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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Smythe, Robert Sparrow

Smythe, Robert Sparrow, was born in London, and arrived in Melbourne in 1855. For seven years he was connected with the press in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, occupying himself as a musical and dramatic critic, editor of a squatting newspaper, and of the first illustrated journal published in Australia—the Illustrated Post, which developed into the Illustrated Australian News. Commencing his career as a theatrical manager in 1862, he claims to be the first manager who ever took an artistic company to Japan, to Simla in the Himalayas, and across the Orange River in South Africa. His first tour with "professionals," the longest on record, lasted from May 1863 to Oct. 1868; when he returned to England, where he lived for about a year, contributing occasionally to the Cornhill Magazine and the Pall Mall Gazette. In 1869 he returned to Australia with Daniel E. Bandmann, the tragedian. For the next three years he managed various musical and theatrical companies, until in 1872 he was appointed director of the concerts given at the exhibition held in Melbourne in connection with the Victorian International Exhibition. In 1873, the popular entrepreneur discovered Miss M. E. Christian, a gifted contralto, trained in the Royal Academy of Music, London, whose interests he never ceased to promote for eighteen years; he also organised the tour of Madame Arabella Goddard, the English pianiste. In the following year he introduced the Rev. Charles Clark, the former minister of Broadmead Chapel at Bristol, as a popular lecturer in Australia. Having travelled with Mr. Clark for more than five years in Australia, America, and Africa, Mr. Smythe saw that the lecture-platform was a popular institution at the Antipodes, and his ambition since 1879, when he again visited the old country, has been to "run" celebrities. Beginning with the lamented Richard Anthony Proctor, the astronomer, he has since directed the Australian tours of Archibald Forbes, the war-correspondent, George Augustus Sala, Charles Santley the eminent baritone, and other notabilities; while more recently the great explorer, H. M. Stanley, and Max O'Rell lectured through Australasia under his management. At Nagasiak in Japan, in 1863, Mr. Smythe married Miss Amelia Bailey, the accomplished soprano of the concert company with whom he was then travelling.

Solly, Benjamin Travers, J. P., arrived in South Australia from England in 1840, and joined the Government service in 1850, went to Tasmania in 1855, and was appointed private secretary to Governor Sir Henry Fox Young in February of that year. In Oct. 1857 he accepted the appointment of Under-Secretary, and still holds that office. In 1883 he was made a magistrate of the Territory.

Spain, William, was appointed by Lord John Russell as commissioner to examine the land claims of the New Zealand Company in that colony. On the way out he was wrecked along with Surveyor-General Ligar (q.v.) at the Cape of Good Hope. The Governor, Sir G. Napier, sent them on in the Antilla, in which Mr. Spain reached Wellington on Dec. 24th, 1841, his arrival being welcomed by the natives "as a means of terminating their disputes" with the Company. Colonel Wakefield appealed to the home Government against Mr. Spain's jurisdiction, but to no effect; the Government declaring its intention of abiding by its commissioner's decisions. Mr. Spain found many difficulties put in his path, and was a long time engaged upon his complicated work. In the meantime the Wairau massacre occurred, concerning which the commissioner wrote: "I have arrived at the conclusion that the conduct of the Company's agents in forcing a survey of the Wairau can only be regarded as an attempt to set British law at defiance, and to obtain possession of a tract of land the title to which was disputed, and at the very time under the consideration of a commissioner specially appointed to report upon it." Mr. Spain subsequently had an interview with Rauparaha, the leader in the massacre. On June 12th, 1844, he delivered his award in regard to the purchase of land at Waitara in Taranaki. This he decided had been a legitimate purchase by Captain Hobson from the Waikato chiefs, and be therefore awarded the New Zealand Company a Crown grant of 60,000 acres. But the decision was much objected to by the Ngatiawa tribe, who claimed that the land was in reality theirs, and had only been conquered by the Waikatos, who, since they did not occupy, were in their Maori law not possessors. The clamour raised about this point was so great that Governor Fitzroy, fearing bloodshed, set aside the award, only giving the Company 3,500 acres. This caused great discontent among the Europeans, and even Mr. Spain was mortified that one of the few awards he had been able to make in favour of the