Sir John Madden (1844-1918) was born at the
village of Cloyne, south-east of the city of
on the south coast of Ireland,
His father managed the Ark Life Insurance Company in London
before the parents and their seven sons immigrated to Melbourne,
arriving in January 1857. Madden senior was admitted as an attorney in the
Supreme Court of Victoria in April. The brothers attended St Patrick’s College,
In 1864, John graduated LL.B. from the University
After early legal success, he married Gertrude Stephen. John stood for
parliament. After a shaky start he remained an MLA from 1871 until 1883 and
minister of justice. His views were particularly reactionary, holding that most
of mankind were too stupid to be entrusted with the ‘rights of property’.
From 1883 during Victoria’s
Land Boom, his legal practice prospered. His learning and preparation combined
with charm and confidence were admired and he became the doyenne of the
Victorian Bar for many years. In 1890 he was engaged in 30% of the cases that
came to the Supreme Court and as many in the Full Court.
At the height of his career his annual income has been estimated at between
£7,000-20,000, hence his refusal to be appointed a judge. He opposed the Legal
Reform Practice Act (1891), for fear it would expose his own negligence.
In 1889, he was appointed (unpaid) Chancellor
of the University
and despite fears that he would not spend sufficient time on the job; he
remained Chancellor until his death. Eventually, in 1893 he succeeded Judge
Higginbotham as Chief Justice and was knighted. This was immediately following
the dramatic collapse of the economy and he accepted only a £3,500 salary. His
judgements were much criticised for their ‘bad law and loquacity’. In 1899 he
was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Victoria.
Lady Casey described his “wide Irish face” and
his ‘moustache stiffly waxed in points’. He was actively involved in several
sports and in 1887, it is said that he profitably dreamed the winner of the
In 1887, at the height of the land boom, he
built his thirty-room mansion, Cloyne in prestigious
East St Kilda. Madden bought land from the Free Presbyterian Church, in 1884.
It is a very large, relatively dull pile of 30 rooms, said (by his grandson of
the same name), to have been designed and built by the little known architect
George A. Parsons. Parsons is only known to have built three buildings in
Melbourne over 1888 -1906 and another as George Parsons & Son in 1906.
The mansion faces Alma Park West, rather than
with a portecochéreto the south. Both elevations are asymmetrical, in a late Italianate
manner. There is a ballroom with an orchestra balcony. It was a place of
lavish entertainment and Madden is said to have been an indulgent father. The
family also spent time at their country property, Yamla
at Frankston, a hay and dairy farm. Lady Madden was president of the Bush
Nursing Association and of the Austral Salon (in which Lady Clarke was also
In 1912, Madden sold
Cloyne and moved to rooms in Cliveden
Mansions, the great Melbourne
landmark in Wellington Parade, East Melbourne,
and the former town mansion
of Sir William Clarke.
After the death of Lady Clarke it had been sold to the
Baillieu family for merely a quarter of its construction cost and
converted into 50 self-contained luxury apartments. In 1968 it was demolished,
and became the site of the Hilton Hotel. Some bits of the Clarke magnificence
decorate the hotel’s public rooms.
Sir John Madden died suddenly in 1918 and is
buried in the Catholic section of the MelbourneGeneralCemetery,
although surely St Kilda Cemetery would have been more convenient. He left an
estate of £30,000 not an excessive amount for a life of such grandiloquence.
In the 1930s, a major addition to
Cloyne obscured it from Chapel Street.
It became a boarding house and later a yoga school. By the 1970s, as Cloyne
Court, it had been acquired
by Funerals Pty.Ltd. In 1984 it was sold to the
Trustees of the Order of the Sons of Temperance, a non-profit friendly society
established in the USA
in 1840 and Victoria
in 1861 at Geelong.
Cr Slattery said he was delighted to see such a ‘proper society come to St
Kilda’. Reassuringly, the society no longer requires total abstinence of its
members. Cloyne is now owned by the Salvation Army
as the centre of its Bridge Programme.
When the Free Presbyterian Church sold the
land for Cloyne to Madden in 1877, it used the
proceeds to build two substantial houses at 92 and 94 Alma Road,
in the Tudor manner. They were converted to flats in the 1930s.
The house and stables at 94,
Aldourie, were first occupied by the Hon. Alex
Fraser (1802-88). Fraser emigrated from Inverness,
in 1832 with his new wife Ann and became a pastoralist, auctioneer and agent.
He lived in St Kilda and in 1857 was elected to its first municipal council,
becoming mayor in 1864-65. From 1858-81 he was an MLC.
In clear opposition to the political stance of
Madden, Alex Fraser consistently supported attempts to reform the Legislative
Council. He supported the free trade movement. He worked consistently for
education, as superintendent of St Kilda Wesleyan Sunday School, as a founder of
and in guiding the Education Bill through the Legislative Council in 1872. He
was pious and conscientious. He and Madden were neighbours for only a year, but
one wonders if they had anything at all in common.
At 609-611 Toorak Road (cnrKooyong Road)
Toorak is another Cloyne, designed by the eminent
architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear in 1926 for Louis
Nelkin, a brother-in-law of W.L.
Baillieu (45). The connection between the
two Melbourne Cloynes is not yet known.
Dictionary of Biography.Entries for Sir John Madden, Alexander Fraser (Renate Howe)
and Harold Desbrowe-Annear (George
Tibbits, Vol 7, p77).
File No. B1208
(newspaper) 8 August 1934
and 20 March 1935.
Harriet. Harold Desbrowe-Annear.
A life in Architecture. Miegunyah
Press, Carlton 2004.pp139, 141, 142 & 275.