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Former Member Details

Mr William Guthrie SPENCE (1846 - 1926)

Member Photo
Date of Birth: 07/08/1846
Place of Birth: Orkney Islands, Scotland
Date of Death: 13/12/1926
Place of Death: Terang, Victoria, Australia
Parliamentary Service
Position Start End Period Notes
Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly 27 Jul 1898 11 Jun 1901 2 years 10 months 16 days
Member for Cobar 27 Jul 1898 11 Jun 1901 2 years 10 months 16 days
Alfred Austin Sampson’s Settlement Lease, Gunnedah Committee No.16 07 Nov 1899 23 Dec 1899 1 month 17 days
Broken Hill Abattoirs, Markets, and Cattle sale Yards Bill Committee No.2 19 Jun 1900 18 Jul 1900 1 month
Alfred Austin Sampson’s Settlement Lease, Gunnedah Committee No. 9 03 Jul 1900 30 Aug 1900 1 month 28 days
Claim of Mr. J. L. Davidson, Paddington Committee No. 12 03 Jul 1900 13 Sep 1900 2 months 11 days
Municipal District of Inverell Reduced Area Bill Committee No.13 24 Jul 1900 18 Oct 1900 2 months 25 days
Accident to Albert Burbank on Railway Premises, Tamworth Committee No. 11 03 Jul 1900 25 Oct 1900 3 months 23 days
Political Party Activity
Community Activity
Commissioned as a Justice of the Peace in 1888.
Qualifications, occupations and interests
Union official. Arrived in Geelong, Victoria, with family in 1852. Family moved to Spring Hill near Creswick in 1853. Had no formal education. At 13 was a shepherd on a station in Wimmera; at 14 had a miners right; butcher boy in 1861; became a gold miner, rising to shift boss and manager. Involved in the flurry of union organisation which preceded formation of Amalgamated Miners Association of Victoria (AMA) in 1874; blackballed by mine owners; in 1882 until 1891 was the general secretary which from 1884 embraced other unions. Prominent in Maritime Strike of 1890 and in Queensland shearers strike in 1891. Helped to found the Australian Workers' Union in 1894. Contributed to and helped edit Australian Worker. In Creswick was a member of militia and of debating society. Secretary and Sunday school superintendent at Creswick Presbyterian Church; In 1880s often preached with Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians. Teetotaller and temperance advocate. Supported formation of progressive Political League in Victoria from 1891 until 1892, breaking with Amalgamated Miners Association on the issue. Supported federation. Author.
Military Service
Honours Received
Membership of other Parliaments & Offices Held
Member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. Member of the House of Representatives for Darling 1901 - 1917; and for Darwin 1917 - 1919.
Local Government Activity
Borough councillor, Creswick, Victoria from 1884.
Son of James Maxwell Spence, stonemason, and his wife Jane Guthrie. Married Ann Jane Savage on 20 June 1871 at Victoria and had issue, 4 daughters and 5 sons. Presbyterian and evangelical protestant.
Additional Information
A biography is on the 'Electric Scotland' Website: Personal papers in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales: William Guthrie Spence - letter received, 14 December 1894 (MLMSS 4418)