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William (Billy) Kewley (1844–1906)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

By the death on Friday morning, 23rd ult., of William Kewley, secretary of the Longreach Branch of the A.W.U., the Queensland Labour movement has lost one of its oldest, most faithful, and most trusted officers. For twenty years without interruption he has efficiently carried out the secretarial work of one of our great Western Unions. In 1886, the Queensland Shearers' Union was established, with its headquarters in Blackall and 'Billy' Kewley was elected its first secretary. When the amalgamation of the Shearers and Labourers' Unions was effected some six years later, and the organisation divided into branches, he was appointed to the same position in the Longreach Branch of the new organisation, which he held right up to the time of his death. By his close attention to duty, his honesty of purpose, and his unswerving loyalty to the Movement, whether in its indusrtrial or political struggles, much of the success which has been achieved is due. Mr. Hinchcliffe, who has been in close connection with him as secretary of the A.L.F. for the past seventeen years, speaks in the highest terms of praise of his promptitude in the execution of his secretarial duties, and testifies to his invaluable aid in building up the organisation and its official mouthpiece 'The Worker.' For several years he held the office of president to the A.L.F., and frequently represented his branch at State and Interstate Conventions. He arrived in Queensland in 1861, and ever since has been a resident of the Central district. At one time he held the position of alderman on the Blackall Town Council, and as a member of the Longreach Hospital committee he took a keen and an active interest in its welfare.

For several months he had suffered acutely from an internal trouble. Three months ago he was granted leave of absence and came to Brisbane, spending a little time at the Tweed Heads. He returned to Longreach feeling somewhat benefited by the change, and resumed his duties, but only to find that he was absolutely forced to abandon them again. He came to Brisbane last month with his eldest daughter (Mrs. M. Hack) to take the best available medical advice, only to find that professional aid was of no avail, and after two or three weeks he returned to Longreach, having made up his mind that the end was not far off.

Mr. Kewley died on his 62nd birthday, and leaves behind a wife, two married daughters, one married son, and several grandchildren, all living in Longreach. He was generally respected, and the news of his death elicited messages of sympathy from many parts of the Commonwealth and from persons of all shades of political opinion.

His funeral took place on Friday afternoon, and the cortege was the longest ever witnessed in that great Western centre. It was headed by the Town band, which played the 'Dead March,' while members of the Oddfellows' Lodge, over 100 members of the A.W.U., and members of other societies also took part in the sad procession. The remains were laid to rest in the Longreach Cemetery.

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Citation details

'Kewley, William (Billy) (1844–1906)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 April 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Billy Kewley, n.d.

Billy Kewley, n.d.

from Worker (Brisbane), 1 Dec 1906

Life Summary [details]


23 November, 1844
Douglas, Isle of Man, England


23 November, 1906 (aged 62)
Longreach, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (stomach)

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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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