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William Henry Sharp (1842–1929)

Mr. William Henry Sharp, one of the last of the political veterans who assisted the birth of the political Labour party, has died at his residence in Mosman. He was 85 years old.

Mr. Sharp had been newly elected to the presidency of the Trades and Labour Council when the momentous election of 1891 was held just after the unsuccessful maritime strike. He stood for Redfern, and was returned for that seat, together with J. S. McGowen (Labour) and H. Hoyle and W. Schey (Protectionists). He presided at the first caucus meeting of the new party, at which a committee of management was appointed to guide its destinies until a leader was selected. Mr. Sharp was a member of the committee.

When Sir (then Mr.) George Reid moved his censure motion against the Dibbs Ministry, on the ground that the tariff should not be altered until the electors had been consulted on the "one man-one vote" question, Mr. Sharp, with 17 other members of the party, voted with the Government, which carried the day. The first annual Labour conference, held shortly afterwards, expelled them. He was an officer of the Typographical Association.

Mr. Sharp toured New South Wales with Sir George Grey, ex-Governor and at that time Premier of New Zealand, in advocacy of the "one man-one vote" principle. In later years, however, he held that while every man should be entitled to a vote, some qualification for voting should be required.

He came of an old Dorset family, and had an extensive knowledge of English folk-lore and early London history. A widow and three sons survive him.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • profile, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 30 June 1891, p 3
  • profile, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 28 June 1894, p 5
  • tribute, Leader (Orange, NSW), 14 October 1929, p 4

Citation details

'Sharp, William Henry (1842–1929)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 July, 1842
London, Middlesex, England


4 October, 1929 (aged 87)
Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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.

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Key Organisations
Political Activism