John Holman (politician)

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John B. Holman
John Holman.jpg
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
for Western Australia
In office
In office
Personal details
Born (1872-02-26)26 February 1872
Clunes, Victoria
Died 23 February 1925(1925-02-23) (aged 52)
St John of God Hospital, Subiaco
Resting place Karrakatta Cemetery
31°58′11.32″S 115°47′54.3″E / 31.9698111°S 115.798417°E / -31.9698111; 115.798417
Nationality Australia Australian
Spouse(s) Katherine Rowe
Children May Holman, Edward Holman

John Barkell Holman (26 February 1872 – 23 February 1925) was a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly from 1901 to 1921 and 1923 to 1925.

Early life[edit]

Born in Clunes, Victoria, on 26 February 1872, John Holman was the son of Cornish miner Edward Holman and Mary Anne née Barkell. His father was born in 1841 at Gwinear, Cornwall and his mother in 1837, St Austell, Cornwall.[1] He was educated at Bendigo, then worked as a miner, first at Bendigo, where he became a member of the Bendigo Miners' Association in 1886; and later at Broken Hill, where he was involved in the strike of 1892. On 14 February 1893 he married Katherine Mary Rowe at Broken Hill;[2] they would have four sons and six daughters.

Western Australia[edit]

Holman migrated to Western Australia in 1893. He became active in the Labour movement, leading a strike at Day Dawn in 1896, and becoming a workers' advocate before the State Arbitration Court for many unions. By 1901 he was working in the Murchison district as a journalist, and was an organiser for the Amalgamated Workers Union. He contested the Western Australian Legislative Assembly seat of Mount Magnet in the election of April 1901, but was defeated by Frank Wallace.

On 10 December 1901 John Holman was elected to the Legislative Assembly seat of North Murchison in a ministerial by-election, defeating Frederick Moorhead. The following year he was elected general president of the Western Australian branches of the Australian Workers' Union. In 1904 the seat of North Murchison was abolished, and Holman contested and won the seat of Murchison. He would hold this seat for nearly 17 years. From 10 August 1904 to 7 June 1905 he was Minister for Railways and Labour in Henry Daglish's short-lived Labor ministry.

Late career[edit]

Holman was secretary of the Federated Timber Workers' Union from 1908 until his death in 1925. He was Chairman of Committees in the Legislative Assembly from 1 November 1911 to 22 March 1917, and later acted as secretary and whip for the Parliamentary Labor Party. He launched the Labor newspaper The Labor Vanguard, and became chairman of directors for the People's Printing Company.

Holman lost Labor preselection for his seat in the election of 12 March 1921, and instead unsuccessfully contested the seat of Swan. The following year he contested for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Swan, again without success. However, on 8 December 1923, he won the Legislative Assembly seat of Forrest in a by-election occasioned by the death of Peter O'Loghlen. He would hold the seat until his death.


John Holman died at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco on 23 February 1925 from complications following an appendicectomy, and was buried at Karrakatta Cemetery. His daughter, May Holman, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in his seat, becoming only the second woman to enter an Australian parliament, and the first for the Labor party. One of his sons, Edward Holman, also became a Member of the Legislative Assembly.


  1. ^ International Genealogical Index (private submission); GROE Marriage Index, vol. 5c, p. 479; England Census records:
  2. ^ "Holman, Mary (1893-1939)", Trove, 2009