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George Wilson (1803–1874)

George Wilson, n.d.

George Wilson, n.d.

photo supplied by Ian Byers

Our obituary column to-day records the death of one, who though not a public man in the ordinary acceptation of the term, has occupied a prominent place in the industrial history of Tasmania, and did much to secure for the colony its agricultural pre-eminence. At the allotted age of three score years and ten, Mr. George Wilson, senior, whose name has been a household word in Oatlands, and the midland districts of Tasmania, for upwards of forty years, yesterday paid the debt of nature. He was not one of the very earliest pioneers, having landed here in the year 1831; but he was one of the most energetic and persevering, and few have done more to leave their mark on the Colony's progress. He sailed from Portsmouth in the ship John, and brought with him a stock of bees, which he was the first to introduce into Tasmania; indeed, into Australia, for the innumerable hives of bees that are now spread over Australia are the produce of the shipment by the John. Mr. Wilson first settled in the Macquarie River district, where he was the compeer of the founders of the well-known Tasmanian families, the Taylors, the Gatenbys, the Thirkells, and others. He did not, however, long confine himself to his first location, but soon after obtained a Crown grant of 1300 acres, which he retained to the day of his death, and on which he built the mansion-house of Mount Seymour, in which he died. From time to time, by well directed energy, he was enabled to purchase other property in the district of Oatlands, in which he was one of the largest land-owners. His broad acres he did not leave in a state of nature, but spread around him well-cultivated fields and comfortable homesteads. He was prominent in every measure for giving the country good roads. He recognised the value of easy communication, and was famed for the superior cultivation of his farms. To effect this he availed himself of every improvement in implements, and introduced the purest and best breeds of stock. He reaped his reward in being the possessor of one of the largest and best improved properties in the district. Himself a Scotchman, he knew the value of his countrymen as agriculturists, and, perhaps, did more than any other man to introduce emigrants of the proper class; and that he exercised a wise discretion in his selection is evidenced by the fact that nearly all of those he brought out settled in his neighbourhood, and their families now occupy the lands their fathers acquired, and constitute a very valuable class of yeomen. Scotchman like, also, Mr. Wilson did not forget the relatives he had left behind him, but induced many of them to emigrate to the then little known Tasmania. All these he has outlived; but, besides more distant relatives, upwards of fifty nephews and neices are settled in the neighbourhood of Mount Seymour, who all respected Mr. Wilson as a father. While Mr. Wilson attended so well to his own matters, he did not forget the interests of his neighbours, and was ever ready to lend a helping hand. He was a protection to his neighbours against the then curse of Tasmania. The bushranging fraternity gave him a wide berth. They never molested Mount Seymour, though in the direct road from Port Arthur to the North. They were in awe of him, and not without reason, for he was victor in many a conflict with them. He received the thanks of Government for his gallant seizure of two desperadoes, Rushton and Millar, who had waylaid, with the intention of robbing, the Superintendent of the Public Works, at St. Peter's Pass, who, though shot in the head, escaped with the money he was conveying to pay the men. Mr. Wilson was never mixed up with any attack on the aborigines. Up to a recent date, he retained much of the vigour and strength that had distinguished his youth, and was as able to attend to his affairs as in the vigour of manhood. But even his strong athletic frame and robust health, on which he had never bestowed too much care, had to succumb to a softening of the brain, which first showed its symptoms about five months ago, confining him pretty closely to bed. No immediate danger was apprehended till within 30 hours of his death, when he had a shock of apoplexy, which ended in death yesterday morning. He leaves a widow, aged 72, and two sons and three daughters, one daughter having predeceased him.

Original publication

Citation details

'Wilson, George (1803–1874)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

George Wilson, n.d.

George Wilson, n.d.

photo supplied by Ian Byers

Life Summary [details]


12 December, 1803
Uphall, West Lothian, Scotland


27 March, 1874 (aged 70)
Oatlands, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death


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.