- Born 26 August 1843 Dublin
- Died 28 April 1904 Dublin
- Educated Clongowes Wood College, Dublin University
- Occupation Doctor
- Debut 4 June 1868 v MCC at Lord's
- Cap Number 106
- Style Right-hand bat
- Teams Leinster, Phoenix
Austin Meldon was an early member of a remarkable cricket family eight of whom played for Ireland, while one other played first class cricket for Dublin University. The remainder were all capable players at school and club level.
Austin was the fourth of seven brothers, the sons of a prosperous Dublin lawyer, James Dillon Muldoon, who changed the family name from to Meldon, and established cricket grounds at his houses in Dublin and, more famously at Coolarne, Athenry, Co Galway. Austin, the best cricketer of the first generation, four of whom became fathers of a second, and better, generation of cricketers, became prominent in Dublin cricket, when he played 13 matches for Leinster in 1867 averaging 28.60.
The following year, he was selected to play for Ireland v MCC at Lord's thus following his elder brother James into the side, though James' only appearance had been in an odds match in 1865. At Lord's Ireland won by 75 runs, thanks to good batting by HH Montgomery and a fine all round performance by WS Hunt.
A strange feature of this Irish side was that Austin was one of only three of its members to play for Ireland again. He did not achieve much in this match. Batting at 8, he was lbw to Surrey and Kant fast roundarmer William Marten in the first innings and run out 0 in the second. In 1869, he switched to Phoenix, for whom he aggregated 706 runs at 16.80 over the next four seasons at 16.80. He played little after 1873, though whether this was because of pressure of work or because of increasing weight, this writer has been unable to ascertain. His last match for Ireland was for XXII of Ireland v the United South of England XI at Rathmines in 1869.
This was the last time Ireland fielded a greater number of players than their opponents. The USE's two great bowlers Edgar Willsher and James Southerton carried all before them in a five wicket win. So dominant were they that James Lillywhite, Jnr., a very good bowler, renowned for his accuracy, did not get on. Eight years later he was to become England's first Test captain. Austin did little to stave off defeat. At number 18, he was dismissed by Willsher in both innings, his scores being 9 and 1.
Later in life Austin had to have a specially built Hansom cab to accommodate his vast girth on his medical rounds. Size meant that he had to drive this vehicle from the passenger seat, from which he could not use his whip, but had a servant to do so. He rang a bell to let the servant know when to perform this operation. As he would also ring the bell when he sighted a friend in the street, this tended to cause chaos as the horse reacted to the bell to avoid the whip.
Austin was married twice. A son of his first marriage, to Margaret Ryan, was James Austin Meldon (1861-1932) who was educated at Clongowes and Dublin University before having a distinguished career in the Royal Dublin Fusileers, commanding both their First and Fourth Batallions during the First World War. After retiring from military service he lived in Armagh from 1924 to 1926 and, though he was 55 in the former year and seemingly the least distinguished cricketer in his family having not been a regular in the University XI, was made captain of the Armagh 1st XI.
He showed some leadership skills, taking the XI from last to fifth in the league table in the first season, but his performances with the bat were poor, totalling 181 runs from 22 innings over 3 seasons at an average of 9.05. His highest score was 38 made in 1924 against Cliftonville at The Mall when he and Wilfred McDonough put on 100 for the first wicket. He also delighted several members of the team by taking them to Lord's where they met Jack Hobbs, then at the height of his powers. This writer has previously wrongly assumed that the player in question at Armagh was James' cousin Colonel PA Meldon, a much better-known cricketer. However there is no doubt that this was incorrect. JA Meldon, who wote several books on topographical subjects, later lived in Surrey after a brief sojurn in the United States.
Austin's second marriage was to Katherine Pugin daughter of Augustus Welby Pugin, the architect. Their son George Edward Pugin Meldon played for Dublin University in their four first class matches in 1895, scoring 33 against MCC. A surgeon by profession, he should not be confused with his better known cousin George J Meldon. GEP Meldon was also married twice, a son by his first marriage being Austin Meldon who, though trained in the profession of his maternal great grandfather, became a well known Abbey Theatre actor, appearing in several films.
Edward Liddle, October 2007, updated December 2013