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Edmund Harry Gray (1878–1964)

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This entry is from People Australia

Broken Hill defendants, 1909 [Gray is second from right, front row]

Broken Hill defendants, 1909 [Gray is second from right, front row]

Leader (Melbourne), 1 May 1909, p 23

Edmund Harry Gray (1878-1964) baker, arrested trade union supporter, Labor politician 

Birth: 5 September 1878 at Upper Stratton St Margaret, Wiltshire, England, son of George Gray, ganger/factory labourer, and Willmot, née Barnett. Marriage: 5 June 1906 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, to a widow, Fanny Munn, née Williams. They had two sons and two daughters. Death: 9 June 1964 at East Fremantle, Western Australia. Religion: Presbyterian (nominal) 

  • Educated at council schools in Swindon to age of 14. Apprenticed in Swindon, baker and confectioner; moved to Hull where he worked in a bakery. Became steward on USA ocean liner, served on several ships.
  • Harry Gray arrived in South Australia in 1898 on a cargo boat; employed at Port Pirie smelting works, then walked to Broken Hill in 1899 where he worked in a timber mill; then opened a bakery and catering business. Actively supported miners during the lockout of 1908-9 by halving the cost of loaves of bread, extending credit to impecunious strikers.
  • Joined Socialist Party and was strongly influenced by Tom Mann. Arrested in January 1909 and charged with obstructing constables in the execution of their duty. Tried with Mann and others before Judge Pring at Albury on 30 April and released when jury disagreed on verdict.
  • Moved to Western Australia in 1910 and became a farmer at Toolbrunup and shifted to Perth in 1919. Organiser for Westralian Farmers Co-op. 1920 became tally clerk on Fremantle wharf. Lived in Claremont till 1926 then East Fremantle. Member Operative Bakers’ Union; secretary, Tally Clerks’ Union; life member Coastal, Dock, River and Harbour Workers’ Union.
  • During Depression was secretary, Fremantle Married Men’s Relief Committee, later chairman WA Committee. Chairman Fremantle Hospital Board 1936-46. Active in community life.
  • Member East Fremantle Municipal Council 1927-November 1946.  Delegate from Operative Bakers’ Union to Australian Labor Party District Council.
  • Member of the Legislative Council of WA, for West Province 1923-1952. Minister without Portfolio 1936-47. Labor leader in Legislative Council in later years. Especially engaged as parliamentarian with issues that affected infant welfare, provision of free milk to schools.

David Black and Geoffrey Bolton (eds), Biographical register of members of the parliament of Western Australia (Perth, 1990); Papers in Labour History (Perth), 4, 1989; Westralian Worker, 31 Aug 1923, 29 April 1938. 

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Citation details

'Gray, Edmund Harry (1878–1964)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Broken Hill defendants, 1909 [Gray is second from right, front row]

Broken Hill defendants, 1909 [Gray is second from right, front row]

Leader (Melbourne), 1 May 1909, p 23

Life Summary [details]


5 September, 1878
Stratton St Margaret, Wiltshire, England


9 June, 1964 (aged 85)
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

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