Josiah Thomas

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The Honourable
Josiah Thomas
Josiah Thomas.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Barrier
In office
29 March 1901 – 26 March 1917
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Michael Considine
Senator for New South Wales
In office
1 July 1917 – 30 June 1923
In office
14 November 1925 – 30 June 1929
Personal details
Born (1863-04-28)28 April 1863
Camborne, UK
Died 5 February 1933(1933-02-05) (aged 69)
Croydon Park, New South Wales
Nationality Cornish Australian
Political party Labor (1901–17)
Nationalist (1917–29)
Spouse(s) 1) Henrietta Lee Ingleby (died 1901)
2) Clara Ingleby
Occupation Miner

Josiah Thomas (28 April 1863 – 5 February 1933) was an Cornish Australian miner and politician.

Thomas was born in Camborne, Cornwall, UK and went to Mexico as a child with his father and later worked in mines in Cornwall. He travelled to Australia in the mid-1880s and worked at the Barrier Range, near Broken Hill. He was appointed as a member of a royal commission on collieries in 1886 and worked as a mining captain and assayer in 1890. He married Henrietta Lee Ingleby in July 1889 and they subsequently had two sons and one daughter.[1][2]

Thomas was elected to the executive of the Amalgamated Miners' Association (AMA) in July 1891 and became president of its Broken Hill branch in 1892. He was a member of the Defence Committee formed during the 1892 Broken Hill miners' strike. As a result of his criticism of the magistracy in relation to the arrest of eight fellow committee-members on conspiracy charges, he was dismissed as a Justice of the Peace. The mining companies refused to give him work and he had to take up labouring, although as president of the AMA, he was appointed to a New South Wales Legislative Assembly inquiry into lead poisoning at the mines in 1892.[1]

Political career[edit]

Thomas was elected as the Labor Party member for Alma, covering part of Broken Hill in the Legislative Assembly in 1894,[2] where he campaigned for improvements to workplace health and safety. He opposed the bills for the federation of Australia because he considered their referenda provisions inadequate.[1]

Thomas was elected to the Australian House of Representatives in the inaugural election in 1901 for the seat of Barrier. He was appointed Postmaster-General in Andrew Fisher's first ministry from November 1908 to June 1909 and his second ministry from April 1910 to October 1911, when he became Minister for External Affairs on the death of Lee Batchelor until the defeat of the government in June 1913. He visited England as a member of the Imperial Parliamentary Association in 1916 and was thus absent during Labor's split over conscription. On his return he joined Billy Hughes' Nationalist Party of Australia. Thomas was elected to the Senate in 1917, becoming the first New South Welshman to have served in both houses of federal parliament. He lost his seat in 1922. He was re-elected in 1925 but lost again in 1928.[1]

After politics, Thomas was active as a Methodist preacher opposed to gambling, smoking and drinking and in particular supporting prohibition of alcohol. He participated in the establishment of Sydney radio station 2CH by the New South Wales Council of Churches. Thomas' first wife died in 1901 and he married her sister Clara Ingleby in 1909. One of his sons with Henrietta was killed on the Western Front during World War I. He died of heart disease in the Sydney suburb of Croydon Park. He was survived by his second wife and a son from each of his marriages.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Pennay, Bruce (1990). "Thomas, Josiah (1863–1933)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2 October 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "Mr Josiah Thomas (1863–1933)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel Mauger
Succeeded by
John Quick
Preceded by
John Quick
Succeeded by
Charles Frazer
Preceded by
Lee Batchelor
Minister for External Affairs
Succeeded by
Paddy Glynn
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
New division
Member for Alma
Succeeded by
William Williams
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
New division
Member for Barrier
Succeeded by
Michael Considine