Barry J Crompton


January 2012

We could have a walk to St Kilda, Prahran, South Yarra, Brighton or Sandringham, we could do another one to Kew, Hawthorn, Richmond and Collingwood; we would also do Footscray, Yarraville and Sunshine but today let's concentrate on Collins Street, Melbourne.

We start at the top of the city in Spring Street - on the left is the Treasury Building, the depository for the gold that was Victoria's (and Melbourne's) reason for the huge increase of population that made us the largest city in the southern hemisphere at the time of the Shenandoah's arrival.

Next door to the Treasury Building is Parliament House, the seat of government. One of the members, Peter Lalor, had three brothers fighting in the Union army and another member had an uncle and cousins who fought for the Confederacy.

A short walk down the road sees the Melbourne Club where one of its residents, Captain Standish (who originated the Melbourne Cup horse race in 1861 when Archer won, the same year as the start of the Civil War); the government also had long debates on the record of the Shenandoah. The Melbourne Club hosted a dinner in the officer's honour (amongst the guests we think is Sir Redmond Barry, who planned the State Library and hung Ned Kelly); opposite the Melbourne Club now is the Sofitel Hotel and at the Flinders Lane side of the building was the photographic studio of Batchelder and O'Neill where the Shenandoah officers had their photographs taken; go the same distance down to Flinders Street and you'll be at one of places listed as a recruiting station.

With our soggy beer mat on a stick to lead us on, we continue walking down Collins Street; past Exhibition Street (at the stage still called Stephen Street - only renamed after 1885 when the 50th anniversary of the founding of Melbourne was commemorated and the U.S. consul in 1885 was ex-Confederate naval officer James Morris Morgan). On the corner of Exhibition and Bourke Street was the Alhambra Dance hall where one of the Confederate officers stayed overnight after he missed his lighter back to the ship. The building in the 1970's when I first remembered it was a branch of the National Australia Bank, was then an art gallery and is now as of 2011 a checken fast food outlet.

We'll walk down to the corner of Collins Street and Swanston Street - the Melbourne Town Hall was a different shape than the one that's there now but in the 1890s it hosted lectures by Mark Twain and Henry Morton Stanley and again in the Shenandoah's day the council had to deliberate on whether it would support the ship. A block up on Swanston and Bourke Street you'd see the Theatre Royal where Barry Sullivan played as well as Joseph Jefferson. The site of the Target Store did have a plaque but that's now gone.

Near the corner of Elizabeth Street and Collins Street you could look down the street and see the Age newspaper building; at the current location of the old stock exchange of the 1960s was the Criterion Hotel owned by Americans who hosted a big Independence Day party every year. Walk a little further, past the offices of J.B. Were, stockbroker (James Benn Were was also one of the circle of men who represented the foreign consuls in Melbourne) and you'd get to Scott's Hotel where the Shenandoah officers stayed. The Royal Insurance Building on this site in the 1960s and 1970s had a placard in the foyer to say that was the site of Scott's Hotel but when it was redeveloped in the 1990s the sign disappeared.

A little bit further and looking down to the Flinders Street railway bridge you'd travel on that to Sandridge (Port Melbourne) across the Yarra River, near that was the Customs House, now the Immigration Museum. The Minister for Customs worked in this building during the Shenandoah's visit, James Francis, who was one of the government's chief ministers due to his dealings with the officers of the ship.

Still walking down Collins Street we get to the Williams Street intersection - a block up at Little Collins Street was the office of the United States consul, William Blanchard (on the corner of Little Collins Street and the laneway, now the new offices of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria).

Another block down (corner of King Street and Collins Street) you'd see the offices of the company which did all the work on the Shenandoah - Corlies Throckmorton was American and had sympathies for the Confederate raider; look for the opposite corner where the Federal Hotel used to stand, the Federal was where General McArthur stayed in World War 2 - his father, Arthur McArthur, won the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.

A short walk to the end of the city proper brought you to the Spencer Street railway station, now Southern Cross, where the Shenandoah officers took the train via Geelong to Ballarat.

We could continue our travel to Ballarat, or Creswick, or Maldon, or Bendigo, but for now we'll have a drink in one of the many watering holes of 1860s Melbourne and replenish the soggy beer mat. Of those old 1860s public houses, only a handfull remain – Young & Jackson’s Princes Bridge Hotel is on the site though a different name; Macs Hotel in northern Melbourne is one of the few to continually hold a licence with the same name and location.


I can include my photos of Melbourne taken by me alongside photos and illustrations of Melbourne as it looked although there are still several places that I don’t have old photos still to be done.

The Melbourne Baths needs both a photo by me from the digital camera as well as an old illustration and I should be able to locate that from one of the archive places.

There are about sixteen sites of Melbourne associated with either the Civil War or else the visit of the Shenandoah and most of those I already have access to use.

Places so far that I can think of are:

1 Melbourne Baths (Swanston Street where one of the veterans was scalded while taking a bath and later died)

2 Target Centre Bourke Street (site of the old Theatre Royal)

3 Corner of Bourke and Russell Streets (site of the old Alhambra Dance hall)

4 Chancery Lane (site of old office for the US Consul during the Civil War – William Blanchard


5 Toorak Swedish Consulate (site of the old government house where Governor Darling was residing when the Shenandoah arrived)

[This is the new Government House in the Botanical Gardens south of the Yarra, not the one in Toorak]



6 Flinders Street east (site of recruiting station near where the Herald & Weekly Times Building is)

7 Flinders Lane east (site of Photographic studio of Batchelder and O’Neill)

8 Melbourne Club Collins Street. There have been a number of buildings on this site – the Melbourne Club’s current building is the third one so a photograph of the club as it looked in the 1860s is shown below.



9 Town Hall corner of Collins Street & Swanston Street (Henry Morton Stanley and Mark Twain both spoke here). The "new" town hall was opened in 1870 so although it appears as Henry Morton Stanley and Mark Twain would have seen it, for the Shenandoah officers’ visit in 1865, it would have been the previous building.

The illustration below is of William Kerr who was town clerk in 1865.


10 440 Collins Street (once the Royal insurance Building and before that Scott’s Hotel)

11 Corner of Collins Street and King Street – 520 Collins Street now the Stock Exchange, was Throckmorton’s store who paid for Shenandoah’s repairs

12 360 Collins Street – was the Criterion Hotel in the 1860s where Fourth of July parties were held

13 North-east corner corner of Queen and Little Bourke Street - Harp and Erin Hotel – where one of the veterans resided


14 454 Flinders Street – between William Street and King Street (north side) was the old SEC Services Buidling, another old veteran resided here – this postcard below shows Flinders Street looking east from Queen Street, or maybe Spencer Street.


A view of the Yarra River from the turning basin

15 Customs House on Flinders Street (Minister for Customs Francis had his offices here)


16 Spencer Street Railway Station (Shenandoah officers left here to go to Ballarat)


17 Shop on Corner of King & Latrobe Streets – I think that one of the officers off the Shenandoah visited the doctor here (to confirm with memoirs)

18 Old Exhibition building (U.S. Consul James Morris Morgan represented the U.S. during the 1885 exhibition)

19 Statue of Sir Redmund Barry outside State Library – possibly was at Shenandoah dinner

20 Parliament House –

The building of Parliament House began in 1856 at the height of the Victorian gold rush. The colonnade facing Spring street was added in in the 1890s. Parliament House was the first home of the Australian Parliament from Federation in 1901 to 1927 when the Federal Parliament moved to Canberra. (from Ebay January 2012)

A premier of the state, William Hill Irvine, had an uncle, John Mitchel, who had been transported to Van Dieman’s Land during the 1848 Irish uprising; he managed to escape with his family, eventually went to the United States where he resided firstly in Knoxville, Tennessee, and later in Richmond, Virginia. All three of his sons served in the Confederate army.

One member of the Mitchel family who continued living in Victoria after the remainder had left and gone to the U.S. was Margaret Mitchel Irvine, who had been John's sister. She married Hill Irvine, also an Irelander, and they had come to Australia as free settlers in the 1870's. Their son, William Hill Irvine Jr., would become premier of the state of Victoria in the early stages of the new century.

Another Irishman in the Civil War with an Australian connection was Thomas Lalor. His brother, Peter, became a well-known identity in the so-called "Eureka" uprising in Ballarat, during the mid 1850's during the Victorian gold-rush and was later a member of the Victorian Parliament. Most of the Lalor family had emigrated to the U.S. between 1830 and 1850 - Tom was known to have been killed in the Civil War. A further two brothers also fought in the war, supposedly on different sides.

The four brothers who went to America were William, Jerome, Tom and Joseph. Tom was supposed to have died in the war but his name does not appear in the most eligible of rosters in "Roll of Honor" which lists all Union dead buried in National cemeteries. A search in the family Intenet sites shows that Tom was killed at the battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, 5 May 1864 (where that information came from I don’t know) but it is confirmed that Thomas Lalor, a private in Company E of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry, was missing in action at the Wilderness on the same day.

Further information on those American brothers does not give any more links to the Civil War, John died in Canada and Jerome died on 31 December 1898 and was buried at Independence, Buchanan County, Iowa.

For Peter Lalor, leader of the rebellion at Eureka, it must have been difficult for him to see the Shenandoah sailing up to Melbourne in January 1865, and as he was then a member of the Victorian state parliament, no doubt he was involved with celebrations for the visit of the Confederate ship. I wonder whether he attended the dinner held in their honour at the Melbourne Club?

21 St James Church

22 The Age Newspaper Building, 67 Elizabeth Street (has moved three times after this location – Collins Street, Spencer Street and back to Collins Street). This location was where the newspaper was published at the time of the Shenandoah’s visit. The first view below was Elizabeth Street and followed by the new building at Collins Street.

I need to use the illustrations of the Melbourne streets of the 1880s as well as the lay-out of Melbourne in 1887 to get the best angles of where the buildings were – can also sue some of my illustrations and photos of 1860s Melbourne plus illus of Joseph Jefferson

Photos I need to take – Melbourne Baths, maybe another of Sir Redmund Barry, harp & Erin, Flinders Street west, Flinders Street east, Flinders Lane


Do biographies of the people in Melbourne at the time of the Shenandoah's visit and their relationships to the Civil War


Freeman Cobb (though he had already left for America)

Thomas W. Stanford

William Blanchard

Joe Jefferson

Peter Lalor

Redmond Barry

Samuel Amess

J.B. Were

Henry Dendy (might have died?)

David Syme

Governor Darling

James G. Francis

Frederick Charles Standish

James I Waddell

Thomas Crompton (from Lanacashire)

Owner of Craigs

Photographer Batchelor

Mine owners in Ballarat who invited Shenandoah crew members

Owner of the dockyards (Langlands)

Phillip Ferguson Jones

Shenandoah crew members

New York Times, 22 September 1861

WILLIAM BLANCHARD, of this city, has been appointed Consul to Melbourne.

(he took over from Maguire who had been appointed by Buchanan?)


WERE, JONATHAN BINNS (1809-1885), stockbroker, was born on 25 April 1809 at Wellington, Somerset, England, the third son of Nicholas Were and his wife Frances, née Binns. In 1829 he joined the firm of Collins & Co., colonial merchants and bankers, of Plymouth. In 1833 he married Sophia Mullet Dunsford (1811-1881), a Quaker. They had twelve children, three of whom died in infancy. In 1882 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Donald Gordon McArthur of Melbourne.

Were emigrated in 1839 and settled in Melbourne. He brought a prefabricated house and merchandise worth about £1500. He traded at first under his own name, then with his brother George and with other partners until 1861, when the title J. B. Were & Son was adopted. Were's were importers, exporters, and agents for shipping, land, cattle, sheep and wool. In 1851 they became brokers and buyers of gold, and in 1853 began to deal in shares.

In February 1841 Were had become an agent for Henry Dendy. Were's subsequent business failure and bankruptcy in 1843 forced Dendy into insolvency; both their interests in the Brighton Estate were acquired eventually by Were's eldest brother Nicholas who lived in England. In 1857, after his second bankruptcy, the firm's share dealings rapidly took precedence over its commerce. In 1859 Were was both chairman and secretary of a regular stock exchange and in 1860 began to operate 'solely as Broker and Agent'. He successfully challenged stock jobbing by campaigning for an exchange on which brokers could not be principals and in 1865 was elected first chairman of 'The Stock Exchange of Melbourne'. He was a leading broker until his death, taking into partnership at various times his sons, Jonathan Henry, Francis Wellington and Arthur Bonville, and his son-in-law Sherbourne Sheppard.

In the 1840s Were was prominent in communal and business activities. He was first president of the Chamber of Commerce, one of three on the standing committee for separation, president of the Bible Society, a member of the Melbourne Hospital Committee, the Immigration Board and other institutions, and a director of many companies. He was the first justice of the peace appointed for Port Phillip, was a leading Church of England layman, and helped to run the 1881 Melbourne Exhibition, after which he was appointed C.M.G. In 1856 he was elected for Brighton to the Legislative Assembly, but his second bankruptcy soon caused his retirement. Contemporaries considered him most notable for the extraordinary number of his consular posts. He was knighted by the kings of Sweden and Denmark.

Were was a strange mixture of worldly ambition and idealism, of breadth of vision and rashness. His life seems to divide naturally into two periods at about 1857. Most of his public service took place in the 1840s and it was then that he lived in some style; 'all was English' at Moorabbin House in Brighton. He died on 6 December 1885.

Portraits are in the possession of J. B. Were & Son, Dr Stuart Were of Balwyn, and the Brighton City Council.

Select Bibliography

T. W. H. Leavitt and W. D. Lilburn (eds), The Jubilee History of Victoria and Melbourne, vol 1 (Melb, 1888); The House of Were 1839-1954 (Melb, 1954); W. Bate, A History of Brighton (Melb, 1962); Argus (Melbourne), 7 Dec 1885. More on the resources

Author: Weston Bate

Print Publication Details: Weston Bate, 'Were, Jonathan Binns (1809 - 1885)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press, 1967, pp 589-590.

DENDY, HENRY (1800-1881), special survey proprietor, was born on 24 May 1800 at Abinger, Surrey, England, only son of Samuel Dendy, farmer, of Great Millfields and other property in Sussex and Surrey, and his wife Sarah, née Hampshire, who died when Henry was aged 3. When his father died in 1838, Henry was a brewer at nearby Dorking, which may help to explain why he sold the farms in 1840 and paid £1 an acre for a special survey of 5120 acres (2048 ha) at Port Phillip. He arrived in Melbourne on 5 February 1841 with his wife Sarah, née Weller, whom he had married at Capel, Surrey, on 6 January 1835, and their 5-year-old son Henry.

Dendy's behaviour was extraordinary, especially his attempt to establish a manorial estate in the pastoral colony. Inadvertently, though, he almost made a fortune. If applied to urban land, his order was thought to be worth £100,000. Melbourne's capitalists were agog, and Superintendent La Trobe, alarmed by the unexpected situation, appealed to Governor Gipps, who withdrew from sale land within five miles (8 km) of towns.

Astonished by his potential windfall, Dendy accepted advice from the forceful merchant J. B. Were, who was his agent when the land order was presented to La Trobe on 8 February. Defiantly, they claimed urban land before accepting two miles (3.2 km) of bay frontage at the Melbourne five-mile limit. Their Brighton Estate was surveyed in May 1841.

The ambitious plan, a pace-setter for Melbourne, offered delightful foreshore sites, a township with crescents and an inland village among seventy-eight-acre (33 ha) farms. Dendy built a two-storey 'manor house' and made his seventy-four-acre (32 ha) seafront home, Brighton Park, a show place. In partnership with Were, he played the role of founder, implemented a grant of ten acres (4 ha) to the Church of England and hosted a picnic match between the Brighton and Melbourne cricket clubs. His prosperity seemed assured, although the original manorial dream had been amended. Unable to employ the twenty-nine families and twenty-two single workers he had sponsored under the land regulations, he helped them to settle. They left names like Carpenter, Lindsay, Male and Hampton on Brighton streets; a street was also named after Dendy.

When depression hit the colony in 1843, land sales ceased and bad debts accumulated. Dendy suffered severely but kept afloat until required to honour his guarantee of £1500 on a bank loan to Were. In April 1845 he was declared insolvent, a fate softened by his wife's ownership (as her dowry) of Brighton Park. While Were was sustained by his brother in England, Dendy attempted to recover by brewing at Geelong in 1846-48, but could not keep the Brighton property. When it was sold in 1848, he tried squatting at Christmas Hills in 1849-53 and Upper Moira in 1853-55. The former was miserable, but the latter, near Nathalia, carried 8000 sheep when gold-rush demand for meat was strong. Its sale enabled him to visit England, apparently for several years.

Dendy, the dignified rolling stone, returned to a sheep property near Werribee, then to a flour mill at Eltham, where Sarah died in 1861. He sold the mill in 1867 to go to Gippsland, where he was a director of the Thomson River copper mine. It devoured his capital. Growing old, Henry lived with his son, who drove the engine at the Long Tunnel gold-mine, Walhalla. Pathetically, seeking independence, Dendy asked the friend who had built Brighton Park for materials to do up an old hut in the bush. On 11 February 1881 Dendy died at Walhalla, where he was buried. An epitaph might be the comment of his former servant John Booker: 'a good, honourable, kind master, but no businessman'.

Select Bibliography

W. Bate, A History of Brighton (Melb, 1962); L. A. Schumer, Henry Dendy and his Emigrants (Melb, 1975); Dendy file (Brighton Historical Society, Melbourne).

Author: Weston Bate

Print Publication Details: Weston Bate, 'Dendy, Henry (1800 - 1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, Melbourne University Press, 2005, pp 99-100.

FRANCIS, JAMES GOODALL (1819-1884), politician, was born on 9 January 1819 in London, son of Charles Francis and his wife Anne, née Smith. On 14 February 1835 he arrived at Hobart Town as a steerage passenger in the Sarah. He became partner in a Campbell Town store in 1840 and later head clerk in the Hobart firm of Boyes & Poynter. About 1850 Duncan McPherson bought the firm and took Francis into partnership; McPherson was consul for the United States and McPherson, Francis & Co. did much business with whaling ships in port. In 1853 Francis moved to Melbourne to open a branch of the firm while McPherson remained in Hobart. The partnership was dissolved in 1860 and next year Francis admitted John McPherson as partner to form Francis & McPherson. Francis was a local director of the Bank of New South Wales until his death; in April 1857 he was elected vice-president and in May president of the Chamber of Commerce. His other interests were legion. He was a director of the Victoria Sugar Co. established in 1857; he had a large part in establishing 'the Australian and Tasmanian Insurance Companies' and in 1857 was a director of the Melbourne Underwriters' Association, known as the Melbourne Marine Insurance Association after 1858. He was interested in gold-mining especially in the late 1850s and in Riverina and Victorian squatting from the late 1870s; in 1884 he held a half-interest in Runnymede, near Casterton, and was buying Monomeith near Cranbourne with P. and J. Bruce. He also invested in coal and Western Australian timber but his favourite hobby was probably the large vineyard he established at Sunbury in 1863.

In 1859-74 Francis represented Richmond in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. On 25 November 1859 he succeeded John King as vice-president of the lands and works board and commissioner of public works in the ministry of William Nicholson. When the cabinet refused to back James Service who threatened to invoke an 1850 Order in Council to make the Legislative Council accept his land bill, Francis resigned with Service on 3 September 1860. This action put him towards the left; so did his mild protectionism. Like other reformist merchants, however, he was separated from radicals by his dislike of agitation and contempt for their administrative capacities. He therefore opposed the part-radical ministry of Richard Heales as incompetent; when it turned wholly radical at the elections of 1861, proposing tariff reform and more administrative action to solve the land question, he despised it the more for its sudden conversion. Like other moneyed reformers he helped to defeat Heales and supported John O'Shanassy's ministry of 1861-63, although except for (Sir) Charles Gavan Duffy it was thoroughly conservative. Francis then became restless when Duffy's Land Act proved a fiasco and helped to defeat the ministry when Duffy proposed to increase pastoral rents fixed by arbitration under his own Act.

Co-operation in 1862 with James McCulloch earned Francis the commissionership of trade and customs in June 1863 in McCulloch's first administration. It was dominated by men of standing but the presence of Heales and three supporters made it easier for Francis to introduce his 1865 tariff. This first move in Victoria towards protection also began a political crisis. The government's victory at the 1864 elections had forced the Legislative Council to accept a liberal land bill, but it determined to counter-attack on the tariff. The government therefore 'tacked' this to the budget, but the council rejected the combined bill in July. Victoria was in uproar. Francis, while far from joining the radical agitators, supported his tariff against his class and saw it pass in March 1866.

The crisis revived in July 1867. A grant to Lady Darling, whose husband Sir Charles had been recalled for alleged partisanship in supporting the ministry in the earlier crisis, was also tacked with a similar result. Francis disliked the unnecessary disruption but extremism prevailed. He supported his colleagues, especially after Colonial Office intervention had forced their resignation in May 1868, but was soon critical of his party's intransigence. This attitude and his business affairs kept him out of the more radical restoration of the ministry after the crisis but he rejoined McCulloch in April 1870 as treasurer in his more conservative third administration. Faced with falling revenue after the 1871 elections Francis proposed even higher duties but, believing 12½ per cent the limit, suggested Victoria's first property tax for the rest. This proposal brought down the government in July and wrecked its party. Duffy's radical ministry successfully increased duties to 20 per cent but fears of another constitutional crisis united members of all persuasions. McCulloch resigned in the Christmas recess and Francis became leader and in June 1872 chief secretary. His pragmatism and moderation symbolized coalition and 'practical legislation'. His democratic style held together a cabinet of able, self-assertive men, some recently bitter opponents, and his majority soon became overwhelming.

Francis did not shun conflict. The 1872 Education Act, which first provided effectively for free, secular and compulsory primary education, belied claims that as an Anglican he had raised the question merely to undermine his Catholic predecessor. The ancient questions of mining on private property, fencing, impounding and land law liberalization were tackled. Acts were passed to reduce mining accidents and implement a long-delayed railway building programme. Constitutional reform was Francis's personal responsibility. In 1873 his proposals, more radical than politic, would have gone far towards one man one vote and one vote one value, liberalize the council and institute double dissolutions in future constitutional crises. These measures were frustrated by the council but Francis acted with determined moderation. Having given the council several opportunities he fought the 1874 elections on his 'Norwegian scheme' to settle disputes between the Houses by joint sittings. His personal majority was undiminished but reservations on the reform bill made its third reading majority fatally narrow. Simultaneously Francis almost died from pleurisy. A large majority urged him to retain office but he refused; the ministry was reconstructed in July under George Kerferd. The chief secretaryship was kept vacant but Francis left parliament in November and went to Britain.

When he returned in 1876 the assembly was polarized between McCulloch's ruling right and the left under Graham Berry. Disgusted, like many liberals, with Berry's violent agitations and McCulloch's intrigues, Francis refused to stand at the 1877 elections which swept Berry into power. The constitutional crisis of 1877-78 changed his mind. Still favouring constitutional reform he feared radical violence and sided with his class and the constitutionalist party. A vacancy was created in West Melbourne but at the poll in February 1878, and again in the ministerial by-election of April, Francis was defeated by political excitement, Catholic opposition and electoral sharp practice. Not until May was he elected for Warrnambool, his seat thenceforth. The crisis was over but in a close-fought campaign on the nature of council reform his experience greatly helped his party. He was minister without portfolio in Service's constitutionalist cabinet from March to August 1880 but health limited his activities; when Service left for England in March 1881 Francis would not seek the leadership and instead was the recognized adviser of the new leader, Robert Murray-Smith. He took over as leader in April 1882 after Smith became agent-general.

Meanwhile Berry had passed a reform Act but his government had promptly fallen and a scratch ministry was assembled by Sir Bryan O'Loghlen in July 1881. Francis's party, unable to rule alone, gave O'Loghlen a majority but with increasing reluctance, for Francis still mistrusted Berry. Worsening health reduced his influence and he began to doubt the ministry's financial competence; when the disappointing results of a major loan took O'Loghlen to the hustings in February 1883 Francis abandoned him. He stood down in favour of Service but when neither party won a majority accepted a coalition with Berry. His health collapsed and he died on 25 January 1884 at Queenscliff. He was survived by his wife Mary Grant, née Ogilvie, whom he had married at Hobart; they had eight sons and seven daughters. His estate was valued at more then £178,000.

Francis was no political giant. An effective administrator, he lacked the necessary touch of political ferocity and skill in manoeuvre; he also admitted that he was a wretched speaker. With the giants briefly removed in 1872-74, his straightforward, level-headed independence and modesty were what the times required. If he could not inspire awe, fear or passion, he had a rare capacity for winning confidence and affection. He never sought the trappings of power and three times refused a knighthood as inappropriate to colonial society. Had his health allowed, his qualities might have brought him an enviable and continuing political success.

Select Bibliography

A. S. Kenyon, ‘The James Hamilton letters’, Victorian Historical Magazine, 15 (1933-35); Argus (Melbourne), 25 Aug 1859, 1 Aug 1861, 26 Jan 1884; Leader (Melbourne), 25 July 1863; Illustrated Australian News, 20 Feb 1884; F. K. Crowley, Aspects of the Constitutional Conflicts … Victorian Legislature, 1864-1868 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1947); J. E. Parnaby, The Economic and Political Development of Victoria, 1877-1881 (Ph.D. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1951); G. R. Bartlett, Political Organization and Society in Victoria 1864-1883 (Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1964).

Author: Geoffrey Bartlett

Print Publication Details: Geoffrey Bartlett, 'Francis, James Goodall (1819 - 1884)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 211-

LALOR, PETER (1827-1889), Eureka stockade leader and politician, was born on 5 February 1827 in the parish of Raheen, Queen's County, Ireland, son of Patrick Lalor (pronounced Lawler) and his wife Ann, née Dillon. The family was descended from the O'Lalours, one of the Seven Septs of Leix who had fought against the English invasion of Ireland in the sixteenth century. The Lalors had leased the 700 acres (283 ha) of Tenakill since 1767 and remained fairly prosperous until the great famine of 1845. They were supporters of Ireland's freedom from British rule and of the rights of the Irish peasantry. In 1831 Patrick Lalor had led the resistance of the Leix peasants against the forcible collection of tithes for the established church and in 1832-35 represented Queen's County in the House of Commons where he was an ardent advocate for the repeal of the Act of Union. In 1853 he wrote: 'I have been for upwards of forty years struggling without ceasing in the cause of the people'.

The eldest of Patrick's eleven sons, James Fintan, became a leader of the Irish Confederation and the 'Young Ireland' movement of 1848. According to (Sir) Charles Gavan Duffy, he was 'the most original and intense … of all the men who have preached revolutionary politics in Ireland'. In the Nation he expounded his belief in 'Ireland her own, from the sod to the sky'. He became co-editor of the Irish Felon in 1848 but was in Newgate prison during the uprising. On his release, he plunged into a new unsuccessful revolutionary conspiracy. He died in December 1849. Fintan had urged his brother Richard in 1848 to form Confederate clubs and engage a blacksmith to make pikes for the peasants. Fintan's letters record only the suggestion that Peter should join the Felon club and that Richard should bring him to Dublin to take part in the rising.

Peter's early years were overshadowed by these dramatic events and by the famine but no evidence shows that he was actively involved. Later he commented that 'from what he had seen of the mode of conducting politics in [Ireland] he had … no inclination to mix himself up with them'. Educated at Carlow College and in Dublin, he became a civil engineer. The years after the famine saw a great emigration from Ireland. Three of the Lalor brothers went to America while Peter and Richard migrated to Victoria attracted by the gold discoveries. They arrived at Melbourne in October 1852 and Peter found work on the construction of the Melbourne-Geelong railway; he and Richard also became partners with another Irishman as wine, spirits and provision merchants in Melbourne. In 1853 Peter left for the Ovens diggings. Early in 1854 he moved to Ballarat. Richard did not accompany him to the diggings and soon returned to Ireland where he became a member of parliament for Leix in 1880-92 and was an ardent Home Ruler and supporter of Parnell. Peter apparently saw himself as much merchant as digger, since he bought from the partnership over £800 worth of tobacco, spirits and other supplies; however, his departure for the goldfields ended his career as a city merchant.

At Ballarat Lalor staked a claim on the Eureka lead, where many Irish diggers were concentrated, although his own 'mate' was Duncan Gillies, a Scot. He was reported to be among the shrinking minority of Ballarat diggers who were having 'fair luck' on their claims; he was involved, although not prominently, in the agitations over the miners' licence and 'digger-hunting'. Later Lalor wrote, perhaps thinking of the wrongs of Ireland, 'the people were dissatisfied with the laws, because they excluded them from the possession of the land, from being represented in the Legislative Council, and imposed on them an odious poll-tax' (licence fee) which an arbitrary officialdom sought to collect from diggers.

The Ballarat Reform League arose from the agitation against the imprisonment of three diggers charged with the burning of Bentley's Hotel. The league's programme reflected the radical beliefs of its leaders: it was overtly Chartist in its demands and, some said, covertly republican. Lalor was a member of the committee, although he must have had reservations about parts of its programme. On 29 November 1854 the league called its first mass meeting to hear the report of its deputation to the governor. Sir Charles Hotham had promised an inquiry into the diggers' grievances but refused to accede to the diggers' 'demand' for the release of their mates. The mood of the 12,000 diggers who gathered on Bakery Hill for the first time under their Southern Cross flag was for physical resistance. Resolutions were carried calling on the diggers to burn their licences and pledging the protection of the 'united people' for any digger arrested for non-possession of a licence. Lalor's first public appearance was at this meeting: he moved for a further league meeting on 3 December in order to elect a central committee.

On 30 November the troops had undertaken a 'digger hunt' on Bakery Hill. The news of the resulting clash spread rapidly through the diggings to the Eureka, where Lalor was working in his shaft, 140 ft (43 m) below ground, with Timothy Hayes, chairman of the league, at the windlass above. Diggers rushed to the scene and, as the troops withdrew with their prisoners, occupied the hill where the flag was again raised. The diggers dispersed to gather strength and resolved to reassemble at 4 p.m. None of the regular spokesmen was then present and Lalor 'mounted the stump and proclaimed "Liberty".' He called on the men to arm themselves and to organize for self-defence. Some hundreds were enrolled and Lalor, according to Raffaello Carboni, 'knelt down, the head uncovered, and with the right hand pointing to the standard, exclaimed in a firm measured tone: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other to defend our rights and liberties". A universal well-rounded Amen, was the determined reply'. That night Lalor wrote to his fiancée, Alicia Dunne, a school-teacher in Geelong: 'the diggers … in self-defence, have taken up arms and are resolved to use them … I am one amongst them. You must not be unhappy on this account. I would be unworthy of being called a man, I would be unworthy of myself, and, above all, I would be unworthy of you and of your love, were I base enough to desert my companions in danger'.

Next morning some 1500 diggers assembled on Bakery Hill and marched behind their flag to the Eureka. The leaders met and appointed Lalor commander. In response he said: 'I expected someone who is really well known to come forward and direct our movement. However, if you appoint me your commander-in-chief, I shall not shrink. I tell you, gentlemen, if once I pledge my hand to the diggers, I will neither defile it with treachery, nor render it contemptible with cowardice'.

In the next two days both sides continued their preparations. The diggers threw up a barricade of which Lalor wrote, 'it was nothing more than an enclosure to keep our own men together, and was never erected with an eye to military defence'; yet it closely resembled the fortified circular encampments planned by Fintan Lalor in 1848. Behind it, the men drilled and blacksmiths manufactured pikes. Lalor claimed no military expertise; he appointed a young American to look after the military side while he organized picketing and the procurement of arms, ammunition and other supplies. The government camp organized for action and infiltrated the stockade with spies.

Lalor did not expect an immediate attack and did not plan to confine defence to the stockade. By midnight on Saturday only about 120 men were left in the stockade, most of them Irish. Some hundreds had left to spend the night in their tents. At about 3 a.m., Sunday, 3 December, the troops and police attacked. They quickly stormed the flimsy stockade and its defences, killing thirty or more diggers and taking over a hundred prisoners. True to his pledge Lalor had stood his ground but was hit in the left arm and collapsed. He was hidden under logs and escaped the bayonets of the attackers. He was smuggled from the battlefield and eventually reached the home of Father Smyth, where his arm was amputated at the shoulder by a party of doctors. Legend has Lalor recovering consciousness during the operation and, seeing one doctor with signs of faintness, saying 'Courage! Courage! Take it off!'

Hotham offered a reward of £200 for information leading to the apprehension of a 'person of the name of Lawlor … height 5 ft 11 ins [180 cm], age 35, hair dark brown, whiskers dark brown and shaved under the chin, no moustache, long face, rather good looking and … a well made man' who at Ballarat 'did … use certain TREASONABLE AND SEDITIOUS LANGUAGE, and incite Men to take up Arms, with a view to make war against Our Sovereign Lady the QUEEN'. There were no takers: public sympathy was overwhelmingly with the diggers. Lalor remained concealed in Ballarat for several weeks; from there he was taken by dray to Geelong, where he was cared for by Alicia Dunne and married her on 10 July 1855 at St Mary's Church.

Public subscriptions for the disabled Lalor raised enough money for him to buy '160 acres [65 ha] of very good land within 10 miles [16 km] of Ballaarat'; he emerged from hiding to bid for the land and was not arrested. In March the reward had been revoked, and in April the thirteen diggers charged with treason were acquitted. The colonists generally shared Lalor's judgment of the stockade: 'neither anarchy, bloodshed, nor plunder, were the objects of those engaged … Stern necessity alone forced us to do it'. One eye-witness reports Lalor as saying that his object as leader was 'independence'; if this were so, it would seem that the independence he wanted was from arbitrary rule, from encroachments by the Crown on 'British Liberty', and that granted by access to the land, rather than the 'independence' of a republican democracy.

With the adoption of the recommendation of the commissioners appointed by Hotham to inquire into the condition of the goldfields that the Legislative Council be enlarged to include elected representatives of the goldfields, Lalor was one of two diggers' leaders returned unopposed in November 1855 to represent Ballarat. He told his electors: 'I am in favour of such a system of law reform as will enable the poor man to obtain equal justice with the rich'. When the first parliament was elected under the new Constitution in 1856 Lalor was returned unopposed to the Legislative Assembly for North Grenville, a Ballarat seat. He was appointed an inspector of railways at a salary of £600, but was soon debarred from this post when legislation was passed prohibiting civil servants from sitting in parliament.

In the assembly Lalor spoke out for the interests of the diggers: he successfully advocated compensation for the victims of Eureka, and unsuccessfully the right of miners to enter private property in search of gold; in vain he opposed the appropriation of funds for a memorial to Hotham, saying, 'There was sufficient monument already existing in the graves of the thirty individuals slain at Ballarat'. Yet he aroused hostility among his digger constituents by supporting plural voting on a property franchise and a six-months' residency qualification for the franchise, and land legislation which radicals held to favour the squatters. In defence he said that he would never consent to deprive a freeholder of his right to vote in virtue of his freehold, and that the danger inherent in conferring the franchise on 'an unsettled population' should be balanced 'by infusing into the people a conservative element by attaching them to the land'. He denied that he was a democrat if that meant 'Chartism, Communism, or Republicanism', but asserted that 'if democracy means opposition to a tyrannical press, a tyrannical people or a tyrannical government, then I have ever been, I am still, and will ever remain, a democrat'. The diggers were not convinced, and Lalor wisely stood for South Grant in 1859. He was elected and became chairman of committees at a salary of £800.

Lalor's stance in parliament appeared puzzlingly inconsistent. He was an early advocate of protection of local industry, believing that it would provide work for men no longer able to make a living on the goldfields, but he also supported assisted immigration. Although a devout Roman Catholic, he opposed state aid to religion and supported a national education system provided that provision was made for religious teaching. He supported the 1860 and 1862 Land Acts providing for selection from the squatters' runs, but urged sale by auction of both freehold agricultural land and grazing leases, declaring that the creation of 'a middle class of landed proprietors' able to employ labourers at reasonable wages, was preferable to opening the land in small lots to men without capital. He supported reform of the Legislative Council but opposed payment to members. When the McCulloch government came into conflict with the council over the protectionist tariff and later the 'Darling grant', Lalor urged caution and abstained from voting on several of the government's vital measures, holding them to be unconstitutional.

Lalor's pursuit of his own judgment won him no friends in parliament, yet as a good local member with a strong personal following he topped the poll for South Grant in 1868. The ministry repaid his 'unsoundness' by refusing to reappoint him as chairman of committees. In the next three years Lalor virtually abandoned parliament for private business, attending only 31 of 174 divisions. He operated as a land and mining agent and was director of several mining companies, the most important being the New North Clunes. He was also chairman at a substantial salary of the Clunes Water Commission. On his initiative legislation was passed enabling the commission to borrow money for the construction of a water supply system for Clunes. The money was raised by the New North Clunes Mining Co. In 1873 the government bought the commission for £65,000, thus enabling New North Clunes to declare what the Ballarat Star described as the largest dividend ever paid by a mining company—£30 a share. It was also alleged that Lalor employed blacklegs to enforce a wage cut in one of his mines. Lalor was narrowly squeezed out of third place in the 1871 election by Jonas Levien whom he angrily described as 'a little jew boy' and against whom he pursued a vendetta.

The 1874 election was fought on the reform of the Legislative Council. Lalor was by now convinced that domination of the council by squatters made reform necessary, and that its powers should be limited to those enjoyed by the House of Lords. He was elected third member for South Grant. When (Sir) Graham Berry formed his first government in 1875, Lalor became commissioner for customs. The government was defeated after a few months but Berry was refused a dissolution by the governor and led his followers in a stonewalling campaign to disrupt the conduct of business. Lalor supported Berry's tactics wholeheartedly.

In the 1877 election Lalor again backed all Berry's policies, including payment of members. He won a landslide victory, and Lalor became postmaster-general and as commissioner for customs negotiated in vain with Sir Henry Parkes to remove the border duties between Victoria and New South Wales. When the council refused to accept the payment of members, Berry retaliated by sacking the colony's senior public servants. Melbourne Punch laid this 'Black Wednesday' at the door of Lalor who had been outspoken in denouncing the 'arrogant power' of the council. However, Lalor twice embarrassed the government and asserted his independence by voting against measures which Berry believed significant.

The Berry government was defeated in 1880 but Lalor topped the poll for South Grant as a Berryite. In a later election that year Berry won again and moved for the appointment of Lalor as Speaker. Although denounced by Thomas Bent as a 'rebel against the British crown' and as having been 'drunk on the floor of this House', Lalor was appointed unopposed. 'The first duty of a Speaker', he said, 'is to be a tyrant. Remove him if you like, but while he is in the chair obey him. The Speaker is the embodiment of the corporate honour of the House. He is above party. He is the greatest representative of the people'. Despite conservative fears that Lalor would lean towards his political friends he maintained the strength, dignity and impartiality of the chair, and was reappointed by successive parliaments until diabetes weakened his physique and impaired his judgment. The death of his only daughter and in May 1887 of his wife greatly affected him, and he resigned as Speaker in September.

The premier, Duncan Gillies, introduced a bill to grant Lalor £4000 to free him of financial worries in his last months. Despite party opposition in the assembly the bill was passed and later carried unanimously in the council. Earlier Lalor had refused the offer of a knighthood. In a bid to regain his health he took leave from parliament, but remained a member at the express wish of his constituents, and went by sea to San Francisco. On his return he became bedridden in the home of his only son, Joseph, where he died on 9 February 1889. Besides the requiem in Melbourne, flags were flown at half-mast and a special memorial service was held at Ballarat.

On entry into parliament Lalor had been described by the Argus as 'a bluff, straight forward gentleman who blurts out plain truths in a homely matter-of-fact style'. Certainly as diggers' leader and as parliamentarian he fought with courage, determination and often passion for the truth as he saw it. His loyalties were to principles rather than to individuals. The inconsistencies of his political stance can perhaps best be explained by the principles he consistently upheld: a well-ordered society based on a broad and prosperous land-holding class, governed by free men in the liberal institutions embodied in British constitutional procedures. Only when a class claimed exclusive and overbearing power and sought to impose its will arbitrarily was Lalor's anger aroused and turned him, however reluctantly, to action. Once committed to a course he did not waver from it. Neither a profound thinker nor a skilful politician, Lalor was a good fighter and a man of rectitude who came finally to earn the respect even of those whom he had most vehemently opposed on grounds of principle.

Select Bibliography

W. B. Withers, The History of Ballarat (Ballarat, 1887); L. Fogarty (ed), James Fintan Lalor (Dublin, 1947); T. J. Kiernan, The Irish Exiles in Australia (Melb, 1954); Historical Studies, Eureka Supplement (Melb, 1965); C. Turnbull, 'Eureka', in C. Turnbull, Australian Lives: Charles Whitehead, James Stephens, Peter Lalor, George Francis Train, Francis Adams, Paddy Hannan (Melb, 1965), pp 42-71; Parliamentary Debates (Victoria) 1856-87; Australasian, 19, 26 June 1880, 17, 24 Sept 1887, 16 Feb 1889; Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 16 Feb 1889; J. Parnaby, The Economic and Political Development of Victoria, 1877-1881 (Ph.D. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1951); G. Robinson, The Political Activities of Peter Lalor (B.A. Hons thesis, University of Melbourne, 1960); Lalor family papers (National Library of Ireland). More on the resources

Author: Ian Turner

Print Publication Details: Ian Turner, 'Lalor, Peter (1827 - 1889)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp 50-54.

AMESS, SAMUEL (1826-1898), building contractor, was born at Newburgh, Fife, Scotland, son of Samuel Amess, miller, and his wife Elizabeth, née Fotheringham. On leaving private school he was apprenticed to a stonemason. In 1852 he sailed to Victoria and after some success at the goldfields was able to start as a building contractor early in 1853 in Melbourne. He bought land in William Street and the house he built there remained his home until his death. Amess built the Treasury, the 'Old Exchange', the Customs House, the Kew Lunatic Asylum (a contract of about £120,000), the Government Printing Office and many country railway stations. He was the contractor for the west facade of Parliament House but in 1883 was involved in a dispute over the facing stone and lost the contract. In the 1870s he was regarded as Melbourne's foremost building contractor and in 1873 was the first president of the Builders and Contractors Association.

In 1864 Amess was elected to the Melbourne City Council. As mayor in 1869-70 he organized and paid for the ceremonies and festivities associated with the opening of the new town hall in August 1870. Amess commissioned Henry Kendall and Charles Horsley to write a cantata for the concert which 4500 people attended, and he gave a magnificent fancy dress ball at which 3000 guests dined on boars' heads, sucking pigs, jellies and champagne. Amess described his 'sparing the corporable funds' as 'a simple act of duty … The contrary course would have left room for cavilling and question, alike humiliating and vexatious to the members of the City Council'.

Amess was an alderman and a justice of the peace and though he grew less active in business he remained a trusted municipal figure. He represented the city council on the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Harbor and Tramway Trusts. He was a member of the West Melbourne Presbyterian Church and Literary Institute. He also spent his retirement in improving his property on Churchill Island in Westernport Bay which he stocked with horses, quail, pheasants, rabbits and Highland cattle. Aged 71 he died on 2 July 1898 after a short illness aggravated by his insistence on attending to his public duties. He was survived by three of his six sons (educated at Melbourne Grammar School) and two daughters. His wife Jane, daughter of Ralph Straughan, whom he had married in 1849, predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian Series (Melb, 1878); A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888); Argus (Melbourne), 10, 12 Aug 1870, 4 July 1898; Leader (Melbourne), 9 July 1898; Age (Melbourne), 2 Aug 1946. More on the resources

Author: J. Ann Hone

Print Publication Details: J. Ann Hone, 'Amess, Samuel (1826 - 1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, p. 29.

BARRY, Sir REDMOND (1813-1880), judge, was born on 7 June 1813 at Ballyclough, County Cork, Ireland, the third son of Major-General Henry Green Barry and his wife Phoebe, née Drought. Brought up an Anglican, he was educated first at 'Old Curtain's' private academy on the shores of Cork Harbour. At 12 he was sent to a boarding school at Bexley, Kent, which specialized in preparing boys for the army. In 1829 he returned to Ireland hopeful of a commission but, despite many efforts over ten years, none was to be had. He spent the decade profitably, however, for he graduated from Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1837), was admitted to the Irish Bar in 1838, and attended at Lincoln's Inn, from which he received a testimonium in August 1838.

While securing these formal qualifications, his other activities showed all his most engaging characteristics. He read widely, attended lectures on both humane subjects and the natural sciences, listened to debates in the Commons, took much vigorous exercise riding, tramping and swimming, and engaged in a warm and lively social life seasoned with many acts of kindness to his friends and family. He became an intimate friend at this time of the brilliant Isaac Butt, founder of the Irish Home Rule movement and defender of William Smith O'Brien. In short he was ceaselessly active both mentally and physically, and so he remained till his last days. But in these ten years he earned virtually no income, and the overcrowded Irish Bar offered no prospects; when his father died in May 1838 emigration became almost a necessity.

After a rapid tour of the Continent he sailed from London in the Calcutta on 27 April 1839 and arrived in Sydney on 1 September. For part of the voyage he was confined to his cabin by the captain because of an unconcealed love affair with a married woman passenger. The matter became known to Bishop William Grant Broughton and other influential people, and did not help his reputation or prospects of employment in Sydney. He was admitted to the Bar there on 19 October. After seeking positions in New South Wales and writing to inquire about vacancies in Van Diemen's Land, he sailed for the new Port Phillip settlement in the Parkfield on 30 October but did not land there until 13 November, so foul was the weather. From that day Melbourne was his home. No sense of exile enters his large private correspondence to England and Ireland. Though his values were wholly those of the cultivated European, he sought to plant these values in his new land and had nothing in common with many of his fellow colonists who saw the settlement chiefly as a means to the fortune which would enable them to retire home in comfort to the British Isles.

The few pounds he had brought from Ireland were almost spent by the time he landed in Melbourne and he took as both lodging and chambers one back room in Mrs Hoosan's cottage in Collins Street. Since no judge of the Supreme Court was then resident in Melbourne he engaged busily in the inferior courts. On 12 April 1841, the first day of the first sittings of the Supreme Court in Melbourne, Barry was admitted to practice by its first judge, the vituperative and eccentric John Walpole Willis. In the two years that Willis presided Barry showed another of the qualities by which he was to be remembered — his invincible politeness and unfailing, if elaborate and old-fashioned, courtesy. His diaries show that the gross provocation of Willis from the bench often reduced the young barrister to a state of almost unendurable tension; yet his decorous demeanour in court was never seen to be ruffled.

In the early years of Melbourne Barry became unofficial standing counsel for the Aboriginals. He laboured as hard and as earnestly upon their cases, often capital matters, as he did upon his other briefs, though he rarely, if ever, received a fee for such services. His interest in the Aboriginals was general and lasted all his life. Though he accomplished for them little of practical value, his open-minded and unprejudiced approach was in advance of that of many even of the most liberal of his contemporaries.

On 2 January 1843 Governor Sir George Gipps sealed Barry's appointment to a minor judicial post, commissioner of the Court of Requests. This was a small debts court and his salary was £100, later increased to £250, plus a proportion of the court fees. The court sat only for the first few days of each month, and Barry therefore retained and developed his private practice. At the same time he was watching the possibility of securing a more important official post and applied unsuccessfully for a commissionership of crown lands.

In 1851, when the Port Phillip District was separated from New South Wales as the colony of Victoria, Barry was appointed its first solicitor-general, a position which he held briefly, for he was elevated to the new bench of the Supreme Court of Victoria in January 1852. He was the first puisne judge of that court and, after the appointment of (Sir) Edward Williams as a second puisne judge in July 1852, Barry held the appointment of senior puisne judge until his death.

During his whole residence in Melbourne Barry was prominent or foremost in every phase of social, cultural and philanthropic activity. To list all the causes or organizations whose interests he promoted would be almost impossible; as examples, he was a founder of the Melbourne Mechanics' Institute (now the Athenaeum), a prominent member of the Separation movement, thrice president of the Melbourne Club, active in the Melbourne Hospital, the Philharmonic Society, the Philosophical Institute, the Royal Society of Victoria — even the Polo Club. He also held a commission in the Victorian Volunteers, the local militia. It is curious, and is perhaps attributable to his friendship with many prominent squatters, that he seems to have played no active part in the anti-transportation movement, though his opinions were distinctly against sending convicts to Victoria. His concern for the diffusion of learning was such that he allowed members of the public to come at night to read books and journals in his house, before there was a public library. In 1841 he was challenged to a duel by Peter Snodgrass, arising out of a letter sent by Barry to a friend, in which he referred to Snodgrass in derogatory terms. The farcical elements of this 'affair of honour' reached their climax when Snodgrass fired prematurely in nervous haste, while Barry magnanimously and ceremoniously fired his pistol into the air.

His private benevolence was liberal, though discreetly bestowed. Irish famine relief, the building of new colonial churches both Protestant and Catholic, the needs of less fortunate relations in Ireland and the alleviation of personal distress in Melbourne all made inroads upon a fortune which, though never great, he did not seek to augment by speculation. Public labour left little time for private aggrandizement; at various periods of his life he trod uncomfortably near the edge of real financial difficulty and died a poor man.

Though already a celebrity when he ascended the bench, he had not even begun his greatest and most enduring works. He was (despite beliefs that the credit belongs largely to Hugh Childers) the indubitable prime founder of the University of Melbourne, of which he was first chancellor (1853), a position he held till his death. He was equally the father of the Melbourne Public Library (now the State Library of Victoria) and its then associated Art Gallery. Over the library trustees too he presided until his death. In both spheres his achievement was great, for the university was able to attract outstanding men as its first professors and well within Barry's lifetime its degrees grew to command world-wide respect. In the same period the library became recognized as one of the great collections of the world, administered upon the most liberal principles. Any detailed criticism of the precise significance of Barry's role in the development of these institutions must recognize that the greatest help came from his drive, energy and influence, his ceaseless care and toil for them, rather than from any more refined or subtle intellectual powers. He was as capable at dusting the books or acting temporarily as porter as at chairing the trustees' meetings at the library. At the university he would pace out the dimensions of some new building on the muddy ground before going in to preside as chancellor. He was criticized in both capacities for being autocratic. In rebuttal it could be argued that if he had not made the decisions and done the work nothing would have been accomplished, for often he was the sole person to attend meetings of which due notice had been given.

As a judge he was hard-working, competent and conservative. He undertook more than his fair share of the cases, worked very long hours and endured the arduous travel by coach, train or horseback required by the circuit courts. Moreover, because he lived nearer to the city than any of the other judges, his leisure was frequently interrupted by urgent applications at his house for legal processes. He gave much thought to matters concerned with the general administration of the law, to the quality of the Supreme Court Library, to the design of the new and splendid court buildings in William Street, though he did not live to sit there.

In 1864 he was involved in a dispute with the attorney-general, George Higinbotham, over the relationship between the judges and the Crown. Barry wrote direct to the governor, Sir Charles Darling, informing him that he proposed to take a short leave in Sydney. Higinbotham insisted that an 'officer of his Department' had no right to take such a step. To admit himself merely 'an officer' of the department of such a democratic attorney-general as Higinbotham was anathema to Barry, and the dispute was acrimonious.

In criminal cases Barry had a reputation for harshness, though it was a harsh period and he was in tune with his times. The florid and slightly sanctimonious speeches with which he frequently seasoned his sentences cannot have made him loved, and certainly he valued the purely retributive elements of the law. Yet he supported the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society and stressed the importance of the rehabilitation of a criminal who had paid his debt to society. He thought of Victoria as a frontier area where the law was not yet sufficiently respected. In sentencing Henry Garrett to ten years labour on the roads for robbery in company in 1855, he said: 'The sentences of the Court may be thought harsh, but those sentences will be mitigated as the country becomes more settled and composed'. He presided over the trials of most of the Eureka rebels in 1855, including that of Raffaello Carboni. No charge of bias or harshness can be urged against him here, and all the accused were acquitted. In the cases of the convicts accused of the murder of John Price, inspector-general of penal establishments in 1857, he conducted the several trials with a rigor and severity out of keeping with the best judicial attitude, and is perhaps most open to criticism for refusing to assign counsel to defend the accused. Probably his most famous trial was that of Ned Kelly in 1880. Though the Kelly legend continues to excite attention, no substantial criticism of Barry's conduct of that trial can be sustained.

When the chief justice, Sir William à Beckett, resigned in 1857 Barry very reasonably expected to succeed him. The post went instead to (Sir) William Stawell, the attorney-general, after a series of political manoeuvres hardly in accordance with the highest traditions for judicial appointments. Their letters show that relations between Stawell and Barry remained unhappy, and the disappointment was one that Barry never forgot.

On 18 August 1846 Barry made the acquaintance of Mrs Louisa Barrow, a woman of small education and lower social position than his. Though they never married, the relationship between them remained affectionate, tender and devoted in the extreme until the end of Barry's life. She bore him four children, Nicholas, Eliza, George and Fred (b.1847, 1850, 1856, 1859 respectively), all of whom took Barry's name. Parents and children frequently appeared together on public occasions such as theatre performances. The relationship earned him occasional criticism, especially from Charles Perry, the Anglican bishop, yet it was not a cause of his failure to be appointed chief justice. Mrs Barrow farmed a property at Syndal to the east of Melbourne and Barry, in his spare time, cultivated another small property near by — his 'Sabine farm'. Both fronted what is now High Street Road. His city residence, for most of his judgeship, was in Carlton Gardens near the present Exhibition Building. He lived and entertained here on a scale of some splendour. For Mrs Barrow he built a city house at 82 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Apart from shorter sea voyages to other colonies and New Zealand he made two visits abroad, one in 1862 to England and Europe, and the other in 1877-78 to America, England and Europe. Both tours were connected with major exhibitions to which he was commissioner for the Victorian exhibit. However, he regarded the voyages very little as an opportunity for recreation but devoted his time to extremely hard work on behalf of the University of Melbourne, the Public Library and the Art Gallery. He was created K.B. in 1860 and K.C.M.G. in 1877. The inscription on the base of his statue in Swanston Street, outside the State Library, omits to record the latter honour. On various occasions he was acting chief justice, and once briefly administrator of the government of Victoria.

After a very short illness he died in East Melbourne on 23 November 1880, only twelve days after the execution of Ned Kelly. He was buried in the Melbourne general cemetery; although the gravestone does not record it, Mrs Barrow was buried beside him upon her death some years later.

In affairs of the mind Barry was a classicist and a traditionalist rather than an innovator, a man of immense energy and conviction rather than of subtlety. He tended to be a little behind rather than abreast of the great new ideas of his time, as for example in controversies over evolution. An unsuccessful move to depose him as chancellor was made by more 'modern-minded' elements during his absence in 1877-78, though the attempt was also partly motivated by personal spite and in the knowledge that Barry had freely offered his resignation before he embarked. He remained an Anglican, though a formal one without any trace of 'enthusiasm'. He was completely tolerant in religious matters and abhorred the sectarian bitterness of Victorian public life. In his later days it was said that he became vain and pompous, yet perhaps no other Australian city has had so notable a benefactor, and the tribute of his contemporary Garryowen is well merited: 'He was the most remarkable personage in the annals of Port Phillip, for he threw in his lot with the destiny of the Province when it was a weak struggling settlement in 1839, and identified himself with every stage of its wonderful progress until he left it a bright and brilliant colony in 1880'.

A portrait by J. Botterill is in the La Trobe Library, and another in the council room of the University of Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

Garryowen (E. Finn), The Chronicles of Early Melbourne, vols 1-2 (Melb, 1888); G. Blainey, A Centenary History of the University of Melbourne (Melb, 1957); J. V. Barry, The Life and Death of John Price (Melb, 1964); A. Sutherland, ‘Sir Redmond Barry’, Melbourne Review, 7 (1882); Redmond Barry papers (State Library of Victoria). More on the resources

Author: Peter Ryan

Print Publication Details: Peter Ryan, 'Barry, Sir Redmond (1813 - 1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, pp 108-111.

DARLING, Sir CHARLES HENRY (1809-1870), military officer and governor, was born on 19 February 1809 at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, the eldest son of Major-General Henry Charles Darling, sometime lieutenant-governor of Tobago, and his wife Isabella, the eldest daughter of Charles Cameron, sometime governor of the Bahamas. With a recommendation from Sandhurst, Charles joined the 57th Regiment as an ensign in 1826 and next year went with his regiment to New South Wales. He served as assistant private secretary to his uncle, Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling. In 1831 he returned to Sandhurst. In 1833-39 he served as military secretary to Sir Lionel Smith in the West Indies and in 1839-41 was captain of an unattached company. He then retired from the army and settled in Jamaica. At Barbados in 1835 he had married the eldest daughter of Alan Dalzell; she died in 1837 and in 1839 he married the eldest daughter of Joshua Bushill Nurse; she had one daughter and died in 1848.

Recommended by Lord Elgin, Darling was appointed agent-general for immigration and adjutant-general of militia in Jamaica in 1843 and became a member of the Legislative Council. He served as secretary to two governors, Major-General Sackville Berkeley and Sir Charles Grey, and in 1847 was appointed lieutenant-governor of St Lucia. In 1851 he married Elizabeth Isabella Caroline, the only daughter of Christopher Salter of Buckinghamshire; they had four sons. In that year he was transferred to Cape Colony as lieutenant-governor, and from May to December 1854 acted as administrator when parliamentary government was being established. His appointment as governor of Newfoundland in May 1855 was made permanent in February 1857. While in office he helped to inaugurate parliamentary government. He then served as governor of Jamaica, Honduras and the Bay Islands until 1863. He was appointed K.C.B. in 1862.

In September 1863, Darling took up duty as governor of Victoria. The governorship was one of the best paid and most highly prized in the empire, and Victoria appeared fortunate to have a governor with long experience of colonial administration and first-hand knowledge of parliamentary government. But the Colonial Office soon had misgivings about the wisdom of Darling's appointment. In his first year he became involved in the Australia-wide controversy over the continuance of convict transportation to Western Australia, and was privately censured by the secretary of state for the colonies, Edward Cardwell, for allowing his cabinet ministers too free a rein in their official dealings with the other Australian colonial governments. He was also rebuked for being a public, and thereby a partisan, supporter of the anti-transportation policy, but the matter was settled when the British government decided to end transportation within three years. The significance of this conflict lay partly in the close personal affinity which Darling had quickly established with his cabinet ministers, and partly in his eagerness to establish rapport with progressive colonial opinion. He soon became so personally involved in local political crises that he was unable to maintain the role expected of all colonial governors, that they should act as independent arbiters between contending factions in parliament and between social divisions in the community. He allowed his vice-regal authority to be used by the progressives as a bludgeon on the conservatives, and for this he was abruptly removed from office.

In the early 1860s Victoria was plagued by three controversial issues: reform of the crown land laws; proposals to change the customs tariff; and the parliamentary power of the pastoralists and free traders who dominated the Legislative Council. The council was elected on a property- and rurally-weighted franchise, whilst the Legislative Assembly was elected by manhood suffrage and represented the urban and working classes. Both Houses of the parliament had the power to accept or reject any new legislation. The McCulloch government, elected with a large majority in the assembly in November 1864, began to change the law in the three fields and provoked constitutional struggles with the council that brought chaos to the parliamentary system and involved the public and the press in controversy on an unprecedented scale. These important disputes between the progressive post-gold majority in the assembly and the conservative pre-gold majority in the council drew attention to the difficulty of grafting British parliamentary institutions on to a novel colonial society at a time when the British government, convinced of the virtues of free trade, was reluctant to make the colony completely independent especially in matters of manufacturing, trade and commerce. The disputes also made great demands on the governor's prudence and tact.

The council thwarted its own reform early in 1865 but the land issue was solved for the time being by Grant's Act of March 1865. However, the McCulloch government's attempt to introduce the first major protective tariff in Australia led to the main crisis. The assembly tacked the tariff bill to the annual appropriation bill, but the government had miscalculated the strength of feeling in the council where the bill was thrown out in July. With Darling's approval, the government continued to collect the new protective customs duties, relying on a resolution of the assembly. But the funds from the Customs House were inadequate to meet day-to-day administrative expenses, especially the need to pay the civil servants. The government then negotiated a series of short-term loans with the London Chartered Bank, whose sole local director was the premier. The bank then sued the Crown for the return of the money; by a series of court actions the government confessed judgment and the bank was repaid by vouchers drawn on consolidated revenue. The procedure incensed the council, the other private banks, the Argus and a large section of the commercial community. After a Supreme Court decision the government ceased to collect the new duties and seemed likely to be able to resist the council indefinitely. The assembly decided not to pass any appropriation bill until the council had passed the tariff. Darling tried in vain to arrange a conference between the two Houses, but in November the assembly sent up a separate tariff bill which the council promptly rejected. Thereupon Darling agreed to the government's request to dissolve parliament, and at the assembly elections in January 1866, the McCulloch government was returned with a two-thirds majority; the council, being indissoluble, retained its political complexion. After further disputes, another rejection of the tariff bill and the resignation and reinstatement of the McCulloch government, a conference was arranged in April and the tariff bill was eventually passed by both Houses of parliament.

Meanwhile in December 1865 twenty-two former cabinet ministers, who had served as members of the Executive Council, petitioned the Queen complaining of the financial and constitutional irregularities which Darling had permitted. When transmitting the petition Darling commented adversely on both the petition and the character of the petitioners and stated that it would be impossible for him to accept any of them in the future as cabinet ministers because he believed that they were conspiring to remove him. But Cardwell had already decided that Darling's actions had made him unfit for office; he was recalled to London and his successor appointed. Popular indignation over Darling's 'recall' was widespread. Petitions, public meetings and torchlight processions preceded the departure of 'the people's Governor', whom many believed had become a martyr in the cause of progress; others hinted that he was being sacrificed as part of a deal between the Colonial Office in London on the one hand, and the Legislative Council, the free traders and the pastoralists of Melbourne on the other. The assembly then resolved to make a grant of £20,000 to Lady Darling because the governor was not allowed to receive a direct gift. More constitutional crises ensued and Darling put his case to his superiors for the redress of his wrongs, on the ground that he had properly accepted the advice of his responsible advisers. But the response he received in the English press and in the British parliament was unsympathetic. Eventually the secretary of state informed Darling and the Legislative Assembly that Darling could not accept the grant. As a result Darling resigned from the colonial service in April 1867, and the Victorian government then included the grant in the annual estimates. The council rejected the appropriation bill. The McCulloch government resigned but was returned to office. A further appropriation bill was rejected by the council and the constitutional struggle now appeared interminable. A fresh assembly election merely reinforced the progressives in their determination to press the issue, especially as no alternative government was possible. Finally in May 1868 Darling was allowed to withdraw his resignation and in July was granted a retrospective pension. Broken in spirit and fortune he died on 25 January 1870 at Cheltenham, England. At his death a separate bill was passed by both Houses of the Victorian parliament, at the instigation of the McCulloch government, which granted a pension to Darling's widow and a sum for the education of her children.

As a vice-regal representative, a constitutional head of state and an officer of the British government Darling had been a failure. He had been neither prudent nor cautious and had allowed his partisan sympathy to undermine the functioning of the parliament and the rule of law. He had become a mouthpiece of McCulloch and his ministers, especially of the attorney-general, George Higinbotham. Doubtless the Colonial Office was justified in recalling him but perhaps the judgment of history ought to allow him to continue as a martyr in the democratic cause. Perhaps the odd feature of the Victorian imbroglio of 1864-68 was that Darling should have become 'the people's Governor', for neither his training, experience nor temperament fitted him to be a political Samson in the cause of democracy. Yet he was honestly convinced that the pre-gold Victorian Establishment was deliberately impeding development of the colony, and he never seemed to realize that a governor had the right to reach such a conclusion, but not to act upon it.

Select Bibliography

D. P. Clarke, ‘The Colonial Office and the Constitutional Crises in Victoria, 1865-68’, Historical Studies, Australia and New Zealand, no 18, May 1952; F. K. Crowley, Aspects of the Constitutional Conflicts . . . Victorian Legislature, 1864-1868 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1947).

Author: F. K. Crowley

Print Publication Details: F. K. Crowley, 'Darling, Sir Charles Henry (1809 - 1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 19-21.

COBB, FREEMAN (1830-1878), businessman and coach line proprietor, was born on 10 October 1830 at Brewster, Massachusetts, United States of America, son of Freeman Cobb and his wife Hannah, née Crosby. He was educated at public schools in Boston, and at 16 joined the dry goods firm of Witherell, Stow & Wood, with whom he stayed for nearly three years until he contracted rheumatic fever. Although the disease left him permanently lame, upon recovering Cobb joined Adams & Co., express agents, in 1849 and was employed in connexion with the coaching lines in California and Central America which the company had established during the Californian gold rush. About May 1853 he arrived in Melbourne with George Mowton, a senior employee who was to establish a branch of Adams & Co. Several American coach drivers and carriers in the employ of either Adams & Co. or the rival firm, Wells, Fargo & Co., followed in the Eagle during June, ostensibly to start carrying to the Victorian gold diggings for their firms. However, neither firm became fully established in Victoria, and Cobb joined three of the new arrivals, John Murray Peck, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, James Swanton, of Omar, New York, and John B. Lamber, of Leavenworth, Kansas, to form a carrying partnership known as Cobb & Co.


Using two Concord thoroughbrace wagons that Cobb had brought out, the partners, who called themselves 'the boys' as their average age was only 22, commenced carrying between Melbourne and Liardet's Beach (Port Melbourne) in July 1853. Unfortunately the wet winter made the primitive road virtually impassable and the venture was abandoned. Cobb and his partners, with encouragement and capital assistance from the American promoter, George Francis Train, and others, converted the carrying business to the famous coaching firm of Cobb & Co. After thorough preparations the firm adopted the title, 'American Telegraph Line of Coaches', and on 30 January 1854 began to operate a passenger service between Forest Creek (Castlemaine), Bendigo and Melbourne, in each direction daily except Sunday, using the latest Concord thorough-brace coaches. Although the original Cobb & Co. faced stiff competition and never secured a mail contract, the firm operated very profitably for two years and four months and acquired a great reputation for efficiency and reliability.


On 16 May 1856 Cobb announced that the business had been sold and on the 24th left Melbourne in the Royal Charter with Lamber for America. Of the other partners, Swanton later went to New Zealand before returning to America in 1866, and Peck settled permanently in Victoria. The business then passed through several changes in ownership which spread the name of Cobb & Co. widely as more routes were opened. In 1861 the business was acquired by a syndicate led by another American, James Rutherford, who, as general manager, extended Cobb & Co.'s operations to New South Wales and Queensland, and it grew rapidly into a great complex of loosely associated firms that together dominated the coaching industry of Australia until the early years of the twentieth century. Rutherford retained control in New South Wales and Queensland for fifty years until he died on 13 September 1911. On 14 August 1924 the last Cobb & Co. coach made its final run: on the Surat-Yuleba route in south-west Queensland.

Although Freeman Cobb spent only three years and one month in Australia, he achieved the distinction of becoming a legend in his own lifetime, and his name has passed into the Australian language as a synonym for a coach. His fame was due partly to his enterprise in introducing the latest American methods and equipment into the coaching industry of Victoria when the gold rushes had created a vast demand for passenger transport, and partly to his organizing ability. He was also popular for his interest in local affairs and for his capacity to bring out the best in his employees. A contemporary assessment of his work in Victoria appeared in the Argus, 17 May 1856: 'Mr. Cobb has conferred great and lasting benefits on this community, as well by the energy he has infused into our coaching enterprises as by the practical lessons he has taught us in all matters relating to that publicly useful line of business'. According to an obituarist he was also 'a kind, just, and indulgent employer'. His methods set the standard and as the coach lines multiplied they were freely adopted, but perhaps more significantly Cobb's name was sought after and acquired by many firms through purchase, agreement or tacit consent.

After his return to Brewster, on 6 May 1858 Cobb married his cousin Annette Cobb; they had two children, Walter Freeman and Emily. He lost money in banking investments and returned to the express business, managing for some years the Boston agency for Adams & Co. In 1864-65 he was a senator for Barnstaple County in the Massachusetts State Legislature. Early in 1871 he took his family to South Africa and settled at Port Elizabeth. With Charles Carlos Cole, an American who had operated coaches in Victoria and New Zealand, he formed Cobb & Co. Ltd and operated a coach service between Port Elizabeth and the New Rush diamond fields at Kimberley. The firm failed in 1874 but Cobb secured some of the plant from the liquidator and ran the line himself with 'considerable' success for over two years. Then his health began to fail and on 15 February 1878 his estate was surrendered as insolvent. On 24 May he died at his home in Havelock Street, Port Elizabeth. After a year his family returned to Brewster, where his widow died in 1921.

Select Bibliography

K. A. Austin, The Lights of Cobb and Co. (Adel, 1967); E. Rosenthal, ‘Mail Coach on the Veld: The History of Mail Coaches in South Africa’, Africana Notes and News, vol 10, no 3, June 1953, pp 76-112; Argus (Melbourne), 30 Jan, 12 Oct 1854, 17 Aug 1855, 17, 22, 26 May 1856; Port Elizabeth Telegraph and Eastern Province Herald, 25 Sept 1874, 16 Feb 1875; manuscript catalogue under L. H. Earp (State Library of Victoria); J. K. Moir collection (State Library of Victoria); Lovell-Smith papers (State Library of Victoria). More on the resources

Author: K. A. Austin

Print Publication Details: K. A. Austin, 'Cobb, Freeman (1830 - 1878)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, pp 432-433.

PECK, JOHN MURRAY (1830-1903), coachline proprietor and auctioneer, was born on 26 January 1830 at Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States of America, third son of John Waters Peck and his wife Frances (Fanny), née Huntington. His ancestors had arrived at Boston in 1637 from England and helped to found New Haven, Connecticut. Brought up on his parents' farm, Peck joined Wells, Fargo & Co. In June 1853 he arrived at Melbourne in the Eagle and with Freeman Cobb, James Swanton, and John B. Lamber soon founded a carrying company known as Cobb & Co., which was converted in December 1853 to coaching. Their first coach ran to Forest Creek (Castlemaine) and Bendigo on 30 January 1854. Peck and Swanton, expert drivers and horse-breakers, managed the road and acted as relief drivers.

The original Cobb & Co. partnership was dissolved in May 1856 and Peck returned to America, visiting Chicago and his home in Lebanon. In 1858 he returned to Victoria with eight new Concord coaches and a supply of harness. Four of these coaches could carry forty passengers each and had been built to Peck's design. To operate them on Cobb & Co.'s Bendigo line a syndicate known as the Victorian Stage Co. was formed in August 1858 with thirteen members including Peck. It was dissolved in 1860 and Peck managed the Bendigo route for new owners. In 1861 he lost most of his capital when an outbreak of scab ruined his speculation in sheep.

In 1862 Peck joined Dal Campbell & Co., stock and station agents, and soon became the leading auctioneer of fat cattle in Victoria. His voice could be heard for half a mile (.8 km) and as a good judge of stock he always drafted and classed the cattle he was to sell. His humour, stories and rapid sales made him popular with a wide clientele. His own firm was long Victorian agent for James Tyson and Sidney Kidman. He left Dal Campbell & Co. in 1870 and formed a partnership with William Hudson and T. R. Raynor; it was dissolved in 1887 when his son Harry Huntington joined him in forming J. M. Peck & Son. Another son R. O. (Dick) later joined the firm which in 1922 was acquired by the Australian Mercantile, Land and Finance Co. Ltd.

Tall and powerful, Peck had a great zest for life, a keen sense of duty and the flamboyance of the mid-century Yankee businessman. He was first president of the Associated Stock and Station Agents in 1888, a councillor of the Agricultural Society, a justice of the peace, a councillor of the Borough of Essendon and Flemington serving as mayor in 1872, and a vice-president of the Essendon Football Club, a member of the Australian Club and the Victoria Racing Club. Known as 'Honest John', he was proud of his home and garden. Though a Wesleyan, he was fond of dancing and supported the Essendon Quadrille Club. He lived at Mascoma, Ascot Vale, and later at Lebanon, Pascoe Vale, where he died on 19 November 1903. He was buried in the Broadmeadows cemetery, survived by his wife Louisa Ellen, née Roberts, whom he had married in 1859 at Geelong, and by their eight children. Streets in Essendon North and Ascot Vale are named after him.

His son, Harry Huntington, became a noted stock auctioneer and was author of Memoirs of a Stockman (Melbourne, 1942).

Select Bibliography

K. A. Austin, The Lights of Cobb and Co. (Adel, 1967); W. A. Blair, A Pioneer of Coaching Days (held by Mrs L. H. Earp); J. M. Peck papers (Cobb & Co. Transport Museum, Toowoomba, Queensland); manuscript catalogue under L. H. Earp (State Library of Victoria); private information. More on the resources

Author: K. A. Austin

Print Publication Details: K. A. Austin, 'Peck, John Murray (1830 - 1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp 427-428.

TRAIN, GEORGE FRANCIS (1829-1904), merchant and entrepreneur, was born on 24 March 1829 at Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, son of Oliver Train and his wife Maria, née Pickering. His parents and three sisters died in a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1833 and he was raised in Waltham, Massachusetts, by his maternal grandparents, who were staunch Methodists. Train remained a life-long total abstainer from alcohol and tobacco. From the age of 16 he worked in Boston and Liverpool with the White Diamond Line of Enoch Train, his father's cousin, and gained experience of both American and English commerce. On 5 October 1851 he married a Southern belle Wilhelmina Wilkinson Davis; on 23 May 1853 they arrived in Melbourne in the Bavaria.

The flamboyant Train was representative in many ways of the scores of American merchants attracted to Australia by the gold rushes. Melbourne partly owes its nineteenth-century reputation for being Americanized to men like him and his partner Ebenezer Caldwell, a respectable New England sea captain. As few left any account of their experiences, the letters that Train wrote to American newspapers are of much value, revealing the refreshingly different reactions of an American republican to Australian conditions. He and Caldwell generated enthusiasm for the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce and the Exchange and continually stressed the need for more public and private enterprise. Train wrote several reports for the chamber; he drafted its motion in favour of the unrestricted entry of Chinese; and with other Americans he promoted a land policy modelled on United States principles. He usually eschewed politics and, despite persistent rumours to the contrary, his eloquent advocacy of the virtues of republicanism was reserved for Independence Day speeches and for his American readers.

By putting substantial warehouses at each end of the new railway from Sandridge to Flinders Street, Caldwell, Train & Co. made it easier for passengers of the White Star Line of Liverpool, for which they were agents, to transfer themselves and their luggage from port to city. The partners were prominent in organizing a volunteer fire brigade; they imported clothing, guns, flour, building materials, patent medicines, mining tools, coaches and carts, wagons and buggies. After Caldwell left Melbourne in the Red Jacket in August 1854 the firm, now G. F. Train & Co., continued to make money and traded until 1858. The Argus credited Train's 'energy, spirit and restless activity' with 'stirring up a spirit of emulation' among Victorian merchants and so succeeding in 'vitalising our whole commercial system'. C. S. Ross remembered him in those days as 'full of indomitable energy, faultlessly dressed, always swinging an elegant cane in his hand; his jaunty air, breezy manner, and genial volubility made him a general favorite'.

Train's wife returned to Boston in 1854 and gave birth to a daughter. He decided to rejoin her and left Melbourne in early November next year, travelling by way of the Orient and the Middle East. His accounts of the trip were sent to the New York Herald, were published in 1857 with his Australian letters as An American Merchant in Europe, Asia, and Australia … and were so well received that Freeman Hunt of the Merchants' Magazine sent him to Europe to report on economic and social conditions. In 1859 in New York he published Spread-Eagleism, which included speeches he had made at banquets in Melbourne. In the next few years Train established horse-drawn tramways in Birkenhead and London and played an elusive role in the financing of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad and the Union Pacific in the United States. His noisy support of the American Union harmed his English enterprises. In 1870 he went on a second world trip which he claimed gave Jules Verne the model for Around the World in Eighty Days. Insolvent at 47 and his presidential ambitions unsupported, he turned to lecturing as his main source of income.

Train's enthusiastic pursuit of 'causes', ranging from Fenianism to women's suffrage, resulted in several imprisonments in Britain and America. 'Ubiquitous and irrepressible' he toured the world again in 1890 and 1892. His wife, from whom he had lived apart since 1872, predeceased him in 1879. He died in New York on 18 January 1904, two years after publishing My Life in Many States and in Foreign Lands. He was survived by three of his four children.

Select Bibliography

W. Thornton, The Nine Lives of Citizen Train (New York, 1948); G. F. Train, A Yankee Merchant in Goldrush Australia: The Letters of George Francis Train 1853-55, E. D. and A. Potts eds (Melb, 1970); C. S. Ross, ‘Two American types that left their stamp on Victorian history’, Victorian Historical Magazine, 7 (1919); Argus (Melbourne), 6 Nov 1855. More on the resources

Author: E. Daniel Potts

Print Publication Details: E. Daniel Potts, 'Train, George Francis (1829 - 1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 299-300.

RUTHERFORD, JAMES (1827-1911), pastoralist and coach proprietor, was born on 24 October 1827 at Amherst, New York, United States of America, second son of James Rutherford and his wife Hetty, née Milligan. He became a schoolteacher, but decided to join his brother on the Californian goldfields. Finding no ship available he sailed in the Akbar for Melbourne arriving on 20 June 1853. After mining briefly near Bendigo he won a contract to cut timber near Ferntree Gully. He later sailed to Queensland and on his way back to Melbourne started the short-lived goldfield at Oban, New South Wales, and bought horses. After two more unprofitable trips he retired to Melbourne ill and almost penniless.

In 1857 Rutherford managed Cobb & Co. for some months but returned to his travelling and trading. In 1861 with several partners he bought the company, became its general manager and next year extended it to New South Wales, driving the leading coach when in June the convoy reached Bathurst, which became the company headquarters. In 1863 at Taradale, Victoria, he married Ada Nicholson. Rutherford soon became involved in Bathurst affairs; mayor in 1868 he resigned before the end of his term. A staunch Anglican, he was a trustee of the Church of All Saints for over forty years and served as a lay member of the synod. For thirty years he was treasurer of the Agricultural, Horticultural and Pastoral Association and later a vice-president. An early trustee of the District Hospital, he was president in 1886-1911; a committee-man of the School of Arts he was president in 1872-1911. He became a magistrate in 1872, was active in the society formed to expedite the railway and served on almost every committee formed for charitable purposes or for the betterment of the town. In the late 1870s Rutherford bought Hereford, near Bathurst, where he built a fine residence and invented an entirely new type of sheep dip.

Cobb & Co. bought its first station property in 1864 and expanded to Queensland in 1865. Victoria withdrew from the partnership in 1871 and Rutherford supervised the firm's great growth over the next forty years: in coaching, its factories and workshops in Bathurst, Goulburn, Hay, Bourke and Charleville, and in property and stock ownership particularly in the Warrego District of Queensland. He also acquired and managed stations on his own account. In 1873 with John Sutherland and others he started the Eskbank Ironworks at Lithgow. After a visit to America in 1876 he had to rehabilitate the company but the works were leased in the late 1880s and sold to William Sandford in the early 1890s. This experience and the continued entry of cheap iron, often as ballast, confirmed him as a protectionist, and led him in 1889 to co-found and manage the Bathurst National Advocate newspaper. The Parkes letters indicate that Rutherford may have considered entering parliament; a member of the protectionist National Club, in 1894 he became president of the Bathurst Protection League.

The 1890s brought great difficulties and the firm had to be reorganized after the death of the last partner, W. F. Whitney, in 1894. Coaching had ceased in New South Wales by 1900 but was still widespread in Queensland. In 1902 the company suspended operations because of the drought but was again restructured with Rutherford as general manager, the largest shareholder and chief guarantor. He apparently accepted personal liability for the station properties to enable the company to carry on as a coaching firm. He made regular tours of inspection and, returning from the far north in 1911, he became ill and was landed at Mackay where, survived by his wife, four of his five sons and six daughters, he died from acute bronchitis and heart failure on 11 September. His body was brought back to Bathurst for burial.

A superb organizer and manager, Rutherford was one of the great country entrepreneurs. In his lifelong travels his rather delicate and slight figure developed into a thickset frame that reflected his great strength and endurance. Although quick-tempered he kept on excellent terms with his employees and was very generous, especially to anyone in difficulties. He was strongly attached to his wife and family. His estate was valued for probate at over £128,000.

Select Bibliography

J. E. L Rutherford, Cobb & Co. (Bathurst, 1971); Bulletin, 12 June 1880, 30 July 1881; Australasian, 28 Sept 1889; National Advocate (Bathurst), 2 Dec 1892; Pastoral Review, 15 Aug 1899; Town and Country Journal, 7 Sept 1910, 20 Sept 1911; Henry Parkes letter (State Library of New South Wales); H. P. Steel, Family papers, vols 1-4 (State Library of New South Wales), manuscript catalogue under James Rutherford (State Library of New South Wales). More on the resources

Author: J. E. L. Rutherford

Print Publication Details: J. E. L. Rutherford, 'Rutherford, James (1827 - 1911)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, p. 78.

STANFORD, THOMAS WELTON (1832-1918), businessman, spiritualist and philanthropist, was born at Albany, New York State, United States of America, youngest son of Josiah Stanford, public works contractor, and his wife Elizabeth, née Phillips. Educated locally and at Troy Conference Academy, Vermont, in 1852 he abandoned his plans of schoolteaching for the lure of the Californian goldfields which attracted all six Stanford brothers. By 1858 they ran the largest of the western oil companies. Drawn to the Australian colonies by rumours of a strong demand for kerosene, in December 1859 Thomas Welton and his brother De Witt sailed for Melbourne.

Acquiring exclusive Australian marketing rights, Welton—as from 1863 he signed himself—devised innovative ways of promoting the Singer sewing machine, among them time payment. His salesmen travelled through country districts with a model machine mounted on the back of a buggy. Despite stiff competition, they had record sales in 1876-77. Singer policy, however, changed. By the early 1880s the company had taken direct control of Australian distribution.

After De Witt's death in 1862, Stanford had become increasingly lonely. On 12 May 1869 in Melbourne he married Wilhelmina (Minnie) Watt with Wesleyan Methodist forms; she died within a year. He later moved to Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, where he became known for his garden of rare plants, his aviaries of exotic birds, his fine collection of Australian paintings, and, most of all, for his interest in spiritualism.

A 'man of six feet (183 cm) or more, dark, with heavy black beard' and 'piercing black eyes', Stanford in 1870 founded the Victorian Association of Progressive Spiritualists with W. H. Terry and J. B. Motherwell. For many years the 'father of spiritualism in Australia' held exclusive meetings at his home and in his Russell Street office. Concerned for the welfare of her tall, thin, reclusive brother-in-law, Jane Stanford (his brother Leland's widow) visited him in 1903. Disillusioned with seances, she left Australia. Perhaps spurred by her attitude, Stanford gave US$50,000 for psychical research to the Leland Stanford Junior University which had been founded (1885) in California as a memorial to her only son; Welton had previously donated his US$300,000 legacy from Leland who had been a highly successful railroad president.

A member of Stanford University's board of trustees, Welton talked of establishing scholarships for Australian students. He donated his books on Australia and his art collection to be housed in the Thomas Welton Stanford Library which was built, and restored after the 1906 earthquake, with his money. Stanford history students were soon studying 'Australian affairs'.

Although he had threatened to become a British subject during the American Civil War, Stanford remained loyal to the U.S.A. and had served intermittently from 1890 to 1902 as honorary vice consul-general in Melbourne. He died at his home on 28 August 1918 and was buried in the Methodist section of Melbourne general cemetery. The bulk of his personal estate, valued for probate at £130,043, also went to Stanford University, for psychical research.

Select Bibliography

S. Dickinson, Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the Collection of T. W. Stanford, Esq., of Melbourne (Melb, 1882); E. D. and A. Potts, ‘Thomas Welton Stanford (1832-1918) and American-Australian Business and Cultural Relations’, Historical Studies, no 67, Oct 1967, p 193; Stanford papers (Stanford University Archives, California, Unites States of America); Singer Manufactory Co. papers (State Historical Society, Wisconsin, United States of America). More on the resources

Author: E. Daniel Potts

Print Publication Details: E. Daniel Potts, 'Stanford, Thomas Welton (1832 - 1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp 46-47.



SYME, DAVID (1827-1908), newspaper proprietor, was born on 2 October 1827 at North Berwick, Scotland, fourth and youngest son of George Alexander Syme (1791-1845), schoolmaster, and his wife Jean, née Mitchell. G. A. Syme was a classical scholar, radical in both church and state, who became parish schoolmaster at Montrose, his native town, and from 1822 parish schoolmaster and clerk of the kirk session of St Mary, North Berwick. Never a popular citizen, he was strong-willed, obstinate in his opinions, nervous, arrogant, shy, brusque, inarticulate and awkward with his fellows. He passed these characteristics to his sons, especially to David, who like his brothers and sister, was taught by their father in the schoolroom attached to their house, but only he failed to escape from its atmosphere of close study, severe discipline and curt control. Much of his shyness, his nervous inability to join his fellows in business or companionship, arose from complete obedience to his father although Syme was never physically unkind to his sons. Of this David wrote in later years: 'It was difficult to understand my father's attitude to us boys. He had naturally a kind disposition; he was a devoted husband and no-one ever asked him for help that he did not freely give … but his affection for us never found expression in words'.

His father's death left David at 17 'fairly stranded … I had received a sound English education and a fair knowledge of Latin, but I had no training whatever to fit me for a profession or business career, and no friends or relations to help me'. He first thought of religion as a profession, but not with the Church of Scotland, which had been renounced by his brothers George and Ebenezer. He studied for two years under James Morison at Kilmarnock, but lost enthusiasm for a 'doctrine of Salvation by faith in its most literal sense'. He toured Germany as a student, worked for some time as a proofreader's assistant on a Glasgow newspaper; then early in 1851, he went via Cape Horn to California seeking gold, but found little and no place for an introvert. By mid-1852 he was in Melbourne, and in the next three years prospected with some success on Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Beechworth diggings. In 1855 he lost a possible fortune at Egerton near Ballarat when a promising claim was jumped.

Syme then turned to road contracting and was making a useful living when Ebenezer bought the insolvent Melbourne Age for £2000, and invited him to take up a share. In September 1856 Syme put up some cash and his contracting business to obtain a half-share. He helped to manage the paper but returned to contracting late in 1857. When Ebenezer retired in 1859 Syme reluctantly returned to the business, and on Ebenezer's death next year he began his fifty-year career as publisher and editor of the Age.

To the extent that he addressed the unprivileged, Syme continued his brother's policies but he was not so passionate an advocate. He had convictions, though his approach to them was opportunist: but when he adopted his beliefs as campaigns he clung to them with fewer nervous misgivings than had Ebenezer. Early in 1860 he reduced the price of the paper from 6d. to 3d., in a bid to raise the circulation of only about 2000. This essay in newspaper publicity marked him as an entrepreneur of courage and yielded immediate results. The Age had been diffuse in approach to public issues; Syme began to concentrate on three main practical policies: land for the people, protection for native industries, full rights of self-government. He fought for them ruggedly, determinedly, and as he mellowed came to believe that he was their inventor, not merely their powerful advocate. He did revivify them, especially protection, but primarily as a newspaper entrepreneur. At different periods and with varying intensity the Age suffered from their advocacy, but great persistence enriched the business and made Syme powerful and, in his heyday, feared. His land policy, selection of crown lands before survey, had been pressed by radicals even before Syme arrived in Victoria, but he saw it as a means of breaking the squatters' monopoly and creating a farming population.

Syme came slowly to accept protection as a fiscal policy. It had been debated on public platforms, and given newspaper space (notably by James Harrison in the Geelong Advertiser), at least nine years before Syme supported it early in 1860. By that time the agitation had spread to Melbourne; and if the Age was to sustain its tone as a radical paper it had to take some stand on the matter. Syme claimed in later years (and the claim was kept alive for him by others) that his was the first voice and the power that made protection the fiscal faith of Victoria. He did indeed foster the faith in the editorial and the news columns of the Age, and his thinking on the fiscal issue was far ahead of public opinion, but land settlement remained the first plank in his reform platform. Yet some immediate means had to be found for using idle capital, for attracting fresh funds, and for employing the workless artisan. His solution, and it was almost an expedient, was the creation of manufacturing industries. His editorial theme became during 1861: 'cheap land, abundant labour and fiscal protection must go hand in hand in this country before it attains to the prosperity of which it is so eminently capable'. Nevertheless, in 1863, when tariff reformers believed that practical protection was at hand, he was not prepared to make protection a major public issue and advised caution. James McCulloch, although a free trader, responded to the aroused public demand, made a protective tariff a major election issue and was returned late in 1864 with 58 supporters in a House of 75 members. Willy-nilly the Age acclaimed the result, although warning that 'a sudden change might be productive of mischief, and bring the principle of protection into disrepute'. Thereafter Syme was the apostle of protection, preaching it in and out of season. For thirty-five years before Federation, Victoria had a high protection wall that was at Syme's bidding if not wholly of his making. This was his greatest newspaper achievement.

Syme fought for protection without thought of his own well-being once he was convinced of its rightness as a public policy. The Age, which was his whole life, was threatened by a constant campaign fostered by free-trade interests. His strength as a publisher grew through the late 1860s; steadily increasing circulation evidenced greater popular influence, but also caused stronger attempts to stifle the newspaper, if possible to ruin it. In the early 1860s the government and his commercial adversaries had withdrawn advertising, which fell to 12 columns of a 56 columns newspaper, an uneconomic proportion. Syme replied by reducing the price of the Age to 2d. in 1863 and to 1d. in 1868. Circulation increased markedly to 15,000 at the end of that year but the size of the paper dropped from 56 to 36 columns because of the shrinkage of advertising and the need to reduce expenditure to offset the price reduction. But the greater circulation brought back profitable advertising and for the first time the paper began to prosper. The business was aided by the success of the weekly Leader from 1856 and by taking over the morning Herald in 1868, converting it to an evening paper and then disposing of it.

For the next forty years, though he wrote little himself, Syme used the Age's power for fearless and ruthless prosecution of his public policies. Never scrupling in his methods of attack against his opponents, he used the bludgeon as his chief editorial weapon. Politicians were fair game: his method was to put a man on a public pedestal, or assist him to it, and extol his strength, with a warning about consequences should he backslide: examples were Graham Berry and McCulloch, who was, however, never unreservedly accepted by Syme. It was not uncommon for the public pedestal to become a public chopping-block, with Syme sometimes a flaming accuser, sometimes a discreet defender. He never relented editorially on public men whom he regarded as enemies of his policies. John O'Shanassy was an example; deep personal enmity between them was aggravated by Syme's constant opposition to the Irish Roman Catholic approach to public questions, such as state aid to religion and church schools, and by his contempt for lay advocates.

The resounding electoral success of Berry's high protection liberals in 1877 brought great popularity to the Age. Syme felt that the time had come for a final showdown with the interests which he considered blocked the way to radical reforms and democratic needs; and which he specified as the importers and free traders who were gathering their strength to resist Berry's tariff, the squatters whose hold on arable land was checking agriculture, and the Legislative Council whose restrictive franchise and wealthy membership made it representative of both merchants and squatters. The council was cowed into passing a discriminatory land tax, but it laid aside a bill for permanent payment of members of the Legislative Assembly which had been sent up to it as a tack to the appropriation bill. After Berry had dismissed judges of the County courts, magistrates and other senior public servants, the council agreed to payment of members. But in a long conflict until 1881 over Upper House reform, the council defeated Berry and Syme for, although its constituency was widened, its powers remained intact. Throughout the 1880s the Age did not control governments, though it exercised powerful influence and helped to bring about the coalition of 1883.

Despite popular belief, Syme had been neither the founder nor the sole owner of the Age. When Ebenezer died in 1860 the business had to provide for his widow and five young children, and for David and his young wife. The loose arrangement, which had made Ebenezer and David equal partners, now became a binding partnership, with Ebenezer's widow, Jane, and David sharing the profits equally, and David in full control of the business. Jane returned to England during 1862, with an agreed weekly payment from the paper's revenues, to be offset against profits. The deed of partnership, originally for seven years, was renewed from time to time until 1877. Next year a change was made.

Syme at all times acknowledged Jane Syme his equal partner, and declined to have direct dealings with her children. A legal opinion upheld this when Jane gave a power of attorney to her eldest son, William Holden, a doctor at Stawell, Victoria. Her third son, Joseph Cowen, employed in the Age counting-house from late 1868, was a forceful character who felt that he and his brothers should have a share in the business, either directly or on behalf of their mother. Syme was pressed to give Joseph part of it. This was eventually arranged by Jane (who had remarried) accepting £8250 for her partnership share, her children renouncing any interest they may have had in the business under their father's intestacy, and Joseph being made a partner with a quarter-share. This partnership was announced on 22 March 1878 with a new imprint: 'Printed and published by David Syme & Co.'. Joseph's name was added on 21 October 1879: 'printed and published by David Syme and Joseph Cowen Syme under the style David Syme & Co.'. The partnership survived twelve stormy years. Uncle and nephew were long estranged, writing to each other on business matters but rarely meeting. After protracted negotiations, Syme agreed to buy Joseph out with £140,000. From 21 March 1891 the imprint read: 'Printed and published by the proprietor David Syme at the Age office Collins Street east, Melbourne'. In 1901 his income from the paper was about £50,000.

Syme's journalism encouraged several libel actions. Wood v. Syme (1865), Langton v. Syme (1877) and the most celebrated of them all, the great railways case of the 1890s, Speight v. Syme, were partly politically motivated. Richard Speight, chairman of the Victorian commissioners from 1883, inherited a lavish programme inspired by politicians. It was a period of boom in public spending. From late 1890 the Age strongly criticized his administration, accusing him of extravagance, incompetence, dereliction of duty, and contempt of parliament and the public. Speight and his two commission colleagues were suspended by the Shiels government in 1892, and soon issued writs against the Age alleging libel on eleven counts. Speight's action was heard first, over ninety-two sitting days, and ended with a verdict for him for £100 on one count, and disagreement on the other counts. A second action occupied eighty-eight sitting days and resulted in a verdict on one count for Speight, with nominal damages, and for Syme on the other counts. The case cost him an estimated £50,000 in costs, but the result brought him unprecedented popular acclaim.

Syme had few professional or social intimates. Public men were embraced within his dour favour so long as they accorded with his will, and were as easily cast out. They were to be used to espouse his policies, a not altogether selfish ambition for he believed that his views were for the public good. Intimacy on that basis was not easy to make or keep. He sought no public popularity and shunned social life. Men like A. L. Windsor and G. F. H. Schuler, his chief editors and leader-writers, and A. B. Robinson, his financial editor and personal financial adviser, were able and loyal lieutenants, but outside the office he had little contact with them. Charles Pearson, a treasured contributor and sought by Syme to criticize the drafts of his books, was another who was not socially encouraged. Perhaps it was not within Syme's ingrown shyness to make a move that could have led to warm relations.

An exception was Alfred Deakin. Theirs was a rare friendship, first encouraged by Syme and enjoyed by both for many years. The idealistic young Deakin and the hard-bitten middle-aged newspaper publisher were unlike each other in almost every way. Yet Syme had a genuine affection for Deakin, who became his protégé in journalism and politics and wrote, 'He was always most gracious and considerate to the very young man whose enthusiasms he criticized with a generous simplicity conveying no hint of the legitimate authority to which his age, ability and experience fully entitled him'. Deakin worked part time for the Age for almost five years from May 1878. In that period Syme moulded his journalistic and political thinking. Deakin's impressions of Syme (in notes made in 1881) revealed a broad sympathy with him: 'He had a fine intelligence, open, accurate and aspiring, limited in its scope but admirably thorough in all its work'. Their relations were almost breached several times, notably in the last stages of the campaign for federal union and in the early years of Federation, but their friendship survived. Deakin wrote after Syme's death: 'I saw him to the last and was one of the few whom he admitted to his intimacy in all public or political matters'.

The Age grew in circulation from 38,000 in 1880 to 100,000 about 1890 and to 120,000 in 1899; in proportion to population it had by far the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in the empire. Although he always distrusted Duncan Gillies, Syme was taken in by the boom of the late 1880s, was bewildered by the collapse of Victorian prosperity in the early 1890s, and had little policy to offer except rigid retrenchment and persecution of the railways commissioners as scapegoats. Yet the 1890s was probably the period of the Age's greatest political influence; it backed the successive ministries and Syme had an almost complete power of veto, at least, over appointments to them. Although he had consistently supported the growth of trade unions, he disapproved of the nascent political Labor organization and continued to the end to support Victoria's radical liberals. The ten Victorian delegates elected to the 1897 Federal Convention were the ten on the Age 'ticket'. In 1898 the overcoming of Syme's doubts about safeguarding Victorian and protectionist interests in the draft constitution enabled a massive favourable vote in the referendum. In 1898-99 a sustained campaign attacking the deficiencies in technical education led to the appointment of the Fink royal commission. After 1900 Syme's power to make ministries declined; although he had much to do with the dismissal of William Irvine in 1904 he could not prevent the succession of his old enemy, Thomas Bent.

Syme's undoubted power as a publicist encouraged the quicker development of things that became an accepted part of the fabric of Victoria than might otherwise have been the case. He encouraged small farming, especially dairying, irrigation and water conservation, the opening-up of mallee lands, crédit foncier loans for farmers. He supported the anti-sweating movement and reforms in factory and shops legislation, with wages boards an attendant instrument of better wages and working conditions. A state bank and a state note issue, and direct taxation were among other progressive causes which he did much to bring about.

Practical farming engaged much of Syme's tireless attention outside his newspaper office. On his Yarra Valley properties, on a narrow strip of flats, Syme was cultivator, grazier, dairy-farmer, stock-breeder and orchardist. He introduced to Victoria Kerry and Dexter dairy cattle from the Irish county Kerry, and experimented with pasture improvement and drainage. He poured thousands of pounds into these lands, but he was no idle rich man playing at being a farmer; everything he did had a serious purpose.

Syme won a minor international reputation as a political economist. His Outlines of an Industrial Science (London, 1876), a vindication of protection and state socialism, owed something to the work of Friedrich List and Carey and other American protectionists. Syme was a friend and ally of Cliffe Leslie in attacking the methodological foundations of 'English' political economy. The book was translated into German and published in an American edition, but attracted little attention in England. Syme published articles in the field of political economy in the Westminster Review, the Fortnightly Review and the Melbourne Review. His Representative Government in England … (London, 1881), was a general attack on the system of English parliamentary government as it had developed from Walpole's time, especially on government by party; the Age from time to time, finally in a sustained campaign in 1904, vainly argued the virtues of ministries directly elected by lower houses. On the Modification of Organisms (Melbourne, 1890) was a criticism of Darwinian theory from an evolutionist position; Syme contended that all modifications of organisms originated in the cell — 'the psychological as well as the physiological unit'. In his last book, The Soul: A Study and an Argument (London, 1903), Syme argued that matter and energy never perished; they were only transferred, and therefore the organizing power would not perish with the body that was its handiwork.

Syme was a slim six feet (183 cm) in height, with deep-set eyes, a thin straight mouth and iron-grey hair and beard, grim and gaunt in appearance, smiling rarely. For much of his later life, he suffered from a poor digestion. His family life made a secure retreat from the world and, though he may not have been very warm towards his children and grandchildren, he was a much better parent than his father had been.

Syme kept a close hold on his newspaper business until almost the end of his life. He was once asked why he did not get away from it again on a world tour, as he had in 1866, 1882 and 1887. He answered, 'I'm getting old and all my interests are here. It's my business interests which absorb my attention. I'm different from you; I'm a man with few friends'. He died at his home, Blythswood in Kew, on 14 February 1908. On 17 August 1858 at St James's Anglican Church, Melbourne, he had married Annabella Johnson who survived him with five sons and two daughters. His estate was valued for probate at £880,000; he had contributed generously to charity and founded a prize for scientific research at the University of Melbourne in 1904. His widow and sons carried on the business as a trust; Herbert (1859-1939) was chairman and general manager, Geoffrey (1873-1942) controlled the editorial department, and the last surviving son Oswald (1878-1967) became chairman until and after 1948 when the trust was converted to a public company which still has the trade name, David Syme & Co.

George Alexander (1822-1894), second son of the family, was born at Montrose and studied theology at the University of Aberdeen. Rejecting a call in the Established Church of Scotland, he was for a time incumbent of the Free Presbyterian Church at Dumfries. He broke from the Church over dogma, and fell under the influence of Morrison at Kilmarnock Academy, which he attended for some time. About 1847 he became minister of a flourishing Baptist church at Nottingham, England. He held this pulpit for fifteen years, was active in radical causes, then became a secularist after association with G. J. Holyoake. His health was bad and in 1863 he migrated to Australia, to employment on the Age. He had editorial charge of the paper in 1866 and later edited the Leader until 1885. He was afflicted with a great nervousness throughout his life; kindly, calm and considerate when unexcited, he was incoherent under stress. He died at Melbourne on 31 December 1894. Aged 31, at Lancaster, England, he had married Susannah Goodier; a daughter died but his son, Sir George Adlington Syme (1859-1929), became a world-famed surgeon.

Select Bibliography

E. E. Morris, A Memoir of George Higinbotham (Lond, 1895); A. Pratt, David Syme, the Father of Protection in Australia (Lond, 1908); W. Murdoch, Alfred Deakin (Lond, 1923); B. Hoare, Looking Back Gaily (Melb, 1927); G. Cockerill, Scribblers and Statesmen (Melb, 1944); J. A. La Nauze, Political Economy in Australia (Melb, 1949), and Alfred Deakin (Melb, 1965); A. Deakin, The Crisis in Victorian Politics, 1879-1881, J. A. La Nauze and R. M. Crawford eds (Melb, 1957); A. Deakin, The Federal Story, J. A. La Nauze ed (Melb, 1963); C. E. Sayers, David Syme: A Life (Melb, 1965); W. S. Robinson, If I Remember Rightly, G. Blainey ed (Melb, 1967); Age (Melbourne), 1854-1908, C. E. Sayers (ed), Age centenary supplement, 16 Oct 1954; David Syme papers (State Library of Victoria). More on the resources

Author: C. E. Sayers

Print Publication Details: C. E. Sayers, 'Syme, David (1827 - 1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 232-236.

STANDISH, FREDERICK CHARLES (1824-1883), government officer, was born on 20 April 1824 at Standish Hall, Wigan, Lancashire, England, son of Charles Standish, one-time companion of the prince regent, and his wife Emmeline-Conradine, née de Mathiesen. He was educated at the Roman Catholic Prior Park College and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery (second lieutenant, January 1843; first lieutenant, April 1844; captain, August 1850). His nine years in the army included a period on the staff of the lord lieutenant of Ireland. Financed by his father he bought Cayton Hall near Harrogate, Yorkshire. From 1848 'no backer of horses was better known or more liked upon English racecourses', but despite his popularity his money losses were heavy, and in 1852 he sold his mortgaged property and left England for the colonies.

Standish worked on the gold diggings in various parts of Victoria until April 1854, when he was appointed assistant commissioner of the goldfields at Sandhurst (Bendigo) and later was also protector of the Chinese. He remained at Sandhurst until September 1858 when he was appointed chief commissioner of police in Victoria with salary of £1200 to succeed Captain (Sir Charles) MacMahon. Standish remained in charge of the police force until September 1880, when he retired on a pension of £468. While in the full vigour of health he was credited with considerable intellectual administrative skill, and he dealt ably with the secret conspiracies and open attacks of 1862. He inspired loyalty among his men until his later years, when his lack of firmness led to a state of disorganization, particularly noticeable in the heyday of the Kelly gang. Although there is no evidence to support the legend that Standish suspended the hunt for the gang when the weights for the Melbourne Cup were declared, his conduct of the police operations was, according to the 1881 royal commission on the police, 'not characterized either by good judgment, or by that zeal for the interests of the public service which should have distinguished an officer in his position'.

A prominent Freemason, in 1861 Standish was installed as provincial grand master for Victoria (English constitution). His keen interest in the turf continued and he was for many years a member and in 1881-83 chairman of the committee of the Victoria Racing Club. He was an elegant, free-and-easy personality, indolent and addicted to the delights of the sideboard, the card table and the theatre. His diary, written in the firm hand of an educated gentleman of the time, reveals an aimless pursuit of pleasure. According to John Sadleir, this hedonism led Standish to 'form intimacies with some officers of like mind, and to think less of others who were much more worthy of regard', but his 'almost pathetic' affection for Superintendent Frank Hare, notable in the period of the Kelly pursuit, was a symptom of the mental trouble under which he eventually broke down. In 1882 he was involved in what was for many years a cause célèbre when he was almost thrown out of the window of the Melbourne Club by one Colonel Craigie Halkett, whom he had addressed by a provocative nickname.

From about 1872 Standish lived at the Melbourne Club, where he died on 19 March 1883 of cirrhosis of the liver and fatty degeneration of the heart. He is said to have abandoned Freemasonry on his deathbed, and after a funeral service at the club was buried in the Roman Catholic section of the Melbourne general cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £550; unmarried, he left his two horses and his pictures to his servant. The Standish Handicap run at Flemington over six furlongs on New Year's Day is his memorial.

Select Bibliography

H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian series, 1st ed (Melb, 1878); J. Sadleir, Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer (Melb, 1913); E. Scott, Historical Memoir of the Melbourne Club (Melb, 1936); N. A. Hudleston, Stainley and Cayton (Scarborough, 1956); Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1881, 3 (1); Bulletin, 30 June 1883; J. A. Panton autobiography, and F. C. Standish diary (State Library of Victoria). More on the resources

Author: J. S. Legge

Print Publication Details: J. S. Legge, 'Standish, Frederick Charles (1824 - 1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 172-173.




DUMARESQ, EDWARD (1802-1906), surveyor, public servant and landowner, was born on 16 June 1802 in Swansea, Wales, the youngest son of Colonel John Dumaresq, who fought in the American war of independence and could trace his family tree six centuries to Normandy. At 13 he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; after three years study he accepted a cadetship in the East India Co.'s service.

Soon after his arrival in Bombay Dumaresq became a lieutenant in the Bombay Native Infantry, and also did some work with the Revenue and Topographical Survey Department of Gujarat. After four years in Indian villages his health broke down in 1823; granted sick leave, he recuperated first in Mauritius, then took a sea voyage in the Perseverance, which introduced him to Hobart Town and Sydney. Back in Bombay, doctors pronounced him unfit for further tropical duties, and he was invalided to England. His stay was brief. General (Sir) Ralph Darling, who had married Dumaresq's sister, had been appointed governor of New South Wales, and Edward, with his brothers, William John and Henry, accompanied the vice-regal party to Australia.

In October 1825 when the Catherine Stewart Forbes arrived at Hobart, Dumaresq disembarked, for he intended to make Van Diemen's Land his home. His decision was confirmed in 1827 when, after he had been promoted captain by the East India Co. for suppressing a rebellion, he was placed on half-pay and by his marriage in November to Frances Blanche Legge, the youngest daughter of a Dublin barrister.

Meanwhile Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Arthur had made him surveyor-general in 1825. The appointment was not ratified by Downing Street, but Dumaresq held office until replaced by George Frankland in March 1828. During his term the important survey and valuation of lands was almost completed under his guidance as chief commissioner. In 1828 he became collector of revenue and joined the Land Board, but found the salary inadequate and won appointment as police magistrate at New Norfolk. His duties, particularly with Aboriginals, proved damaging to his health and in February 1833 he obtained leave to go to New South Wales to recuperate. On medical advice he wisely decided to go on the land in 1835. He took over Illawarra, an estate near Longford, sections of which were rented to tenants, and by sage speculation on the mainland secured an adequate competence, if not wealth, for the rest of his life.

Dumaresq's most profitable deals were in Victoria, where the prices of June 1840 were inflated fifty-fold during the gold rushes in the 1850s. His Brisbane land also yielded handsome profits, but the Balmain allotments in Sydney, bought for £638 in 1850, realized less than £700 when he had to sell them in 1858.

In 1853 Dumaresq took his family to England, planning a long stay; before leaving Tasmania he sold his stock and farming implements and leased Illawarra. His chief aim was to buy an army commission for his eldest son, Edward John. The holiday, spent mainly at Malvern Wells, ended with the death of his wife. Dumaresq sailed for Australia and within a year committed what he termed 'the fatal act of a second marriage' to Mrs Charlotte Fogg. They lived together only a few months; after he settled on her £300 a year, about a third of his income, she drifted away. In private papers he denounced her as utterly selfish, hard-hearted, tyrannical and a swindler.

Amid this domestic upset Dumaresq stood in 1861 as a candidate for Devon in the House of Assembly. His prospects of defeating the sitting member, William Archer, were remote, and the election became so lively that he went to Melbourne to escape it. Despite this failure, Dumaresq retained a profound interest in politics. He advocated the annexation of Tasmania by Victoria, railway development, and a special tax to give state aid to all Tasmanian churches. In his last decades he made annual trips to Victoria and Queensland to inspect his investments, to escape the Tasmanian winter and to visit relations. As he aged Dumaresq marvelled at his improving health. He died at Illawarra on 23 April 1906, reputed the oldest justice of the peace in the world.

Deeply religious and a convinced Anglican, Dumaresq gave the property for Christ's College, and with rents from his New Norfolk farms financed the Dumaresq scholarship, held by his sons until the college collapsed under debt in 1856. He also built a stone church and rectory at Illawarra, and made generous contributions towards the cathedral in Hobart and to the Church of England in Victoria.

Select Bibliography

A. McKay (ed), Journals of the Land Commissioners for Van Diemen's Land 1826-1828 (Hob, 1962); family papers (privately held). More on the resources

Author: Roger Page

Print Publication Details: Roger Page, 'Dumaresq, Edward (1802 - 1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 332-333.



George Wragg was lord mayor of Melbourne 1864-1865, no listing in Australian Dictionary of Biogrpahy or Wikipedia.


JEFFERSON, JOSEPH (1829-1905), actor, was born on 20 February 1829 at Philadelphia, United States of America, son of Joseph Jefferson, actor, and his wife Cornelia Frances Burke, née Thomas. He grew up among theatre people, began his stage career at 4 and, after his father died in 1842, relied on acting for a living. At 21 he married Margaret Clements Lockyer. In 1856 he visited Europe and in September joined Laura Keene's company in New York. In 1861 his wife died, leaving four children.

With his eldest son, Jefferson went to San Francisco for a season and then sailed for Sydney, hoping to recover his health. He arrived in the Nimrod on 13 November and opened with Rip Van Winkle, Our American Cousin and The Octoroon. In March 1862 at Melbourne he played a season at the Princess Theatre for about six months. He was immediately popular. Within a week or so in Melbourne, 'not to have seen Jefferson was equivalent to exclusion from conversation in society of all classes'. Critics praised his 'fresh and genial' acting and his refined taste; in retrospect an admirer claimed that his acting combined 'the delicacy, the exquisite finish, the grace and airiness of French comedy with the naturalness and the blended humour and pathos of the best school of English comedians'. He was described as a slender but wiry, compact figure with the intellectual face of a Hamlet: 'a singularly charming companion for a conversational hour'.

In September Jefferson was engaged for the opening of George Coppin's Royal Haymarket Theatre, playing in Our American Cousin. He also played in the country districts of Victoria, including Ballarat and Bendigo. Between theatre seasons Jefferson spent some weeks at a station in the Western District and explored the Murray River. With Melbourne as his base he went first to Tasmania where he played, among other things, The Ticket of Leave Man to an appreciative audience including many ex-convicts. Then in April 1864 he played a season at Dunedin, New Zealand, returning via Sydney. In April 1865 he left Melbourne for London where he arranged with Dionysius Boucicault's father a revised version of Rip Van Winkle. The play was a great success and he went to America where his role as Rip Van Winkle became legendary. He retired from the stage in 1904 and died on 23 April 1905 at Palm Beach, Florida; he was buried at Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts. His second wife Sarah Isabel, née Warren, whom he had married on 20 December 1867, survived him. Jefferson was also a talented amateur artist and a keen fisherman. His attractive Autobiography (London, 1890) included an account of his Australian years and was reported with interest in the colonial press.

Select Bibliography

W. Winter, Life and Art of Joseph Jefferson (New York, 1894); A. Bagot, Coppin the Great (Melb, 1965); Examiner (Melbourne), 5 Apr 1862; Australasian, 21, 28 Dec 1878, 28 June 1890, 29 Apr 1905. More on the resources

Author: Dennis Shoesmith

Print Publication Details: Dennis Shoesmith, 'Jefferson, Joseph (1829 - 1905)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 475-476.


Joseph Jefferson

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For the National Football League player, see Joseph Jefferson (football player).

Joseph JeffersonJoseph Jefferson, commonly known as Joe Jefferson (February 20, 1829 – April 23, 1905), was an American actor. He was the third actor of this name in a family of actors and managers, and one of the most famous of all American comedians.


1 Life and career

1.1 Early career

1.2 Later years

2 Legacy

3 Publications

4 References

5 External links

Life and career

Jefferson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was a scenic designer and actor and his mother an actress. He appeared onstage early in life, often being used when a play called for "a babe in arms". His first recorded appearance was at the Washington Theatre in Washington, D.C. where he appeared in a benefit performance for the minstrel Thomas D. Rice. It was there that the four-year-old Jefferson sang alternating stanzas in the song "Jump Jim Crow". His father died when he was 13, and young Jefferson continued acting and helping to support the family. Jefferson was twice married: at the age of 21 in 1850, to actress Margaret Clements Lockyer (1832–1861), whose early death left him with four children; and in 1867 to Sarah Warren, niece of William Warren the actor.

Jefferson bought a place called Orange Island in Louisiana where he built a home after the Civil War. The location is at a peninsular area on Lake Peigneur, and was subsequently renamed Jefferson Island.[1]

Early career

Jefferson as the young Rip Van WinkleHe saved money, visited Europe in 1856, and in November of that year joined Laura Keene's Company in New York and established a reputation as a first-rate actor. Throughout his youth he experienced many of the hardships connected with theatrical touring in those early days.

After this experience, partly as actor, partly as manager, he won his first pronounced success in 1858 as Asa Trenchard in Tom Taylor's Our American Cousin at Laura Keene's theatre in New York. This play was the turning-point of his career, as it would be for the actor E. A. Sothern. The naturalness and spontaneity of humour with which he acted the love scenes revealed a spirit in comedy new to his contemporaries, long used to a more artificial convention; and the touch of pathos which the part required revealed no less to the actor an unexpected power in himself. When Sothern complained about the small size of his role, Jefferson supposedly replied with the famous line, "There are no small parts, only small actors."[citation needed]

Other early parts included Newman Noggs in Nicholas Nickleby, Caleb Plummer in Dot (an adaption of The Cricket on the Hearth), Dr. Pangloss in George Colman the Younger's The Heir at Law, Salem Scudder in The Octoroon, and Bob Acres in The Rivals, the last being not so much an interpretation of the character as Sheridan sketched it as a creation of the actors.

Jefferson as the old Rip Van Winkle, 1896In 1859, Jefferson made a dramatic version of Washington Irving's story of "Rip Van Winkle" on the basis of older plays, and acted it with success in Washington, D.C. He arrived at Sydney in the beginning of November 1861, and played a successful season introducing to Australia Rip Van Winkle, Our American Cousin, The Octoroon and other plays. He opened in Melbourne on March 31, 1862, and had a most successful season extending over about six months. Seasons followed in the country and in Tasmania. In 1865 Jefferson with health recovered went to London and arranged with Dion Boucicault for a revised version of Rip Van Winkle. It ran 170 nights, with Jefferson in the leading part.

Later years

Jefferson would continue acting in this show for 40 years. Returning to America, Jefferson made it his stock play, making annual tours of the states with it, and occasionally reviving The Heir-at-Law in which he played Dr. Pangloss, The Cricket on the Hearth (Caleb Plummer) and The Rivals (Bob Acres). He was one of the first to establish the travelling combinations which superseded the old system of local stock companies. Jefferson also starred in a number of films as the character starting in the 1896, Awakening of Rip, which is in the U.S. National Film Registry. Jefferson’s son Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps and also played the character in a number of early 20th century films.

With the exception of minor parts, such as the First Gravedigger in Hamlet, which he played in an all-star combination headed by Edwin Booth, Jefferson created no new character after 1865; and the success of Rip Van Winkle was so pronounced that he has often been called a one-part actor. If this was a fault, it was the public's, who never wearied of his one masterpiece.

No man in his profession was more honored for his achievements or his character. He was the friend of many of the leading men in American politics, art and literature. He was an ardent fisherman and lover of nature, and devoted to painting. It is erroneously believed that he was distantly related to British comedian Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson), but UK civil registration, census and church records suggest that Jefferson was not the real name of his father. Jefferson was a founding member and the second president of the Players' Club in Manhattan.

Jefferson died from pneumonia on April 23, 1905 in Palm Beach, Florida.


Jefferson's name continues to live on through the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee in Chicago which offers awards in recognition of excellence of Chicago's Equity and non-Equity theaters and their productions.


William Winter, The Jeffersons (Boston, 1881)

Carroll, Twelve Americans: Their Lives and Times (New York, 1883)

Matthews and Hutton, Actors and Actresses of Great Britain and the United States (New York, 1886)

N. H. Dole, Joseph Jefferson at Home (Boston, 1898)

Francis Wilson, Joseph Jefferson (New York, 1906)

M. J. Moses, Famous Actor-Families in America (New York, 1906)

Francis Wilson, Reminiscences of a Fellow Player (New York, 1906)

William Winter, Other Days (New York, 1908)

E. P. Jefferson, Intimate Recollections of Joseph Jefferson, (New York, 1909)

Arthur Bloom, Joseph Jefferson: Dean of the American Theatre (Savannah, 2000)


1.^ Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. "Jefferson Island Historical Marker". http://www.stoppingpoints.com/louisiana/Vermillion/Jefferson+Island.html.

Serle, Percival (1949). "Jefferson, Joseph". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. http://gutenberg.net.au/dictbiog/0-dict-biogI-K.html#jefferson1.

Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Jefferson, Joseph". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.

This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.

External links

Joseph Jefferson at the Internet Movie Database

Joseph Jefferson Writing on Acting


Joseph Jefferson at Find a Grave

Rip Van Winkle, complete downloadable 1896 film

Joseph Jefferson Photograph part of the Nineteenth Century Notables Digital Collection at Gettysburg College

"Jefferson, Joseph". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1892.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Jefferson"

Categories: Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters | American stage actors | 1829 births | 1905 deaths | People from New York City | People from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | People from Staten Island

Number 36 Collins Street, Melbourne Club 1838-1988 / Ronald McNicoll

Author: McNicoll, Ronald, 1906-

Published: 1988

State Libray of Victoria has photo of the Melbourne Club froim 1860 to 1869


Check Genealogical Society for Melbourne Club publications

William Blanchard

One historian has blamed the partisan views of some members of the government, and argued that although Governor Darling tried sincerely to remain neutral in his behavior towards the CSS Shenandoah and its officers, many of the Cabinet were opposed to the cruiser. The commissioner of trade and customs, James G. Francis, is singled out due to his part ownership of a store selling American goods, and because he was a "close political and business friend of Blanchard," the United States consul.22 Midshipman John Mason claimed that Commissioner Francis was the only member of the colonial government who did not support the Confederate warship.23

This historical assessment has some limitations. James Francis did have significant influence due to his position as the commissioner of trade and customs. Although he was the official intermediary between the colonial government of Victoria and the CSS Shenandoah, Commissioner Francis could not possibly act alone against the ship. Governor Darling's role in the affair was minor, and the government's policy regarding the Confederate cruiser was handled by Cabinet. Even the Cabinet was constrained to acting on legal advice provided by the Crown Law Offices, run by Archibald Michie and George Higinbotham.24 For instance, when the Southern officers asked permission to sell surplus goods

William Blanchard was a business friend of James Francis, the minister for Customs according to Angus’ book

Blanchard was from Maryland, and prior to his diplomatic position had been the editor of an abolitionist newspaper printed in Washington, D.C., the National Era.28 Anti-slavery sentiment, and the zeal required by his official position can probably account for Blanchard's hatred of the CSS Shenandoah. From the moment of learning of the cruiser's arrival, Consul Blanchard made every effort to have the ship seized by the colonial authorities.29 He submitted daily protests to the government about the vessel's presence. In his first letter to Governor Darling on 2.6 January 1865, he encapsulated his arguments:

Irvine, Sir William Hill (1858–1943)

by J. M. Bennett and Ann G. Smith

William Hill Irvine (1858-1943), by Broothorn Studios, 1900s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23438713

Sir William Hill Irvine (1858-1943), premier and chief justice, was born on 6 July 1858 at Dromalane, Newry, Down, Ireland, sixth of seven children of Hill Irvine, farmer and linen manufacturer, and his wife Margaret, née Mitchel. William, a nephew of John Mitchel the Irish patriot, was educated at the Royal School, Armagh, and at Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1879), sharing college rooms with a cousin and leading 'a cheerful and rather riotous student life'. He won prizes in modern history and Italian and did well in mathematics. On graduation, achieved despite financial difficulties when Hill Irvine, overwhelmed by the failure of his linen mill, suffered a heart attack and died, William entered the King's Inns. But when his mother determined upon a new start overseas, he abandoned legal studies and persuaded her to go to Australia. Some of the family sailed for Melbourne in 1879 and set up house at Richmond.

Irvine undertook further degree courses at the University of Melbourne (M.A., 1882; LL.B., 1884; LL.M., 1886). He meanwhile derived a little income as a private tutor and, for a time, as a master at Geelong College — but he disliked teaching. After reading with (Sir) Henry Hodges he was admitted to the Victorian Bar on 8 July 1884. On 17 September 1891 at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Ballarat, he married Agnes Somerville, eldest daughter of T. D. Wanliss, member of the Legislative Council, and sister of D. S. Wanliss with whom Irvine shared a room in Selborne Chambers, Melbourne. There were three children of the marriage, but the first eight years were childless and spent with scrupulous regard for economy while Irvine struggled at the Bar. Yet they were able to entertain modestly, and found pleasure in music, gardening and the keeping of dogs. Irvine had, for a few years, a virtual obsession about goldmines and applied whatever cash he could spare in taking up mining leases. They came to nothing.

Irvine occupied idle moments in chambers writing a practice book on the powers of justices of the peace, published in 1888, and he worked up a reputation for his conduct of cases in the Gippsland County Courts. He also wrote with (Sir) Frank Gavan Duffy Law Relating to the Property of Women (1886). He sometimes examined for the law school at the university. But his work and income were erratic. 'Solicitors', he wrote, 'are very shy just at present, and I occasionally have a fit of a distinctly azure hue'. When a brief came he surmounted a disposition to indolence and applied himself to the task without reserve, severely draining mental and physical energy and requiring compensation in vigorous outlets like sculling, fitness exercises and bushwalking. He suffered from acute anxiety, sometimes of almost neurotic degree, possibly derived from the troubled years after his father's death.

In 1894 when his practice was solid but unspectacular, he stood for the rural Legislative Assembly seat of Lowan, representing the Free-trade Democratic Association; he advocated a land tax and claimed independence from both the Patterson and Turner parties. Although virtually unknown in the electorate and opposed by the ministerialist Richard Baker, who also supported tariff reform, Irvine achieved a surprise victory which, ironically, may have been helped by the anti-Patterson public service vote which he personally distrusted.

Irvine found politics congenial. Through the offices of William Shiels he served in the 1899-1900 McLean ministry as attorney-general. He showed himself a man of absolute probity, clear vision and firm resolution and when McLean moved into Federal politics in 1901 Irvine, having lost his bid for the Federal seat of Wimmera, became leader of the Opposition. A Peacock-Irvine coalition was mooted, but in June 1902 Irvine carried a vote of no confidence in the Peacock ministry. Commissioned to form a government, he was remarked for his temerity in choosing a cabinet without consulting David Syme. The defeat of the members' reimbursement and public officers' salaries retrenchment bill secured him a double dissolution in September and he went to the polls on 1 October. Prudently he had allied himself with the Kyabram movement and its Citizens' Reform League which fought drought and economic recession with demands for reduced government spending. On a platform of parliamentary reform and retrenchment within the public service as the prerequisites for State economic development he won a resounding victory.

Irvine's ministry, unchanged after the election, was essentially a country one. He had appointed Shiels treasurer and kept the post of attorney-general for himself; from February 1903 he was also solicitor-general, and treasurer from July. Irvine carried retrenchment and initiated major irrigation programmes. His reform proposals, providing for reduction of the legislature by approximately one-third and reducing the powers and widening the franchise of the Legislative Council, were trimmed. But the premier demonstrated his implacable will by making acceptance of another provision, separate parliamentary representation for railway workers and public servants, a condition of his continuation in office.

In May 1903 the railway engine drivers struck in a protest against working conditions and the humiliations of the retrenchment policy. Irvine's reaction to a crisis which he had probably not deliberately provoked but which he had done nothing to avoid was swift and crushing. A strike suppression bill was introduced, accrued financial and other benefits of strikers were declared forfeit, the ringleaders were dismissed and strike-breakers engaged. The strike was over within a week. Middle-class interests applauded Irvine's stand, but labour organizations were bitter in condemnation. 'Your turn will come, my smooth beauty', yelled Dr Maloney across the chamber: politically, Irvine had become a 'marked man'.

The strain of Irvine's dual position as premier and treasurer began to show by November when he announced his early intention of retiring as head of government; already in September he had relinquished the posts of attorney-general and solicitor-general. His reduced income and sustained criticism from the Age over his October budget were rumoured as explanations, but deteriorating health was probably the most compelling factor. Under pressure from colleagues and with promises of relief from routine administration he rescinded his decision; but, suddenly, in February 1904, under 'imperative orders' from physicians, he resigned as premier.

In the premiership years his reputation as 'Iceberg' Irvine evolved. For one who wished so much to succeed in politics he was not helped by his appearance of cold aloofness and his reserve when among strangers. He cultivated a 'thoughtful demeanour and a monosyllabic, incisive method of speech' that was primly logical. Even his choice of thin-rimmed spectacles compounded an impression of austerity and detachment. He did nothing to court popularity but convinced himself that 'the people trust me'.

Following his resignation a testimonial fund of £2000 was raised by supporters and presented to his wife. The Irvines travelled overseas for seven months, and he was awarded an honorary LL.D. at Trinity College, Dublin. In a speech to citizens of his birthplace he ostentatiously avoided reference to Home Rule. 'He would always be proud to be a Newry man', he said, but 'his fortunes and his work were cast in Australia, and to a large extent he belonged to Australia'. On his return to Melbourne he gave increasing time to his family and his home Killeavey at Eltham. In 1906 he revealed his priorities by declining a seat on the Supreme Court bench but taking silk on 23 October and moving on to Federal politics as member for Flinders from December. He spoke out for strengthened Commonwealth powers, particularly in the fields of taxation, immigration and defence. At the same time his Bar career flourished and he was senior counsel in many major cases before the High Court of Australia and the Victorian Supreme Court.

In the national parliament his continuing sense of independence won him some admirers but few friends. He began nominally as a member of the 'Corner-group' and clashed often with Alfred Deakin and W. M. Hughes who called Irvine a 'mere phrasemaker' and taunted that 'Democracy asks him for reform, and he gives it a speech'. He was left out of the Fusion ministry in 1909: although (Sir) Joseph Cook desired his inclusion he was anathema to Sir John Forrest; moreover Hume Cook reminded Deakin of the railway strike and advised, 'This man MUST BE EXCLUDED at all costs'. Irvine contested the leadership of the party on Deakin's resignation in 1913, but had to withdraw after the first ballot, thus losing hopes he had begun to cherish of becoming prime minister.

From June 1913 to September 1914 he was attorney-general in the Cook ministry. But as the government was enfeebled in its legislative programme by Senate obstruction his term in office was frustrating. He survived a censure motion in September 1913 by only one vote, after allegations that he had allowed himself to be placed in a position of conflict by accepting while a minister of the Crown a general retainer from the Marconi Co., then engaged in litigation against the Commonwealth. He was knighted in 1913 and raised to K.C.M.G. the following year.

When the Cook ministry fell in September 1914 Irvine's political career was all but over. Although he was described by Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson three years later as the most statesmanlike man in parliament ('there is no public man who so often hits the right nail on the head'), he refused to join any ministry which was unprepared to legislate for conscription, an issue he pursued throughout the war years with typical single-mindedness. In July 1915 Irvine had called for compulsory registration of all men and next year he took a leading part in the referendum campaign. After the referendum was lost he helped to prepare the platform for a 'Win-the-War party' while hinting to Munro Ferguson of the efficacy of Imperial decree. Hughes seriously considered sending him as Australian representative to the Imperial Conference early in 1917. That year Irvine was prominent among his Nationalist colleagues in his refusal to accept Hughes's pledge not to introduce conscription without a special warrant from the people, and in October and November led the second conscription movement, decrying the need for referenda shackled to the 'sentiment' of women. He was still pushing for a conscription bill in March 1918 when on the death of Sir John Madden he accepted the chief justiceship of Victoria.

Irvine was sworn in on 9 April, some commentators likening his appointment to a consolation prize for his thwarted political aspirations. Preoccupation with politics had reduced his legal powers and, though he had many good judicial qualities, he was not a jurist and his judgments have little enduring legal merit. While clear and expeditious in his decisions, he was a slavish user of precedent and never commented on the state of the law. However in 1923 he set an important administrative precedent when he refused to nominate a Supreme Court judge to conduct a royal commission on a matter which had political implications.

Sir Robert Menzies considered him a 'first-class trial judge, dignified, upright, cold in manner … but perceptive, and devoted to justice'. Sir Arthur Dean recalled that Irvine 'presided over his court with great dignity and decorum, but with some degree of detachment from the case before him, particularly in the dangerous hours after lunch. He was not a profound lawyer, but usually an industrious one … He had a quiet and restrained sense of humour, a firm sense of justice, a high standard of duty and propriety, and great personal charm'. He did not transfer his 'Iceberg' reputation to his relations with the legal profession. But he confided that he felt lonely and isolated on the bench as he loved to be in affairs. He allowed himself to remain too long in office and had in his late seventies to be prompted by a colleague to resign; his inattention in the afternoons and his increasing forgetfulness had become excessively embarrassing. His resignation took effect on 30 September 1935.

From 1919 he administered the State as lieutenant-governor several times and was acting governor for nearly three years from June 1931. He and his wife moved with the presence and punctiliousness appropriate to ceremonial office and the community warmed to their enjoyment of touring and meeting people. His resonant and rich speaking voice helped to melt some of the chill of his formal bearing. He was raised to G.C.M.G. in 1934. His membership of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria from 1909 and his position as patron from 1918 reflected his great enjoyment of motoring and of things mechanical; they, with mathematics, were his abiding forms of recreation.

His declining years were spent at Killeavey and then at Toorak where after suffering a progressively disabling disease that restricted movement and speech he died on 20 August 1943. Survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, he was accorded a state funeral. A portrait by Buckmaster won the Archibald prize in 1933.


Mentions of Australian links with Melbourne, Central Business District for both the visit of the Shenandoah as well as that of other visitors to Melbourne prior to the civil war or later:

141 Flinders Street west - business in 1884 for John Quiggin

Flinders Street West, Raleigh's Wharf, business in 1860's of Corlies Lloyd Throckmorton, supporter of Confederacy

Flinders Street, Old Customs House, was in use when Shenandoah came in 1865, Minister for Customs & Excise, Francis, worked from here.

Flinders Street – between William & King Street, veteran lived in boarding house, either 434 or 444, E J Costelloe

Across from Flinders Street railways building - George Francis Train built between 1853-1855 the first important building.

18 Flinders Lane west, office for U.S. Consul (James F. Maguire) in 1860

125 Flinders Lane east - boarding house used as recruitment office for Shenandoah (near Stephen street, now Exhibition Street)

49 Elizabeth Street – Australia Building, office of Noble & Daniels, suppliers of hairdressers’ sundries

41 Collins Street east, firm of Batchelder and O'Neil - photography studio for Shenandoah officers shots

Collins Street - Melbourne club - scene of dinner held for Shenandoah officers

Collins Street - Atheneum Club - Mark Twain lectured here

Collins Street & Swanston Street - Melbourne Town Hall where Mark Twain visited; George A. Sheridan also lectured here on 9 September 1884.

Collins Street - Criterion Hotel where 4th of July parties were held (rebuilt in 19860's as the now old Melbourne Stock Exchange)

77 Collins Street West - U.S. Consul for James Morris Morgan in 1884

400 Collins Street, site of office for Robert Anthony Stanley, possible Civil War veteran.

440 Collins Street Melbourne, the site of Scott's Hotel, officers from the "Shennadoah" went there; now the Royal Insurance Building

520 Collins Street (modern-day Stock Exchange – was site of business for Corlies Lloyd Throckmorton

40 Little Collins Street east, business address of Chambers & Co., engineers who assisted the Shenandoah

31 Little Collins Street west, business address in 1868 for George Latham, U.S. Consul.

91 Chancery Lane - office for U.S. Consul (William Blanchard) in 1865

Bourke Street - Alambra Rooms (corner of Russell and Bourke, north-east corner, now a bank converted into bookshop)

Bourke Street East - Haymarket Theatre - Shenandoah officers visited

Bourke Street - Theatre Royal where Shenandoah officers visited; also played by J.C. Williamson (now Coles store)

Bourke Street - Bijou Theatre - Mark Twain lectured here (next door to Tivoli and opposite the old Theatre Royal)

Bourke Street & King Street - Menzie's Hotel, Mark Twain stayed here, now head office for BHP?.

620 Bourke Street - residence of Mrs James Abner Sherman in 1916 (no longer there)

15 Ievers Terrace, Carlton - death of Samuel McCaul, US Army pensioner, in 1917

621 Lonsdale Street - Boarding house operated by James Brown (no longer there)

Spencer Street Railway Station - Shenandoah officers boarded here to go to Ballarat (via Geelong); so did Mark Twain

Spencer Street, the Sailor's Home was opened up in 1865 for any member of the Shenandoah who wanted to board here (address not known)

Swanston Street - Octave L.E. Fariola had an office here in 1889.

Swanston Street City Baths - James Brown Campbell died here in 1905

King Street, Federal Buildings, office of U.S. Consul James P. Lesesne, in 1890.

King Street, St James Church, marriage of John Francis, pre-war.

137 King Street, West Melbourne - residence of Dr. Knaggs, Surgeon Lining from Shenandoah visited his place

518 Albert Street, East Melbourne, hospital of death of James Abner Sherman (now the ICI building)

53 Latrobe Street east - residence of Doctor & Mrs Edward Barker, Shenandoah officers visited them.

North-east Corner Queen & Little Bourke Street – Harp & Erin Hotel, residence of veteran