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John Neill (c. 1845–1914)

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John Neill (c.1845-1914) shipwright. 

Birth: about 1845 at Preswick, Scotland, son of William Neill, weaver, and Elizabeth, née O’Hara. Marriage: 12 July 1872 at Hutchesontown, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Isabella Roy Fairlie (1848-1914). They were survived by four of their two daughters and six sons. Death: 9 December 1914 at Northcote Street, Canterbury, Sydney, New South Wales. Religion: Methodist. 

  • Arrived in Australia in 1878, spending nine months in Brisbane before moving to Sydney.
  • Worked as a shipwright. Had several physical disabilities. His earlier years were largely devoted to religious thought but he later immersed himself in reading Marxist and classical literature.
  • Joined the Waterloo branch of the Australian Socialist Federation/Socialist Labor Party (SLP) about 1898. Was SLP candidate for first Senate election in NSW in 1901, securing 6,000 votes, the highest achieved by SLP candidates.
  • Subsequently SLP candidate for NSW Legislative Assembly seat of Erskineville in 1901. Supporter of Industrial Workers of the World.
  • An old age pensioner in his later years. Cause of death: ascites (2 months), chronic nephritis and bronchitis (years).
  • His son John Fairlie Neill (1879-1940), an active member of the SLP became first secretary of the IWW in Sydney. Another son, William Gladstone (Webby) Neill (1884-1960) was a champion Rugby League full-back, member of the Kangaroo team that toured Great Britain in 1911-1912 and was later a prominent referee.

(Sydney), 17 December 1914.

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Citation details

'Neill, John (c. 1845–1914)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

John Neill, n.d.

John Neill, n.d.

People (Sydney), 17 December 1914, p 3

Life Summary [details]


c. 1845
Preswick, Ayrshire, Scotland


9 December, 1914 (aged ~ 69)
Canterbury, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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