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Town Hall, 333 Bay Street, Port Melbourne
Town Hall, 333 Bay Street, Port Melbourne

Sir George Cuscaden

Sir George Cuscaden by Walter Stoneman, bromide print, 1923. Used with permission from National Portrait Gallery, London under the Creative Commons Licence.

George Cuscaden was born in Wexford, Ireland, the third son of William H Cuscaden, on 31 December 1857.

He studied at Dublin University, Edinburgh University and in London attaining medical qualifications which led him to a position as ship’s surgeon with the Royal African Mail and later on one of the ships running between Liverpool and New York for the White Star Line.

In 1882, Cuscaden became transport-surgeon with the British military in the Anglo-Egyptian conflict afterwards becoming Colonial Surgeon at Dominica in the West Indies.  In Dominica he became ill and returned to Ireland where, on the advice of the doctor at the Colonial Office, he resigned his West Indian post.

Cuscaden came to Australia in the mid 1880s , perhaps spending some time in Adelaide where he married Alice King at St Andrew’s Church, Walkerville on 25 August 1886.  That same year he came to Port Melbourne and set up practice in Bay Street.

He took a great interest in local affairs and was elected to Port Melbourne Council in 1893, serving as Mayor in 1896-97, his final year on Council. Cuscaden was also a magistrate at the Port Melbourne Court and in the early part of the 20th Century was the Health Officer for the town.  Around 1906, he left Port Melbourne and moved his practice to Collins Street, Melbourne.

In 1912, he was elected to Melbourne City Council unopposed and served as Councillor and then Alderman, from 1929, until his death.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Cuscaden was appointed Principal Medical Officer (PMO) for Victoria.  He was well qualified for the role being a Lieutenant-Colonial with the Field Artillery at the time and he had previously received a Volunteer Officers’ Decoration (VD) awarded to officers in the United Kingdom’s Volunteer Force for at least twenty years meritorious service.  On his appointment to PMO, he was promoted to Colonel.

Cuscaden was further promoted to General in 1918 and remained in the military after the war, finally retiring in June, 1921.  He was knighted, predominately for his war service, two years later.

He was very interested in public health, acting as honorary surgeon to the Women’s Hospital and he, or his son Dr G W Cuscaden, had been associated with the hospital for about 40 years when he died in 1933.  He was President of the Victorian Branch of the British Medical Association, Melbourne Council’s representation on the board of the Queen’s Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital, on the board of the Heatherton Sanitarium and on the council of the Victorian Baby Health Centres Association.

In business, Cuscaden was director of Swallow and Ariell Pty Ltd.  His daughter, Eileen, married Captain Charles A M Derham, the son of Swallow’s Managing Director, F T Derham, at Christ Church, South Yarra on 3 September 1919.  Cuscaden’s other daughter Beatrice was in the bridal party.

Sir George Cuscaden collapsed suddenly while being driven through the city in his car on 6 February 1933.  His daughter Beatrice took him to Melbourne Hospital via ambulance where he was pronounced dead.  His funeral was attended by all the Councillors and Aldermen from Melbourne bar one who had flown out to England that morning.  All other aspects of his life were represented and the Lord Mayor received a telegram from the Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, asking that he accept and convey to relatives his deepest sympathies.

Deeply affected by her husband’s death, Lady Cuscaden died barely six months later on 5 August 1933.


1886 ‘Family Notices’, Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), 28 August, p. 24. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1906 ‘Dr. Cuscaden.’, Standard (Port Melbourne, Vic. : 1884 – 1914), 18 August, p. 4. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1916 ‘COLONEL CUSCADEN, P.M O.’, Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925), 21 September, p. 11. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1919 ‘Wedding of Captain Charles A. M Derham, M.C., and Miss Eileen Cuscaden’, Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), 11 September, p. 26. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1921 ‘GENERAL CUSCADEN RETIRES.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 1 July, p. 6. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1933 ‘OBITUARY.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 7 February, p. 6. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

1933 ‘OBITUARY’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 7 August, p. 8. , viewed 04 Feb 2019,

2005 ‘A History of a Street Precinct’, Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society, viewed 04 Feb 2019,

‘Anglo-Egyptian War’, Wikipedia, viewed 04 Feb 2019,

‘Volunteers Officers Decoration’, Wikipedia, viewed 04 Feb 2019,

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Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.