Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mott, Hamilton Charnock (1871–1963)

by Pat Strachan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Hamilton Charnock Mott (1871-1963), newspaper proprietor, was born on 1 June 1871 at Hamilton, Victoria, eighth son of George Henry Mott (1831-1906), London-born newspaper proprietor, and his wife Allegra Haidée (d.1905), née Charnock; they had married in London on 18 December 1852 and migrated to Victoria. George, after newspaper experience in Melbourne and on the goldfields, moved to Albury, New South Wales, and established the Border Post in 1856. George campaigned for separation of the Riverina, organized an anti-customs league and was mayor of Albury in 1868. His greatest work was the formation of the North-Eastern Railway League, which resulted in the completion of the Melbourne-Wodonga line and the eventual link with Albury. In early 1869 he returned to Victoria and bought a partnership in the Hamilton Spectator. Moving to Melbourne in 1885, he was managing director of Gordon & Gotch Ltd for nine years before buying the Kew Mercury which his son Walter had founded in 1888. George served on the Kew Borough Council for four years and died at Kew on 7 January 1906.

Hamilton was educated at Hamilton Academy and Kew High School. He absorbed the atmosphere of the newspaper world as a boy and later helped his father to run the Mercury. In the wake of gold discoveries, with three brothers, he went to Western Australia where Decimus and Sydney started Kalgoorlie's first paper, the Western Argus. Hamilton soon replaced Sydney; the partnership founded the Tothersider at Coolgardie and engaged in job-printing. After 1900 the brothers returned to Victoria. On 27 May 1902 Hamilton married Evelyn May Grave (d.1961) at the Australian Church, Melbourne.

After the demise of the Border Post, Hamilton and Decimus moved to Albury and established the daily Border Morning Mail on 24 October 1903. They were skilled, confident, and assertive newspapermen—their paper flourished. The partnership ended in 1923 and Decimus went to Melbourne where he and his family built up extensive newspaper interests in the Leader Publishing Co., Northcote. In 1925 Hamilton bought and closed his opposition, the Albury Daily News.

While overseas for the coronation in 1937, Mott bought a photo-engraving plant and the Mail became the first country newspaper in New South Wales and Victoria to install a full photo-engraving section: the paper later won the Sommerlad and other awards for news photography. Four of his five sons, Milton, Tennyson, Clifton and Melbourne, joined him in the newspaper business, while his daughters Haidée, Thalia and Aglaia worked for the Mail at various times. In 1948, the year that ownership passed to a family company, a rotary press was installed and the paper converted to tabloid. In 1962 Mott saw a Hoe rotary press installed in larger premises, but never saw it in action.

Handicapped by severe deafness for most of his life, Mott concentrated on the indoor work of editing and sub-editing. Daily he checked every word in the Mail. His strong sense of a newspaper's duty led him into several libel actions—he won some, lost some.

Impeccably dressed, courtly and erect, a disciplinarian yet tolerant and understanding, Mott earned the respect of the community and the devotion of his employees. His hobby was gardening. After studying Mendelism, he evolved a new winter-flowering variety of sweet pea, without the usual hooded formation, which is known by the name 'Mott'. He crossed and perfected varieties, and changed the colour of the flowers at his home, Murray Bluffs, and through commercial growers in Queensland and South Australia sent seed throughout the world.

At 91 Mott was still working. He died on 2 February 1963 and was cremated after a service in St Matthew's Church of England, Albury.

Select Bibliography

  • C. A. Mott, The Runaway Family (Wodonga, Vic, 1980)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 9 Jan 1906
  • Border Morning Mail, 24 Oct 1953, 4 Feb 1963
  • private information.

Citation details

Pat Strachan, 'Mott, Hamilton Charnock (1871–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mott-hamilton-charnock-7669/text13417, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 26 March 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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