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Richard Davis (Dick) Shillington (1868–1935)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Richard Davis (Dick) Shillington (1868-1935) gaoled shearer, trade union official, dairyman and shire councillor.

Birth: 10 June 1868 at Old Park, Belfast, Ireland, son of James Shillington, cashier, and Frances Anne, née Davis. Marriage: 13 October 1897 at Opaltown, Queensland, to native-born Helena Annie Eckel (1881-1965). They had six sons and four daughters. Death: 19 November 1935 at Longreach, Queensland. Religion: Methodist. 

  • Arrived about 1875 in Victoria. Spent eighteen months there, before moving to New South Wales then Queensland. Worked as a shearer and on construction of the railway line from Rockhampton to Longreach.
  • An associate of William Kewley, secretary of the Queensland Shearers’ Union, he was elected to the committee of the Longreach branch on its formation in 1892.
  • During the shearers’ strike of 1894, Shillington was arrested at Wellshot and with five others was charged on 23 July with being accessory to the shooting of Charles Ashford at Coombemartin, Ilfracombe. He was held in Rockhampton gaol until 12 September 1894 when a no bill was filed and he was released. Later that day he was re-arrested and charged with intimidation of free labourers. Gave evidence for the defence on 26 September in the trial of Charles Prior who was convicted of shooting Ashford.
  • On 1 October the intimidation charge was withdrawn and Shillington was again discharged, having spent eleven weeks in gaol. He was one of hundreds of the striking shearers’ supporters who were arrested and held in gaols but not sentenced during the shearers strikes of 1891 and 1894 or who were sentenced and gaoled for short terms.
  • Remained active in the Amalgamated Workers Union. In 1896 went to Opalton, where he was prominent in the Progress Association and had success as an opal miner.
  • He returned to Longreach and ran a dairy farm from 1905 till about 1911. Held a machine engine-drivers certificate and was employed by the Longreach and Ilfracombe wool scours for many years.
  • Active in the Australian Labor Party, in 1923 he was elected as a Labor member of Longreach Shire Council, retiring in 1924. Was president of the Western District branch of the Australian Workers’ Union in 1926.
  • A prominent member of Court Pride of the West, Ancient Order of Foresters, Longreach.
  • Was an invalid after he returned ill from a visit to his sister in Essex, England, in 1930.

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Shillington, Richard Davis (Dick) (1868–1935)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


10 June, 1868
Belfast, Antrim, Ireland


19 November, 1935 (aged 67)
Longreach, Queensland, Australia

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