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Alexis Christian Casimir (c. 1858–1936)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Alexis Christian Casimir, known as Christian Casimir (c.1858-1936), also known by the surname Casimer or Cassimir, teacher, journalist and Socialist activist 

Birth: about 1858 in Port Louis, Mauritius, son of Louis Desire Casimir, a sugar planter of French extraction, and Amanda, née Demiesse or Jusibbite (c.1837-1907). Marriage: 7 July 1902 in St Mary’s Sydney to native-born Alice Edith Clancy (1882-1955). They had one son, Robert Bertram (1903-1997). Death: 7 October 1936 in hospital at Lidcombe State Hospital, Sydney. Religion: Catholic, buried with Anglican rites. 

  • Arrived in Melbourne about 1876, according to his death certificate.
  • A frequent contributor of letters to the editor. The first seems to be in December 1880. In December 1887, describing himself as “a young man of color”, he wrote to the press attacked the prevailing racism in Australia and the “whites’ possession by conquest.
  • From about 1893 he was a dealer and pawn shop proprietor.
  • University educated. Ran a small private school in Carlton, Melbourne. In 1895 was a member of the Carlton branch of the Women’s Franchise League.
  • Co-founder of Victorian socialist paper Tocsin in 1897.
  • Founding secretary of the Victorian Socialists' League (VSL) in 1897 & driving force behind early VSL. Dissuaded by Ben Tillett from resigning from Tocsin group to devote full energies to VSL. Gifted orator, frequently haranguing crowds on Yarra Bank with revolutionary Marxist ideas. Possibly had links with French socialist movement. Corresponded with Marx's daughter Jenny Longuet (Paris).
  • A Police Gazette item in July 1899 charged him on warrant “with failing to pay £13, arrears, for the maintenance of his illegitimate child in the schools. Description: Native of Mauritius, coloured, school teacher, 35 to 40 years of age, 5 feet 5 or 6 inches [165-167.6 cm] high, medium build, small black moustache only, curly hair; speaks English well; fond of making speeches”.
  • Arrived in Brisbane about June 1899 to speak at meetings opposing the Australian federation bill. Also lectured at Rockhampton. Around this time he met Ernest Lane who later wrote: “Someone sent him to me and he became a part of our household. He had the fire and gift of expression of the French. When speaking, or rather expounding, revolutionary principles at our home, he would say, 'Mrs. Lane, do you mind if I stand on a chair? I can speak so much better when I have room to talk.’. . . We would laughingly agree, and it was a sight for the gods to see and hear Cassimir throwing his thunderbolts at the capitalist system and prophesying the early triumph of the workers . . . Cassimir, despite his education, did not hesitate when he could not find any work in Brisbane to go to the fish market, buy fish and sell it in a basket from door to door”.
  • By 1902 he was in Sydney. In the notice of his marriage he is described as “Christian Casimir, BA, editor of Municipal Journal”.
  • Moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, where his son was born. The family had returned to Melbourne by 1906 and he resumed operating a pawn shop. From 1909 to about 1930 electoral rolls describe him living in various places in Victoria. His stated occupations included “financier”, university tutor and teacher. His wife Alice is described as a journalist in 1909-1910.
  • He was a schoolteacher, living at Kensington, Sydney, by 1930. At his death he was an old age pensioner living in Leichhardt. His deceased estate file gave his occupation as university tutor.
  • Cause of death: cerebral haemorrhage.
  • His brother Louis Alexander Casimir (1866-1914), a machinist, was also an office-holder in the VSL, and sometime secretary of the Hawthorn branch of the Political Labor Council.

Sources
Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905, (Sydney, 1985); Ernest Henry Lane (Jack Cade), Dawn to Dusk: reminiscences of a rebel (Brisbane, 1939), pp 60-61 : Dawn to Dusk: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lane-ernest/1939/dawn-dusk/ch02.htm#s5

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Casimir, Alexis Christian (c. 1858–1936)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/casimir-alexis-christian-33215/text41437, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Casimer, Alexis Christian
  • Cassimir, Alexis Christian
Birth

c. 1858
Port Louis, Mauritius

Death

7 October, 1936 (aged ~ 78)
Lidcombe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

stroke

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.

Occupation
Key Organisations
Political Activism