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Francis Joseph (Frank) Murphy (1876–1951)

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Francis Joseph (Frank) Murphy (1876-1951) miner, trade union official and real estate agent

Birth: 26 May 1876 at Pinkerton Plains, near Gawler, South Australia, and registered as Joseph, son of Irish-born parents James Murphy (1840-1917) and Mary Ann, née Kelly (1845-1923). Marriage: 29 August 1910 at St Joseph’s Church, South Yarra, Victoria, to Mary Elizabeth Breheny (1880-1944), born at Horton, Tasmania. They had one daughter and five sons. Death: 14 August 1951 in Prince Henry’s Hospital, South Melbourne; usual residence Moreland road, West Brunswick, Melbourne. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Spent fourteen years in South Australia, eight years in Tasmania, and about fifty years in Victoria.
  • From about 1910 to 1915 was a coal miner, living at Wonthaggi, Victoria, where three sons were born.
  • About 1910 he was founding secretary of the miners' accident fund Wonthaggi and general secretary of the Wonthaggi branch of Victorian Coal Miners' Association (VCMA).
  • A prominent member of the local branch of the Australian Labor Party, he was an unsuccessful Labor candidate for the Sate seat of Mornington in 1911 and 1914. In July 1913 he sued the proprietors of the Wonthaggi Sentinel for libel. The case was settled when he accepted an apology.
  • Murphy represented the VCMA in negotiations towards formation of Australasian Coal & Shale Employees' Federation in 1915.
  • By 1919 he was working as a traveller and living at Brunswick, Melbourne, where he remained for the rest of his life.
  • His death certificate gave his occupation as real estate agent. Cause of death: diabetes mellitus (5 years).

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

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Murphy, Francis Joseph (Frank) (1876–1951)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


26 May, 1876
Pinkerton Plains, South Australia, Australia


14 August, 1951 (aged 75)
South Melbourne, 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.

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism