Frank Tudor

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The Honourable
Frank Tudor
FrankTudorPEO.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Elections: 1917, 1919
In office
14 November 1916 – 10 January 1922
Prime Minister Billy Hughes
Preceded by Joseph Cook
Succeeded by Matthew Charlton
Leader of the Labor Party
In office
14 November 1916 – 10 January 1922
Deputy Albert Gardiner
Preceded by Billy Hughes
Succeeded by Matthew Charlton
Member of the Australian Parliament for Yarra
In office
30 March 1901 – 10 January 1922
Preceded by Seat created
Succeeded by James Scullin
Personal details
Born (1866-01-27)27 January 1866
Williamstown, Victoria, Australia
Died 10 January 1922 (age 55)
Richmond, Victoria, Australia
Political party Labor
Spouse(s)
Alice Smale
(m. 1894; wid. 1894)

Fanny Mead
(m. 1897)
Children 6
Education Richmond Central State School

Francis Gwynne Tudor (29 January 1866 – 10 January 1922) was an Australian politician who served as the leader of the Australian Labor Party from 1916 until his death. He had previously been a government minister under Andrew Fisher and Billy Hughes.

Tudor was born in Melbourne to Welsh immigrant parents. He left school at a young age to enter the workforce, serving an apprenticeship in the felt hat industry and later studying his trade for periods in England and the United States. He became involved in trade unionism in England, and after returning to Australia served as president of the Felt Hatters' Union. Tudor was elected president of the Victorian Trades Hall Council in 1900. The following year, he was elected to the new federal parliament as a representative of the Labor Party. He was chosen as the parliamentary party's first whip, and held that position until entering cabinet in 1908.

Tudor served as Minister for Trade and Customs from 1908 to 1909, 1910 to 1913, and 1914 to 1916, in the governments of Andrew Fisher and Billy Hughes. He remained loyal to the Labor Party during the split over conscription in 1916, and was elected party leader (and thus leader of the opposition) after Hughes' expulsion. Tudor led Labor to the 1917 and 1919 federal elections, on both occasions suffering heavy defeats. His death in office at the age of 55 came after a long period of ill health. He was the first leader of a major Australian political party to die in office, and was accorded a state funeral.

Early life[edit]

Tudor was born to John Llewellyn Tudor, a ballastman, and Ellen Charlotte Tudor, née Burt, both of Welsh origin, on 29 January 1866 at Williamstown, Victoria. However, the family soon moved to the Melbourne suburb of Richmond, where Tudor lived most of his life.[1]

Upon leaving Richmond Central State School, and after short spells in a sawmill and a boot factory, Tudor entered the felt hat industry. Tudor apprenticed in Abbotsford and then travelled across Victoria in the hat trade. Tudor went to England, working in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, marrying Alice Smale in Denton, Lancashire in 1894. Smale died the same year, but Tudor continued in the felt hat trade by moving to London and becoming vice-president of the local branch of the Felt Hatters' Union. In 1897 Tudor remarried to Fanny Jane Mead.[1]

As vice-president of the union Tudor became interested in union politics (as many Labor politicians were before their entry into politics) and persuaded the British unions to adopt the union label principle. Returning to Australia, Tudor worked at Abbotsford's mills and took a seat in the Victorian Trades Hall Council. In 1900 he became president.[1]

Tudor was president of the Victorian Life Saving Society, and held a Bronze Medallion as a qualified life saver.[2]

Entry into politics[edit]

Tudor in 1908

A prominent figure in Richmond, Victoria, Tudor turned the Division of Yarra into the safest Labor seat in the country by winning that seat by a large margin in the 1901 federal election. Tudor was a deacon of the Congregational Church and angered some Protestants with his calls for Home Rule for Ireland.[1]

Tudor was immediately elected the Labor Party's whip and assistant secretary. He ascended to the position of secretary in 1904, then Minister for Trade and Customs during the three Fisher ministries, from 1908–1909, 1910–1913, 1914–1915.[3] When Billy Hughes replaced Andrew Fisher as the Prime Minister, Tudor continued in the role of Minister for Trade and Customs until 1916, when he resigned from the Hughes ministry over his opposition to conscription.[1]

Leader of the Opposition[edit]

Hughes left the Labor Party at the end of 1916 due to his support for World War I conscription in Australia, a policy that ran counter to Labor policy. He took 24 pro-conscription Labor MPs with him to form the National Labor Party, which merged with the Commonwealth Liberal Party later in the year to form the Nationalist Party.[4] Tudor was elected as the new leader of the Labor Party, and consequently became Leader of the Opposition as Hughes was able to stay in office as Prime Minister. Tudor led his party to a severe defeat in the 1917 federal election. The party was severely weakened by several of its early leaders following Hughes out of the party.

Hughes proved to be a popular wartime leader, and Tudor was never able to get the better of him. In 1919, T. J. Ryan, who since 1915 had been Premier of Queensland, was transferred to federal politics to serve under Tudor as a deputy. At the election later that year, Tudor led the ALP to a second heavy election loss. Tudor was increasingly seen as an ineffectual leader, and several elements were contemplating replacing him with Ryan. However, Ryan's early death in 1921 prevented him from taking Tudor's place.[1] Tudor's own health became markedly worse during 1921. He was increasingly unable to carry out his duties.

Death[edit]

Tudor towards the end of his life

On 10 January 1922, Tudor died, aged 55. He was the first leader of the Labor Party to die in office,[1] and the first Opposition Leader never to become Prime Minister. He was succeeded as the member for Yarra by future Prime Minister James Scullin.

Tudor's estate was valued at £4,629, around half of which was real estate. His widow went bankrupt within the year, after her brother's firm (in which she had invested most of her money) went broke.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g McCalman, Janet. "Tudor, Francis Gwynne (Frank) (1866–1922)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 1 June 2007. 
  2. ^ The Australian Worker, 20 May 1915
  3. ^ National Archives of Australia. "Australian Labor Party: The Hon Frank Tudor". Australian Labor Party. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  4. ^ Michael Duffy. "First World War – Who's Who – Billy Hughes". FirstWorldWar.com. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "WITHOUT RESOURCES: Late Frank Tudor's Widow", The Sun, 31 October 1922.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Cook
Leader of the Opposition
1916–1922
Succeeded by
Matthew Charlton
Preceded by
Austin Chapman
Minister for Trade and Customs
1908–1909
Succeeded by
Robert Best
Preceded by
Robert Best
Minister for Trade and Customs
1910–1913
Succeeded by
Littleton Groom
Preceded by
Littleton Groom
Minister for Trade and Customs
1914–1916
Succeeded by
Billy Hughes
Party political offices
Preceded by
Billy Hughes
Leader of the Australian Labor Party
1916–1922
Succeeded by
Matthew Charlton
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Yarra
1901–1922
Succeeded by
James Scullin