Location Chirnside, Melbourne
David Syme (1827-1908), newspaper proprietor, was born on 2 October 1827 at North Berwick, Scotland, fourth and youngest son of George Alexander Syme (1791-1845), schoolmaster, and his wife Jean, née Mitchell. G. A. Syme was a classical scholar, radical in both church and state, who became parish schoolmaster at Montrose, his native town, and from 1822 parish schoolmaster and clerk of the kirk session of St Mary, North Berwick. Never a popular citizen, he was strong-willed, obstinate in his opinions, nervous, arrogant, shy, brusque, inarticulate and awkward with his fellows. He passed these characteristics to his sons, especially to David, who like his brothers and sister, was taught by their father in the schoolroom attached to their house, but only he failed to escape from its atmosphere of close study, severe discipline and curt control. Much of his shyness, his nervous inability to join his fellows in business or companionship, arose from complete obedience to his father although Syme was never physically unkind to his sons. Of this David wrote in later years: 'It was difficult to understand my father's attitude to us boys. He had naturally a kind disposition; he was a devoted husband and no-one ever asked him for help that he did not freely give … but his affection for us never found expression in words'.