Constantine Nicholas (“Stanton”) Melick was one of the pioneers of the Lebanese business community in Australia. He was born in the village of Bterram in Lebanon in 1864 and worked as a stonemason before coming to Australia. He was the second son of Nicholas Bey and Helene Melick.
His career exemplifies the early successful Lebanese warehousemen entrepreneurs of Redfern.
Melick arrived in Sydney in 1888. It is said he purchased a pack-horse and loaded it up with small cloth and fancy goods and walked from Sydney to Brisbane hawking his wares as he travelled. He was able make enough money from this trip to set up a warehousing business. Like many of his fellow Syrians [as the Lebanese were then termed] he chose the suburb Redfern. His was one of a number of these fabric, warehousing and manufacturing businesses which prospered and became large well known institutions in the Elizabeth Street, Redfern area. By 1900 his was one of the largest and most established suppliers to the Manchester trade in Australia. His contempories included the Dans, Maloufs, Correys, Lahoods, Hannas, and Solomons.
These businesses supplied many of the drapery and manchester hawkers who sold their wares throughout New South Wales. Melicks, and other Redfern businesses, often extended small amounts of training, credit and stock to new arrivals in order to get them started, and later were major suppliers to the network of Lebanese owned businesses that spread throughout rural areas.
Stanton Melick was naturalized in 1897. He married Florence Emma Sunderland (1875-1959), the daughter of Sydney silk importer Ayrton Sunderland, at Mosman in 1910. Florence’s sister, Ruby, married Stanton’s colleague and friend George Dan.
Remarkably Stanton was illiterate in Arabic and English and had to rely upon various strategies, including a prodigious memory, in order to run his business and supervise a staff or around 100 people. Stanton was assisted by his older brother Abraham, arrived in Sydney with his family in 1909 and his younger brother Aziz who tragically died as a result of failed blood transfusion in 1929.
Contributed to Society
Together, Stanton and Florence they contributed to Lebanese and Sydney society. They were prominent members of the Antiochian Orthodox community and Stanton did much to promote the interests of small business people, especially those in country areas. Stanton died working at his desk in his warehouse, aged 91 in 1955. Florence died in 1959. His warehouse building in Elizabeth Street Redfern, bearing his name and marked ‘Established 1889’ on the facade, still stands today.