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William (Bill) Beattie (c. 1886–1972)

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This entry is from People Australia

William Beattie, 1916

William Beattie, 1916

Sydney Mail, 18 October 1916, p 7

William (Bill) Beattie also known as William Beatty (c.1886-1972) gaoled IWW member, Labor activist 

Birth: c. 1886 in England. Marriage: unknown. Death: 1972 in Brisbane. Religion: nominally Anglican. 

  • Beattie was one of the members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), who were arrested and originally charged with treason under the Treason Felony Act (1848) in October 1916. The Tribune later alleged that the presiding judge, Robert Darlow Pring, said to the jury “I do not say that you must not convict, but you ought not to convict”.
  • He was convicted of conspiring to commit arson on uncorroborated evidence. On 2 December 1916 he was sentenced by Pring to fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour . Many in the Australian labour movement believed that the men were framed for their anti-war views and opposition to conscription in World War I.
  • With some of the other IWW members, Beattie was released on 3 August 1920 after a public campaign and an inquiry conducted by Judge Ewing.
  • Beattie worked on Direct Action, proof reading and occasionally translating articles from French.
  • Later assisted Joe Harris in writing The Bitter Fight and remained politically active for the rest of his life. Wrote memoirs for Labour History in 1967. In his own estimation he was ‘no leader, just one of the rank and file’.
  • Lived in North Queensland then came to Brisbane to settle.
  • According to the Tribune, he died in Brisbane in 1972, the last surviving member of the “IWW Twelve”.

Verity Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia (Melbourne 1995); Bill Beattie, Memoirs of the I. W. W. Labour History, vol. 13, November 1967; Recorder, February 1973

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Citation details

'Beattie, William (Bill) (c. 1886–1972)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

William Beattie, 1916

William Beattie, 1916

Sydney Mail, 18 October 1916, p 7

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Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Beatty, William

c. 1886


1972 (aged ~ 86)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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.

Key Organisations
Key Places
Political Activism