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Sneddon, Peter (1860–1927)

by Chris Cunneen

Peter Sneddon (1860-1927) coal miner, gaoled trade unionist 

Birth: 8 January 1860 at Carnock, Fife, Scotland, son of Peter Sneddon (1835-1920), ironstone miner, and Elizabeth ‘Betsy’, née Anderson (1838-1867). Marriage: 10 August 1889 at St James Church, Wickham, Newcastle, New South Wales, to Emma Dews. They had four daughters and three sons. Marriage dissolved: 26 February 1924. Death: 16 August 1927 in Newcastle hospital, from injures received when he was run over by a horse and cart. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Young Peter worked as an iron stone miner in Carnock before migrating with his father to Australia. Reached Sydney aboard the Orontes in August 1882. The two mining men made for the Newcastle minefields.
  • By February 1892 both were employed at the Northern Colliery at Teralba near Newcastle. Peter junior later worked at Lymington colliery, and lived nearby at Warner’s Bay. Peter senior remarried in 1894. By about 1896 he was unemployed, living on charity, he claimed, and supported by his son.
  • Pugnacious and resourceful, young Sneddon supplemented his miner’s wage by renting out property and later running a fruiterer’s business at Boolaroo. He was active on local issues: secretary in 1902 of the Warner’s Bay progress committee and, for some 25 years, a frequent letter-writer to the press.
  • From about 1908, when he was secretary of the Cardiff miners’ lodge, he was a prominent trade unionist. In that capacity he was one of thirteen delegates to the Peter Bowling-led Colliery Employees’ Federation who were charged before Judge Charles Gilbert Heydon in December 1909 with inciting a strike and on 29 December fined £100, in default two months imprisonment.
  • On 22 February 1910 Sneddon, and eight of his convicted colleagues marched to Newcastle police station, and were taken to Maitland Gaol. He was released on 4 April. Back as secretary of Cardiff miners’ Lodge, he resumed his public activities.
  • His son, Thomas (1894-1970), labourer of Boolaroo, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I on 24 July 1915 and was wounded in action in France. He was discharged in Sydney on 1 January 1920 and returned to Newcastle.
  • By the time of his death in 1927 Peter Sneddon had retired.

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Sneddon, Peter (1860–1927)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/sneddon-peter-32423/text40212, accessed 27 June 2022.

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