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Thomas John (Jack) Smith (1878–1969)

This article was published:

Jack Smith, caricature by Dick Ovenden, 1923

Jack Smith, caricature by Dick Ovenden, 1923

Labor Call (Melbourne), 20 September 1923, p 10

Thomas John (Jack) Smith (1878-1969) barman, clerk, trade union leader and Labor activist 

Birth: 23 June 1878 at Stratford, Essex, England, son of John Robert Smith, hotel keeper, and Elizabeth, née Humpton. Marriage: (1) first wife died in 1904. They had one daughter. (2) 6 January 1913 at Fitzroy, Victoria, with Congregational forms, to native-born Elizabeth Williams (1887-1941). They had three daughters and four sons. (3) 1942 in Melbourne to a widow with two children, native-born Nellie Marion, née Gregory, late Oscar (1892-1983). Death: 13 June 1969 in Greenslades Private Hospital, Henley Beach, South Australia. 

  • Educated at Berner Street, London, County Council School. Officer, Brewers Wine and Spirit Merchants Aerated Waters Employees’ Industrial Union of Workers in 1909 and recruited members.
  • Moved to New Zealand, where he worked as a barman. Organised hotel employees there and was blacklisted, so travelled to Australia about 1899. Worked as a barman at Young and Jackson’s Hotel, Melbourne, and joined the Hotel & Caterers’ Employees Union.
  • Dismissed from employment as a result of activities in representing his union on first Wages Board. Became organiser, Hotel & Caterers’ Employees Union, in 1910 and recruited new members, with 1200 during first 12 months.
  • Organiser, Victorian Branch Federated Clerks Union 1914. Foundation member of union and federal secretary of the Clerks’ Union from 1914 to 1916, and from 1917 to 1941 (when he retired on account of ill health).
  • Attended first Federal Clerks Conference in Adelaide as General Secretary in 1915. Prominent in the anti-conscription campaign.
  • Long-term secretary of the Victorian branch of the Federated Clerk’s Union from 1914. Honorary secretary Salaried Officers’ Association to 1941.
  • Representative from Clerk’s Union on Trades Hall Council. President of the Trades Hall Council in 1915 and unemployment officer; member of the Building Committee; member of the Disputes Committee.
  • Representative from the Clerks’ Union on Eight-Hour Committee. President of the Eight-Hour Committee in 1915.
  • Vice-president of the North Coburg ALP Branch in 1938. President of the Ferntree Gully ALP Branch in 1944-46.
  • Late in life moved to Henley Beach, South Australia.
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia (10 days), ischaemic heart disease (3 years) and congestive cardiac failure (3 months).

, June 1960 p 7, June 1969; Merrifield Card Index State Library of Victoria, Melbourne; A E Davies Papers MUA; Labor Call, 20 March 1941; Australian Worker, 3 October 1923 p 1.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Labor Call (Melbourne), 20 September 1923, p 10
  • profile, Labor Call (Melbourne), 20 March 1941, p 7

Citation details

'Smith, Thomas John (Jack) (1878–1969)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 1 March 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jack Smith, caricature by Dick Ovenden, 1923

Jack Smith, caricature by Dick Ovenden, 1923

Labor Call (Melbourne), 20 September 1923, p 10

Life Summary [details]


23 June, 1878
Stratford, Essex, England


13 June, 1969 (aged 90)
Henley Beach, Adelaide, South Australia, 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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism