Thomas Crawford

Rev. Thomas Crawford (1875 – 1976) Presbyterian minister, politician and barrister
Thomas Crawford, Presbyterian minister and barrister was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Marrickville in October, holding the seat for Labor in 1913 — he was on the party’s executive in 1911 and 1913.

Thomas Crawford, Presbyterian minister, politician and barrister, was born on 23 December 1875 at Bulli, New South Wales, youngest son and ninth child of James Crawford, coalminer, and his wife Ellen, née Simpson; both his parents came from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He left Bulli Public School at 14 and worked in the telegraph branch of the railways for some four years, then, influenced by Rev. Simpson Millar, decided to enter the Presbyterian ministry. He resumed his studies under the guidance of his ex-headmaster Joseph Bourke and a tutor in classics; later he went to Sydney Boys’ High School and the Cooerwull Academy at Bowenfels, matriculating in 1897. At St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney, he worked for the ministry and his degree (B.A., 1901; M.A., 1904). On 12 September 1900 at Nowra he married Hilda Victoria Eve Graham.

Ordained in November 1902, Crawford was briefly at Newcastle and Port Macquarie; he served at the Hunter Street Church, Newcastle, in 1903-05, where he implemented plans for a new church building in Watt Street (St Philip’s, 1905). He was minister there until 1908, then at Berrigan in the Riverina; in 1909 he moved to a mission station at Campsie, a growing Sydney suburb.

Crawford was deeply concerned with the conditions of industrial workers and believed that the Political Labor League of New South Wales ‘placed humanity above property’. In April 1910 he was narrowly defeated for the Federal seat of Lang. However, ‘the fighting parson’ campaigned vigorously and, ‘helped by an enthusiastic band of women workers’, was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Marrickville in October, holding the seat for Labor in 1913—he was on the party’s executive in 1911 and 1913. He resigned from the Presbyterian ministry on 13 October 1914. A supporter of conscription, he joined the Nationalists and was defeated in the 1917 elections.

While in parliament Crawford had studied law and was admitted to the Bar on 29 August 1912. He set up in practice and in October 1917 he was appointed crown prosecutor for the western district, extending from Parramatta to Bourke. He published a book on practice, Proofs in Criminal Cases (1922), which was later updated. In 1924 he transferred to the southern and Hunter district. He was appointed a K.C. in 1935 and was senior crown prosecutor in 1940-47.

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