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Jean Emile Serisier (1824–1880)

by D. I. McDonald

This article was published:

Jean Emile Serisier (1824-1880), storekeeper and vigneron, was born at Bordeaux, France, youngest son of Emile Alexander Serisier, shipping broker, and his wife Rose Marie, née Mavon. In 1838 as a midshipman he arrived in Sydney where on account of ill health he was placed in the care of Mr Despointes, a wealthy merchant. In 1847, backed by Despointes and accompanied by Nicholas Hyeronimus, an innkeeper from the Wellington Valley, Serisier went into the central west to set up a store on R. V. Dulhunty's Dubbo station. Refused permission, they travelled further west and settled on the site of the future town of Dubbo where Hyeronimus established an inn and Serisier opened a general store. After he petitioned for a site for a village, land held by George Smith was selected and surveyed. Serisier bought town blocks at the first auctions in 1851. He managed a general store for Despointes who kept close control even when he visited France in 1855, though it was thriving under Serisier.

By 1855 he was also acting as local postmaster, dealt in stock and later took out an auctioneer's licence. He found that many of his customers expected extended credit so that his activities were restricted by insufficient liquid assets. In 1873 Serisier sold the store, which he then owned, and developed a vineyard on his 4000-acre (1620 ha) property, Emulga. He planted forty acres (16 ha) with vines and, after initial set-backs, within the next year produced much red wine that soon began to attract the attention of connoisseurs. His vineyard was favourably compared with that of J. T. Fallon at Albury.

From 1859 Serisier was returning officer for the Bogan electorate and was one of three guarantors for the extension of the telegraph to Dubbo. A magistrate from 1862, he was prominent in local affairs and for a time was visiting justice to the gaol and guardian of minors. In 1872 he was defeated for the Bogan and in 1876 failed to gain nomination. He represented the Dubbo Free Selectors' Association at the first and second Free Selectors' conferences.

On 1 March 1858 Serisier, aged 33, had married Margaret (1840-1914), youngest daughter of Thomas Humphreys of Greenwich, England, in a ceremony performed first in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, and repeated in St Peter's Anglican Church, Cook's River. On 10 February 1880, on a visit to France, Serisier died leaving goods valued for probate at £2370. Four sons and a daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Country Promotion League, Dubbo: The Hub of the West (Syd, 1921)
  • B. Dulhunty, The Dulhunty Papers (Syd, 1959)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1883-84, 11, 159
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Nov 1849, 2 Mar 1858
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 16 Mar 1865
  • Town and Country Journal, 23 Mar 1872, 8 Aug 1874.

Citation details

D. I. McDonald, 'Serisier, Jean Emile (1824–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 25 February 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

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