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Envidale Savage Norman Campbell (1806–1859)

by Richard Refshauge

This article was published:

Envidale Savage Norman Campbell (1806-1859), soldier and public servant, was born on 16 September 1806 at Inveraray, Scotland, probably son of Major Campbell of the East India Co.'s service. He went to Sandhurst and on 2 October 1823 joined the 15th Foot as an ensign. He was promoted lieutenant in the 20th and on 14 January 1830 transferred to the 22nd Foot. He bought his captaincy in October 1836 and in 1842 was a staff captain in the 2nd Foot. In March 1846 he was appointed adjutant captain of the South Lincoln Militia.

In 1849 Campbell became major in the 90th Foot, sold his commission and went to Adelaide as local representative for an English copper mining company. In June he selected 547 acres (221 ha) at 20s. an acre and as an ex-serviceman was granted a remission certificate for all but £47. In August 1851 Lieutenant-Governor Sir Henry Young nominated him to the first part-elective Legislative Council in South Australia, one of the four non-official nominees chosen in a vain attempt to defeat the elected members over the question of state aid to religion. He worked actively in the council, sitting on three select committees and chairing a fourth on education. He resigned on 17 December and because of the 'sudden depreciation of property and loss of my appointment' went bankrupt in January 1852. He was cleared by the registrar in May and paid a final dividend of 20s. in the £.

On 30 June 1852 Campbell was appointed private secretary to Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe of Victoria whom he had met in the West Indies in 1837. On 31 December 1853 La Trobe appointed him first permanent head of the Registrar-General's Department. The Melbourne Morning Herald protested loudly that William Archer had designed and established the department and should have been appointed. The Argus, 7 January 1854, inveighed against 'an outrageous sacrifice of merit to favoritism, and a wanton destruction of the efficiency of a department for the purpose of securing a snug berth for a friend'. Despite these plaints Archer and Campbell worked well together and held each other in high esteem.

On a visit to Tasmania to advise Lieutenant-Governor Young, Campbell died unmarried in Hobart on 6 January 1859. The question of a successor brought more recrimination from the Argus, but friends eulogized him as able, assiduous and full of a sense of duty; they staunchly claimed that he had been no mere nominal head of the department as the Argus had claimed. He was reserved and diffident, averse to courting popularity and thus his role in the Registrar-General's Department may have been underestimated.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Pike, Paradise of Dissent (Melb, 1967)
  • Votes and Proceedings (South Australia), 1851, 1856 (21)
  • Government Gazette (Victoria), 30 June 1852, 3 Jan 1854
  • Register (Adelaide), 19 Aug 1851
  • Argus (Melbourne), 7 Jan 1854, 12, 14, 15, 17 Jan 1859.

Citation details

Richard Refshauge, 'Campbell, Envidale Savage Norman (1806–1859)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 19 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


16 September, 1806
Inveraray, Argyll, Scotland


6 January, 1859 (aged 52)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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