William John McLeanPrint Page Print this page

William John McLean : 11-June-2011
William John McLean : 11-June-2011

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

William John McLean was the first Australian to die for unionism as a result of being gaoled in 1894.

McLean left home in 1894 to go shearing in New South Wales, and on August 26, he and fifty of his mates set out from their Darling River camp near Wilcannia to Grassmere Station where it was said `scabs` from New Zealand had started work.

Mclean was the first person to enter the mens` hut at the station and he an Jack Murphy were shot. On the march back to Wilcannia, the shearers were met by a police force who arrested McLean, Murphy and six others. McLean was sentenced to three years hard labour and sent to Goulburn Gaol.

The wound and the prison cold eventually killed McLean, but he was released and sent home to his mother so that his death would not take place in gaol. Death certificate records "tuberculosis of the lungs".

Money was sent to his mother by his mates, and they raised 90 pounds to erect a monument over his grave. The monument is a granite coloumn about 10ft tall resting on a square of bluestone and enclosed by a wrought iron fence. Inscription may have been written by Henry Lawson.

For some years after his death, his mates conducted an annual pilgramage to the grave until they passed on also. In 1936, 40 years after his death, union leaders form all over Australia gathered to pay tribute


Address:Princes Highway, Tower Hill Cemetery, Tower Hill, 3283
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.326756
Long: 142.388206
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:26-August-1896
Actual Event End Date:26-August-1896


Front Inscription

Erected by his fellow unionists and admirers in memory of their comrade William John McLean who was shot by a non-unionist at Grassmere Station, NSW during the Bush Union struggle of 1894, who died 22nd March 1896, aged 26 years

A good son A faithful Mate and a devoted unionist.

Union Strength

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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