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William Murray (Bill) Nulty (1869–1940)

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William Murray (Bill or Billy) Nulty (1869-1940) miner, trade union official and orchardist

Birth; 1869 at Portland, Victoria, son of James John Nulty (1830-1885), and Rose, née Murray (1835-1919). Both parents were born at Drogheda, Louth, Ireland. Marriage: 27 December 1899 at Gawler, South Australia, to Kathleen or Catherine Sweeney (1870-1945), born at Gawler. They had two daughters and three sons Death: 29 September 1940 in hospital at Leeton, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Road contractor. Farmer until 1891-1892 drought. Worked as a shearer. Joined Australian Shearers’ Union (later Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)) in 1886. Moved to Broken Hill in 1894. Worked as a miner.
  • Active in early strikes and agitated with Tom Mann and Harry Holland. Stood for trial for role in ASU strike in 1894 over use of non-union labour in Broken Hill area. Arrested in connection with incidents associated with conflict, including burning of river steamboat, the Rodney. Charged at Torrowingee for preventing free labourers from following lawful occupation but was found not guilty.
  • Became 'the most conspicuous local unionist leader in the times of industrial turmoil which the Silver City went through in later years'. Secretary of Amalgamated Miners' Association (AMA), Broken Hill, proving an energetic and capable administrator.
  • President, Barrier Labor League. Held various offices in AMA, including president. Member, management committee on Barrier Truth. Organiser for AWU in South Australia for two seasons.
  • Moved to Leeton, NSW, about 1910 where he became a successful farmer. Then went to Western Australia where he fought on behalf of miners and was fined £20 and branded as an agitator.
  • Returning to NSW, he was representative for fruitgrowers in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area on the NSW Dried Fruits Board in 1928. Selected Labor candidate for Murrumbidgee NSW elections in 1925, he declared that he was proud to be an agitator. Was an “accomplished and persuasive platform speaker.”
  • Cause of death: carcinoma ventriculi.

George Dale, The industrial history of Broken Hill, (Melbourne, 1918); Worker 19 November 1908 p 23; Australian Worker 15 April 1925, p 1, 13 May 1925, p 7, 7 March 1928 p 2; Westralian Worker, 1 May 1925, p 11; Barrier Daily Truth (Perth), 3 October 1940, 4 September 1945; Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Nulty, William Murray (Bill) (1869–1940)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Portland, Victoria, Australia


29 September, 1940 (aged ~ 71)
Leeton, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (stomach)

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