Chummy Fleming (John Fleming; 1863 - January 25, 1950), English-born pioneer unionist, agitator for the unemployed, and anarchist in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He enjoyed a good relationship with the Governor-General, John Adrian Louis Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun, who lent him money to build a house, which Chummy duly called 'Hopetoun'.
'Chummy' (the nickname at the time meant 'English') Fleming was instrumental in starting May Day celebrations and marches in Melbourne. He was a member of the Melbourne Anarchist Club which formed on May 1, 1886, the first formal anarchist organisation in Australia. In 1899 he was elected to the Trades Hall Eight Hours Day committee and to the executive of Trades Hall Council. He was President of the Fitzroy Political Labor League, the forerunner to an Australian Labor Party branch. For more than sixty years he was a regular speaker at the Queens Wharf and Yarra Bank speakers corners on Sundays.
In 1889, Fleming helped form a Melbourne lodge of the Knights of Labor in Melbourne, as well as being elected to the Eight Hours Committee.
From 1901 an interesting friendship developed between Chummy Fleming and Lord Hopetoun, Australia's first Governor-General. In May 1901 Fleming protested unemployment in Melbourne by rushing onto the Prince's Bridge to halt the Governor General's carriage. Hopetoun told the police not to interfere and listened to Fleming put the case for the unemployed. Out of this encounter came a friendship which endured after Hopetoun returned to England in July 1902. While in Australia, he is said to have visited Chummy's house at 6 Argyle Place, Carlton, which was built with money he lent to Chummy, the house bearing the name 'Hopetoun' when completed (since demolished). According to some reports, Hopetoun is credited with pressuring the government to speed up government work projects.
Chummy and famous anarchistsEdit
In 1907, according to American anarchist Emma Goldman's autobiography, Living My Life, Chummy invited Goldman to tour Australia and had raised money for her fare. In 1908 she made preparations to go, but events intervened, in particular a fit of jealousy over her lover, Dr Ben Reitman (details). Fleming is recorded as having regular correspondence with other noted anarchists, such as Peter Kropotkin, Max Nettlau and many others. For every year from 1887 he commemorated in Melbourne the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs.
At a Knights of Labor meeting in 1893, Fleming moved the motion for what was subsequently the first May Day procession in Melbourne. This was the start of a long association between Chummy Fleming and May Day in Melbourne. During the 1930s, when Fleming's anarchist politics was out of favour with the May Day Committee, then controlled by the Communist Party of Australia, Fleming started marching a block ahead with his red flag with Anarchy emblazoned in white, going so slowly the march caught up with him; or sometimes he started back In the ranks and gradually edged to the front.