Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Solomon Wiseman (1777–1838)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published:

Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), by unknown artist

Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), by unknown artist

State Library of New South Wales, Original : ML 1086

Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), merchant, born on 16 April 1777 in Essex, England, was a journeyman lighterman when convicted at the Old Bailey on 30 October 1805 of stealing from his employers 704 lbs (319 kg) of Brazil wood from a Thames lighter. His death sentence was commuted to transportation for life, and in August 1806 he arrived in New South Wales in the Alexander with his wife Jane, née Middleton, and two sons. In June 1810 he received a ticket-of-leave and in February 1812 an absolute pardon. In July 1811 the sloop Hawkesbury Packet, built for Wiseman, was launched at Cockle Bay; with it he entered the coastal trade and later added the sloop Hope. In December 1815 he was one of the merchants who petitioned Governor Lachlan Macquarie for permission to visit parts of the coast for cedar and coal to sell in Sydney; their request was refused, but during the next two years he received permission to bring cedar from Port Stephens on his own behalf and for other merchants. In July 1817 the Hope was wrecked at Port Stephens and two of the crew were killed by Aboriginals; two months later the Hawkesbury Packet was also wrecked.

In August 1813 Wiseman had received a wine and spirits licence for premises in Bligh Street, Sydney. In 1817 he had agreed to sell them to Samuel Terry; after the wrecks he had to assign his property to Terry. Soon afterwards he was granted 100 acres (40 ha) which he selected on the Hawkesbury River near Wilberforce. He then acquired the Mary Ann which the government chartered in 1821 to go to Port Macquarie. In 1823 he received a further grant of 200 acres (81 ha) near Benjamin Singleton's Mill Farm and in 1828 held 1100 acres (450 ha), acquired by grant and purchase. In 1826 he obtained a licence for his house on the road to Newcastle. Next year he was given a lease of what became known as Wiseman's Ferry on the Hawkesbury River on condition that government horses and property were carried on it free of charge. Richard Jones took this over in 1827. Like many other officials Wiseman was accused of corruption and of contravening port orders, but there is no evidence that these complaints were justified. In his last years he became well known for his hospitality and in May 1833 entertained the governor.

His wife Jane had died on 20 July 1821 after a long illness, leaving him with four sons and two daughters. On 1 November 1826 he married Sophia Warner, the widow of one of his employees at Wilberforce. He died on 28 November 1838, described as a respected colonist and friend of the poor. He was buried with his first wife on his property, reinterred first in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, and after that church was damaged by vandals, in the cemetery at Wiseman's Ferry. Sophia Wiseman returned to England in 1841 and died at Hammersmith in 1870.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Swancott, Wiseman's Ferry (Woy Woy, 1965)
  • F. Walker, ‘The Great North Road’, Journal and Proceedings (Australian Historical Society), vol 3, part 2, 1915, pp 59-79
  • J. Jervis, ‘Solomon Wiseman and His Ferry’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 27, 1941, pp 350-59
  • Sydney Herald, 30 Nov 1838
  • Sydney Mail, 3 Sept 1924
  • manuscript catalogue under Solomon Wiseman (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Wiseman, Solomon (1777–1838)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 14 April 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

Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), by unknown artist

Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), by unknown artist

State Library of New South Wales, Original : ML 1086

Life Summary [details]


16 April, 1777
Essex, England


28 November, 1838 (aged 61)
New South Wales, Australia

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.

Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life