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Pease, Thomas (Bookie) (1863–1927)

by Chris Cunneen

Thomas ‘Bookie’ Pease, also known as Thomas Ashwood (1863-1927) coalminer, gaoled trade union leader, colliery shift-man

Birth: 20 December 1863 in Coundon, Durham, England, son of Thomas Ashwood, coal miner, and Jane, née Pease. Marriage: 14 August 1888 at the Register office, Bishop Auckland, Durham, England, to Margaret ‘Annie’ Henderson (1862-1929). They had two sons and two daughters. Death: 3 November 1927 at Adamstown, Newcastle, New South Wales. Religion: Anglican. 

  • As “Jane Ashworth” his widowed mother married George Gallagher in June 1867. Both parties signed with a mark. As “Thomas Ashwood”, Pease was brought up by his maternal grandparents Joseph and Ann Pease in Coundon, County Durham, with his older half-brother Joseph Pease (1859-1934).
  • Young Thomas, a labourer, arrived in Sydney as an assisted immigrant aboard the s.s. Abergeldie on 23 December 1884. He was following his half-brother Joseph, then a coal-miner, who had come to Sydney on the Lochee in 1883.
  • By 1888 Thomas had returned to England and was a coal miner, residing at Coundon. He was married as Thomas Pease, gave no father’s name or profession in the register, and used the surname ‘Pease’ thereafter.
  • Pease arrived back in Australia with wife in the Ilona in 1889. They lived at Greta, near Maitland, then from about 1899 at Adamstown, Newcastle. Thomas, known as ‘Bookie’ Pease, worked as a miner at the Lambton colliery.
  • Pease was elected treasurer of the Shortland miners’ lodge in 1907, 1908 and 1909.
  • On 22 December 1909, with two other trade unionists, he was charged under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1908, with instigating miners to strike. On 29 December all thirteen were convicted by Judge Charles Gilbert Heydon and each fined £100, in default two months imprisonment.
  • A few hours after bravely saving a woman and a child from being run over by a tram in Hunter Street, Newcastle, on 22 February 1910, Pease presented himself at the police station and was taken to Maitland gaol to serve his sentence.
  • On 4 April 1910 he was released from Maitland gaol and elected treasurer of Shortland Miners Lodge. On 26 August he was awarded a silver medal of the Royal Humane Society for the rescue exploit.
  • Pease returned to work at Shortland mine. In 1912 he was president of the miner’s lodge, and his son Tommy lodge delegate.
  • In January 1916 the Wallaby recruiting march reached Newcastle. Putting his age down by 10 years and falsifying his place of birth and next of kin details, ‘Bookie’ Pease volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force. Allotted to the 35th battalion he embarked for England on 1 May 1916. Having served in France he returned home on 19 September 1917 regretting that “his health had failed him”.
  • Two sons also served in World War I: Tommy was invalided home in February 1919; Joseph was wounded in action at Pozieres in 1916, returned to the front and arrived back in Adamstown in August 1919.
  • A long-standing member of the Adamstown branch of the Political Labor League, of which he had been secretary in 1914, and an active supporter of parliamentarian Alf Edden, soon after his return from war Pease was prominent in the no-conscription campaign of 1917. Edden, a pro-conscriptionist, was now on the opposing side.
  • After his war service Thomas senior was employed for a time at Walsh Island. He was working as a shiftman at Durham Colliery in 1927 when he became ill.
  • Pease had taken an active interest in the United Grand Lodge of NSW Masonic Lodge Star of the West, 189 Adamstown, of which he was elected tyler in 1927. He was also an old member and sometime secretary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Star of Adamstown lodge, No. 53.
  • He died of cardiac failure and chronic myocarditis. His half-brother Joseph, for some 30 years a tailor in Lambton, Newcastle, died in 1934.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Pease, Thomas (Bookie) (1863–1927)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/pease-thomas-bookie-32421/text40210, accessed 4 July 2022.

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