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Matthew Poland (1855–1939)

by Peter D. Gardner

This article was published:

Matthew Poland, n.d.

Matthew Poland, n.d.

Matthew Poland (1855-1939) coal miner and trade union activist

Birth: 3 November 1855 at New Monkland, Lanarkhire, Scotland, son of James Poland (1820-1867), ironstone miner, and Susannah, née Gilmour (1821-1875). Marriage: 25 February 1879 at Dalry, Scotland, to Susannah Law. They had seven sons and five daughters. Death: 8 March 1939 in his residence at Coledale, New South Wales. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Was an ironstone miner in Dalry, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1881.
  • Arrived in Queensland with his wife aboard the Scottish Knight on 2 November 1882. Was working at Wickham and Bullock Island Colliery, Carrington, Newcastle, when he was injured in November 1886.
  • In 1889 was president of Coalville (Victoria) branch of Amalgamated Miners' Association. In Korumburra district between 1893 and 1906, he held various positions in Outtrim and Jumbunna lodges and accident societies.
  • Was president of Jumbunna Colliery Employees' Accident Society in 1895. Unsuccessful candidate for Victorian Coal Miners' Association presidency 1898, whilst president of Outtrim lodge. Vehement opponent of Outtrim mine manager, McKenzie.
  • During 1903 coal strike he went briefly to Collie, Western Australia, as delegate for Collie River District Miners' Union.
  • Returned to Victoria, working in Strezlecki Co-operative Colliery and gave evidence before 1906 Victorian Royal Commission into Coal Industry. Debarred from working in Victoria, he moved to Southern NSW where he had family connections.
  • A lodge president of Mount Kembla he spoke at Labor Leader Andrew Fisher’s public meeting at Bulli in December 1909, where “his accent was unmistakably Scottish and his shrewd observations quite characteristic of the heather.” Advised by the crowd to take his hat off when he was speaking he replied “I winna tak my hat off, for when I do I get angry and this is a time we should keep cool”.
  • A candidate for position of general secretary of the Australasian Coal and Shale Workers in 1909 he was defeated by Andrew Gray. In 1910 he was president of the Kembla branch of the Illawarra Coal Employees Association. Occasionally wrote to the press.
  • An old age pensioner in his final years. Cause of death cerebral thrombosis, senile arteriosclerosis.
  • His son Matthew (1889-1962), a miner, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915, served in the 2nd Australian Pioneer Battalion in France and was mentioned in dispatches on 21 December 1916. Sergeant Poland was awarded the Military Medal for his conspicuous gallantry on 16 April 1918 and was wounded in action on 5 October 1918. He returned to Australia in May 1919 and was discharged on 15 July 1919.

Outtrim News
; Great Southern Advocate; Korumburra Times; 1906 Victorian Royal Commission into Coal Industry.

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Citation details

Peter D. Gardner, 'Poland, Matthew (1855–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Matthew Poland, n.d.

Matthew Poland, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


3 November, 1855
New Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland


8 March, 1939 (aged 83)
Coledale, New South Wales, 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.

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