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Charles Harris (1857–1909)

from Labor Call

The death of Mr. Charles Harris, for sixteen years secretary of the Eight Hours' Anniversary Committee, which occurred at his home in South Yarra, after a long and painful illness, which he bore with great fortitude, removes one of the foremost figures from the ranks of organised Labor.

Mr. Harris was born in South Australia in 1857, and migrated to Melbourne in 1882, about the same time as his colleague, friend, and successor, Mr. John Hyman, arrived in Victoria from London. These two men plunged at once into the heart of the Labor movement, and almost simultaneously joined the Trades' Hall Council and the Eight Hours' Committee.

Mr. W. E. Murphy, in his "History of the Eight Hours' Movement," notes that, in 1896, Mr. Hyman was president and Mr. Harris (late treasurer) was secretary. Mr. Harris will always be remembered as a first-rate organiser and administrator, but it was as a friend that he was most valued. Few men can honestly and capably discharge the duties of such high positions as he held without making enemies, but he accomplished that feat. He was the living embodiment of the Chestertieldian motto, "Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re."

He is mourned by everyone who knew him. To be his acquaintance was to be his friend. His funeral was attended by all the prominent officers of the Trades' Hall Council, Eight Hours' Committee, and Political Labor Council, and by representatives of the Federal and State Labor Parliamentary parties.

Among the members of Mr. Harris's family at the graveside was his mother, who, in her 88th year, travelled from Adelaide to be present at his bedside in his latest hours. Supported by two of her grandsons, the old lady was one of the last to see the dead Labor leader's coffin. The disease which cut Mr. Harris off is a preventable one, and the general regret at his early demise is precisely expressed in a Shaksperian line—slightly altered—He "sh'ould have died hereafter."

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Charles Harris

Additional Resources

  • profile, Weekly Times (Melbourne), 25 June 1898, p 13
  • profile, Tocsin (Melbourne), 21 April 1898, p 8
  • profile, Tocsin (Melbourne), 23 April 1903, p 11

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Harris, Charles (1857–1909)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Charles Harris, 1899

Charles Harris, 1899

Tocsin (Melbourne), 20 April 1899, p 5

Life Summary [details]


Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


19 August, 1909 (aged ~ 52)
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (lymphoma)

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 Organisations