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John Chapman (1839–1927)

Mr. John Chapman, one of the first to be identified with the trades union movement in South Australia, died at his residence, Whitmore-square, on Friday, at the age of 89. He was also a pioneer of the eight hours movement. Born at the village of Airth, near Stirling, Scotland, he arrived in the state in the ship Clara in 1865, and followed his trade as a stonemason for some years, afterwards becoming a contractor and builder, both in this State and in Western Australia. Later he acquired the South Australian firebrick works at Littlehampton, and after managing this business for about 20 years he retired in 1915. More than fifty years ago, when Mr. Chapman was a member of the United Tradesmen's Union, which embraced employes in all the building trades, the matter of reduced hours was discussed. In those days building employes were working ten hours a day for half the year and nine and a half hours during the remainder. The pay was 8/6 per day, and as the conditions were better and the pay higher in Melbourne, where the eight hours principle had been brought into operation, it was decided to try it in this State. The first step in this direction was taken by a deputation, comprising Messrs. Chapman, G. Thompson, and Raffin, who waited on about 73 employers. Later men at Port Adelaide took up the scheme, but it was working there before it was adopted in Adelaide. The following year 48 hours became general among workers, and the agreement was signed by two representatives of employers and employes, of whom Mr. Chapman was one. Mr. Chapman, who lived in Whitmore-square for many years, left one son and three daughters. His wife died eight years ago.

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'Chapman, John (1839–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Slamannan, Stirlingshire, Scotland


25 November, 1927 (aged ~ 88)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (jaw)

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