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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Greville, Edward (1822–1903)

by E. J. Lea-Scarlett

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Edward Greville (1822-1903), by unknown photographer

Edward Greville (1822-1903), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 2 - 08206

Edward Greville (1822-1903), politician, was born in Bristol, England, son of Charles Greville and his wife Agnes, née Cole. About 1852 he migrated to Victoria and next year moved to New South Wales where he established a newsagency in Sydney. In 1861 with Charles Octavius Bird as partner he started a telegraphic and advertising agency in Bridge Street mainly to supply news to country papers, and for a time was Reuter's agent. The partnership dissolved in 1866 when Greville successfully sued Bird for debts. Greville continued the business on his own, acquired extensive agencies for wholesale stationers' and printers' supplies and published the Illawarra Express. In the 1880s it was known as the Greville Telegram Co. and was competing with Reuter.

Defeated in December 1869 allegedly by Catholic intimidation, Greville was narrowly elected to the Legislative Assembly for Braidwood in October 1870 after a bitter campaign involving the Protestant Political Association which supported him even though he professed to be an independent. He was not a local resident but represented Braidwood competently until 1880. In 1877 he was one of seven members who in turn voted both the Parkes and Robertson ministries out of office. He favoured the working class and the development of natural resources but his monotonous speeches were few and uninspired. With the secretary for lands, Thomas Garrett, Greville owned a 2000-acre (809 ha) coalfield at Teralba near Newcastle and the unauthorized alteration of an official report on their land led Greville in 1876 to move for a select committee which cleared the proprietors of blame.

In 1872 as Greville & Co. he had begun publication of the Official Post Office Directory of New South Wales, which in 1875 was expanded to include a gazetteer and essays on the geography, history and natural resources of the colony. The New South Wales government bought about a thousand copies of the 1875 edition for official use. In 1883 his first Official Directory and the Almanac of Australia (later The Year Book of Australia) favoured Federation and included descriptive and analytical sections by experts. In later issues he introduced such novel features as a prize for the discovery of the most errors in the previous edition and persuaded leading political figures to adjudicate on prize essays. His appointment in 1879 to the Sydney committee for Fiji at the International Exhibition probably originated the later belief that he had been officially appointed Fijian consul in Sydney by King Thakombau. In 1882 Greville became a trustee of the Free Public Library and sat on the royal commission of inquiry into the friendly societies; in 1883 he was a commissioner for the Amsterdam Exhibition and in 1884-92 for land titles in New South Wales. In 1892 he was appointed to the Legislative Council. Lacking any outstanding personal qualities, Greville remained a well-known but shadowy figure who apparently made no attempt to correct imprecise rumours about his career. At St Kilda, Victoria, on 10 January 1863 he had married Eliza Maria Tuckwell, née Sinclair. He died aged 81 at Centennial Park, Sydney, on 9 July 1903 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery, Waverley, leaving an estate of £2400.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1875-76, 4, 725
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 27 June 1874
  • dossier file on Edward Greville (Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney)
  • printed catalogue under Greville (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

E. J. Lea-Scarlett, 'Greville, Edward (1822–1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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