Eustace Melbourne


William Robinson Clarke

‘Entrepreneur who helped raise cash for female stowaway’

1892 - 1963

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In Empire Windrush folklore, Jamaican businessman and racing enthusiast Eustace Melbourne is remembered for being instrumental in collecting the ticket money on the ship for the lone female stowaway Evelyn Wauchope.

Alongside fellow passenger, Mortimer ‘Buddy’ Martin, he went around trying to raise the £48 fare. This was the cost of travel in a first-class cabin, which all women were compelled to book. People were so generous that Evelyn had more than £4 left over after the fare had been paid.

In a letter printed in The Gleaner on August 5, 1948, Eustace revealed that the wealthy writer and activist Nancy Cunard had donated 10 shillings and had expressed a desire to employ Evelyn as a maid in her home in France. Eustace had objected to it, believing that Evelyn would have been much safer in England where she would have the support of welfare officers. In the event, Evelyn stayed in England.

It was not the first time Eustace had made an appearance in the newspaper. In April 1932 he had been a witness in a court case that The Gleaner had extensively reported. Under cross-examination, he was described by one of the prosecuting solicitors as ‘the biggest scoundrel in the city’.

Sadly for Eustace, there was some evidence to support the statement. He had become bankrupt in 1921 and 1931 and in November 1925 he had been fined £20 for wounding a girlfriend. He had several other court appearances to his name, some as plaintiff, others as defendant.

In 1948, he was travelling to England in the hope of taking in some horse racing and buying a racehorse. He had been there twice before. In September 1931, an unwell Eustace, accompanied by his wife Edna, arrived in Plymouth in search of medical treatment. He was expected to be away for a few months but the couple returned to Jamaica the following month. They were back in England in 1937 for a five-week visit.

Eustace Lindo Metcalfe Melbourne was born in Princess Street, Kingston, on March 17, 1892. He was the son of Esther Matilda Lindo, a dressmaker, and John Edward Melbourne.

In 1930, he married Edna née Coombs, who was 13 years his junior. Eustace and Edna divorced in the 1940s. Within a few years he had wed a Jamaican lady who was 37 years younger than him. In May 1957, he arrived in Southampton to watch the first Test match between England and the West Indies as well as the Derby.

He died in London on March 5, 1963, aged 70, and was then described in The Gleaner as a well- known commission agent, businessman, and sportsman. He had been in England for three weeks for medical treatment. His body was flown home to Jamaica for burial.

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