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Joe Melvin

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Joe Melvin

Joseph Dalgarno "Joe" Melvin (15 August 1852 – 26 June 1909) was a Scottish-born journalist and editor in Melbourne, Victoria.

History

Melvin was born in Banff, Scotland,[1] a son of John Melvin (ca.1829 – 21 September 1905), and his wife Isabella, née Gossip, and had some journalistic experience with the Moray Advertiser and Firth Advertiser[1] before the family emigrated to Australia. His first appointment was with The Age in the 1870s, when he reported on conditions at the Kew Lunatic Asylum.[2]

He joined the Argus sometime before 1877, and accompanied the Victorian police in their various attempts to run down the Kelly Gang, and on the scene in their last days in 1881. Various stories were told about his part in the climactic events: he was in the special train that took the troopers to Glenrowan and in a feat of daring, extinguished the carriage's external lights, which made them a particular target; with Sergeant Hare when he was shot in the wrist, Melvin was at his side; he was the first to spot Ned Kelly fleeing as Dan Kelly Joe Byrne and Steve Hart lay dead or dying; he was several times the intended target of Ned's pistol, but was unscathed; and when Ned had been crippled by shots to the legs it was Joe who supported the outlaw, and tended to his wounds on the long trip to the Melbourne jail; they even struck up a form of friendship, terminated with a handshake at the base of the scaffold.[3] He, and fellow journalists Carrington and McWhirter, gave evidence at the subsequent Commission of Enquiry.[4]

By 1883 he was with the Melbourne Daily Telegraph, a paper which existed from 1869 to 1892. In March 1885, having been refused transport to the Soudan to report on the war there, he managed by bribery to secure a berth as crewman (variously reported as steward and assistant pantryman)[5] on the Iberia taking soldiers of the New South Wales armed forces to Suakin.[6] While the New South Wales government may not have been able to prevent his acting as war correspondent, it would not allow him to travel with the Contingent. There he teamed up with the Sydney Morning Herald reporter, W. J. Lambie, who was later killed reporting on the Boer War, and sent back reports to his paper and The Bulletin. On his return to Melbourne he was promoted to sub-editor, the position he held when the paper folded in February 1892. He moved to Rockhampton, Queensland, where he gained employment on the barque Helena, in order to investigate the controversial recruitment of Islanders for the Queensland sugar plantations.[7] He concluded that reports of coercion and intimidation were unfounded, and the Islanders involved were neither unsophisticated nor victims.[1]

He was next employed on the staff of Queensland Hansard.[8] He was with the Queensland Telegraph in 1902 then returned to Victoria. He was with Melbourne Hansard staff in 1905.[9] and rejoined The Age.

Family

Joe's father worked for some time at Parsons Brothers of 90 Bourke Street West. Other children were James G. Melvin (died 30 September 1931), also of Parsons Bros., and Barbara Hay Sherar (Mrs. Andrew Sherar) of Surrey Hills, Victoria.

Joe married Margaret "Maggie" Booth (ca.1868 – 22 October 1908) on 30 November 1886. They had no children and lived at 401 Nicholson Street, Kew.

He died after suffering considerably from rheumatism for some years.

References

  1. ^ a b c Peter Corris, 'Melvin, Joseph Dalgarno (1852–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, , published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 9 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Personal".  
  3. ^ "A Special Correspondent".  
  4. ^ "The Police Enquiry".  
  5. ^ "Death of Mr. J. D. Melvin.".  
  6. ^ "An Enterprising War Correspondent".  
  7. ^ "Death of Mr. J. D. Melvin".  
  8. ^ "Personal.".  
  9. ^ "Family Notices.".  
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