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John Allen Beckwith (1863–1926)

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This entry is from People Australia

John Allen Beckwith (1863-1926) butcher, trade union leader 

Birth: 26 September 1863 in Chelsea, London, England, son of William Sykes Beckwith, journeyman butcher, and Sarah Maria, née Herbert. Marriage: 18 January 1893 by Charles Strong at the Australian Church, Melbourne, Victoria, to Charlotte Ann Cooke. They had two sons and a daughter. Death: 21 December 1926 in Melbourne Hospital. 

  • Migrated to Australia from London with brother, Bill, having left family butchery business. Worked passage to Australia as cook.
  • Founder and first president, Victorian Amalgamated Butchers’ Union from 1890 to 1900.
  • Founder of Anti-Sweating League, Victoria. Responsible for Wages Board system. One of six employees’ representatives on board whose determination regarding butchers came into operation on 1 January 1901.
  • Sacked by employer for role in this labour legislation. Started own butcher’s shop in Toorak, then Fitzroy. Later bought out former employer’s premises in North Fitzroy.
  • President, Master Butchers’ Association. Only man to have been president of both union and employers’ association.
  • Died of head injuries after being struck down by a motor car.

A. E. Davies, The Meat Workers Unite (Melbourne, 1974). 

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Citation details

'Beckwith, John Allen (1863–1926)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


21 December, 1926 (aged ~ 63)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

pedestrian accident

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