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Aubin, Edward (Ted) (1872–1943)

by Chris Cunneen

This entry is from People Australia

Edward (Ted) Aubin (1872-1943), miner and trade union leader, was born in Redcar, Yorkshire, England, in 1872, eldest of nine children of Dring William Aubin (1846-1896), Lincolnshire-born ironstone miner, and Mary Ann Cummins whom Dring Aubin married the following year.[1] Following his father and uncle, who both emigrated to Queensland in 1885, Ted arrived in Sydney on 23 January 1887 in the SS Port Victor with his mother and his three surviving siblings – a sister was born in 1888.[2] The family settled in Charlestown, Newcastle, where Ted enjoyed playing cricket, Australian Rules football and competitive quoits while working in nearby mines: the Great Northern at Lake Macquarie, Raspberry Gully (Charlestown), Burwood Coal Company at the Glebe, Dudley and “New Lannock” [? probably New Lambton]. By 1894 he was working at Minmi.[3]. Though his father was a drinker, Ted joined the Sons of Temperance. He was also a member of the Grand United Order of Free Gardeners Lodge Mignonette and entertained his Masonic mates singing comic songs.[4] 

Following a miners’ strike at Minmi in 1895 Ted moved to Western Australia where he worked as a miner at Southern Cross. Here he married Perth-born Theresa Cicely Marchant in 1897. Later he was employed for over two years at the Proprietary Company mine, Collie. He was president of the Collie River Miners’ Union of Workers and founded and was president of the General Workers’ Union, in Perth.[5] In Perth in July 1903 he was installed in the GUO Free Gardeners White Rose Lodge, No 4.[6] Moving back to New South Wales with his wife and five children in 1908, he settled at Minmi, and resumed work as a miner. He was active in the Back Creek and Duckenfield miners’ lodge as treasurer and auditor,[7] honorary secretary of the Minmi Progress Association and president of the local branch of the Political Labor League. 

By 1912 Ted had moved to Weston, near Kurri Kurri, in the Hunter River coalfields, where he and his family remained for the rest of his life and he worked in the Australian Agricultural Company’s Hebburn colliery. He immediately became involved in the colliery’s miners’ lodge, being elected auditor and committee-member in June.[8] A fellow lodge-official was Ernest Peters. In the following forty years Aubin filled many roles in Hebburn Lodge, including chairman, president, committeeman, weighman, auditor and cavil scrutineer. He was also a long-time member of the local branch of the Australian Labor Party. In 1913 subscribers of the Kurri Kurri District Hospital elected him president and, with the exception of 1918 & 1919, he held that honorary position every year until 1935. Re-elected to the hospital board in 1938 he was made life-member in 1941.[9] 

Aubin went back to Western Australia in July and August 1914 as a delegate from the Newcastle district miners, speaking in numerous centres in the State and collecting for the out-of-work relief fund.[10] Shortly after his return, on 18 September, he suffered horrific injuries in an accident when he was struck by a train near his home, leaving him with injuries to his head, one leg crushed and his left arm severed. He spent about four months as a convalescent in Kurri Kurri hospital. One-armed for the rest of his life, thereafter he walked with the aid of a cane. But he was undaunted.

Ambitious to participate in the union movement beyond Kurri Kurri, from 1915 to 1919[11] Aubin was vice-president of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees’ [Miners’] Federation, though J. M. Baddeley, president and A. C. Willis, general secretary were the driving figures. Aubin followed them into the “One Big Union” movement and with Arthur Teece of nearby Abermain and others was elected council member of the Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia northern branch in January 1922.[12] He remained a W.I.U. of A. committee-member until Hebburn No 1. Lodge was expelled from the Miners’ Federation in August 1930.[13] 

Events at Rothbury colliery on 16 December 1929, at which miner Norman Laurence Brown was shot and later died, had brought Aubin to national press attention in January 1930 when he was accused of being armed with a weapon of offence at an unlawful assembly. When the court discovered that he was an elderly, grey-haired, one-armed gentleman with an injured leg, who walked with a stick, the charge was reduced to attending an unlawful assembly, for which he was fined £5.[14] Despite an appeal, where he was represented by H. V. Evatt, the conviction was upheld. 

Ted Aubin was among the most prominent men in his town, always ready to preside or perform at a public meeting or concert, or propose a toast at a banquet, or present a 21st birthday gift or attend a funeral of a fellow citizen. In World War I, though an anti-conscriptionist, he presided over welcomes home of returning servicemen. With school-age children in the 1920s (his youngest was born in 1917) Aubin was a leading light in the local Parents’ and Citizens’ association. Later he was active in the local branch of the Pensioners’ Association. In August 1927 the Labor government of Jack Lang appointed him Justice of the Peace.[15] He also belonged to the Independent Order of Oddfellows’ Weston Lodge and contributed to its musical programmes.[16] 

In July 1933 Ted’s wife Mary Ann, who was “of a retiring disposition”, died of a heart attack. He remained active and, in his late-sixties, “still a splendid figure [he retained] the same soldierly appearance”.[17] In 1941, at Rozelle, he married Ella Marsden Cooper, forewoman (1876-1947). She and the ten children of his first marriage survived him when he died at Kurri Kurri Hospital on 3 February 1944.

[1] He seems to have been registered as the son of Mary Ann Cummins. See Immigration Deposit Journal 1886 p. 203 microfilm 5266 and birth registration Dec quarter 1872 Guisbr’o District Vol 9d page 466: both documents accessed through Ancestry.com 9 Jun 2021 at https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/20832816/person/1029231715/facts

[2] Sydney Morning Herald, 24 January 1887, p.8.

[3] Southern Times (Bunbury), 22 Dec 1904 p.3.

[4] Newcastle Morning Herald, 23 Nov 1889, p.3, 25 May 1892, p.3, 9 June 1892, p.1, 4 Nov 1892 p.3, 8 March 1893, p.3 & 28 April 1893.

[5] Collie Miner (WA), 17 July 1906, p.2, Worker (Wagga Wagga), 6 Feb 1908, p.24.

[6] West Australian, 3 July 1903, p.4.

[7] Newcastle Morning Herald, 1 June 1910, p.6.

[8] Newcastle Morning Herald, 24 June 1912, p.6

[9] Newcastle Morning Herald, 16 May 1941, p.13.

[10] Southern Times (Bunbury), 29 August 1914, p.7.

[11] Maitland Daily Mercury, 13 Oct 1915, p.4.

[12] Newcastle Morning Herald, 21 December 1921, p.3, and Sun (Newcastle), 8 January 1922, p.1.

[13] Newcastle Morning Herald, 9 August 1930, p.10.

[14] Newcastle Morning Herald, 21 January 1930, p.5, & 7 March 1930, p.9, Labor Daily, 21 January 1930, p.5,

[15] NSW Government Gazette, 19 August 1927 p.4074.

[16] Newcastle Morning Herald, 17 August 1921, p. 8, 8 July 1933, p.11.

[17] Cessnock Eagle, 24 November 1939, p.9.

Original Publication

Other Entries for Edward (Ted) Aubin

Additional Resources

  • funeral notice, Newcastle Morning Herald (NSW), 4 February 1943, p 2

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Aubin, Edward (Ted) (1872–1943)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/aubin-edward-ted-25593/text39434, accessed 18 October 2021.

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