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.

Albert Kayrooz

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). He was survived by his wife, son and daughter.

If Alam and Kayrooz are included in forthcoming volumes of the ADB, then they will join other Lebanese we know of in this authoritative 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.)

Richard and Joseph Arida

Richard and Joseph Arida were merchants who established a very successful wholesaling business in Charters Towers in Queensland. They were born at Bcharré, Lebanon and became known for their philanthropy.

Eddie Scarf

Edward Richard Scarf (1908-1980) was born on 3 November 1908 at Quirindi, New South Wales, fourth child of Lebanese-born parents. He became a championing wrestler representing Australia at the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games. He won a bronze medal at the 1932 Games. In business he became to successful butcher and businessman on the North Shore of Sydney.

Bob Katter

Robert Cummin (Bob) Katter (1918-1990), businessman and politician, was born on 5 September 1918 in South Brisbane, the fourth child of Carl Robert Katter, a Lebanese draper, and his locally born wife Vivian Bridget, née Warby. He won the federal seat of Kennedy in 1966 and represented it until 1990 and at times held the post of Minister for the Army.

Harry Monsoor

Hassan Ali (Harry) Monsoor (1883-1959) was born at Beit Meri, Lebanon and emigrated to South Australia in 1901. In 1920s, he and his wife established a general store at Beltana in South Australia as a base for a wide ranging hawking business in the South Australian outback. The National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia has among its collections a restored hawker’s motor van operated by Harry Mansoor between 1928 and 1954. The van became the lifeline for food and supplies to the people of far northern South Australia.

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