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Mervyn Ambrose (Merv) Flanagan (1884–1917)

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This entry is from People Australia

Mervyn Ambrose Leslie Flanagan (1884-1917) groom, clerk and assassinated trade union picket 

Birth: 27 November 1884 at Waterloo, Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born parents John J. Flanagan (1853-1896), a horse-driver of Irish descent, and Susan Laura, née McMahon (1852-1903), whose grandfather Owen McMahon (1788-1866) was an Irish convict. Marriage: 13 March 1905 at St Paul's Church of England, Redfern, Sydney, to Beatrice Stanton. They had four sons. Death: 30 August 1917 at Bridge Rd, Camperdown, Sydney. Religion: Catholic. 

  • In February 1901 found guilty of 'throwing stones' and fined 20 shillings or 7 days imprisonment. In March 1901 fined 5 shillings or 24 hours imprisonment for playing two up. In 1902 found guilty of using indecent language. In April and September 1904 had convictions for being drunk and disorderly and assaulting a police constable. Subsequent convictions for 'riotous' conduct.
  • Worked as groom 1905, general carrier's carter 1909, carrier's clerk 1911 and horse-driver 1917. Member of Trolley, Draymen and Carters' Union.
  • Active in 1917 general strike, although unemployed for a month prior to strike.
  • Shot and killed by Bingara stock and station agent Reginald Wearne in Bridge Road, Camperdown, whilst on picket duty against 'volunteer' drivers (another striker, Henry Williams, was also wounded).
  • Although none of the strikers were armed, Williams and Flanagan's brother, James, who was at the scene, were convicted (September 1917) and imprisoned for three months for 'using violence with intent to prevent Wearne from following his lawful occupation'.
  • Reginald Wearne, brother of W. E. Wearne, member of the Legislative Assembly for Namoi, was found by the City Coroner to have had acted in self-defence and was discharged at the Newtown Police Court of a charge of 'Feloniously Slaying'.
  • Flanagan died leaving no property or assets.

Mark Bray & Andrew Rimmer, Delivering the Goods; the Transport Workers’ Union in New South Wales 1888-1986 (Sydney, 1987); Andrew Moore and Lucy Taksa, ‘Merv Flanagan: the Australian Labour movement’s forgotten martyr’, Hummer, No. 21, 1988.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Flanagan, Mervyn Ambrose (Merv) (1884–1917)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


27 November, 1884
Waterloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


30 August, 1917 (aged 32)
Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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.

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