William Melville

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 [ William Melville ] William Henry Melville ]

William Melville 1829 – 1897 son of Henry Melville and Christina Gordon

  William was born at Uppat, Golspie, Sutherland on 28 September 1829.  He emigrated to Australia arriving in Victoria in 1852 and was not long there when he went into partnership in that year with William Bayles.  A company was formed in Melbourne called Bayles and Melville and this was the start of an illustrious career in business and public life for William Melville.

  There are various references in the press in Victoria to the business interests of William and his partner.  In 1865 it would appear they invested in ‘station property’ relating to farming land.  Part of this investment involved the purchase of Weerangourt Station in Victoria which later became the sole property of William Melville.  The Hamilton Spectator mentions the receipt of tenders for the erection of a Bluestone Woolshed at Weerangourt Station, Byaduk in 1867 and in 1870 it has three entries relating to the Station.  The first states  on 13 April 1870 –  SALE OF WEERANGOURT due to the Expiration of Partnership of Bayles and Melville.  20,3000 acres (about 10,00 acres freehold) Total of 19,348 sheep, 96 cattle, 17 horses, 20 paddocks watered by two steams, five roomed dwelling house, overseer’s house built of bluestone, new woolshed also bluestone and roofed with iron.’  Just three days later there is the announcement of the withdrawal of the sale and then in June 1870 a further entry states – ‘Transfer of Land Statue. William Bayles in the city of Melbourne, Merchant and William Melville, of the same city, Merchant have applied to bring the Land described under the above statute.  Crown Pre-emptive Section A, 640 acres parish of Weerangourt, county of Normanby ’.    The suggestion from all of this is that a sale was planned and then alternative arrangements were made to continue the Bayles and Melville partnership.

  Another indication of the partnerships property holding is a reference to the sentencing of a thief in September 1876 to two tears in prison for the theft of sheep skins from Bayles and Melville’s station at Moyne Falls .  A later press reference in 1884 to this station of 11,300 acres  indicates its sale by Hon. William Bayles to a Mr John Robertson of ‘Skene’, Hamilton , Victoria .  This report does not mention William so by that stage he may have already sold his stake to his partner.  This sale to his partner could be related to a change at Weerangourt Station in 1882 requiring redirecting of finance when the partnership lease of Bayles and Melville was cancelled and William Melville took sole control.  An entry in the Hamilton Spectator of 28 February 1882 states, ‘Stock and Stations – Sold A/C Bayles and Melville, “Weerangourt Estate” 14,192 acres freehold, with stock – 15,505 sheep, 518 cattle, 27 horses, to Wm. Melville’.

  In 1858 William Melville had married Annie MacDonald the daughter of John MacDonald and Charlotte Fleming.  Annie was born on 9 Oct 1834 in Golspie, Sutherland , Scotland according to the IGI. Unfortunately, the marriage ended with the early death of Annie in 1859.  She was aged 29 years but did leave a surviving son, William Hendry Melville.

  On 18 April 1867 William Melville married for a second time to Annette Margaret Bayles.  They were married at the residence of her father James J. Bayles Esq., J.P., ‘Rokeby’, Macquarie River , Tasmania .  William was described as being of Weerangourt Station , Victoria .  The details were given in the Hamilton Spectator of 1 May 1867.

  Between 1868 and 1867 the Hamilton Spectator reported the birth of seven children to the couple as below though this is an abridged version of the announcements.

26 November 1868 at Weerangourt a daughter, Alice Eleanor.

14 February 1870 at Rokeby, Macquarie River , Tasmania a son, James Bayles.

6 September 1871 at Weerangourt a daughter, Florence Rosabell.

25 May 1871 at Weerangourt a son, Albert Emerson.

22 December 1875 at Weerangourt a son, Frederick Leslie.

1 September 1878 at Weerangourt a daughter, Annette Bayles.

28 July 1884 at Weerangourt a son, Gordon Arthur.

  William Melville died on 7 September 1897 and his death was reported in the Spectator on 9 September.  This followed a report two days earlier referring to an illness at his home in Macarthur – ‘Macarthur, The serious illness of Mr Melville, which was reported here on Saturday, has aroused much sympathy for that gentleman, and anxious enquiries are constantly made as to his condition.  The sanguine hope that he will make a good recovery is warmly cherished’.

  A report of William Melville’s funeral appeared in the Spectator on 11 September under the heading ‘The Late Mr Melville’.

  'The general esteem which the late Mr. William Melville of Weerangourt, was held, was amply testified by the large concourse that attended on Thursday to pay the last token of’ respect. The cortege, even when it had reached Monivae, was a very long one, not­withstanding that several residing at a great distance from Hamilton had previously left it, and as it approached the town it continually received additions until finally there were between forty and fifty well—filled vehicles of all descriptions.

  A noticeable and most commendable feature in connection with it was the great simplicity of the arrangements, no nodding plumes, no pall, in fact no show at all beyond an affectionate one furnished by the numerous wreaths and crosses, sent to the bereaved family by sympathisers.

  On arriving at the cemetery, the coffin was carried to the grave by the four stalwart sons of the deceased gentleman, assisted by Mr. J.R. Learmonth and Mr. F.C. Cavenagh, who also lowered the cof­fin to its final resting place in the family burial ground, alongside the grave of a daughter of the deceased who died in 1890.

  The Rev. W.C. Wallace officiated at the grave, and seldom has a larger crowd of mourners from all parts of the district assembled in the Presbyterian or any other division of our cemetery.’

  The will made by William was reported upon, again on the Spectator, on 14 October 1897 and shows the great extent of his estate and generosity of his final bequests.

  ‘The will of’ the late William Melville, formerly of’ Weerongurt, in the county of’ Normanby, sheep farmer, was lodged with the Registrar of’ Probates on Tuesday. The deceased gentleman made his will on the 1st. August 1896, and died on the 7th. ult. The value of’ his estate is sworn at £56,951., consisting of’ real property valued at £49,776., and personally valued at £7,175..

The testator made the following charitable bequests, directing that the legacy should be invested in Government securities, and the annual income paid in each case to the maintenance fund of  the institution named: - Presbyterian Church, (Macarthur)£200. ,Church of England, (Macarthur)£100.,Presbyterian Church, ( Byaduk)£100.,Hamilton Hospital and Benevelent Asylum,(£200.,) Hamilton Ladies Benevelent Asylum,(£100). To his nephew Henry Melville Turner, he bequeathed £100.; and the residue of his estate to his widow and children.’

  The high esteem in which William Melville was held and his loss to his local church were evidenced by the erection of a mural tablet on the church wall and by the Spectators report of the event.

‘Unveiling the Mural Tablet in the Macarthur Presbyterian Church

It is pleasing to record that the congregation of the Macarthur Presby­terian Church to which the Rev. W.C. Wallace, M.A. ministers,  have not been unmindful of the services rendered by the late Mr. William Melville, than whom there was no more regular attendant, and whose death caused a gap that will take a great deal of filling.

A very handsome marble tablet has been erected on the south wall of the church, and a good number assembled on Sunday morning when the tablet was unveiled. At the close of the service the Rev, preacher said that he now had a duty to perform that was at the same time sad and pleasing. Sad inasmuch as it recalled the bereavement which the congregation and the whole community had sustained in the death of Mr. Melville.

This had felt to be a personal loss by almost every member of the comm­unity, and though a little over a year had passed since his death, it had only accentuated the sense of general loss.

They had had forebodings that his removal would have meant a severe loss to the church, and these fears were not groundless, but he (the speaker) reminded them that when God recalled servants from their work in the fields, it was not because the work was done, but in order to distribute it over the number who were left to work. He was glad to turn to the pleasing feature of his duty that day, viz:- the Mural tablet, which had been placed in the church.

This as he regarded it, was not really to commemorate the character and work of the late Ir. Melville, but also to be a reminder to them of all the increased obligation laid on them by his death to fill the blank, which it had caused. This was the one way in which they could truly commemorate his memory, by giving themselves more heartily to the work their late friend had so much at heart, and striving to cultivate the virtues they commemorated. Then, and only then, would the legend at the foot of the tablet “He being dead yet speaketh” become a reality.

The Rev. W. C. Wallace, then asked Mr. J. R. Learmonth, as Mr.Melville’s oldest surviving friend, to unveil the tablet, which bore the following:-

In Memory of


Of Weerangourt

A founder of this church, and for thirty—two years an active and generous benefactor of church and district. who died 7th. September, 1897.

This tablet is erected by friends in affectionate remembrance of a valued friend and a worthy citizen.

“He being dead, yet speaketh”.

This tablet which is of beautiful workmanship, was executed and supplied by Messrs. Ballantyne, of Swanston St., Melbourne, and was subscribed for by friends in and outside the congregation.

Annette Margaret Melville ( ms Bayles), the wife of William Melville died on 8 July 1920 at 7 Irving Avenue , Armadale , Victoria .  Her former address had been ‘Rokeby’, Hamilton and, as stated by her death notice, she was widow of the late William Melville of ‘Weerangourt’ near Byaduk.  She was Presbyterian, born near Rokeby, Campbelltown , Tasmania .  After her marriage to William she went to live at Weerangourt.  The funeral notice indicated her burial to be in Melbourne and listed her children as Miss Alice E Melville, Mrs C E Nunn, James B Melville, Albert E Melville, Frederick Leslie Melville and Gordon A Melville.

Following the death of Annette Melville two reports in the Spectator ( 17 July 1920 and 23 October 1920) gave information regarding her bequests and the value of her estate.

‘The late Mrs. William Melville, whose death we noted in a recent issue, was born at Rokeby near Campbelltown , Tasmania , nearly 79 years ago. The members of her family surviving her are Miss Alice E. Melville, and Mrs. C.E. Nunn, and Messrs. James B. Melville, Albert E. Melville, F.L. Melville, and Gordon A. Melville.

During her sojourn at “Weerangourt” and later in Hamilton where she lived for several years, the late Mrs. Melville took a quiet interest in everything that made for the progress and advancement of Byaduk, Macarthur, and Hamilton. This interest is emphasised by the follow­ing bequests under her will, namely:— Byaduk Mechanics Institute,£100., Macarthur Presbyterian Church, in aid of the endowment fund for the minister’s stipend,£100., Widows and Orphans Fund(Presbyterian Church), £30., Aged and Infirm minister’s fund,£30., Hamilton Presbyterian Church Sunday School,£30., Hamilton Hospital and Benevelent Asylum,£25., and Christ Church Sunday School at Hamilton,£5.’

  ‘The Union Trustee Company of Australia Limited, is making application for a grant of Letters of Administration, with the will annexed, in the estate of ~ Annette Margaret Melville, late of Irving Road, Armadale, and formerly of Hamilton, widow, who died on the 8th. day of July, 1920. Deceased left personal estate in Victoria valued at £7, —13—7(these figures are indistinct) which, after the payment of certain legacies, goes to her children in the terms of her will. There are also assets in Tasmania .’



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