LEBANESE IN THE AUSTRALIAN DICTIONARY OF BIOGRAPHY

We hear that the Australian Dictionary of Biography is considering including entries for two Lebanese in a forthcoming volume.

One of the entries will relate to Alexander Alam who was a long standing member of the New South Wales upper house of Parliament from the 1920s through to the 1960s and an important political figure in NSW. Alam was featured in a story in our Newsletter No. 2.

We have since received a lot of material about his wife Mrs Therese Alam (nee Anthony) which makes it clear that she was an important figure in her own right. She was particularly active in fostering community relations within the Maronite, Lebanese and general communities and was a tireless worker for charitable and World War II fundraising activities. The Alams seem to have been a formidable couple.

The other entry will relate to Mr Albert Joseph Kayrooz. Kayrooz, according to his obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald (22 March 1934, p. 10) was president of the Lebanese Marounite Association (sic)for the 15 years before his death in 1934. He acted as a government interpreter for the Lebanese community of New South Wales and was awarded the Medaille d’Honneur for meritorious services rendered to the Lebanese resident in the Commonwealth. He migrated to Australia with his family at the age of 10 and was 49 years old when he died at a private hospital. It was said that his wholesale merchant business was such a success that he was able to retire in 1926.

According to the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages CD-ROM, his father was also called Albert J Kayrooz and his mother was Jamillie. He married Louise Scunda at Redfern in 1915. Louise Scunda’s birth is not recorded, so presumably she also was born in Lebanon.

Kayrooz’s death was recorded as being at Chatswood (perhaps the location of the nursing home), however, Sands Directories show a Mr A J Kayrooz living at 83 Darley Road Randwick at the time of his death. A press report said of him:

“Mr Kayrooz gave up his business in 1926 to dedicate his life to the well-being of his compatriots, who had full confidence in him. Many of them could not read or write, yet they entrusted their life’s savings to him with full power. He had advised his countrymen shrewdly and well, and without any benefit to himself”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 March, 1934).

His wife and a son and a daughter survived Kayrooz.

If Alam and Kayrooz are included in forthcoming volumes of the ADB, then they will join the one other Lebanese we know of in this authorative Australian biographical source:

Sylwanos Mansour

Archimandrite Sylwanos Mansour (1854-1929) was appointed as the first Melkite parish priest in Australia by the Patriarch Gregory Joseph in 1891. He set up a temporary church in Redfern and ministered to any member of the Syrian Melkite, Marionite or Orthodox communities who needed his pastoral care before the other denominations acquired their own pastors. He travelled throughout New South Wales to visit his scattered flock and by 1895 had raised enough money to witness Cardinal Moran consecrate St Michael’s Church in Wellington Street Waterloo. He died in Brisbane on 18 November 1929, while on a visit to witness the consecration of a second Melkite Church in Australia. (Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1891-1939. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press: 1972, p. 405.)