Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sidney, Samuel (1813–1883)

by Stanley Tick

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Samuel Sidney (1813-1883), journalist and author, was baptized Samuel Solomon in Birmingham, England, the son of Abraham Solomon, M.D. He was educated for the law and practised briefly as a solicitor but soon turned to journalism, adopting the pen name of Sidney. His principal and lifelong interest was in agriculture. He visited and wrote about agricultural exhibitions in England and on the Continent and was hunting correspondent for the Illustrated London News. In 1859 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the secretaryship of the Royal Agricultural Society but next year was appointed secretary of the Agricultural Hall Co. His Book of the Horse, first published in London in 1873, was very highly praised.

From about 1847 to 1855 Sidney became very interested in Australia, perhaps because of the shrewd observations of his younger brother, John (b.1821), who had been in New South Wales for some six years from about 1838. In 1847 Samuel Sidney published in London A Voice From the Far Interior of Australia, by 'A Bushman', relying on his brother's material; he admitted the ghosting in the preface to the second edition of The Three Colonies of Australia (London, 1853). In August 1848 Sidney's Australian Hand-Book appeared, written by both brothers; sub-titled 'How to Settle and Succeed in Australia', it was an immediate popular success, seven 1000-copy editions being sold in five months. Of particular interest in this Hand-Book is the anti-Wakefieldian espousal of the general values of squatters, who were called 'the heart's blood of Australia'.

The success of the Hand-Book led the brothers to begin Sidney's Emigrant's Journal, which was published weekly from 5 October 1848 to 12 July 1849. When John returned to Australia Samuel edited the new monthly, Sidney's Emigrant's Journal and Traveller's Magazine; six issues appeared in 1849-50. At a high standard of reliability the journal offered assorted fare: letters from emigrants, queries from would-be emigrants, stories and book reviews.

Samuel Sidney's The Three Colonies of Australia was published in London in September 1852. More than 5000 copies were sold in the first year, and by 1854 German and American editions were in print. The book is of considerable importance, both for its anti-Wakefield attitudes and for its outspoken 'pro-Australian' sentiments. Like Wakefield, Sidney never set foot in Australia, though he was very well informed about the colony's affairs. His colonial interest brought him into touch with many notable people in England and he made it his business to acquaint himself with the works of Caroline Chisholm and Alexander Harris, from both of whom he quotes. In all, the book's documentation is most impressive, and Sidney's writing is both finely pointed and graceful. On major issues, he was anti-Bligh, in favour of cheap land, an ardent champion of colonial self-government, and against continued transportation. Samuel Sidney died on 8 June 1883.

Citation details

Stanley Tick, 'Sidney, Samuel (1813–1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/sidney-samuel-2662/text3599, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 2 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Bushman, A
  • Solomon, Samuel
Birth

1813

Death

8 June 1883

Cultural Heritage
Occupation