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Batho, Thomas (Tom) (1869–1932)

Thomas Batho, who died recently at Sydney, was for a number of years associated with H. E. Holland (now Leader of the Opposition in the N.Z. Parliament).

In 1892, along with Joseph O'Byrne ('Enoch Lowe' of the 'Bulletin'), Tom Slattery, and C. M. Barlow, they were engaged in an unsuccessful endeavor to keep alive a radical weekly journal which they launched in Pitt-street, Sydney. A year or so later Holland entered the office of the official Labor paper, 'The Australian Workman', of which he was first foreman printer, and later manager, while Batho, in 1894, was associated with Holman and Hughes in the production of 'The New Order.' 'The Workman' eventually became merged in 'The Australian Worker' (the A.W.U. paper), and 'The New Order' died.

In 1895 Holland and Batho entered into a partnership for the production of 'The Socialist,' and for seven years they struggled against almost insurmountable obstacles. A criminal libel charge (arising out of an attack on the Superintendent of the Labor Bureau in connection with a strike of miners at Lambton) resulted in Holland being fined £50 and Batho £5. Batho's fine was paid, and he endeavored to keep the paper afloat while Holland met his liability by a three months' sojourn at Darlinghurst. When, at the end of 1896, they removed the publishing office of the paper to Newcastle, they carried their plant on the steamer as passengers' luggage.

On arrival at Newcastle, after paying fares and cartage and a week's rent in advance, they had a cash surplus of sixpence on which to start work. They succeeded in getting the paper out, and with the help of a Sydney comp. named Plowright and a Richmond Riverite (Ike Askew), they kept it afloat. Once they made a sustained attack on a big insurance office, and were offered £100 to publish an article explaining that they had been misled. They offered the general secretary of the concern as much space as he required free of charge to answer their charges. That night they worked until 11 o'clock without tea, and Batho walked from Hunter Street West, Newcastle, to his home at Tighe's Hill, and Holland to Lambton. They had no money for either tea or tramfares. During the seven years of their effort, they never averaged more than 25s. a week, and were both married, with young families.

After the tailoresses' strike of 1901, the partnership was severed, and eleven years later Holland came to New Zealand. Batho, whose sight had always been imperfect, in later years became almost blind; but he bought a typewriter and became very proficient as a typist; and up to the time of his death he kept up a fairly regular correspondence with Holland. During the latter's visits to Australia in 1921 and 1926, the two met, and fought the old battles over again.

When Batho's funeral took place, among the many wreaths from the Socialists who had been associated with him in the past, was one from Holland. When he learned of Batho's death, Holland commented that he had paid with his life for his devotion to the Labor and Socialist Movement— that in all Australasia there was no man who had made greater sacrifices for the movement than Batho had done.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • tribute, Labor Daily (Sydney), 2 July 1932, p 6

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Batho, Thomas (Tom) (1869–1932)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/batho-thomas-tom-32199/text39812, accessed 29 January 2022.

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