Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Hamilton (1834–1924)

by E. R. Pretyman

This article was published:

John Hamilton (1834-1924), parliamentarian, company director and merchant, was born on 11 July 1834, at Hobart Town, the second son of William Hamilton and his wife Mary Anne Wilson, née Beaugarde. His parents had arrived in Van Diemen's Land in the Lindsays from Ireland on 23 June 1832. At 9 John was sent to the boarding school of Rev. John Burrowes at Brighton, and then to the Hobart Town Grammar School where he distinguished himself by winning the blue ribbon and medal for general attainments. This school became associated with the new Hutchins School, where he was enrolled in 1849. After leaving school he was apprenticed to Askin Morrison, a successful merchant and shipowner. Hamilton worked first in the counting house on the New (Prince's) Wharf and later was promoted to an administrative post. When Morrison retired in 1871 and transferred his business to James Macfarlane, Hamilton continued with the new owner.

In Elizabeth Street, Hobart, his father had established William Hamilton & Sons, general importers, cabinet and chair manufacturers and undertakers, but when he retired in 1878 the business was discontinued. On the same site Hamilton set up the firm of John Hamilton & Co., merchants, shipping, commission and insurance agents. He was also interested in the timber industry and in 1887 owned sawmills at Surges Bay on the Huon River. He represented Glenorchy in the House of Assembly from 20 June 1887 until 3 March 1903. He became a justice of the peace on 17 February 1885 and was re-appointed on 4 May 1895. He was vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1889 and president in 1892. In that year he was a local commissioner for the Chicago Exhibition and World Fair. From March 1888 to March 1892 he was manager of the Cascade Brewery Co. in Hobart, and acted as an adviser in 1893. He was a director of the Hobart Gas Co. and of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co. which later merged with the Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand. He was an honoured member of the Church of England synod for many years, first representing the parish of Glenorchy and later of Battery Point. In January 1887 he proposed the building of a deanery on land adjoining St David's Cathedral; by September it was ready for occupation. At St Luke's Church, Richmond, on 22 June 1861 he had married Ellen Morgan.

In 1924 Hamilton was believed to be the oldest living member of the Masonic fraternity in Australia. He had been grand secretary for many years, held the rank of deputy past master of the order and was chairman of directors of the Masonic Hall Co. while their hall was built in Murray Street. He died at his home in 95 Montpelier Road on 17 August. After a service in St George's Church conducted by Bishop Robert Hay, he was buried in Queenborough cemetery and later reinterred at Cornelian Bay cemetery. His descendants included many prominent medical practitioners.

Select Bibliography

  • W. R. Barrett, History of the Church of England in Tasmania (Hob, 1942)
  • Mercury (Hobart), 10, 20 Aug 1924
  • family papers (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

E. R. Pretyman, 'Hamilton, John (1834–1924)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

John Hamilton (1834-1924), by J. W. Beattie

John Hamilton (1834-1924), by J. W. Beattie

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125881227

Life Summary [details]


11 July, 1834
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


17 August, 1924 (aged 90)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.