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John Richard Talbot (1835–1905)

from Australian Star

Sydney trade unionists have lost one of the foremost trade unionists in their ranks by the death of Mr John R. Talbot. The end to what had been a painful illness came last night, and when this morning the news of his death reached the Trades Hall there were genuine manifestations of the deep regret felt for the loss of the sturdy old unionist in his 72nd year.

Time was when 'Jack' Talbot was one of the last men whom the labour movement could have afforded to lose. That was before the advent of arbitration as we know it now, when the workers might have been plunged into many a strike but for the tact and cool-headedness of men like old Jack Talbot.

Talbot was a 'diplomatic democrat,' was the apt description applied to him by an old acquaintance this morning.

In all public movements affecting the welfare of the masses Mr Talbot was at all times a ready and willing worker. Always in touch with the feelings of his fellow-unionists, he could be relied upon to give expression to their opinions when occasions demanded it.

For many years past he had been prevented through an accident to his foot from following his trade as an ironmoulder, a circumstance which some years ago enabled him to devote much more time to the labour cause than would otherwise have been possible.

Mr Talbot left London under engagement to P. N. Russel and Co., of Sydney. In the following year he took part in the eight hours' strike, being one of the first to quit work at Russell's foundry. It was owing chiefly to his action on this occasion that he was unable to obtain employment at the trade for some years, during which time he sought to make his fortune on various goldfields. His experience of the diggings, however, did not pan out very profitably, and eventually he returned to his old firm.

Mr. Talbot was one of the principal founders of the Ironmoulders' Society, which was organised in October, 1872, and was also one of those who took part in the formation of the first society in '62, the existence of which proved so brief.

Besides having frequently filled the presidential chair and other offices in his own society Mr. Talbot represented his fellow craftsmen on the old Trades and Labour Council, and at various Intercolonial labour congresses. He took an active part in forming the Trades Hall Association, and energetically assisted in the initiation of the first trades congress, held in Sydney, in 1879.

A few years before that however, in 1874-5, he figured prominently in the great strike over the "one break" system. This was one of the severest conflicts between capital and labour that have ever occurred in the southern hemisphere. The men were out of employment for a considerable period, and daily during the strike the engineers, ironmoulders, boilermakers, and other tradesmen were wont to gather in Hyde Park in response to the roll-call, and to devise steps for continuing the struggle! Men with wives and families lived upon 15s a week rather than surrender, and many single men went without any financial aid whatever. The dispute ended in a compromise, the men taking two meal hours in summer and one in winter.

The funeral is announced to leave the deceased's late residence, 13 Flinders-street Darlinghurst, to-morrow afternoon, at 1 o'clock, for the Rookwood Cemetery.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for John Richard Talbot

Citation details

'Talbot, John Richard (1835–1905)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Cork, Cork, Ireland


5 October, 1905 (aged ~ 70)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

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