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Alexander Mackenzie Nichol (1807–1872)

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Alexander Mackenzie Nichol (1897-1872) joiner, builder, trade-unionist and anti-transportationist 

Birth: 29 August 1807 in Edinburgh, Scotland, son of Alexander Nicol and Janet, née Hardy. Marriage: 21 May 1833 at Belfast, Ireland, to Isabella Minchin of Donoughmore. They had three daughters and four sons. Death: 31 August 1872 in Brisbane Street, Hobart. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • A joiner, later a prominent builder and surveyor in Hobart, was an anti-transportation activist from about 1844 to 1851.
  • In August 1844 with William Jeffrey and others he was appointed by a public meeting of Hobart mechanics to committee to petition governor against 'probation' system of convict wage labour. In September, with Jeffrey and others, he was appointed to Committee of Free Operatives (later Free Mechanics Committee) to gather information on working class distress and raise public subscriptions for relief.
  • In April 1847, with Jeffrey and others, he called public meetings of operatives to revive anti-transportation cause and petition the British Crown and Parliament. He was appointed to provisional committee/FreeWorking Class. With Jeffrey, he sought to co-ordinate working class agitation with that of other anti-transportation elements.
  • In June 1847 he was elected first honorary secretary of 'Hobart Town Trades Union', formed to co-ordinate free workers' campaign against 'probation' system and transportation.
  • Was also involved in organised working-class agitation 1855-6.
  • Also supported temperance causes and was sometime P. C. Ruler of the Independent Order of Rechabites, Hope of Tasmania Tent.
  • Active layman in St Andrews Church.
  • Was an Alderman of Hobart Town council from 1869 to his death.
  • Described as a builder on his death registration.
  • Cause of death: “enlargement of Icterus and Ascites”

Michael Quinlan, Hope amidst hard times: working class organisation in Tasmania 1830-1850. (University of New South Wales, Kensington) 1986; Quinlan, M. & Gardner, M. (1990), ‘Researching Australian Industrial Relations in the Nineteenth Century’, in Patmore, G. (ed.), History and Industrial Relations, Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Teaching. Monograph No.1, pp.60-98; Quinlan, M. (2018), The Origins of Worker Mobilisation. Australia 1788-1850, Routledge, NY and London, esp pp.270-75.

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Citation details

'Nichol, Alexander Mackenzie (1807–1872)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


29 August, 1807
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


31 August, 1872 (aged 65)
Hobart, Tasmania, 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