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Henry Joseph Smith (?–1875)

from Argus

We deeply regret to have to record the death of Mr. H. J. [Henry Joseph] Smith, who has for nearly nine years filled the position of sub-editor and leader of the reporting staff in The Argus office.

Mr. Smith was born in Bristol, and at the age of 19, having suffered from asthma from his earliest youth, he came out to this colony in the hope of curing the malady. Arriving in 1853, in the height of the gold fever, he soon found himself on the diggings, where he was engaged in mining and other pursuits, and experienced the vicissitudes common to the time. He was settled in business at Ararat and Pleasant Creek, immediately after the first rushes to Canton and Deep Lead, and his first essay in journalism was in connexion with the Pleasant Creek Times. He was also well known at Fiery Creek, and his business as land auctioneer brought him into connexion with Mr. J. H. Knipe and Major Smith. While on the diggings he took an active part in public affairs, and was fore- most in the agitations for liberal enactments for the amelioration of the condition of the miner or farmer. He was a ready speaker at what was called in those days a "roll up," and he gained much popu- larity by his efforts to be useful. Re- moving to Melbourne in March, 1859, he joined the reporting staff of the Age, and soon became sub-editor of that journal. With the exception of a brief interval, during which he was editor of an evening newspaper published at the office of the Herald, then a morning newspaper, he retained that position until the year 1867, when he joined The Argus, and took the position which he held up to the time of his death. Until about 1867, during his residence in Victoria he had been free from the asthmatic affection from which he suffered in England, but the malady now returned, and at intervals he had severe attacks. These illnesses much weakened his originally powerful constitution, and when on Saturday week he was attacked by dysentery and congestion of the liver and lungs, it was feared that he would succumb. The end was more rapid than was expected, as he died at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning only a week from the commencement of his last illness.

Mr. Smith was one of the oldest journalists in the city, and his recollections of exciting bygone times, when political feeling ran high, such as the riots in the Parliament-yard and many strange scenes which have been enacted within the walls of Parliament, were always entertaining. He was a man of singularly quick abilities. No one could see the point in a knotty question sooner, or more readily seize a hazy speaker's idea, no matter how deeply buried in a sea of words. In his best days he could get through a surprising amount of work in a given time. His popular manners made for him a very wide circle of friends, by whom his loss will be felt as much as it is deplored by his colleagues in The Argus office. Two years ago he was appointed a justice of the peace, and from that time he sat regularly on the Emerald hill bench, taking a strong interest in the performance of his magisterial duties. He died in his 41st year, leaving a widow and five children. The funeral will move from the deceased's private residence, in Anderson-st, Emerald-hill, opposite the Butts station, at half-past 2 o'clock this afternoon. The burial place is the St. Kilda Cemetery.

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Citation details

'Smith, Henry Joseph (?–1875)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 September, 1875
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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