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Adamson [née Johnston], Janet Laurel (1882–1962), labour movement activist and politician, was born at Kilmarnock on 9 May 1882, one of the six children of Thomas Johnston, a railway porter, and Elizabeth, née Denton. Her father died young and her mother had to become a dressmaker to support the family. As ...

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Burns, John Elliott (1858–1943), labour leader and politician, was born in South Lambeth, London, on 20 October 1858, the sixteenth child of Alexander Burns, a Scottish fitter, and Barbara Smith. He left St Mary's national school when he was about ten and after a series of short-term jobs was apprenticed as an engineer....

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John Elliott Burns (1858–1943) by John Collier, 1889 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Chew, Ada Nield (1870–1945), labour organizer and suffragist, was born at Hollins, Butt Lane, Audley, Staffordshire, on 28 January 1870, the second child in a family of thirteen of William Nield, brick maker, and his wife, Jane, née Hammond. Ada was taken from school at the age of eleven to help look after the family, especially her younger sister ...

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Dash, Jack O'Brien (1907–1989), political activist and unofficial dockers' leader, was born on 23 April 1907 in Southwark, south London, the youngest of four sons of Joseph Thomas Dash, a stagehand, and his wife, Rose Gertrude Johns, an actor. According to Dash's own account, his upbringing was one of great material hardship. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was seven and his father, who then had an even greater struggle to support the family, also died of a lung complaint a few years later. After an elementary schooling, his skill at drawing led to a trial period with an engraving firm, but pressure to take home a better wage resulted in a series of menial jobs, starting in a ...

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Hodges, Frank (1887–1947), labour leader and politician, was born at Woolaston, Gloucestershire, on 30 April 1887, the son of Thomas and Louisa Hodges. Hodges' family moved to south Wales during the pre-1914 boom years when annual production in the coal industry reached its peak. After attending ...

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Irwin, Margaret Hardinge (1858–1940), women's labour activist, was born at sea on 13 January 1858 on the barque Lord Hardinge, after which she was named. She was the only child of James Richie Irwin, master mariner, of 3 Pine Terrace, Broughty Ferry, Forfarshire...

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James Larkin (1874–1947) by unknown photographer, 1914 Getty Images

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Larkin, James (1874–1947), labour leader in Ireland, was born on 4 February 1874 at 41 Combermere Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, the second of the six children of James Larkin (1845–1887), a forge labourer, and his wife, Mary Ann McNulty (1842–1911). His parents were part of that vast exodus from ...

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Mboya, Thomas Joseph (1930–1969), labour leader and politician in Kenya, was born at Kilima Mbogo, near Thika, north of Nairobi, on 15 August 1930, the eldest of the six children of Leunadus Ndiege, a sisal worker from Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, and his wife ...

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Thomas Joseph Mboya (1930–1969) by unknown photographer, 1960 ? reserved; East African Newspapers (Nation) Ltd; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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David Watts Morgan (1867–1933) by Bassano, 1915 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Morgan, David Watts (1867–1933), miners' leader and politician, was born at Skewen, Neath, Glamorgan, on 18 December 1867, the son of Thomas W. Morgan, miner, and his wife, Margaret, née Davies. After attending the national school at Skewen, and other elementary schools in ...

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Stephen, Jessie (1893–1979), suffragette and labour activist, was born on 19 April 1893 in Marylebone, London, the eldest of eleven children of Alexander Stephen, tailor, and his wife, Jane Miller. The family lived in Edinburgh for six years before moving to Dunfermline, and after 1901 resided permanently in ...