1837-1842 - Land Owner and Local Identity

The later period of Thomas Braidwood Wilson's life, beginning in 1837, proved to be a disastrous one. His son, Thomas Braidwood Wilson (Jnr.) was born on 24 April 1837 in Braidwood, New South Wales,1 but died on 23 September 1837 in Braidwood, New South Wales.2 The baby was buried in Braidwood.

DEATH. On the 23rd ultimo, at Braidwood, St. Vincent, aged five months, Thomas Braidwood Wilson, the son of Dr. T. B. Wilson, Esq., R. N.3

Disputes and crimes were part and parcel of everyday life; some closer to home than others.


Before the Chief Justice and a Civil Jury.

John Hall, assigined to Dr. T. B. Wilson, was indicted for discharging a pistol at one Billwill or Bellwell, and wounding him, with intent to kill and murder him. at a place near Twofold Bay, on the 3rd day of February. From the evidence it appeared that the prisoner was employed in the charge of cattle by Dr. W. at about a hundred miles from Braidwood, and on the day laid in the indictment, Hall went to the hut of a neighbouring stock-keeper belonging to Captain King : while there, the blackman Billwill came in, in company with another aboriginal ; Ward the stock keeper hearing a noise in the hut, went in, and found Hall disputing with the black, Hall was accusing Bill of killing cattle and said he should take him, to his master, and was proceeding to tye his hands with some straps for that purpose. The blackfella said that all whites were b---y rogues, shortly afterwards heard the report of a pistol and saw Billwill running away into the bush ; the prisoner came out of the hut and mounted his horse to endeavour to overtake the black but missed him ; while Hall was away Billwill returned very weak, and continued in a sikly state for about twenty days. A day or two after wards Mr. Cobham of the Mounted Police, in crossing that part of the country to investigate a murder, went into the prisoner's hut and was told by him of the circumstance of the black being wounded. and of his killing cattle, Mr. C. was about to take Billwill in custody for the robberies of cattle, but was prevented doing so by his weak state. The above circumtances coming to the knowledge, of Dr. Wilson, the nearest resident Justice, he caused the apprehension of the prisoner. Dr. Wilson gave the prisoner a good character. The prisoner. in his defence said, that Billwill had made a rush at him, and would probably have got him down, had he not fired the pistol. Ward and himself were the only two white men within many miles, and there were six or seven b!acks within view, having spears in their hands. Biliwill, has the character of being a desperate man. His Honor commented on the evidence and the Jury after a short consultation returned a verdict of Not Guilty. 4

In November 1837 Thomas Braidwood Wilson was recorded in the following land grant:

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,
November 6th, 1837. GRANTS OF LAND.

THE following descriptions of Grants of Land, with the names of the persons to whom they were respectively promised, are published for general information...

86. Thomas Braidwood Wilson, Two thousand five hundred and sixty acres, parish unnamed, at Butmaro, Lake George.
Promised on 12 March, 1831, by Sir Ralph Darling.
Quit-rent £21 6s. 8d. sterling per annum, commencing 1st January, 1837.5

Thomas' wife Jane Wilson (nee Thompson) died on 29 January 1838 in Braidwood, New South Wales. Jane was buried in Braidwood, New South Wales. The event doesn't appear in the New South Wales state registration records but was reported in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser on 5 February 1838.

On the 29th January at Braidwood, St. Vincent, aged 33 years, after a lingering and painful illness, Jane the beloved wife of Dr. T. B. Wilson, R. N. 6

Sometime between the 12th of April and 28th of June 1838, Thomas' Braidwood estate gained another convict assignment. Interestingly, this newspaper notice, states Thomas as another representative agent.

Wilson T. B., (Agent for the Earl of Camperdown), 1 wool suapler (?) 7

In August 1838 a servant of Thomas' appeared in the New South Wales Supreme Court after being robbed of his master's property:

R. v. Smith
Supreme Court of New South Wales
Willis J., 10 August 1838
Source: Sydney Gazette, 11 August 1838

Thomas Smith was indicted for assaulting and putting in bodily fear one William Marsden, and stealing a quantity of property in his charge belonging to Thomas Braidwood Wilson, at Four Mile Station, Queanbeyan, on the 31st May last.

The prosecutor was an assigned servant to Dr. Wilson, in charge of a hut at Four Miles Station; the prisoner came to his hut about an hour and a half before sundown on the 31st May, with his face concealed under a cloth mask; he had a gun in his hand which he levelled at the prosecutor, telling him to ``stand;" the prosecutor said ``I do stand, don't I?" he then pointed to the shepherd's hut and told him to go in there; prosecutor hesitated, when the prisoner said ``If you don't go in I'll blow your brains out, the prosecutor still hesitated, and the prisoner again repeated the threat, and compelled him to bring out two blankets off the bed, a black silk handkerchief, a pair of Parramatta-cloth trowsers, two striped shirts, and one duck frock; prisoner said he had not been ten months in the bush to be bounced by a b--y new chum b--r like the prosecutor, and that he would teach him better; he then made him tie up the things into a bundle, and as the prosecutor did so reluctantly, he again repeated that if he did not be quick he would blow his brains out, he was not going to stop there all day; prisoner then made the prosecutor take up the bundle and carry it before him, and thinking he was not walking fast enough, he gave him a prod in the back with the muzzle of the gun; prosecutor turned round upon him, seized his gun, and wrested it from his hands; he then knocked him down and smashed the stock of the piece over the prisoner's head; the mask fell from his face and discovered him to the prosecutor; he then made off into the bush, and the prosecutor made the best of his way back to his hut with the bundle. - Guilty. The jury recommended that the prosecutor (Marsden) should be rewarded for his intrepid behaviour in defending his master's property. His Honor said he felt great pleasure in attending to their recommendation.

His Honor, addressing the prisoner, said that he never felt so much pain in passing a sentence as he did at that moment upon him. He was respectably connected in England, had had the benefit of a good education, he was young and had a short sentence, and might, with his abilities, had he pursued a different line of conduct, be either restored to society and his friends at home a useful member, or, if he remained in this colony, be able to procure for himself a respectable and comfortable living. But by this act he had forfeited every chance of doing either, he should make up his mind to pass the remainder of his days at Norfolk Island, and His Honor hoped he would employ those latter days in correcting the errors of the commencement of his career in life. The prisoner was then sentenced to Transportation for Life.8

All the stud work, may have been too much exertion ....

On Friday, the 10th instant, this valuable horse, the property of Dr. Wilson, died suddenly at Braidwood, St. Vincent's. Dr. W. had left Braidwood to come to Sydney on the day previously, and shortly after his departure, the beautiful animal was suddenly taken ill and died in a few a hours. Sovereign was imported about four years ago, and was the only pure improved Suffolk horse that had ever been brought to the Colony. He was a valued at a thousand guineas, was rising six years, stood eighteen hands high, and was remarkable for his beautiful symmetry. The owner had, a short time before, refused an offer of ₤750 for the animal. 9

In January 1840 the Wilson family were devastated by the loss of their property through fire:

A letter has been received in town stating that the house of Dr Wilson, of Braidwood, and nearly the whole of his furniture have been destroyed by fire, originating in the kitchen chimney. Tbe loss is estimated at £3000.10

The event was reported in greater detail in the Australasian Chronicle on 17 January 1840, along with an explanation as to why Thomas was absent from his property at the time.

Country News. BRAIDWOOD, 10TH JAN.--On Wednesday, the 8th instant, a dreadful fire broke out in Dr. Wilson's mansion, Braidwood. It first commenced in the kitchen, about noon, and as there was a smart breeze blowing, it conveyed the flames directly across the building, so that, in about twenty minutes, the whole cottage, containing about twelve apartments, was burnt to the ground, and property, to the amount of between three and four thousand pounds, destroyed. The fate of that cottage will be regretted by many, as to say the least, it may well be called the Cottage of Hospitality. At the time the fire broke out, Dr. Wilson was engaged in court, investigating a curious case. A few days before Christmas Day, a gentleman in appearance arrived here. He stopped at the mounted police barracks, inspected the public buildings, expressed his admiration of the court-house, lockup, and solitary cells. He said he was on his way to the coast, to superintend a large establishment there. He payed his way with cheques, purporting to be drawn by Mr. W. Wentworth, on the Bank of Australia. After two days stay here, he passed on for the coast, but unfortunately for him, one of the Braidwood constables smelt a rat, pursued him to the coast, and brought him back to Braidwood; where, on examination, he acknowledged that he belonged to the stockade party at Illawarra, that his real name is William Beardsworth, which he altered to Beresford; that he got a month's leave of absence from the officer commanding at Illawarra, to visit a relative of his named Sheil, at Campbelltown; that the police magistrate at Campbelltown prolonged his pass, which being nearly expired, he thought it more agreeable to take a tour of pleasure than to return to the stockade. One cheque of his, for six pounds ten shillings, was returned from the bank as forged.11

The report was repeated a little later in the same paper with a warning to others about the necessity of insurance:

Fire Raising -We understand that Dr. Wilson of Braidwood has sustained a very serious loss of upwards of £3000 by his barn, cottage and stack yard being burnt, and there seems but little doubt that this has been the act of an incendiary. This circumstance leads us again to point out the great advantages of Fire Insurance, of which Settlers generally have so little availed themselves. Let them but insure their Houses and Stacks, and they take away the chief inducement for any discontented servant, or other evil disposed person, to wreak their vengeance against them, which it is evident they can do to such a calamitous extent....(the article continues for some time further extolling the virtues of insurance).

In March 1840 the Sydney Herald reported that Thomas Braidwood Wilson had been appointed a Commissioner of the Supreme Court.12 Later that month Thomas wrote the following letter to the Editor of the Sydney Monitor correcting an earlier report about his harvest:

Dr. Wilson's Crop of Wheat.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser.

Sir.-I have observed a paragraph in your paper of the 16th instant, intimating that reports were in town of my having been deceived as to the amount of my crop. These reports are altogether devoid of truth; I have neither been hoaxed nor deceived.

There cannot, in my opinion, exist any reason able doubt of the accuracy of the statement relative to the superabundant crop of wheatobtained from the alluvial flat formerly alluded to.

It had always been my opinion, even while the wheat was growing, that the produce would at least be sixty bushels per acre; and in this opinion, every experienced agriculturist, who saw the wheat, joined.

The reapers all agreed, that they had never seen such an abundant crop in any part of this colony or at home, I, therefore was induced to as certain the quantity; accordingly, a square chain of land, at the commencement of the flat, was measured by my brother in presence of the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, Mr. A. Badgery, and myself, we all made ourselves certain that no more wheat was taken, than what actually had grown on the measured spot.

The wheat was conveyed into the barn, which was cleared of all other grain; and two of ny most trustworthy men wore direct-d to thrash it care fully. In the afternoon, while the wheat was being measured, two of my neighbours, Mr. Coghillaud Dr. Huntley, were passing : I requested them to witness the result. To the astonishment of all of us, the produce was 9S bushels weighing 62 lbs per bushel ; next moirning at day light, I re-measured the ground, from which the wheat has been taken, and found the former measurement quite correct. You may therefore observe, that every precaution was taken to guard against error. I determined, however, that there should be another trial, and, as I was obliged to leave home for Sydney, I requested Mr. Goulding (clerk of the Court at Braidwood) to superintend a new trial accompanied by other competent persons' who promised not to leave the wheat fromn the time it was taken from the field, until thrashed, cleaned, and measured.

Mr. Goulding's letter to me, stating the result, which placed the matter beyond the shadow of a doubt, was published in the Sydney Herald, to which I refer you.

I may add, in conclusion, that my barn-yard will not suffer much if compared with the largest and the best in the colony; Mr. Berry's at the Shoalhaven, not excepted; moreover, besides supplying my own establishment (nearly 40 bushels weekly) and also the contracts of this distirit, I have many hundreds of bushels to dispose of; and, notwithstanding Mr. Cooper's remark before the Governor and .Council, that he had never known any agriculturist in this colony become rich, yet I intend to proceed con spirto ed amore in my favorite pursuit, so that, if no accident intervene, I expect to I ave upwards of 600 acres under crop this season.

I may likewise mention, that Iam in possession of 36 varieties of wheat; and have made, and intend to continue to make, obse:vations as to which of them may be best adapted to this climate and soil. It will afford me much satis faction to give a portion of some or of all of them, to any person who may take an interest in such matters.

I am, Sir,
Your Obedient Servant,
T. B. WILSON. Braidwood, March 24, 1840.13

Legislative Council. WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1840. Present-His Excellency the Governor. the Chief Justice, the Commander of the Forces, the Attorney General, the Colonial Soeretary, the Collector of Customs, Sir John Jamison. Mr. Berry, Mr. Blaxland, Mr. James Macarthur, and Mr. Jones. His Excellency the Governor opened the proceedings by some observations on the Savings Bank Bill, which was ordered to be read on Tuesday next. The Presbyterian Bill was next read for the first time, and ordered to be read a second time on Tuesday, the 15th instant. On the order of the day for the further consideration of the estimates, being moved, His Excellency informed the Council, that he had received a letter from Doctor Wilson. one of the Braidwood Magistrates, complaining of some allusions made to him by the Council, on the consideration of this bill on a former occasion, and stating that he intended to come before the Council for the purpose of vindicating his conduct as a magistrate. He, the Governor, was not aware of anything uttered in that Council calculated to give offence to any magistrate, as the only allusions to the magistrates on that occasion, were made by the Attorney General, and he, the Governor, understood them to be in defence of the Police Magistrates, who, it had been stated by an Honorable Member, could be dispensed with; he was satisfied that there was nothing said by the Attorney General derogatory to Doctor Wilson as a magistrate, and was sure that there was not the least idea of offence uttered by himself. Mr. James Macarthur did not think that his observations, on that occasion, were calculated to give offence to any magistrate; what he said was, that the police expenditure might be reduced to one half the estimated amount, and though he mentioned the magistrate's name who proposed performing the duty of the police with half the amount expended, yet he did not mention the name of any other magistrate. The Attorney-General did not wish for any discussion on this point; however, he would refer to the substance of the allusions made to the Magistrates, which was, that on the motion of Mr. James Macarthur, he (the attorney-General) drew a comparison between the duties performed by the paid and by the unpaid Magistrates, and which, it appeared, gave rise to Doctor Wilson's being offended. But he would suppose that if Doctor Wilson had been present at the meeting of Council on that day, he would not have felt any cause of offence whatsoever, He (the Attorney General) was the only member who used Doctor Wilson's name, in reply to Mr. James Macarthur's observation, "that the general opinion was that the public business was better conducted where paid Magistrates did not officiate, and where it was solely under the management of the unpaid Magistracy, than in those districts in which there were Police Magistrates;" but, though he contradicted this statement, he was so far from considering Doctor Wilson inefficient, that he believed if any Magistrate above another waa worthy of public recommendation, it was Doctor Wilson. Several irregularities had issued from the Braidwood Bench. which induced him to say that the busluess could not be expected to be as well executed by a Magistrate who had no reward allowed him for his services, as by the paid Magistrate on whom it was incumbent, in considetation of his salary, to study law, and devote his time solely to his vocation.14

In late July 1841 Thomas was marketing his produce by providing samples to the editors of the newspapers of the day:

Dr Wilson, of Braidwood, has been polite enough to send us a sample of kidney potatoes, grown by himself on his estate at that place; we can record our testimony to their excellence. There appears no necessity for our importing potatoes from Van Diemen's Land, when such a capital supply can be obtained from the south country, when the road from Braidwood to Jervis Bay is open, an unlimited supply for the Sydney market can be looked for, not of potatoes only, but of various other agricultural produce.15

Drama was never far away ...

REWARD OF A CONDITlONAL PARDON. Whereas it has been represented to his excellency the Governor that, in July last, the child of an emigrant in the employ of Dr. Wilson, of Braidwood, very mysteriously disappeared, and has not since been heard of; and whereas there is strong suspicion that the said child has met an untimely death through foul means, notice is hereby given, that if any prisoner of the crown shall give such information as shall lead to the conviction of the guilty parties, if the child has been murdered, application will be made to her Majesty for the allowance of a conditional pardon to such prisoner of the crown.16

The following newspaper report indicates a tour was undertaken by the the Lieutenant Governor to the southern districts, including the property of Dr. Wilson, among others.


October 29. - His Excellency started from Captain Ross's on Wednesday morning, for Kurreduckbidgee, the seat of S. Ryrie, Esq., and on Thursday visited Braidwood. His Excellency was very unwell on Wednesday night, and it was feared that he would not be able to travel; however he sufficiently recovered to enable him to get to Braidwood, where he lunched with Dr. Wilson. The worthy doctor had his establishment in all order to meet his Excellency, the men and women neat and tidy, ranked in rows of two or three deep, with the women possessing babies, in the front. His Excellency particularly admired Dr. Wilson's large potatoes, one of which was presented to Lady Gipps by Dr. Wilson, of nearly the size of a tolerably large pumpkin; the seed from which it was raised, the doctor said, had been brought by him from an island in the Southern Ocean, where he had been shipwrecked, and had lived with the savages for some time.17

A similar report appeared in the same newspaper on the following day,


OCTOBER 29. - It having been generally known that His Excellency the Governor was about visiting the southern districts, calculation was rife as to the probability of his being able to extend his ride so far, in consequence of the necessity there existed for his return to Sydney within a limited time. However, all anxiety was allayed on the receipt of a letter at Armprior, the residence of Stewart Ryrie, Esq., announcing his intention of visiting our district; when, as a matter of course, Her Majesty's liege subjects under His Excellency's sway, determined upon presenting him with a loyal and dutiful address, which was hastily concocted on the morning of his arrival. About half-past ten, a pretty strong muster of the gentlefolk started from the Court House on high-mettled chargers, for the purpose of escorting His Excellency to town ; having proceeded about five miles, he, accompanied by Lady Gipps, hove in sight, when the party filed off on each side of the road, in equal numbers, received him will all due honour and proceeded at a pretty brisk pace to the hospitable residence of Dr. Wilson - on entering the gate of whose domain, His Excellency was greeted by one of those hearty cheers which can emanate only from British subjects, influenced by a spirit of loyalty. On reaching the house, the pleasing sight of some fifty women and children, all neatly dressed, attracted the attention, and drew forth some commendatory remarks from His Excellency, when addressing the numerous individuals present.

His Excellency having partaken of a déjeuné a la fourchette, and visited the various improvements being carried on on the establishment, proceeded to the Court House, at two o'clock, for the purpose of receiving the address which was presented to him, after an appropriate and complimentary speech by our worthy senior magistrate, Captain Coghill, to whose house His Excellency immediately repaired, accompanied by a numerous train of carriages and equestrians, to partake of an excellent dinner which awaited their arrival.

At five o'clock, His Excellency took his departure for Mr. Ryrie's, en route to Sydney, expressing himself highly pleased with his reception.18

  • 1. NSW BDM Birth Registration V1837151 21/1837
  • 2. NSW BDM Death Registration V183935 23A/1839
  • 3. The Australian Friday 29 September 1837 and The Colonist Thursday 5 October 1837
  • 4. The Sydney Monitor 14 August 1837 page 2.
  • 5. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Saturday 11 November 1837
  • 6. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 5 February 1838 page 3.
  • 7. The Australian 10 July 1839 page 4.
  • 8. http://www.law.mq.edu.au/scnsw/Cases1838-39/html/r_v_smith__1838.htm (See also Sydney Herald, 13 August 1838. The bushranging Act was renewed again in 1838: see Sydney Herald, 14 June 1838; Australian, 10 July 1838).
  • 9. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 16 March 1839 page 2.
  • 10. The Sydney Herald Friday 17 January 1840
  • 11. "Country News." Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843) 17 Jan 1840: 2. Web. 6 Mar 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31727327.
  • 12. The Sydney Herald Thursday 10 March 1842
  • 13. The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser Monday 6 April 1840
  • 14. The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser Thursday 10 September 1840
  • 15. The Australian Tuesday 27 July 1841 and a similar story was reproduced in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Tuesday 27 July 1841
  • 16. Australasian Chronicle Saturday 4 September 1841
  • 17. The Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 2 November 1842
  • 18. The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 3 November 1842


John Horton
John Horton's picture
Maria Roberts

From http://www.goodchild-cuffley.castlemaine.net/Mariablurb.html

In March 1814, Maria Roberts of Liverpool was convicted and sentenced to hang for the crime of stealing a skein of lace and a spool of ribbon. She was 27 years of age. In May her sentence was commuted to transportation for life. She was parted from her husband Robert Roberts and their two children, Robert and Ann, and sailed from England on the Northampton to the colony of New South Wales on the 1st of January 1815.

Arriving at Port Jackson in June, Maria was transferred to the Female Factory at Parramatta, from where she was assigned to the emancipist Simeon Lord. Within a short while she met James Briley, who was also assigned to Lord. James and Maria formed a de facto marriage, producing five 'native-born' children.

Details of the lives of James and Maria are in the official records of the colony: James applied for and was granted small holdings of land; children were baptised at St Philip's.

Curiously, a few months before his death, James petitioned the Governor to place the pregnant Maria back in the Female Factory because she was not 'sober and industrious'. He did, however, nominate her as the sole benefactor of his will. She subsequently owned two houses and land in Clarence Street, Sydney. Two years after James' death, Maria lost her ticket-of-leave for assaulting a female neighbour. Her youngest daughter, Ezella, died, and her eldest daughter and two of her sons were enrolled in orphan schools. The youngest son, Thomas, was fostered by Anne Downes (also of the Northampton).

In 1827 Maria formed a liaison with Irish convict Thomas O'Brien, and they conceived a daughter, Zillah Eliza. This union was disrupted shortly after by the arrival of O'Brien's wife and three children.

Maria's life changed significantly at the age of 46, when she was reunited with her first husband. Robert Roberts had stolen a cheese, for which he was transported to New South Wales. He had served his term in Bathurst and was by then a free man. In 1837, Robert, Maria and Zillah travelled to Braidwood. In 1842, at the recommendation of Thomas Braidwood Wilson, Maria was granted a pardon.

See The Maria Roberts Series