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John Richard Talbot (1835–1905)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

John Richard (Jack) Talbot (1835-1905) iron moulder, tobacconist and trade union official

Birth: 1835 at Cork, Ireland, son of Richard Talbot, shipwright, and Julia, née Bradley. Marriage: 14 July 1856 in parish church of St Paul, Bermondsey, London, England, to Catherine Mary Finegan (1828-1907). They had two daughters and three sons. Two children died in childhood, two sons predeceased him. Death: 5 October 1905 at his residence, Flinders Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Left London for NSW about 1861 under engagement to P. N. Russell & Co; took charge of the company’s foundry department. Unable to obtain employment after participating in an 8-hours’ strike, he sought to make his fortune on various goldfields, eventually returning to the service of his old firm.
  • Talbot was one of the principal founders, and first president, of the Friendly Trade Society of Iron Moulders of NSW organised in 1872 [later Federated Iron-moulders Union) and had taken a hand in the formation of the first society in 1862. In 1874-75 he was prominent in the big strike over the “one break” system.
  • Represented ironmoulders’ society in the Trades and Labor Council and was the society’s delegate at various intercolonial labor conferences. Sometime president of the Labor Council, he was active in forming the Trades-hall Association and in the initiation of the first trades congress, held in Sydney in 1879.
  • One of the original land and financial trustees for Sydney Trades Hall in 1884. In October 1891 he was presented with a gold watch and an illuminated address in appreciation of his services. The moulders also presented Mr Talbot with a very neat present in the shape of a reticule for Mrs Talbot.
  • When an accident to his foot prevented him from following his trade as an iron moulder, he was able to devote more time to the labour cause, while it seems his wife and he ran a tobacconist shop, first in Bathurst street, Sydney, then at Flinders Street, Darlinghurst.
  • On his death, he was described as “oldest trade unionist in the State”. One obituarist praised him as “a diplomatic democrat”.
  • Cause of death: chronic nephritis and senile decay.
  • A tablet to his memory was unveiled at Sydney Trades Hall in March 1907.

This person appears as a part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6. [View Article]

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Talbot, John Richard (1835–1905)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Cork, Cork, Ireland


5 October, 1905 (aged ~ 70)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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