Peter Joseph Brennan
1844 - 1906
Placed under Arrest
"Peter J. Brennan on being sent for by Lieut. Collins to attend to his duty in the W.R. refused on the grounds that Lieut. Collins had relieved him from duty. He being brought on the Quarter Deck in presence of Mr. Webb the master at arms, Lieut. Collins ordered him him to his duty- He again refused saying that he requested his discharge, & leave to go on shore to see his Legal advisor as Lieut. Collins had accused him of theft. Lieut Collins denied this as well as having relieved him of duty, & the master at arms stated that Lieut. Collins had not in his presence made such an accusation against Peter Brennan or had relieved him from duty,- Lieut. Collins ordered Peter Brennan to his duty & refused him leave, & Brennan on the Quarter Deck absolutely refused to obey, for which he was placed under arrest. R.M.C.
Cerberus Log Book, 23 February 1882
Peter J. Brennan in my presence asked Lieut. Collins if he could be granted a discharge. Lieut. Collins stated he would have his discharge made out when the Capt. came on board. Brennan asked leave to go on shore to see his Legal advisor.
Lieut Collins stated he had not time to go into the **** **** as he was going to the rifle ranges, but Brennan was to remain on board till he (Lieut. Collins) returned,- In my opinion Brennan's conduct was unbecoming when he was talking to Lieut. Collins in the Captain's Cabin. *** Wanson
Mr. Hathertou came on board to see Peter J. Brennan & wanted to take him on shore in his boat, I refused him leave as he Brennan was under arrest - Hathertou said I had no power to stop him - I told him I had the power & would use it if he incited the man to leave the ship, which he was doing by telling the man that he might go on shore & they had no power to stop him. Peter Brennan said to Lieut. Collins on the Quarter deck-, If you refuse me leave, 'you do so at your peril' or words to that effect. W
According to a Peter Brennan, the great-grandson of Peter Joseph Brennan, there was a reference in a newspaper where he was charged with selling liquor on board Cerberus in 1881 where he was referred to as wardroom steward.
He moved to Sydney and became President of the NSW Trades and Labour Council, a founding father of the Labor party. In the late 1890s he became a publican and was the President of the United Liquor and Victuallers Association.
Mr. Brennan was born at Liverpool, England, in 1844. He was for many years in the employment of the Allen and Inman Line of steamers, trading to Quebec and New York, as steward. He was also in the old Black Ball line of packets, sailing to all parts of Australia as purser and chief steward. For many years he was chief steward on some of the most prominent steamers on the Australian coast, and was the founder of the Stewards and Cooks union in 1883. He acted as its president and secretary, and represented that body at the conference between the shipowners and the maritime unions in 1886, when the employers demanded a reduction of from 20/- to 30/- per month. The demand was successfully resisted in a six days tournament at the Town Hall, Sydney.
Mr. Brennan was one of the promoters in the Lyee-Moon disaster relief fund, of which Mr. John Young was chairman. He founded the Butchers' Union in 1889, and has acted as its secretary since its inception. He was president of the Trades and Labour Council for two terms during the great maritime strike in 1890, and represented the council on the defence committee. He was president of the Australian Labour Conference, composed of delegates from the different colonies; and represented the Trades and Labour Council at the last trades union congress at Ballarat. He was elected vice president of the congress and chairman of the committee, and was appointed to draft a scheme of federation of the labour of Australasia. As representing labour on the council of arbitration Mr. Brennan occupies an important position, and his actions will be watched by his fellow-workers with critical interest. The Government, in making this appointment, were guided by the opinion of a majority of the societies. Their selection may there fore be regarded as a good one. Mr. Brennan has been a trades-unionist among trades-unionists, a man whose soul is wrapped up in he cause of Unionism and who by his forceful energy and constant toil has earned the respect of every worker in the colony.
When the Trades and Labour Council and different societies were asked to nominate one whom they considered most worthy to hold the position of arbitrator, the council set its choice upon Mr Brennan, and no less than 18 unions, including such large and representatve ones as the, Typographical Association, the Locomotive Association, the Butchers, Confectioners, Hotel and Caterers' Employees, Coopers, Farriers, Hunter Biver Colliery Surfacemen, Hunter River Engine Drivers, Newcastle Wharf Labourers, and Sunny Corner Smelters and Surfacemen endorsed this selection.
Information and image provided by Peter Brennan, the great-grandson of Peter Joseph Brennan.