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Ham, Cornelius Job (1837–1909)

by Ian F. McLaren

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

This is a shared entry with:

Cornelius Job Ham (1837-1909), by William Bardwell

Cornelius Job Ham (1837-1909), by William Bardwell

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H29332

HaAM BROTHERS: Thomas (1821-1870), engraver, lithographer and publisher, Theophilus Job (1828-1892) and Cornelius Job (1837-1909), were sons of Rev. John Ham and his wife Ann Job, née Tonkin. Thomas was born on 17 February 1821 at Teignmouth, Devon, England, Theophilus on 9 July 1828 at Bilston, Staffordshire, and Cornelius on 13 January 1837 at Birmingham. The family arrived at Melbourne in the Dublin on 13 December 1842, intending to go to Sydney but Melbourne Baptists persuaded John Ham to stay and in July 1843 he became the first minister of the Collins Street Baptist Church. In August 1847 he resigned to go to the Bathurst Street Church in Sydney.

Thomas had trained as an engraver and in 1843 was commissioned to engrave the corporation seal for the Town of Melbourne. With his business in Collins Street, East Melbourne, he was sole contractor for engravings and lithography for the government and designed and engraved currency notes for various banks. He also took up land with another brother, Jabez, on the River Plenty in 1845 and in 1846-47 at Lalbert in the Wimmera district. In 1847 he published a map showing the squatting districts of 'Australia Felix'; it ran to six editions in 1851-61. Other maps published in 1849-54 included Melbourne and Geelong Districts (1849), Map of the Suburban Lands of the City of Melbourne (1852) and Plan of the City of Melbourne (1854). Ham lithographed the first Victorian stamps issued in January 1850: 1,800,000 'Half-length' stamps for 1d., 2d. and 3d. values, and also lithographed fifty brass cancelling-seals. In 1852 he engraved the plate for the 2d. 'Queen-on-Throne' stamps and printed 500,000 direct from the plate.

From July 1850 to August 1852 Thomas, Theophilus and Jabez jointly published the Illustrated Australian Magazine, the first of its kind in Australia. Thomas engraved and lithographed the maps and plates, many of them drawn by W. Strutt. Ham's Five Views of the Gold Fields of Mount Alexander and Ballarat, drawn by D. Tulloch, was engraved and published by Thomas in 1852, followed in 1854 by The Diggers Portfolio and The Gold Diggers Portfolio, each with plates. In 1853 as a land and commission agent Thomas had opened the Central Land Office at 35 Swanston Street, and in 1855 was joined by Cornelius in what became the long-standing firm of C. J. & T. Ham. Thomas also opened a quartz works at Taradale in 1855 but in December 1857 joined the Victorian Geological Survey Office where he had charge of the lithography of sale plans. Four lithographs were printed from stone at lectures given by him in December 1859 and April 1860. Later that year he transferred the agency business to Cornelius and moved to Brisbane, where he was lithographer in the Survey Office from 1860 and chief engraver in 1866-70. With his brother-in-law, William Knight, he formed Thomas Ham & Co., general engravers, lithographic artists, printers and photographers, but the firm was dissolved in November 1868. With Knight, John Collings and W. S. Warren, Thomas then developed sugar plantations on the Albert River and later bought a farm at Redcliffe. He lithographed and published several maps in Queensland, including Atlas of the Colony of Queensland (c.1868), and engraved maps for the government. He died at Brisbane on 8 March 1870. On 18 September 1851 in Melbourne he had married Mary Jull, daughter of John Collings. Of their five sons and four daughters, Alice contributed poems to many journals and her collected verse, Coward or Hero, was published in Brisbane in 1928.

Theophilus worked with Thomas on the River Plenty and at Lalbert and then on the Illustrated Australian Magazine. After 1852 he started his own commission agency and later became a timber merchant. In 1867 as a partner he joined the firm of C. J. & T. Ham. On 6 October 1868 he married Elizabeth, daughter of William Perry of Paddington, Sydney. She died in 1874 aged 28, leaving a son and a daughter. Theophilus died on 29 August 1892 at Richmond and was buried in the Anglican section of the Melbourne general cemetery. His estate was valued at £56,959.

Cornelius was educated at private schools in Melbourne and Sydney. In 1852 he became a clerk with Henry and John Cooke, Melbourne merchants who were first proprietors of the Melbourne Age. Henry Cooke married Amelia Ham, one of their three sisters. Cornelius joined Thomas in the firm of C. J. & T. Ham where he became famous as an auctioneer. In 1870 he was elected to the Melbourne City Council and in 1879-1909 was alderman for La Trobe ward. As mayor in 1881-82 he helped to establish the Working Men's College and for many years was on its council. He served in the royal commissions on the International Exhibition in 1880-81 and on public instruction in 1881, represented Melbourne Province in the Legislative Council in 1882-1904 and was minister without office in the Munro ministry from November 1890 to February 1892. He was a director of the Metropolitan Gas Co., chairman of the London and Lancashire Fire Insurance Co. and of the Citizens' Life Assurance Co. and a cofounder of the Australian Deposit and Mortgage Bank which suspended payment in 1892. He was an active temperance worker and president of the Young Men's Christian Association. In the Baptist Church he served on the Home Mission Committee in 1871, was president of the Union in 1884-85 and one of the first trustees of its fund. Predeceased by his wife Hattie White, sister of G. R. Latham, United States consul, whom he had married at Carlton in 1868, he died on 10 December 1909. He left an estate worth £64,179 to three sons and six daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • C. L. Pack, Victoria, the Half-Length Portraits (New York, 1923)
  • F. J. Wilkin, Baptists in Victoria: Our First Century, 1838-1938 (Melb, 1939)
  • J. W. Collings, Thomas Ham (Melb, 1943)
  • J. R. W. Purves, Half Lengths of Victoria (Lond, 1953)
  • F. G. A. Barnard, ‘Some Early Victorian Maps’, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 6, no 2, Dec 1917, pp 65-81
  • Melbourne Bulletin, 18 Nov 1881, 1 Dec 1882
  • Table Talk, 26 Dec 1889, 27 Jan 1893
  • Australasian, 3, 17 Sept 1892, 25 Jan 1896, 3 Nov 1900, 18 Dec 1909
  • Argus (Melbourne), 11 Dec 1902, 11 Dec 1909.

Citation details

Ian F. McLaren, 'Ham, Cornelius Job (1837–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ham-cornelius-job-3905/text5799, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 2 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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