HADDON, Frederick William (1839-1906)


HADDON, Frederick William (1839-1906)
journalist
was born at Croydon, England, on 8 February 1839. He was well-educated and became assistant-secretary of the Statistical Society of London and of the Institute of Actuaries. He resigned these positions in 1863 to accept an engagement with the Argus, Melbourne, and arriving in December was soon afterwards made sub-editor. When the Australasian was established he became its first editor, and in January 1867 was made editor of the Argus while still in his twenty-eighth year. It was a period of great developments in Victoria, and under Haddon's editorship the Argus, while distinctly conservative served a most useful purpose in advocating the claims of the primary producers, and endeavouring to keep protective duties within reasonable bounds. It fought with success for non-political control of government departments and purity of administration, with the result that Victoria set a high standard among the colonies in these matters. When Berry (q.v.) and Pearson (q.v.) went as an embassy to the British parliament in 1879, Haddon, who was visiting England in that year, was asked by some of their opponents to set the facts of the controversy before the "government, parliament and press of Great Britain". He compiled a pamphlet which was printed in London, The Constitutional Difficulty in Victoria. This was sent to all the members of the British parliament and to the press. He also personally interviewed leading statesmen and editors, and probably was a strong influence on the failure of the mission. There was not really, however, a strong case for British interference. On his return Haddon slipped unobtrusively back into his editorial chair. He was of a dispassionate nature and set a high standard in the discussion of public matters. The Argus fought well for federation, which had practically become certain when Haddon in 1898 resigned his editorship to take up the important task of representing the Edward Wilson Estate on the managemerit of the Argus and Australasian. He died at Melbourne on 7 March 1906. He was twice married (1) to a daughter of J. C. King and (2) to Alice Good who survived him with a daughter by the first marriage.
Haddon was an even-tempered, honourable and courteous man, who appreciated good writing and was always ready to encourage it. He refused as an editor to be affected by popular excitement, and though his paper was on occasions criticized for not taking a stronger stand, he probably did all that could be done when it is remembered how strong the remarkable personality of Syme (q.v.) had made the Age, which for a great part of the period was issued at a lower price than the Argus, and had a much larger circulation.
The Argus, 7 March 1906; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; The Constitutional Difficulty in Victoria.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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