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Findley, Edward (1864–1947)

by Tony Marshall

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Edward Findley (1864-1947), by T. Humphrey & Co.

Edward Findley (1864-1947), by T. Humphrey & Co.

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23366864

Edward Findley (1864-1947), compositor, publisher and politician, was born on 8 September 1864 at Sandhurst (Bendigo), Victoria, son of Timothy Findley, engine driver, and his wife Mary, née Toohey. After serving an apprenticeship as a compositor and working on the Bendigo Independent, Ted Findley moved to Melbourne in the early 1880s where he was employed as a journeyman compositor on the Daily Telegraph. When this closed in 1892 he worked on an evening paper and became active both in the trade union movement and in newspaper publishing. He was elected president of the Australasian Typographical Union in 1897, representing it on the Melbourne Trades Hall Council of which he was president in 1896-97. He served also as president of the Melbourne Eight Hours' Committee and the United Labour Party, and was a councillor of the Melbourne Working Men's College from 1896 to 1900.

In 1894 Findley, with George Prendergast and others, established the Boomerang, 'a real live weekly paper run on democratic lines'. Only eight issues appeared, between August and October. He was more successful when in 1896 he was part of the group, including John Percy Jones, Bernard O'Dowd, Prendergast and others, which established the labour weekly Tocsin. Findley, with Prendergast, was responsible for the technical and printing aspects of the publication, and at various times he was nominally manager or printer and publisher.

Late in 1900 Findley entered the Victorian Legislative Assembly as Labor member for Melbourne, his election being aided by a split vote among his three Liberal opponents. But on 25 June 1901, soon after he had taken his seat, he was expelled from the assembly for seditious libel. Tocsin, on which Findley's name appeared as printer and publisher, had reprinted on 20 June, as part of an article on the freedom of the press, an item libelling King Edward VII which had first appeared in the Dublin Irish People and had led to that newspaper's suppression. Findley was held by the assembly to be responsible for the content of Tocsin and was accordingly expelled by a vote of 64-17. He soon stood for the recently vacated seat of Melbourne East but was defeated, largely because the number of Liberal candidates was reduced to avoid a split vote. He was again unsuccessful in the 1902 election for the same seat.

In 1903 Findley was elected as a senator for Victoria, gaining during the election a reputation as a vigorous, resourceful and tenacious campaigner. He was defeated in 1917, but re-entered the Senate in 1922. In his three terms as senator he sat on several select committees and royal commissions, including those investigating the tobacco monopoly (1905-06), press cable services (1909) and beam wireless links with England (1929). Between 1910 and 1913 he served as an honorary minister in the Fisher government, taking responsibility in the Senate for the areas of home affairs and postmaster-general.

On 11 January 1911, at St Mary's Catholic Church, West Melbourne, he married Lilian (Lily) Foyle, a 29-year-old photographer of Warrnambool.

Following his defeat in the November 1928 election, Findley was appointed as a government director of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd, a post he held from 1930 until his death on 26 October 1947 at his home at Caulfield. He was survived by his wife and one of his two daughters, and was buried in Coburg cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £15,982.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 1901, p 108
  • Australasian Typographical Journal, Mar 1898, p 3
  • Tocsin, 20, 27 June 1901
  • Punch (Melbourne), 12 May 1910
  • Age (Melbourne), 27 Oct 1947
  • Argus (Melbourne), 27 Oct 1947
  • Labor Call, 30 Oct 1947
  • files on G. M. Prendergast, Tocsin and labour newspapers (Merrifield Collection, State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Tony Marshall, 'Findley, Edward (1864–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/findley-edward-6170/text10599, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 25 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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