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Prince, Robert (Bob) (c. 1860–1937)

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Prince is second from left, bottom row seated]

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Prince is second from left, bottom row seated]

State Library of Qld, 64845

Robert Prince (also known as Robert Prince Bambrick) (c.1860-1937) shearer, gaoled trade unionist and selector 

Birth:Possibly c.1860 in Victoria, son of Robert Bambrick, carter, born in India, and his second wife Jane, née Pratt. Unmarried. Death: 22 July 1937 in hospital at Camden, New South Wales. Religion: Atheist, nominally Anglican. 

  • Of dark complexion & fine physique, he looked 'a thorough bushman'.
  • His father had arrived in South Australia with his first wife in 1849. As a child, young Robert had been taken by his father and mother to Lake Hope, in northern South Australia. About 1886 Bambrick left home and travelled through the colonies as a shearer. Was active in Queensland Shearers' Union and took a leading part in strike action around Emerald during 1891 shearers' strike.
  • Arrested on 30 March 1891 he was charged with conspiracy and tried, with others, before Judge George Harding, at Rockhampton, May 1891. Convicted and sentenced to three years hard labour.
  • St Helena prison records describe him as a native of Victoria. Aged 30, he was able to read and write, was 5 feet 10 ½ inches (179 cm) in height and stout, with a dark complexion, black hair and black eyes. He gave his religion as atheist.
  • Released in November 1893, in February 1894 he became chairman of the Lyrup Village Settlement Association, a “communistic” settlement he set up on the Murray River in South Australia.
  • Back in Queensland by 1903, now a selector at Jericho, near Emerald, and active in the Australian Labor Party, “Robert Prince Bambrick” made several attempts to enter parliament. He contested Labor preselection for the Federal seat of Capricornia that year and for the State seat of Leichhardt in 1904. In February 1908 as selected Labor candidate he was narrowly beaten for Barcoo in the State election. He again contested Labor preselection for Barcoo the following year, as did his former fellow prisoner William Fothergill. Both were defeated by Thomas Joseph Ryan who went on to win the seat.
  • He later held selections in Queensland at Fork Lagoons and in the Sapphire district and was a noted shearer. In May 1922 the Brisbane Worker reported that Prince was “a banana grower in central Queensland”. In 1931 he resided in Rockhampton Benevolent Home.
  • An old age pensioner, in 1937 he was living at Thirlmere, NSW, near a sister. She signed his death certificate, which gave his place of birth as Victoria. [Baptismal certificates indicate that he was baptised at Port Augusta, South Australia, at the same time as his younger brother Henry (born in 1862), on 5 November 1865.]

Sources
Stuart Svensen, The Shearers' War: the story of the 1891 shearers' strike (Brisbane, 1989).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Prince, Robert (Bob) (c. 1860–1937)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/prince-robert-bob-32312/text40007, accessed 4 July 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Prince is second from left, bottom row seated]

Qld shearers strike leaders, 1893 [Prince is second from left, bottom row seated]

State Library of Qld, 64845