James Fletcher (Australian politician)

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James Fletcher (August 1834 – 19 March 1891) was an Australian coalminer and owner, newspaper proprietor and politician, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.[1]

Fletcher was born in Dalkeith, East Lothian, Scotland and migrated to Australia in February 1851, first working in the goldfields and later in the Newcastle area as a coalminer. He married Isabella Birrell in 1854. In 1860 he was elected chairman of the new Hunter River Miners' Association, which soon became involved in New South Wales's first serious industrial action, when the mine owners tried unsuccessfully to reduce payments to miners by twenty percent. The union then attempted to establish a mining cooperative, New South Wales Co-operative Coal Co, under Fletcher's leadership, but it failed. He then managed a mine at Minmi, but returned to manage the cooperative—which had been revived—until 1880. He also managed the Wickham and Bullock Island Coal Co. and was part-owner of Ferndale Colliery. He was mayor of Wallsend in 1874 and 1875 and nearby Plattsburg in 1876. In 1876-89 he owned the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate.[2]

Fletcher was elected as a Protectionist Party member for Newcastle in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1880 until his death. He became Secretary for Mines in February 1886 in Patrick Jennings government, but resigned in December. He was Secretary for Public Works from January to March 1886 in George Dibbs's second government.[1][3]

Fletcher died from heart disease and apoplexy in Melbourne, survived by his wife and by six sons and three daughters.[2]


  1. ^ a b Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Fletcher, James". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource 
  2. ^ a b Gollan, Robin (1972). "Fletcher, James (1834 - 1891)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  3. ^ "Mr James Fletcher (1834 - 1891)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Richard Bowker
Member for Newcastle
1880 – 1891
Served alongside: Lloyd/Ellis/Brown, Grahame/Curley
Succeeded by
David Scott