Ninian Melville

Cabinet Maker And Undertaker, Lay Preacher, Politician

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman Newtown 1876 1882
Mayor Newtown 1882 1882

Family background

Ninian Melville was born in Clarence Street, Sydney, on 29 December 1843. He died at his house ‘Northumbria’ in Dover Street, Summer Hill on 26 June 1897 of septic pneumonia, leaving his second wife Mary and seven children. In 1875 they were living in Australia Street, and working in Regent Street, when their eldest son drowned in a local waterhole at the age of 5 years, 11 months and 17 days, When he unsuccessfully contested the Newtown Council elections in 1878, the open-air meetings at which he spoke for the fortnight before the election ’caused considerable excitement and amusement among the rate payers’. In 1880 they were living in ‘Brookville Cottage’ 73 Regent Street Newtown ?(now Probert Street)?. He was declared bankrupt in 1894 and he retired from parliament. The debt was discharged in 1895.

Occupation & interests

In 1886 Ninian Melville made the Speaker’s Chair in Parliament House, which he later sat in as Chairman of Committees. He was president of the Protection League.

Community activity

A Freemason, Melville was involved with the Good Templars, Rechabites WCTU and other temperance organisations.

Parliamentary service

Melville was a member of NSW Legislative Assembly 1880-1894, for Northumberland. He was Chairman of Committees.

Local government service

Ninian Melville was elected on 18 July 1876 (Reference: Ninian Melville was an alderman on Newtown Council in 1876-82, representing Kingston Ward. He was an Alderman at Ashfield 1895-97, and mayor of Ashfield in 1896.


Bruce E. Mansfield, ‘Melville, Ninian (1843–1897)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 7 March 2016.

State Library of NSW, Ninian Melville – papers, 1880-1968, MLMSS 1582MLMSS 1582 (also NSW Parliamentary Papers)

The Song of Ninian Melville by Henry Kendall, State Library of Victoria

NSW Parliament History of the Chamber:

‘Advertising’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 February 1875, p. 3

‘Inquest’, Evening News, 20 September 1875, p. 2

Drowned in a Waterhole’, Evening News, 20 September 1875, p. 2

‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 1875 p. 6.

‘Death of Mr. Ninian Melville’, The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser, 3 July 1897, p. 21.


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