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Thomas William (Billy) Teen (1885–1948)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Thomas William (Billy) Teen, also known as Thomas Tehan (1885-1948) hairdresser, Socialist, gaoled IWW member, and labourer

Birth: 9 November 1885 at Hobart, Tasmania, son of native-born Thomas Michael Tehan (1861-1930), labourer and railway worker, and Emily, née McPherson (1861-1953), servant. Marriage: 20 December 1913 in Sacred Heart Church, Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, to Kathleen Ellen McPhee (1886-1962), a cashier born at Dubbo, NSW. They had two sons. Death: 3 December 1948 at Hobart, Tasmania. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Billy Teen’s paternal grandfather, Timothy Teahan or Tehan, from Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, was a convict.
  • By 1913 Teen had moved to Sydney where he was a hairdresser, living in Devonshire Street.
  • He was arrested on 1 October 1916 and charged with others of the ‘IWW Twelve’ that he did “devise, compass, imagine to conspire, to declare war against His Majesty the King”.
  • Convicted at the Central Criminal Court on 2 December 1916 of conspiracy Teen was sentenced by Judge Pring to 10 years hard labour.
  • In March 1917 his conviction and sentence were confirmed on appeal.
  • After a judicial inquiry by Justice Ewing in 1920 found “it was not just and right that this man should have been convicted”, Teen was released from Long Bay Gaol on 2 August 1920.
  • In 1927 he was reported that to have “disappeared from industrial circles altogether”. He had moved with his family to Paddington, Brisbane, where he worked as a knitter. He later returned to Sydney and lived at Redfern, working as a labourer then as a motor driver. By 1943 he was back in Tasmania, living at Hobart and working as a miner and labourer.
  • Cause of death: generalised arteriosclerosis, congestive cardiac failure and uraemia.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Teen, Thomas William (Billy) (1885–1948)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Thomas Teen, 1916

Thomas Teen, 1916

Sydney Mail, 18 October 1916, p 7

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Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Tehan, Thomas William

9 November, 1885
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


3 December, 1948 (aged 63)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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