Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Grant (Madison) Hervey (1880–1933)

by Geoffrey Serle

This article was published:

Grant Hervey (1880-1933), by May Moore

Grant Hervey (1880-1933), by May Moore

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an3085138

Grant (Madison) Hervey (1880-1933), versifier and swindler, was born George Henry Cochrane on 30 November 1880 at Casterton, Victoria, son of Robert Cochrane, contractor and storekeeper, and his wife Alice Jane, née Gill. Hervey described one of his grandfathers as a noble convict, 'most unjustly used'. As a youth Hervey worked as a blacksmith with a local coachbuilder, then in a Melbourne foundry. He contributed thundering verse to the Bulletin and from about 1900 was a journalist in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and on the Western Australian goldfields. In 1902 in Sydney he tried to start a literary periodical. Wallace Nelson wrote of him in 1904: 'He turned out poetry by the square yard with mechanical regularity. When he had done a fair morning's work he used to put his coat on and go and have a drink'. In 1913 Hervey issued Australians Yet, and Other Verses, 'ballads of Manhood, Work, Good Cheer, Mateship, Masculine Vigour and Nationalism' dedicated to James Edmond.

In November 1905 when an enraged actor saw his wife strolling arm in arm with Hervey in Bourke Street, Melbourne, he assaulted him, whereupon Hervey shot at him; he was acquitted of attempted murder. In 1911 he was engaged by the People's Party to lecture in western Victoria against the Federal Labor government's referendum proposals. John Norton of Truth occasionally employed him and in December 1914 Hervey offered to provide Norton, for payment, with intimate evidence against his wife. Charged with forgery and uttering the following month, he was sentenced to four years hard labour; he claimed that Norton had 'fixed' the jury. In 1919 he wrote an open letter to Premier Holman, condemning prison conditions, quoting Montesquieu and Treitschke.

In the Mildura district, Victoria, in mid-1919 'Madison Harvey', posing as an American, presented a 'Greater Mildura' scheme for a new State for which he sought financial backing. On 2 August a crowd of 2000 listened to him spellbound until C. J. De Garis dramatically revealed Hervey's criminal record. Hervey became editor of the Mildura and Merbein Sun in January 1921 in order to attack De Garis but in October vigilantes tarred and feathered him, and ran him out of town. At the subsequent hearings the judge, though he convicted Hervey's assailants, referred to Hervey's 'foul and filthy' journalism and branded his character as 'despicable'. Hervey's reception at Orange in March was also violent. Speaking on prohibition for the New South Wales Alliance he so incensed friends of the publicans that he needed police protection.

In December 1923 in Sydney Hervey received two years gaol for forging and uttering. In 1929 he was joint editor of Beckett's Budget, a short-lived journal of sensation and salacity. Sentenced to two years in April 1931 for 'another forged-telegram swindle', he became librarian at Bathurst gaol and wrote a novel, An Eden of the Good (London, 1934). Nettie Palmer described him in 1933 as 'a bulky giant with a large reddish beard, … a caricature of those expansive young men of the nineties … patriotic and Utopian'.

Hervey died on 6 November 1933 in Melbourne, and was buried in Springvale cemetery. On 21 October 1918 at South Melbourne he had married a widow Annie Crowe, née Jeffreys. On 19 November 1920 in Sydney he married, probably bigamously, Florence Emily Lockwood. No children were recorded. 'Undoubtedly Hervey has a mental kink', the Australian Worker commented in 1923, 'and is more to be pitied than blamed'.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Palmer, Fourteen Years (Melb, 1948)
  • M. Cannon, That Damned Democrat (Melb, 1981)
  • Cavalcade, 5 Jan 1947
  • People (Sydney), 9 May 1951
  • Australian Worker, 26 Mar 1904, 26 Dec 1923, 22 Nov 1933
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 11, 18 Nov 1905
  • Argus (Melbourne), 1 Aug 1919, 26 Oct, 23, 24, 26 Nov, 14, 16 Dec 1921
  • Sun (Sydney), 15 Mar 1921
  • Bulletin, 15 Apr 1931
  • E. J. Brady papers (MS 914, State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Geoffrey Serle, 'Hervey, Grant (Madison) (1880–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Grant Hervey (1880-1933), by May Moore

Grant Hervey (1880-1933), by May Moore

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an3085138

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Cochrane, George Henry
  • Harvey, Madison

30 November, 1880
Casterton, Victoria, Australia


6 November, 1933 (aged 52)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia