Guide to the Papers of Hugh Mahon


MS 937

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Mahon, Hugh, 1857-1931
Papers of Hugh Mahon
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 937
0.64 metres (4 boxes + folio items)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, newspaper cuttings and printed material. Both the correspondence and press cuttings reflects Mahon's political and ministerial career and his very active interest in the Catholic Church and Irish affairs.

The correspondence consists of some 700 letters, 146 by Mahon and the reminder almost entirely to him from 238 correspondents including Archbishop Thomas Carr (15), Alfred Deakin (4), James S. Dowling (6), Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson (12), Andrew Fisher (10), J.H. Fitzpatrick (8), Sir John Forrest (10), J.H. Garvan (27), W.A. Holman (6), W.M. Hughes (13), Atlee Hunt (7), Alex McCallum (4), Dr W. Maloney (8), Archbishop Daniel Mannix (4), J.H.P. Murray (5), Sir George Pearce (23) and James Smith (11). (See the attached Name Index to Correspondence.)

In general the correspondence was generated by Mahon's activities in regard to specific political or governmental matters, including censorship of correspondence with the Holy See (1915-1916); interned priests at Trial Bay (1914-1917); the Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco (1915-1916); and affairs of the Northern Territory, Papua and Norfolk Island. A group of general letters, mainly with political figures, also covers Mahon's early years and imprisonment in Ireland.

The press cuttings in the early years contain contributions by Mahon, indicative of his early career as a journalist.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for reference.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Hugh Mahon, National Library of Australia, MS 937, [series and item number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Library by Dr A.L. Mahon in 1963.


The collection had been kept in labelled files or packages, possibly by Hugh Mahon. The Library has maintained the arrangement of the papers and the titles of the files. Both the correspondence and press cuttings have been arranged in chronological order.

Biographical Note

January 1857Born in King's Country, Ireland. Mahon was educated in Irish National schools and trained as a reporter on Irish provincial newspapers
1867-1880Lived in United States
1881Was imprisoned with C.S. Parnell, whose private secretary he had became, in Kilmainham Gaol
1882Came to Australia on medical advice and worked in Sydney as a journalist
1895Went to Western Australia, acquired interests in goldfield newspapers, edited the Miner in Coolgardie. Was prominent in Federation activities
1901Elected as M.H.R. for Coolgardie in first Federal Parliament
April-August 1904Postmaster-General in the Watson Ministry
1908-1909Minister for Home Affairs in first Fisher Ministry
31 May 1913Defeated at general election
22 December 1913Returned for Kalgoorlie in a by-election
1914-1915Minister for External Affairs in the Fisher Ministry
1915-1916Minister for External Affairs in the first Hughes Ministry
5 May 1917Defeated at general election
13 December 1919Returned for Kaloorlie in general election
12 November 1920Expelled from the House over bitter speech at a public meeting criticising British policy on Ireland. He contested his Kalgoorlie seat at the by-election on 18 December 1920 but was defeated and retired from politics.
28 August 1931Died in Melbourne at "Benburb", Ringwood
References: Australian Encyclopaedia, volume 5, p. 462.

Biographical Reference(s)

Australian Encyclopaedia, volume 5, p. 462.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 10, pp. 379-80

Item Descriptions

Series 1. General correspondence, 1880-1936

Letters from some 150 correspondents, many of them political figures, and 27 letters by Mahon. There is also a group of letters relating to Mahon's early years in Ireland. Most of the letters are in alphabetical order.

Comprises Items 1-315.

Series 2. Correspondence with Dr Maloney re O'Dowd, 1908-1910

Letters of William Maloney, written in lighter vein, concerning the payment, by departmental oversight, of the travelling expenses of a junior employee (O'Dowd). There is a draft by Mahon on a question of privilege. The series also includes press clippings relating to the visit of the rationalist lecturer Joseph M'Cabe and opposition to his entertainment by Dr Maloney and Commonwealth ministers, including Mahon.

Comprises Items 316-328.

Series 3. Mutual Life Citizens Assurance Co., 1901-1916

Correspondence with offers of the Company especially from the Managing Director (J.J. Garvan) on various matters: legislation affecting insurance business; invitation to Mahon to be a Director (1905); economic and financial affairs including taxation and subscriptions by the Company to war loans; exemption from military service of personal in the Company's London office; representations by Mahon on behalf of the widow of J.A. Arthur (predecessor of Mahon as Minister for External Affairs).

Comprises Items 329-370.

Series 4. Correspondence with bishops, clergy, religious, 1914-1917

A group of priests of the Oblate Fathers at Hünfeld, interned in Ceylon, were transferred to Australia. Mahon acted on their behalf, corresponding with George Pearce, Minister of Defence, and eventually secured their repatriation. The series also contains material on Rev. Charles Jerger.

Comprises Items 435-613.

Series 6. Correspondence and press cuttings relating to the Northern Territory, Papua and Norfolk Island, 1914-1917

Cuttings critical of the Government's Northern Territory policy and some correspondence. There is also personal correspondence relating to Papua and Norfolk Island from Hubert Murray, the Administrator of Papua.

Comprises Items 614-632.

Series 7. Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1915-1916

Press cuttings and correspondence relating to the dispute over Australian representation at the Exposition. Includes correspondence (some printed as Parliamentary Papers) between Mahon, Alfred Deakin, W.A. Holman and F. Hagelthorne.

Comprises Items 633-648.

Series 8. Correspondence, Notes and Press Cuttings, 1915-1920

The papers refer to criticisms of Mahon by John Kirwan; Hubert Muarry; the imprisonment of Catholic priests in Australia (Oblate Fathers); Mahon's expulsion from Parliament; Home Rule and resolutions of the United Irish League; the Commonwealth News Cable Service and Mahon's proposed visit to London.

Comprises Items 649-698.

Series 9. Letters from W.M. Hughes, November 1920

Two letters from Hughes requesting Mahon attend the House of Representatives, as he intended to move Mahon's expulsion on account of 'seditious and disloyal utterances' at a public meeting. There is also the Hansard containing the debate on the expulsion motion.

Comprises Items 699-701.

Series 10. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1921-1922

Personal correspondence from T.J. Ryan, J.S. Cleary, M. O'Reilly and E.F. Curtin, relating to the World Conference of the Irish Race held in Paris in January 1922, and to Irish affairs at the time

Comprises Items 702-712.

Series 11. Press cuttings, 1882-1908

Cuttings, in a bound volume, referring to Mahon's imprisonment in Ireland but chiefly dealing with his political and other activities in Western Australia. Includes editorials from the Menzies Miner and the Sun, two newspapers with which Mahon was closely connected.

Comprises Items 713-749.

Series 12. Press cuttings from the Menzies Miner, 1896-1909

As well as being editor of the Menzies Miner, Mahon was a member of the Menzies Municipal Council. The cuttings refer mainly to the election in 1897 for the North Coolgardie seat in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, at which Mahon was narrowly defeated. The series also includes several cartoons of Mahon, 1909.

Comprises Items 750-802.

Series 13. Press cuttings, 1882-1933

Bound volume of press cuttings relating to various events in Mahon's political career: his election to Federal Parliament in 1901, appointment as Post-Master General in 1904, his visit to Papua in 1911, as well as his writings on Irish figures such as John Mitchel and Eva O'Doherty. Some obituary notices following his death are included and letters from Cardinal Moran, Archbishop Thomas Carr and J.M. Wall.

Comprises Items 803-971.

Series 14. Press cuttings, 1902-1915

The series mainly contains articles and reports about Australian politics, including contributions by Mahon to Austral Light and the Catholic Press, 1907. There are articles by Mahon entitled 'The West Australian Black' (1905), 'The latest essay in Irish land legislation' (1905) and 'The Australian Aborigines' (1913). There is also a typescript of an address to the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

Comprises Items 972-997.

Series 15. Press cuttings, 1904-1916

Reports of speeches by Mahon, the subjects including the 1906 general elections, the Federal Capital, and the 1909 Premiers' Conference. There is also a typescript speech to the Australian Natives' Association conference (1916).

Comprises Items 998-1023.

Series 16. Press Cuttings, 1904-1916

Cuttings from Australian newspapers dealing with Irish affairs; Irish Home Rule motion in Federal Parliament (1905); and addresses by Mahon to various Catholic groups such as the United Irish League and the Australian Catholic Truth Society. There is also a letter from R.S. Cleary (1922).

Comprises Items 1024-1065.

Series 17. Press cuttings, 1904-1919

Cutting relating to Irish affairs and miscellaneous subjects, including 'Socialism defended' by W.M. Hughes and a lengthy article on William Webster (1910).

Comprises Items 1066-1083.

Series 18. Press cuttings, 1905-1915

Contributions by Mahon to various newspapers especially the West Australian Worker and the Catholic Press. They include the series 'Concerning the Commonwealth' and 'Points for the people' (1914). There are also clippings relating to the Dampier election of 1913.

Comprises Items 1084-1155.

Series 19. Press cuttings, 1907-1917

Cuttings relating to Mahon, particularly as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for External Affairs, and dealing with the Federal Capital site, New Guinea, the Northern Territory and conscription. There is also a letter from Atlee Hunt (1915).

Comprises Items 1156-1182.

Series 20. Press cuttings, 1908-1919

Cuttings on political affairs includings: conscription; the Kalgoorlie election in 1917; and an article by Mahon on current party politics in the West Australian Worker (1918).

Comprises Items 1183-1256.

Series 21. Press cuttings, 1909-1910

Cuttings relating to Mahon's visit to Fremantle, April-May 1909 and the Coronation Oath debate, 1910

Comprises Items 1257-1270.

Series 22. Press cuttings, 1910

Press cuttings headed 'Affair of 29 April' dealing with Mahon's omission from the Fisher Ministry and his replacement as Minister for Home Affairs by King O'Malley.

Comprises Items 1271-1289.

Series 23. Press cuttings, 1913-1917

Cuttings relating to the Dampier election of 31 May 1913. There are also some cuttings mounted on back of correspondence dating from 1915-1917.

Comprises Items 1290-1300.

Series 24. Press cuttings, 1931

Copies of various Catholic papers reporting the death of Mahon on 28 August 1931.

Comprises Items 1301-1307.

Series 25. Essay on the Young Irelanders

Typescript draft (30pp.), probably by Mahon, relating to the Young Irelanders of the 1840s and their dispute with Daniel O'Connell.

Comprises Items 1308.

Series 26. Printed pamphlets on the Territories, 1914-1916

Three pamphlets: Development of Papua (nd), J.J. Waldron, Central Australia (1916), and Atlee Hunt, Memoranda on the Northern Territory (1916).

Comprises Items 1309-1312.

Series 27. Printed material, 1931

Hansard for 16-17 September 1931 recording the death of Hugh Mahon. Copy of Rafferty King of Australia by Sandy McTavish

Comprises Items 1313-1315.