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Parkes, Edward (1856–1929)

by Chris Cunneen

Edward Parkes (1857-1929) coalminer and gaoled trade union leader

Birth: 26 March 1856 (or 1857?) at Smythes Creek, Victoria, son of Francis Parkes and Elizabeth, née Healey. Marriage: 2 November 1877 at Wallsend, New South Wales, to Eleanor ‘Ellen’ Estell. They had five daughters and four sons. Death: 15 November 1929 at Wallsend, Newcastle, NSW. Religion: Methodist. 

  • About 1874 arrived in Wallsend where he was an all-round athlete and enthusiastic cricketer. He worked at the Co-operative Colliery and was sometime chairman of its miners’ lodge and its delegate on the district board.
  • A zealous member and former chairman of the Wallsend and Plattsburg Political Labour League, Parkes also was active for some years in the Plattsburg Co-operative society.
  • In November 1909 he was one of thirteen delegates to the Miners Federation charged under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1908, with instigating a strike. On 29 December 1909 all thirteen were convicted before Judge Charles Heydon and each fined £100, in default two months imprisonment. All refused to pay and were gaoled. Parkes was taken to Maitland prison on 22 February 1910 and was released on 4 April.
  • Parkes returned to mining and remained associated with the Wallsend miners’ lodge: in 1918-1919 he was chairman. He ceased working at Wallsend Colliery in about 1923.
  • Two of Parkes’s sons served in World War I; Jack, 21, was killed at Bullecourt on 5 May 1917. In May each year for the rest of his life Edward, Ellen and their family inserted in the local newspaper memorial notices to their son, with verses recording their loss.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Parkes, Edward (1856–1929)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/parkes-edward-32125/text39695, accessed 20 October 2021.

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