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John Hepher (1850–1932)

Mr. John Hepher, M.L.C, died at his home, Athol-street, Coogee, early yesterday morning, in his 82nd year. He had been in indifferent health for two years.

Born at Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, England, Mr. Hepher came to Australia about fifty years ago. In the nineties he was a keen freetrader, and Mr. (afterwards Sir George) Reid appointed him to the Legislative Council in April, 1899. At the time of his decease he was the "Father of the House," being the oldest member of the Legislative Council. He had been granted six months' leave of absence at the commencement of the last session of the late Lang Government, but was carried into the Chamber to vote for the Mortgage Taxation Bill in the early hours of the day on which the Governor dismissed Mr. Lang.

A tailor by trade, Mr. Hepher was actively associated with the trades union movement. In the early nineties members of the Tailors' Union came out on strike, and after a prolonged conflict were defeated. Mr. Hepher, in company with two other members of the union, launched the Co-operative Tailoring Company (with a nominal capital of £10,000) in Bathurst-street. The business was subsequently transferred to George-street, then back again into Bathurst-street. and ran for several years.

Mr. Hepher was one of the trade union leaders who resolved, after the great maritime strike, to launch a political Labour party in New South Wales, and in 1891 he was elected chairman of the Redfern branch of the Labour Electoral League, which conducted the election campaign on behalf of the two local Labour candidates, Messrs. James McGowen and William Henry Sharp, who were both returned, and Mr. McGowen subsequently became Premier. Mr. Hepher retained the position of chairman of the league for many years. At different times he was president of the Trades and Labour Council, president and one of the trustees of the Eight Hour Committee, and president of the Tailors' Union.

He is survived by Mrs. Hepher, four sons, four daughters, and 14 grandchildren. The funeral will take place this afternoon at 2 o'clock, and the interment will be made in the Church of England portion of the Botany Cemetery.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • photo, Sydney Mail, 22 April 1899, p 924

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Citation details

'Hepher, John (1850–1932)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

John Hepher, 1899

John Hepher, 1899

Sydney Mail, 22 April 1899, p 924

Life Summary [details]


16 October, 1850
Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, England


3 August, 1932 (aged 81)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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