Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Ebenezer Salier (1819–1894)

by Peter Bolger

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with George Salier

George Salier (1813-1892), merchant and politician, and James Ebenezer (1819-1894), merchant, were the sons of George Cooley Salier, Congregational minister, and his wife Ann, née Hyat. James arrived in Hobart Town in 1839 in the James to assess the prospects for opening a drapery. His report brought George next year with a cargo of goods and they opened a store, The Gold Mine Drapery, in Elizabeth Street. Their brothers William George (1812-1899) and John Jabez (1821-1884) arrived later.

James sailed for San Francisco in 1849 with a cargo of prefabricated wooden houses for the goldfields, and his brothers visited the Victorian diggings with little success. The business expanded to New Norfolk with William as manager. The Saliers combined wholesale trade with importing consumer goods and exporting wool and oil. They also acquired a fleet of whalers, second only to A. McGregor's; their best-known barque was the Offley. They were shareholders and directors of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land, the Derwent and Tamar Fire, Life and Marine Assurance Co., the Mersey & Deloraine Tramway Co. Ltd amongst others; they were also leading members of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce. They lived in two solid town houses, George in Melbourne Lodge, and James in Sydney Lodge. John taught music, especially church music.

In the early 1850s George, not liberal enough for Hobart emancipists, was jostled in anti-transportation meetings. He became a justice of the peace in 1862 and was a member of the House of Assembly for North Hobart in 1866-69 and 1871-86 and of the Legislative Council in 1886-92. He was a humanitarian, evangelical liberal.

G. Clarke's Congregational Church in Davey Street was the focus of the brothers' lives. James was its deacon, treasurer, librarian, choirleader and president of the Southern Tasmanian Sunday School Union. George was on the local committee of the Colonial Missionary Society, the board of management of the Brickfields Pauper Establishment for Males and the executive committee of the Servants' Home. James became chairman of the Benevolent Society and honorary secretary of the Ragged Schools Association; he joined George on the board of management of the General Hospital, Hobart, and on the committees of the Girls' Industrial School and the Mechanics' Institute, where John organized successful music classes. All three brothers were members of the Glee Club, the Choral Society and various gardening and regatta committees.

The Salier brothers have been described as a 'conspicuous example of a philanthropic, high toned, successful merchant' family. George's first wife Anne Georgiana, née Bush, died in 1845 and on 5 March 1846 he married Harriet Mary Willis. He is said to have sired sixteen children. He died of heart failure on 11 June 1892 while walking between his warehouse and his home. His estate was valued for probate at £28,750 in Tasmania and £2596 in Victoria. Predeceased by his wife, James died of apoplexy on 17 August 1894 without issue; his estate was valued for probate at £8632.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, vols 1-2 (Hob, 1900)
  • P. Bolger, Hobart Town (Canberra, 1973)
  • Hobart Town Courier, 18 Dec 1840, 20 Feb 1845, 8 Mar 1848, 18 Sept 1852
  • Mercury (Hobart), 13 June 1892, 18 Aug 1894, 5 Sept 1904
  • The Hutchins School, Admission register (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Peter Bolger, 'Salier, James Ebenezer (1819–1894)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 25 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




17 August, 1894 (aged ~ 75)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.