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Morgan Joseph Murphy (1875–1938)

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Morgan Joseph Murphy (1875-1938) cellarman and trade union official 

Birth: 23 August 1875 at St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, and registered as Morgan King Murphy [son of John Murphy, policeman, and Mary according to his death certificate]. Marriage: 1901 at West Melbourne to native-born Ann Teresa (Annie) McSweeney (1878-1973). They had six sons and two daughters. Death: 21 February 1938 in hospital at East Melbourne; usual residence: Rosedale Avenue, Glenhuntly, Melbourne. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Made a ward of the state on 14 May 1877. Parents adopted him; foster parent Ellen McAuliffe. Had a Catholic schooling in Melbourne.
  • Gained work with Carlton Brewery. Delegate for Liquor Trades Union on Trades Hall Council 1905. Treasurer of the Liquor Trades Union 1906; full-time organiser 1909. Together with secretary, Dick Gill, in 1910 brought barmen into the union, which widened union to cover hotels.
  • Co-delegate with Dick Gill on federal council after federal union was registered in 1910. President of the union’s federal council 1921.
  • Organised first barmaids into union about 1912. Organised union's first country branches during its expansion period during World War I; assisted in further expanding union in 1920s. Assistant secretary of the Liquor Trades Union 1912. Sec. 1921-38, elected union secretary in 1921, after Dick Gill's death, and held the post until his own death.
  • Active opponent of conscription.
  • Campaigned strongly against prohibition in referendums of 1920 and Honorary president of the Trades Hall Council in 1927-1928.
  • Union membership declined and unemployment increased in industry during Depression years and he led the union, taking care of daily affairs, during the union's difficulties both externally and internally.
  • Internally, his leadership came under much pressure from Socialist Party member Jim Coull's group taking control of branch which they did by a narrow margin in the 1937 elections.
  • Was seen by opposition group to be 'less than enthusiastic in supporting membership action' against wage cuts imposed by Labor party Prime Minister Jim Scullin at a time when Murphy was also a member of the ALP’s central executive in Victorian branch; Murphy was initially against the wage cuts but later accepted them.
  • Member of the Australian Natives Association. Secretary of Melbourne City Football Club. Secretary and life member of Prahran Football Club.
  • Cause of death: carcinoma of the colon, operation and exhaustion.
  • Buried at Melbourne General Cemetery in the grave of Ellen McAuliffe, who died on 30 January 1904, aged 79.

A. Best 1990 p 150 and chapter 8; Labor Call (Melbourne), 24 February 1938, p 9, 21 April 1938, p 9; Australian Worker (Sydney), 22 June 1927, p 5, 18 July 1928, p 13.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Labor Call (Melbourne), 23 April 1914, p 19
  • photo, Labor Call (Melbourne), 28 July 1927, p 5

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Murphy, Morgan Joseph (1875–1938)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Murphy, Morgan King

23 August, 1875
St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


21 February, 1938 (aged 62)
East Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (bowel)

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