March 2012

The Melbourn / Melbourne Question

Peter Jackson

The Wikipedia article about Melbourne, Australia attributes origin of the name to the Governor of the time, Richard Bourke, who named the town on 3 March 1837, supposedly, in honour of William Lamb, (sadly I have been unable to verify this attribution to other sources, but Lamb was an important man at the time.), then Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister in Westminster, from 1834 to 1841, and uncle of the new Queen Victoria. Melbourne was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847. The State Victoria separated from New South Wales in 1851 and this is when Melbourne became the capital city of Victoria. During the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s, Melbourne was transformed into one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. After the Federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the interim seat of government of the newly created nation of Australia until 1927. Melbourne in Derbyshire has a pub named after William Lamb.

William Lamb, who has an entry in the Dictionary of National biography, was the second Viscount Melbourne, his father being the first, and his family held land in Derbyshire from which he took his title. It therefore appears that the Australian name has its root in the Derbyshire village, although the link is rather indirect.

William had a home in Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, where he died. That gets us a bit nearer to Royston!


Royston and District Family History Society