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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Houston
First Name:Alexander Muir
Birth Date: 00-00-1857
Branch:Naval Torpedo Corps

Alexander Muir Houston


To rank with but after Sub-Lieutenants in the Naval Forces and with Sub-Lieutenants in the Naval Reserve, according to date of Commission. Victorian Government Gazette, 28 March 1879.

He (James Jasper) was gallantry saved by Lieut. Houston, who was on the deck of the Cerberus at the time, and who, divesting himself of coat and boots, plunged into the water, and kept Jasper afloat until a boat came to their assistance. Jasper was first taken out of the water, and he was then picked up himself. Geelong Advertiser, 7 March 1881

A bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society was awarded to Alexander Muir Houston for bravery in rescuing James Jasper. The Argus, 27 July 1881

Sub-Lieutenant Houston saving James Jasper

Sub-Lieutenant Houston saving James Jasper.
Australasian sketcher, 12 March 1881


The citation from the Humane Society of Australasia's records reads:-
"Alexander Muir Houston, of Melbourne, 22 years, jumping off H.M.S. Cerberus, with a portion of clothes on, to the rescue of a man who, with others, had been blown up in an accidental torpedo explosion, the appalling nature of the disaster, and the known presence of sharks there, displaying courage and generous risk of his life."
The incident occurred at 5.15pm on 5 march 1881  off Queenscliff.  The rescued man - James Jasper, aged 25 years, able seaman.

1005. What are you? − I am employed in the Railway Telegraph office, Spencer street.

1006. Have you been there long? − I have been in the Railway Department seven years.

1007. How long have you been acting as an electrician? − I have been doing electrical work all the time I have been in the department, but when I was at up−country stations I had various other duties to perform.

1008. You belong to the Naval Torpedo Corps as an electrician? − Yes.

1009. How long have you been attached to the Naval Torpedo Corps as an electrician? − Since it was formed. I think it was in 1878.

The Torpedo Report, 4 April 1881


Listed in the Victorian Defence Forces List 1 September 1887.


Name inscribed on the Silver Soup Tureen presented to Paymaster James Arthur Thompson by members of the crew of HMVS Cerberus and the Naval Torpedo Corps connected with the Torpedo Accident in 1881.

photograph courtesy of Shirley & David Joy.
Mystery of the Silver Soup Tureen  
"A well-deserved presentation was made last week by the Government of Victoria, through his Excellency the Governor, to Lieutenant Houston, of the Torpedo Company, for his brave attempt to save the lives of the unfortunate crew of the Cerberus' boat on the occasion of the torpedo explosion at Port Phillip Heads in March last. Houston saw Jasper struggling in the water directly after the catastrophe, jumped in as he was, and swam to his succour. When overtaken by a boat he called to the occupants to pick Jasper up first, and then to return for him. The present was in the form of a valuable gold watch, with an inscription, "Presented to Alexander Muir Houston, by the Government of Victoria, in recognition of the gallant conduct shown by him on the occasion of the torpedo explosion of Queenscliff, on March 5th, 1881." His Excellency warmly eulogised the recipient for the presence of mind and courage shown by him in the midst of the terrible excitement which prevailed on board the Cerberus at the time."
Brisbane Courier, 26 September 1881

Probationary appointment as Sub-Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.
Bendigo Advertiser, 13 June 1885

Mentioned in the Victorian Government Gazette dated 25 September 1896 as having been removed from the Unattached List.

The Argus, 4 March 1901

* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.