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Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

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Maurice Joseph (Joe) Fagan (c. 1875–1938)

by Bob Bessant

Please accept my thanks for giving me this opportunity of publicly expressing regret for the death of one of my comrades—Joe Fagin [Maurice Joseph Fagan].

Twenty-two years ago, Judge Pring, with the assistance of renegade Billy Hughes and others, railroaded Joe and others of us on a framed-up charge.

The I.W.W., which we were members of, exposed the imperialist nature of the Great War and led the struggle against conscription.

Thousands rallied behind the I.W.W. on the conscription issue.

This interfered with the war plans of the government—hence the frame-up to smash the spearhead of the struggle.

Joe's share of the savage sentences handed out by Pring, who almost expressed regret that he could not hang the lot of us, was 45 years penal servitude.

The four years gaol, under particularly harsh conditions (rotten food and isolation for two years from other prisoners) undoubtedly hastened the deaths of Joe, Tom Glynn and Peter Larkln and undermined the health of others.

Gaol to the strongest of us is not pleasant. It must have been hell for Joe Fagin and others whose health was poor when sentenced—particularly as the medical attention amounted mainly to a dose of salts.

Born in Russia, Joe arrived in this country after year's of hard life in different parts of the world. Generous to a fault, he would share his last sixpence with a friend. A fearless fighter, with every confidence in the ability of the working class to lead the masses to a better life, Joe's one regret was his inability to visit the land of his birth to witness the tremendous advancement made under workers' rule.

A fighter has fallen in the struggle for a better world. Close the ranks! The greatest honor that can be done for Joe Fagin and others who have fallen in the fight is to strengthen the Party with thousands of Joe Fagins.

Original publication

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Citation details

Bob Bessant, 'Fagan, Maurice Joseph (Joe) (c. 1875–1938)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Fagin, Morris Joseph

c. 1875
Mogilev, Belarus


12 July, 1938 (aged ~ 63)
North Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.

Key Places
Political Activism