) coalminer and trade union leader

Birth: 20 March 1871 at Wollongong, New South Wales. Son of native-born Amelia Jane “Emma” Bateman and Aaron Morgan, a miner, born in Llanwonno, Glamorgan, Wales, whom she married in 1875. Marriage: 1896 at Bulli, NSW, to Ellen Sweeney. They had one daughter and five sons. Death: 4 February 1936 at Altamira private hospital, Lewisham, Sydney, NSW. Religion: Presbyterian 

  • Sergeant of the South Coast Garrison Artillery of Volunteers. Presented with medal for bravery in rescue work in Mt. Kembla disaster 1902.
  • In 1906 successfully sued secretary of the South Clifton miners' lodge for letter in South Coast Times which alleged that Morgan's reactionary tendencies rendered him unworthy to hold union office.
  • Elected secretary Illawarra Colliery Employees' Association (ICEA) 1906. Secretary of 1907 conference to discuss national amalgamation of mining unions. 1908 appointed, with Peter Bowling and Anthony Luchetti, to subcommittee to draft constitution of proposed Federated Coal & Shale Workers' Association (CSWA). Interim secretary of CSWA 1909.
  • 1908 defeated by Andrew Gray for secretaryship of ICEA, after allegations that he had sabotaged moves for increased wages. Though also replaced by Gray as secretary of new CSWA 1909, returned to ICEA secretaryship same year.
  • Openly criticised Gray, Bowling and other left-wing CSWA leaders for 'extreme measures' during 1909-10 coal strike, exchanging blows with Socialist League's Henry Holland at one South Coast strike meeting. Subsequently claimed credit for increase in southern coalfields' increase in market share at expense of northern fields during strike. After strike welcomed rank-and-file support amongst South Coast miners for CSWA yet conformed to directives by ICEA president F. Dunleavy to withhold ICEA dues from CSAW.
  • Resigned ICEA secretaryship in July 1911, being praised by manager of South Bulli colliery for his contribution toward the prosperous state of the South Coast coal trade. Soon afterwards appointed district secretary and industrial officer for South Coast coal owners, becoming employer representative on Wages Board and precipitating resignation from board of union representatives Bowling and S. Bird.
  • Died from broncho pneumonia, cerebral haemorrhage, and chronic nephritis.

Edgar Ross, A History of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970.

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Citation details

Don Dingsdag and Henry Lee, 'Morgan, Thomas Richard (1871–1936)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


20 March, 1871
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia


4 February, 1936 (aged 64)
Lewisham, Sydney, 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.