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Judah Moss Solomon (1818–1880)

by Eric Richards

This article was published:

Judah Moss Solomon is a minor entry in this article

Emanuel Solomon (1800-1873), merchant, was born in London, son of Samuel Moss Solomon, pencilmaker, and his wife Elizabeth, née Moses. On 4 August 1817 he was convicted, with his brother Vaiben, of larceny at the Durham Assizes and sentenced to seven years transportation. They arrived in Sydney on 1 May 1818 in the Lady Castlereagh. Both were described as pencilmakers. On 6 November 1826 Emanuel married Mary Ann Wilson who had been convicted of larceny in April 1825 and sentenced at the Old Bailey to life imprisonment. With his brother he went into business in George Street as general merchants and auctioneers and they accumulated property and land in Sydney and Bathurst. In 1835 Emanuel bought a share in a South Australian land grant, and in 1838-44 he was resident partner in Adelaide for the Sydney enterprise: most of its trade between Sydney and Adelaide was carried in its brig Dorset. In 1840 he opened the Queen's Theatre, the first in Adelaide; he built city residential blocks and promoted the Burra mine. Although affected by the depression of the early 1840s, he recovered and in 1848 established Solomontown near Port Pirie, providing an endowment for religious observance. He retired in 1870.

Solomon was a member of the House of Assembly for West Adelaide in 1862-65 and of the Legislative Council in 1867-71. Conservative in politics, he nevertheless 'advocated important reforms, particularly in the interests of the working classes'. In 1871 he financed in Adelaide a pioneers' banquet for 520 people to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the foundation of the colony. His second wife Celia, née Smith, whom he had married on 12 April 1844 in Sydney, died in 1852 and he married Catherine Abrahams in the same year. One of the founders of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation, he has been described as 'the paterfamilias of the Jewish community'. Aged 73, he died of senile decay on 3 October 1873 in Adelaide and was buried in the Jewish portion of West Terrace cemetery. Survived by his wife, four daughters and three sons, he left an estate sworn for probate at £4500.

His nephew Judah Moss Solomon (1818-1880), merchant, was born on 21 December 1818 in London, son of Moss Solomon and his wife Betsy, née Myers. He probably arrived in Sydney in 1831 where he was educated at Sydney College. He was employed by his uncles as supercargo on board their vessels and visited Adelaide in October 1839 with a cargo of ponies from Timor. In 1842-45 he was government auctioneer at Moreton Bay but in 1846 he went to Adelaide to join Emanuel and another uncle Isaac in an auctioneering firm. In 1854-57 he was in England for his health; after his return he set up in business on his own.

Solomon was an alderman for Gawler Ward in 1852-54, a member of the House of Assembly for the City of Adelaide in 1858-60, a member of the Legislative Council in 1861-66 and in 1871-75 he represented West Adelaide in the assembly. He was mayor of Adelaide in 1869-71, and originated the conference of mayors of various municipalities and chairmen of district councils that inquired into nuisances over which the municipalities had no control: the outcome was the Public Health Act. He participated in movements for the drainage of Adelaide, the provision of waterworks and the control of diseased meat. He became chairman of the Destitute Board in 1877 and was instrumental in arranging the boarding-out system for orphans in whom he took a personal interest.

Solomon was a firm free trader and, it was said, 'when he once formed an opinion, no consideration of party or interest could induce him to change it, indeed, he might have been more successful in his parliamentary career had he been less independent'. He acted as coroner and as auditor to public companies and was the first president of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation. Aged 73, he died of cancer on 29 August 1880 in Adelaide; his estate was sworn for probate at £1750. He was twice married: first to Rachel Cohen on 7 August 1842, and second on 4 September 1867 to Adela Pulver (d.1875). Seven of his sixteen children survived him; one of his sons, Vaiben Louis, was premier and treasurer of South Australia in 1899 and a member of the first Federal parliament until 1903.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Munz, Jews in South Australia, 1836-1936 (Adel, 1936)
  • J. S. Levi and G. F. J. Bergman, Australian Genesis (Adel, 1974)
  • Parliamentary Papers (South Australia), 1877 (102)
  • Register (Adelaide), 19 Mar 1872, 9 Oct 1873, 30 Aug 1880
  • ‘Centenary of Adelaide Hebrew Congregation’, 2 (1944-48), and H. H. Glass, ‘Some Australian Jews and the Federal movement’, 3 (1949-53), Australian Jewish Historical Society, Journal
  • manuscript and newspaper indexes (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Colonial Secretary's land letters (State Records New South Wales)
  • E. Solomon business letter-book (State Records of South Australia)
  • records (Adelaide Hebrew Congregation)
  • HO 10/19, 26/31.

Citation details

Eric Richards, 'Solomon, Judah Moss (1818–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 15 July 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

Judah Moss Solomon, n.d.

Judah Moss Solomon, n.d.

State Library of South Australia, 11264

Life Summary [details]


21 December, 1818
London, Middlesex, England


29 August, 1880 (aged 61)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism