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Williams, John (?–?)

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John Williams (?-?) tailor in Hobart Official of Journeyman Tailors' union (Hobart) 1840s-1850s, and anti-transportation activist. 

Birth: unknown Marriage: unknown Death: unknown. 

  • In April 1847 Williams, with William Jeffrey, was appointed as working-class delegate to mass anti-transportation protest meeting, and with Jeffrey and others, appointed as a designated representative of his trade society to a Free Working Class Committee responsible for co-ordinating operatives' petition to British Crown and Parliament. At public meeting he stated that his union had driven convict 'probationers' from the principal tailoring establishments by demonstrating that they were less efficient than free labour.
  • Instrumental, with Jeffrey and others, in formation in May-June 1847 of 'Hobart Town Trades Union' to agitate against probation system and transportation; Oct. 1847, addressed Union-sponsored meeting on transportation, disclaiming any harsh feeling towards convicts but demanding fair play.
  • In 1850, supported Jeffrey's campaign to have anti-transportation meetings adopt a stringent pledge against employment of convict labour; with Jeffrey, elected to Anti-Transportation League Committee (Aug.-Sept. 1850); exhorted workers to interest themselves in politics and return sympathetic candidates at first elections for new Tasmanian Legislative Assembly. 

Michael Roe, Quest for Authority in Eastern Australia, 1835-1851, (Parkville 1965) , p.100; Michael Quinlan, Hope amidst hard times: working class organisation in Tasmania 1830-1850. (University of New South Wales, Kensington) 1986; Quinlan, M. & Gardner, M. (1990), ‘Researching Australian Industrial Relations in the Nineteenth Century’, in Patmore, G. (ed.), History and Industrial Relations, Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Teaching. Monograph No.1, pp.60-98; Quinlan, M. (2018), The Origins of Worker Mobilisation. Australia 1788-1850, Routledge, NY and London, esp pp.270-75.

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Citation details

'Williams, John (?–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/williams-john-32445/text40241, accessed 26 November 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012