Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Joseph Wild (1773–1847)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published:

Joseph Wild (1773?-1847), bushman and constable, was sentenced on 21 August 1793 at Chester, England, to transportation for life and arrived in New South Wales in the Ganges in June 1797. He is said to have accompanied both Francis Barrallier and Robert Brown on their explorations into the interior. In August 1810 he received a ticket-of-leave, and in January 1813 was granted a conditional pardon. For a time he superintended George Crossley's farm on the Hawkesbury; in 1814 he was a labourer at Liverpool but soon afterwards began working for Charles Throsby. He accompanied Throsby on journeys to the country west of Sutton Forest in 1817, to Jervis Bay in 1818, and to Bathurst in 1819; for the last he received a grant of 100 acres (40 ha), but sold it almost immediately to his companion on the tour, John Wait. When the road to the new country was begun in October 1819 Robert Sills was made superintendent of the road-gang, but Wild replaced him when Sills found that the Aboriginals remembered him for pursuing them in 1816; for supervision of fourteen convicts Wild received £20 a year. Governor Lachlan Macquarie praised Wild's part in the construction of the road when he visited the final stages across the Cookbundoon Range in October 1820 and named the pass through the mountains Wild's Pass.

In August 1820 Throsby sent Wild with two companions in search of water farther south. He discovered Lake George and in December accompanied Charles Throsby on a search for the Murrumbidgee, but it is not clear whether they reached it. Next March he made his last journey with Throsby, again in search of the Murrumbidgee; during this they crossed the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers. Throsby told Surveyor-General James Meehan that Wild was as conversant with the country surrounding the Wollondilly as he was himself and offered him Wild's services as a guide there. In April and May 1823 Wild accompanied Captain Currie and Major John Ovens on an expedition south of Bong Bong, which resulted in the discovery of the Monaro Plains.

In December 1815 Macquarie had made Wild a constable for the district of the Five Islands and in March 1821 he became constable for the new County of Argyle. After Throsby's death Wild was head stockman for Charles Throsby junior. When he died on 25 May 1847 he was the first to be buried in Bong Bong cemetery. He was illiterate but played a large part in the colony's expansion into the interior as one of those who came to terms with the bush and without whose assistance the task of the more famous explorers would have been much greater. He and his wife Elizabeth had several children.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 10
  • J. Gale, Canberra, its History and Legends (Queanbeyan, 1927)
  • J. Jervis, ‘The Wingecarribee and Southern Highlands District: Its Discovery and Settlement’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 23, part 4, 1937, pp 247-300
  • J. Jervis, ‘The Great South Road’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 25, part 5, 1939, pp 412-33
  • Sydney Gazette, 9 Dec 1815, 3 Mar 1821
  • manuscript catalogue under Joseph Wild (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Wild, Joseph (1773–1847)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Wilde, Joseph
  • Wylde, Joseph



25 May, 1847 (aged ~ 74)
New South Wales, Australia

Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life