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Theophilus Job Ham (1828–1892)

By the death of Mr. Theophilus Job Ham, of the firm of Messrs. C. J. and T. Ham, we lose one of our old colonists of 1842, and a gentleman who was widely known and esteemed in Melbourne. Mr. Ham had been in failing health for the past few months, and about seven weeks ago was obliged to take to his bed. It was expected by his friends that he would be about again in a few weeks, but his illness took an unfavourable turn about three weeks since and terminated fatally yesterday, when he expired at his residence, Church-street, Richmond. He leaves two children — a daughter married to Dr. G. J. Hodgson, of Armadale, and a son connected with the firm of which his father was a member. The following sketch of Mr. Ham's career is contained in Victoria and its Metropolis;—

"Theophilus Job Ham, Melbourne. — The subject of this notice was one of the pioneers of the colony, having arrived but a few years subsequent to the advent of Batman and Fawkner. Mr. Theophilus Ham was the third son of the late Rev. John Ham, the first Baptist minister in Victoria (then Port Phillip), and the founder of the Collins-street Baptist Church, who arrived in this colony with his family in the latter part of the year 1842. Mr. T. J. Ham was born on the 9th July, 1828, at Bilston, in Staffordshire, arriving in this colony when about fourteen years of age. He spent a short time with his elder brother Thomas, who had immediately upon his arrival with his brother Jabez (since deceased) rented in 1845 a farm on the Plenty River, about 13 miles from Melbourne, and entered somewhat extensively upon farming pursuits, and it might be worthy of notice that the first shipment of wheat from this colony to the London market was made by him in 1846 per the Alice Maude. This first attempt to supply the old country with Victorian wheat was not very successful, as the ship after leaving the port had to put back through stress of weather. The wheat was unloaded and, being damaged, was sold on the ship's account, but the shipper was paid for it at London rates. During his short experience as an agriculturist Mr. Ham had a share of the hardships experienced by early settlers, as the farm was visited by one of those dreadful bush fires so well known to old colonists, which came upon them with a fierce hot wind, destroying huts, fences, stacks of wheat and barley, and leaving the farm a scene of arid desolation. He and his brother then decided to give up agricultural and try pastoral pursuits, and with that object his elder brother Jabez started on an exploring expedition in the northern district, and after penetrating the mallee came upon extensive plains, with a large sheet of water, named by them Lalbert, about twenty miles from Swan Hill, Lower Murray. After enduring many hardships and perils, and just as fortune appeared to be within easy grasp, the district was visited with one of those periodical droughts so disastrous to squatters. The lake dried up, and they lost vast numbers of sheep, their losses being so serious as to lead them to sell out, which they did at a great loss, both of capital, time, and energy. In 1850 he joined his brother Thomas in his business in the city, and in connection with his brother was the publisher of Ham's Magazine, an illustrated periodical, evincing great enterprise, and even at that period advocating the construction of the Suez and Panama canals as routes to Australia. The discovery of gold in 1851 put an end to this publication, editor, artists, compositors, and pressmen all making off for the diggings. Mr. Ham after this entered into business by himself as a commission agent, subsequently as a timber merchant, and in 1867 joined his brother, Mr. C. J. Ham, who had for some years previously been established as a land and estate agent, and during the past 21 years has been a prominent member of the well-known firm of C. J. and T. Ham, auctioneers and estate agents. Mr. Ham did not seek either municipal or legislative honours, his time being fully occupied with his department of the extensive business in which he was engaged. Mr. Ham was married in 1868 to Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Mr. William Perry, of Bentham-place, Paddington, Sydney, a lady who died in 1874, leaving him with two children, a son and a daughter."

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Ham, Theophilus Job (1828–1892)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 July, 1828
Bilston, Staffordshire, England


29 August, 1892 (aged 64)
Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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