5. Thomas Charles Edwards (1878-1919), cargo lumper and working class martyr;
and Sarah Jane Kent - formerly Edwards, nee Phillips (1882-1964), battler
Tom Edwards was born in Lockwood, Victoria, and in 1901 married Sarah Jane in Bendigo. Tom gave as his occupation as “striker” – a worker who sets off explosions in the mines. He came to Western Australia in 1910 and went to work as a lumper (a worker unloading cargo) in Fremantle. A riot – which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” – erupted on Victoria Quay on 4 May 1919 between members of the Lumpers’ Union and police.
During the riot, Tom went to the rescue of the union’s president, Bill Renton. He suffered a severe blow from the butt of a police rifle and died three days later. At the time of his funeral, industry throughout the State stopped for three minutes’ “reflection”. Bill Renton, his head still bandaged, led the funeral procession on horseback from Fremantle Trades Hall to Fremantle Cemetery. The route from the Trades Hall to the cemetery gates was completely clogged with mourners.
Sarah Jane continued to live in the rented house at 14 Howard Street with her three daughters. She received donations of food from land farmed by members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Later she moved to a shop and residence organised by the Tom Edwards Trust. In 1936 Sarah Jane married William John Kent, but on her death she was buried in the same plot as her first husband. Tom Edward’s headstone is among some 1200 graves sponsored by the Fremantle Lumpers’ Union.