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Wilson, Alexander (Alex) (1849–1927)

by Vacy

On the morning of the 3rd December, at the Lewisham private hospital, Sydney, there passed away, at the age of 78 years, Mr. Alex. Wilson, a pioneer pastoralist, and one of the best known identities of eastern Australia.

He was born at Ballyclare, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1849, and on the completion of his education at the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast in 1865, he came out to Australia, beginning his colonial experience at Yarraberb Station, near Sandhurst (now known as Bendigo) in Victoria.

His ''jackarooship" completed, he went over to Riverina, and eventually in 1872 became managing partner in Coree Station, Conargo. On the dissolution of this partnership in 1881, Mr. Wilson became interested in several pastoral properties along the Namoi and Gwydir Rivers in northwestern and western New South Wales, and also in Errowanbang Station, Carcoar, with the late Mr. F. R C. Hopkins.

Later on, Mr. Wilson founded the Sydney stock and station agency firm of Alexander Wilson and Co., which he carried on for a number of years, when he eventually retired, but at the same time maintained a very keen interest in all matters pertaining to the pastoral and live stock industries, and to the development of the country generally, on all of which he was an acknowledged authority. In September 1890 he took part in "the great procession of the Golden Fleece," and was one of the first to assist in unloading the first lorry at Circular Quay, Sydney, during the height of the maritime strike, throwing his whole influence against the attempted boycott of non-union shorn wool. He was appointed chairman of the executive formed by members of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales to control the shearing operations in the north-western districts of the State during the troublous times of the shearing strike in '91, and most successfully filled that onerous and responsible position. He was also a representative of the Pastoralists' Federal Council of Australia at the conference held with the Australian Shearers' Union in Sydney in August 1921. The late Mr. Alex. Wilson will be sorely missed, for apart from his own striking personality and his inexhaustible store of anecdote and experience, there was hardly a man in Australia so well informed as to the natural features, ownership and position of stations in the highways and byways of this country. His knowledge was encyclopaedic, and he possessed a marvellously retentive memory.

The late Mr. Wilson represented the Murray in the New South Wales Parliament from 1880 to 1885, and in 1887 was returned for Bourke. Whilst in Parliament he gave to all matters—and especially those affecting the occupation of the land and connected with the pastoral interests—that vigorous and energetic attention which, with a strong individuality of character, marked all his works.

Original publication

Citation details

Vacy, 'Wilson, Alexander (Alex) (1849–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/wilson-alexander-alex-1439/text1439, accessed 21 September 2019.

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