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John Bridges (Jack) Crombie (1868–1932)

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This entry is from People Australia

John Bridges (Jack) Crombie (1868-1932) tailor and trade union leader 

Birth: 6 August 1868 in Edinburgh, Scotland, son of William Crombie (1837-1892), stonemason, and Jane, née Bridges (1838-?). Marriage: 1909 in Sydney, New South Wales, to native-born May Winifred McNamara (1885-1932). They had five daughters and three sons. Death: 3 September 1932 at Petersham in Sydney. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Came to New South Wales with his parents and siblings in the 1880s. Worked as a coat-hand in a first class 'order' shop in Sydney.
  • Secretary, NSW branch of the Federated Clothing Trades' Union (FCTU) in 1911. Federal secretary of the FCTU from 1911 to 1913, being replaced by Victorian branch secretary Bert Carter in atmosphere of rivalry between NSW and Victorian branches.
  • Was instrumental in temporary withdrawal of NSW unions from federation from 1914 to 1917, and was secretary of the Tailors and Tailoresses' Union (NSW) in that period.
  • Secretary of re-established NSW branch of FCTU in 1917, retaining position until 1923. Unsuccessfully opposed election of branch delegates to Sydney One Big Union in 1918. Policies motivated by desire to defend position of male craft workers, with little concern for problems of tailoresses.
  • By 1920 there was increasing concern about his administration of branch. In 1921 he failed to attend FCTU Federal Council. In 1922 official complaints were laid by four branch organisers including Bill Gibb and Peter Fallon. He was also formally censured by federal secretary Bert Carter.
  • 'Retired' in January 1923.
  • Had been appointed Justice of the Peace in 1912.

Bradon Ellem, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (Sydney 1989.

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Citation details

'Crombie, John Bridges (Jack) (1868–1932)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


6 August, 1868
Edinburgh, Scotland


3 September, 1932 (aged 64)
Petersham, Sydney, New South Wales, 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.

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