Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Syme, Ebenezer

SYME, EBENEZER (1826–1860), colonial journalist, son of George Syme, schoolmaster at North Berwick state school, was born at North Berwick in 1826, and educated first at his father's school, afterwards from 1841 to 1845 at the university of St. Andrews. His early inclination was to enter the ministry of the church of Scotland, but he could not subscribe literally to any generally accepted creed. He therefore began about 1846 to travel through Scotland and England as an independent evangelist. About 1848 he began to write for reviews, particularly for the ‘Westminster Review,’ then at the height of its influence; and, eventually coming to London, he assisted Dr. John Chapman for a short time in the editorial work.

In 1852 Syme emigrated to Victoria to take advantage of the journalistic opening afforded by the rush to the diggings. He first wrote for the ‘Melbourne Argus,’ then the ‘Digger's Advocate.’ Soon he was joined by a younger brother, and purchased the recently started ‘Melbourne Age,’ which he piloted though its early struggles till it became the leading liberal organ. His work had a marked influence on colonial politics; he attacked with particular vigour the O'Shanassy administrations of 1857 and 1858–9. In 1859 he relinquished the management of the ‘Age’ to his brother, and entered parliament as member for Avoca in the advanced liberal interest. He died on 13 March 1860 at Grey Street, St. Kilda, Melbourne. He was married, and a son succeeded to his share in the ‘Age.’

[Mennell's Dict. of Australasian Biography; Melbourne Age, 14 March 1860.]

C. A. H.