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W. H. MOULE, MELBOURNE SOLICITOR, JUDGE, POLITICIAN & CRICKETER

The red printed ‘TWO PENCE’ Victorian stamp is postmarked with the GEELONG/ 17/ DE 24/ 94 and the barred numeral ‘2', and the cover is addressed to Messrs Moule & Seddon, Solrs, 55 Market St, Melbourne (Figure 1).

The reverse has a reception postmark of MELBOURNE/ 5A/ DE 2( )/ 94 as well as an illegible purple oval handstamp on the flap of another firm of Melbourne solicitors (Figure 2).


William Henry Moule was born on 31 January 1858 at Brighton, Victoria to Frederick George Moule, solicitor and Julia Isabella, nee Man.  He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School from 1866 until1875 and then at Melbourne University where he graduated LL.B in 1879 and was admitted to the Bar in Victoria the same year.  The following year he began practising  with Vaughan, Moule and Seddon in Melbourne.  His most celebrated case was known as the ‘Buckley Will Case’ in 1882.   He was later called to the Bench as a County Court judge (1907-35) specialising in insolvency cases.   The Age wrote of Moule as a judge that “had a genial disposition, and though the hardened criminal had reason to fear his caustic comments with the sentence to follow, first offenders were treated with leniency and kindly advice”.

He was described as a “fiery young advocate with strong political ambitions” and he soundly  defeated, 1,579 votes to 925, (Sir) Thomas Bent as the Member of the Legislative Assembly in the seat of Brighton, Victoria in October 1894 until 1900, when he failed to hold the seat.  He was a Free Trader believing that the “commerce of the community has been strangled by protection”;  he later chaired a Royal Commission on Law Reform in 1897 and was involved in the Factories and Shops Law of Victoria in 1900.   He also collaborated with others in publishing several works on law.   In April 1935 Moule retired from the Bench due to ill health, having had the longest term of any County Court judge in Victoria.   He resided at Clarence House, 83 Queens Road, St. Kilda.   In 1876 while at University he joined the exclusive The Bohemians’ Club (1875-1931), and at its dissolution he was the longest serving member.
 

In cricket William Moule played nine first-class matches between 1879 and 1885 for Victoria including the first Victorian team to defeat a touring English side (February 1879).  He went on to play for Australia with William Murdoch’s touring side of 1880 in a team that included the legendary Frederick ‘Demon’ Spofforth.   In the Test at the Oval, September 1880, won by England, he took 3 wickets for 23 runs and batted in the last wicket stand of 88 runs, in which William scored 34 runs. 

Information on one of his partners Arthur Seddon (as on the cover) is remarkably sparse, the exception being found via the National Library of Australia’s beta website, as follows:  The Advertiser. Adelaide, 20 October 1911, page 9:   ‘Mr. Arthur Seddon, London, October 19.  The death in London is announced of Mr. Arthur Seddon, formerly a member of the well known Melbourne firm of solicitors, Messrs. Vaughan, Moule and Seddon’.

Moule died on 24 August 1939 at St. Kilda and was buried at the Brighton General Cemetery.  He was survived by his wife Jessie Louisa Osborne whom he married in 1885, and they had 2 sons and a daughter.   A picture of William Henry Moule is shown in Figure 3.

The text of this paper was derived from the Victorian Parliament website and the Brighton Cemetery website: 150 Names Historic Internments.

 
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