Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mark John Hammond (1844–1908)

by Ruth Teale

This article was published:

Mark John Hammond (1844-1908), gold-miner and politician, was born on 15 November 1844 in Sydney, the elder son of John Hammond, who had arrived in May 1841 in the Moffatt. He attended school in Newtown but at Christmas 1852 went with his father to the Braidwood goldfields. Late in 1853 the family moved to Sofala where Mark became a blacksmith and a successful jockey. In January 1861 at Lambing Flat he lost his money in a hotel venture; in September he joined the rush to Forbes but contracted typhoid and went home. In December 1862 he struck payable gold at Lambing Flat but next year was almost crippled by a scorpion bite and returned to Sofala. In 1868 he joined a mining company at Hill End and in 1872, as a partner of Beyers & Holtermann, his dispirited change in direction of a tunnel led to the discovery of the world's greatest specimen of reef gold. In June 1873 he retired to Sydney with independent means. On 14 July 1869 at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Bathurst, he had married Mary Anne Fitzpatrick.

After being tricked into a fraudulent mining adventure, Hammond lived in Sydney and Bathurst. In 1880 he joined the rush to Temora and as a 'counterpoise' speculated in urban real estate. He narrowly survived the 1893 depression and later censured socialist legislation which depressed the property market. On 24 September 1878 he had been elected an alderman of Ashfield municipality and mayor in 1882. In January 1883 he helped William Hutchinson to found the Municipal Association and became one of its vice-presidents. After failing to win the Canterbury seat in the Legislative Assembly in 1882, he was elected in April 1884. Defiantly independent of party and enraged by any suggestion of a monopoly, he was labelled a 'glaring example of municipal madness'. His parliamentary speeches were larded with figures and quotations from John Stuart Mill. In 1886 he described the income tax bill as 'infamous and immoral', and published a pamphlet, Land Taxation on Capital Value. In 1881 he had campaigned in the Daily Telegraph to give financial independence to municipal corporations. In 1883 his pamphlet, Proposed Establishment of Corporation Gas Works at Ashfield, showed his wide research into costs and in 1884 his bill, fixing a maximum rate for domestic gas, was enacted as a government measure. Amendments to allow municipalities to mortgage their rates to build gas works were vigorously resisted in the Legislative Council but, with pressure from the Municipal Association, were passed in August 1886.

Hammond retired in January 1887 and went to England in 1889. On his return he became vice-president of the Ashfield Bowling Club and a member of the Ashfield Horticultural Society. In 1891 he was made a justice of the peace and in 1900-03 had a city office as a mining agent. After Federation he supported Edmund Barton in the Australian Democratic and Liberal Reform League. After surfing at Manly he died of heart failure on 4 February 1908 and was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Bathurst. His estate was valued at £30,712. He was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Select Bibliography

  • Ex-M.L.A., Our Present Parliament, What it is Worth (Syd, c1886)
  • Municipal Association of New South Wales, Proceedings, 1883-88
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 29 June 1894
  • Advertiser (Ashfield), 8 Feb 1908
  • Bathurst Daily Argus, 8 Feb 1908
  • National Advocate (Bathurst), 8 Feb 1908
  • M. J. Hammond papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • manuscript catalogue under M. J. Hammond (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Hammond, Mark John (1844–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 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

Life Summary [details]


15 November, 1844
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


4 February, 1908 (aged 63)
New South Wales, 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.