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James Thomson (1857–1927)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

James Thomson (1857-1927) miner, trade union official, politician

Birth: 1857 at Ayrshire, Scotland, son of Andrew Thompson [sic], miner, and Mary, née Allison. Marriage: 19 September 1882 in the Registry Office at Lambton, Newcastle, New South Wales, to native-born Lydia Rogers (1861-1945), dressmaker and miner’s daughter. Death: 15 June 1927 at Wallsend, New South Wales. Religion: Presbyterian.

  • Was a miner in Fifeshire, Scotland, from the age of 12, then worked in Lanarkshire.
  • Arrived in New South Wales in 1866 with his brother and sister-in-law. Worked in the Australian Agricultural Company’s mine at the Borehole. Spent six months searching for gold. Also employed at Brown's Minmi mine and at Wallsend, Stockton and Burwood, NSW.
  • A member of the Wallsend lodge, he was active in the Hunter River Miners' Protective Association from about 1888. He was elected president of the association in December 1889, with Thomas Dix as general secretary. Became a member of the Political Labor League [Australian Labor Party]. Unsuccesssfully contested seat of Northumberland for Labor in June 1891 election and resigned presidency soon after.
  • Active in Burwood miners’ lodge in 1892. In July he was elected the miner’s association’s assessor in the Referee’s Court and in December was a founding member of the local branch of the Australian Socialist League and was president of the Merewether branch. Having failed to win Newcastle West in the July 1894 general elections, he consented to oppose the Labor turncoat Joseph Cook in the August ministerial re-election in Hartley.
  • On 24 July 1895 he was elected PLL member of the NSW Legislative Assembly for the seat of Newcastle. From 1895 he held the seat of Newcastle West. In 1899 he was one of the “solid six” who were in favour of Labor breaking away from its alliance with George Reid’s Free Traders. He did not recontest the July 1901 election. In March that year he had been appointed justice of the peace.
  • After leaving parliament he moved to Kurri Kurri, where with others he was an inaugurator of the Cooperative Society, of which he became secretary. In 1906 he was defeated by Amram Lewis in Labor preselection for the State seat of Hunter.
  • For a time he was employed as check-weighman at Hebburn colliery. A “staunch advocate of the miners, he played an important part in many a fight upon their behalf, notably the ones waged against the “dog watch” and the afternoon shift.
  • Sometime secretary of Kurri District hospital committee. Continued as an active member of the ALP. He retired to Wallsend in 1925.
  • He was a long-time member of the Miners’ Home Branch, No. 1175, Hunter River district, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.

N. B. Nairn, Civilising Capitalism: the Labor movement in New South Wales 1870-1900, (Canberra, 1973) pp. 116, 199, 17, 217, 220 & 221; C. N. Connolly, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901 (Canberra, 1983), p 333.

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Thomson, James (1857–1927)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Ayrshire, Scotland


15 June, 1927 (aged ~ 70)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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