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Samuel Shearer (1874–1938)

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Samuel Shearer (1874-1938) seaman, shipwright and gaoled trade union leader 

Birth: 7 February 1874 in Belfast, Ireland, third son of Samuel Shearer and Elizabeth, née Collins. Marriage: 11 June 1902 at Fort William Presbyterian church, Belfast, Ireland, to Martha Jane Minford. They had five daughters and two sons. Death: 13 July 1938 in hospital at Kogarah, Sydney, New South Wales. Religion: Presbyterian.

  • Seafarer from early in life. First came to Australia in 1902. Arrived with wife and family and settled in Sydney in 1911.
  • Worked at Cockatoo Island. Shearer was among the first batch of shipwrights to work at Walsh Island in 1912.
  • Acting secretary of the Shipwrights Union 1916, federal secretary 1918, State secretary 1919.
  • Was one of the seven men charged in the “Port Lyttelton conspiracy’ or “Coffin ship” case. The trade unionists were charged with having conspired to pervert the course of justice by declaring the steamer Port Lytellton “black”. Judge Edwards refused to grant bail on remand so the defendants were imprisoned for two nights in Long Bay gaol before they were acquitted on 23 July 1924.
  • Retired as secretary of the Federated Shipwrights’Association, NSW branch, in 1934, succeeded by R. S. Jackson.
  • Shearer was a member of the Masonic Lodge Woronora No. 414, United Grand Lodge of NSW.
  • Died from injuries received after having fallen from a ladder at his neighbour’s home at Mortdale.

Labor Daily
, 13 January 1927, p 8:

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'Shearer, Samuel (1874–1938)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


7 February, 1874
Belfast, Antrim, Ireland


13 July, 1938 (aged 64)
Kogarah, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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