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Ernest Edward (Ernie) Judd (1883–1959)

by Frank Farrell

This article was published:

Ernest Edward Job Pullin (Ernie) Judd (1883-1959), bookseller and socialist, was born on 9 April 1883 at Scrubbing Plain, near Forbes, New South Wales, elder son of Ernest Augustus Judd, labourer, and his wife Alice Florence, née Stevens; both parents had been born in the colony. Ernie frequented W. H. McNamara's bookshop and the Sydney Domain and about 1907 he joined and became treasurer of the Socialist Labor Party, followers of Daniel de Leon in the United States of America, who in 1908 split from the Industrial Workers of the World. Judd, however, remained connected to the I.W.W. Club in Sydney.

As an independent, he contested Wollongong in the State elections of 1913 and King in 1917. He was a delegate of the Municipal Workers' Union to the Labor Council of New South Wales during World War I, an opponent of conscription and, with H. E. Boote and P. S. Brookfield, a critic of the trial of members of the I.W.W. in 1916. Appointed by the Labor Council as investigator into the case, he worked vigorously for their release. Judd was prominent in the second conscription referendum campaign and secured a scoop when he published W. A. Holman's Secret Memorandum, which advocated dismissal of single men to encourage recruiting.

Among Judd's publications were The War and the Sydney Labor Council (1917) and Judd's Speech From the Dock (1919). He was unsuccessful as a Senate candidate in May 1917, securing 11,983 votes. Next year the Commonwealth proceeded against him for making statements prejudicial to recruiting and in 1919 he was prosecuted under the War Precautions Act. He faced heavy costs and fines, though he turned such trials into political drama. In his The Case for the O.B.U. (1919), he urged the replacing of 'Class Governments' by an 'Industrial Parliament' and attacked the Australian Labor Party. In March 1919 Labor's John Storey repudiated 'Jock' Garden and Judd as 'limelighters and notoriety hunters'. Judd began his own publishing company and was proprietor of 'The Best Bookshop', 140 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, advertising free-thought and birth-control literature in Liberator, the secularist newspaper.

In 1920 Judd was a powerful public speaker, still full haired and of imposing appearance. A police report noted that when he mounted the platform in the Domain, 'audiences around the A.L.P. and other Socialist platforms made a beeline' for him. The release of ten of the I.W.W. in 1920, after a second royal commission, appointed by the Storey government, was perhaps the peak of his reputation. But at State elections that year, standing for Sydney, he secured only 282 votes.

Judd refused invitations to a unity conference of Sydney socialists in March 1921, denouncing the Communist Party as 'a front for capitalist spies'. When, in May, ex-soldiers and right-wing demonstrators beset him in the Domain, Judd drew a revolver; he was convicted of carrying a firearm and with offensive behaviour. In August in the Domain he debated A. D. Kay on 'The Individual versus Socialism'; facetious for Kay, it was serious for Judd.

As general secretary of the S.L.P. from 1920, he experienced increasing difficulty in disciplining the industrial organizer A. W. Wilson—who described him as 'a filthy minded . . . scurvy rascal . . . with a yellow streak'. Later Judd also fell out with Arnold Peterson, who had succeeded de Leon as head of the American party. Demoralized by declining support, Judd became possessive about party funds. His political court battles resumed. In 1926 he was convicted for failing to vote in the 1925 Senate elections. Using the Revolutionary Socialist newspaper, he attacked R. J. Heffron and supported Tom Mutch in the seat of Botany at the 1927 and 1930 State elections. After failing to win North Sydney in the Federal election of 1929, Judd sued the Barrier Daily Truth for remarks during the campaign, but was awarded only a farthing damages. Heffron sued him over his propaganda in Botany.

In 1931 Judd published How to end Capitalism and Inaugurate Socialism and, with A. P. Warren, Why War is Near. From the mid-1930s Judd's vision of human improvement declined; unkempt, he lived in the past. In Ian Turner's judgement, hobbled by old dogmas, he became 'a cantankerous stump orator, preaching the truths of De Leonism to a dwindling handful of the converted'. He never married. In 1929 he was still living in Albion Street, Sydney, but later lodged at Bondi Junction. Judd was described as a labourer when he died on 20 August 1959 in Rydalmere mental hospital. He was cremated without religious rites.

Select Bibliography

  • I. Turner, Sydney’s Burning (Melb, 1967)
  • F. Farrell, International Socialism and Australian Labour (Syd, 1981)
  • F. Cain, The Wobblies at War (Melb, 1993)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Mar 1919, p 7, 29 Apr 1919, p 9, 3 June 1919, p 5, 10 Dec 1919, p 11, 9 May 1921, p 10, 24 May 1921, p 6, 13 Sept 1921, p 7, 7 Oct 1927, p 14, 3 June 1929, p 10
  • A. W. Wilson, All for the Cause (manuscript, State Library of Victoria).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Frank Farrell, 'Judd, Ernest Edward (Ernie) (1883–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 14 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

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