Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Francis McCarron (1848–1900)

by Cecily Close

This article was published:

John Francis McCarron (1848-1900), printer and publisher, was born on 2 August 1848 at Carronside, near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland, son of Francis McCarron and his wife Sydney Frances. He arrived in Adelaide with his parents in 1854. Two years later the family moved to Melbourne where McCarron attended St James's School. In 1858 he joined the printing office of A. Goulding at St Kilda, and next year went to W. Goodhugh & Co. in Flinders Lane where he learnt the trade of compositor. He remained with the firm and its successor Fergusson & Moore until April 1872 when he established McCarron, Bird & Co. with Hermann Püttmann, J. H. Bird (d.1900) and Andrew Stewart as partners. The printing and publishing business at Flinders Lane grew rapidly; in 1877 the firm founded the monthly Australasian Insurance and Banking Record. In 1887 Bird retired and the firm moved to Collins Street, enlarging its business to include sections on lithography, engraving, bookbinding and stationery. In 1888 the firm published A. Sutherland's Victoria and its Metropolis and in 1891 the Australasian Pastoralists' Review. McCarron also bought the Sydney business of Gibbs, Shallard & Co.

McCarron's business interests were diverse. He speculated with success in mining and also took part in large financial transactions involving city and suburban properties. His venture into pastoral holdings in the late 1870s was less successful and in 1880 he disposed of his interest at some loss. He was a director of and prominent shareholder in several companies and building societies, including the New Northcote Brick Co. and D. Stratton & Co. Ltd, millers of Echuca, and from January 1896 was a director of the Foster Brewing Co. He took an interest in friendly societies and in the early 1870s was a promoter and first treasurer of the Emerald Hill Friendly Societies' dispensary. In November 1899 he was elected a member of the Melbourne City Council, representing Lonsdale Ward. He was a member of the Emerald Hill Artillery.

McCarron was an excellent raconteur and reciter. He had been an admirer and friend of G. V. Brooke and in the 1860s when Barry Sullivan managed the Melbourne Theatre Royal McCarron performed several times in charity productions such as the Comedy of Errors. On 13 April 1866 at the Presbyterian Church, Collins Street, he had married Ellen Bessie, daughter of Edward Teele of Emerald Hill; they had two sons and two daughters. He died suddenly from cerebral haemorrhage during a polka on 6 June 1900 at St Vincent's Hospital Ball, Melbourne Town Hall. He was buried in the Anglican section of Melbourne general cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Argus (Melbourne), 7, 9 June 1900.

Citation details

Cecily Close, 'McCarron, John Francis (1848–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


2 August, 1848
Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland


6 June, 1900 (aged 51)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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