1792 - 1843







Thomas Wilson


Where was Thomas Wilson born? One source quotes Braidwood, Lanarkshire, Scotland, another source quotes Uphall, West Lothian, Scotland, another says he was born in Uphall, Linlithgowshire, another quotes Ephall and yet another quotes Kirknewton, West Lothian, Scotland.

We are fairly certain he was baptised in Kirknewton on April 29th but so far don't have a confirmed place of birth.

His parents were James and Katharine Wilson (nee Boak). Thomas was named after Dr. Thomas Braidwood who was the founder of a deaf and Dumb Institute and Orphanage in Scotland.

Thomas studied medicine at Edinburgh University and joined the Royal Navy in 1815 as a surgeon and served in the Napoleonic wars. Later he volunteered for duty in the convict transport service. As Surgeon Superintendent he was responsible for the health of convicts being transported to Tasmania and New South Wales and in this position, Wilson was second only to the Captain of the ships he travelled on.

Over the course of 9 voyages, Wilson was to oversee the transport of 1,878 convicts and only 12 did not survive the journey. Although that death rate may seem high by today's standards it was remarkably low for the time when even ships crew would regularly succumb to disease.

In 1826 he married Jane Thomson of Durham, England and the couple had two children, Mary Braidwood and James Braidwood.

On a return trip to London in 1829 his ship Governor Ready (1) was wrecked in the Torres Straits and those who got off the ship rowed 1000 miles in an open boat to Timor. He picked up a ride on the Amity bringing Capt. Collet Barker out to take Command of the garrison at King George Sound. When the ship stopped at the Swan River Colony, Wilson joined Thomas Bannister on an expedition along the Canning River.

Wilson joined the ship Governor Phillips when it sailed to for Sydney but the ship went aground at King George Sound and during the delay Wilson was able to explore the area during the 10 days the ship was in port.


Lt. Sleeman was in charge of Albany at the time and he was instrumental in helping Wilson put a party of explorers together. (Sleeman was just about to be relieved of his command by Lt. Barker who had recently arrived.)

First Wilson climbed Mt. Melville to 'spy out the land' and then set off with his party to explore the area he had seen from the summit. He was joined by the Quartermaster (Mr. Kent) and an Aboriginal guide called Mokare.

The party journeyed north to the current site of Kendenup before turning east towards what is now Rocky Gully. The party found and named the Kent River, Mt. Roe, Mt. Frankland and Mt. Mitchell (the latter 3 named after the Surveyors General of the three colonies). They then turned south and found the Denmark River and a large inlet on the coast - which they did not name.

In 10 days they had covered 320 kilometres and Governor Stirling was so pleased with the reports the party brought back, that he named the inlet Wilson Inlet in honour of the party's leader. After Wilson had led the way he was followed in 1830 with an expedition led by Lt. Barker. Then Captain Bannister in 1831, Stirling and Roe in 1831 then by Hillman in 1833 then Stirling and Roe again in 1835.

When the ship sailed, Wilson departed for Tasmania. He farmed there for some time before moving to New South Wales where he helped establish the town of Braidwood. In 1866 gold was discovered and the town became the centre of a thriving goldfield.

He is said to be the first person to bring out an intact hive of European honey bees to Australia. 'Grevillea Wilsoni' and Wilson's Inlet on the south coast of W.A. were both named in his honour. In 1833 he was was granted a fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society.

Wilson wrote "Narrative of a voyage round the World" (London, 1835) which contained much information about the Australian Aborigines.

The depression of the 1840s sent him bankrupt and soon afterwards he died, one source says by his own hand, on November 11th 1843 aged only 51.

1. - Another source says the wrecked ship was the Richmond but it appears that both ships were wrecked there and Wilson was on board both when they foundered during separate events.

Some sources quote that Thomas was the brother of James Wilson RN but they were not related.




1792 - Born. Baptised April 29.

1815 - Joined the Royal Navy.

1822 - Arrived at Sydney aboard the Richmond in May. Departed in June and wrecked in the Torres Strait.

1822 - Granted land which he selected on the Macquarie River, Tasmaina.

1824 - Sailed aboard the Prince Regent.

1826 - Sailed aboard the Mangles.

1826 - Married Jane Thomson.

1826 - Allowed to transfer his Tasmanian grant to New South Wales.

1827 - Daughter Mary was born.

1827 - Arrived in Sydney aboard the Governor Ready on July 31.

1829 - Aboard the Governor Ready again when it was wrecked in the Torres Strait on the way to England.

1827 - Arrived in Swan River aboard the Governor Phillip on October 17.

1831 - Arrived in Hobart aboard the John.

1832 - Arrived in Hobart aboard the England on July 18.

1833 - Granted a fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society.

1834 - Arrived in Hobart aboard the Moffatt on May 9.

1835 - Published 'Narrative of a Voyage Round the World'.

1836 - Arrived in Sydney aboard the Strathfieldsay on June 15.

1836 - Brought his wife, daughter and son to New South Wales.

1838 - His wife died on January 29.

1843 - Died November 11.


Links to more information:


Wilson, Thomas Braidwood (1792-1843)

Thomas Braidwood Wilson

Thomas Braidwood Wilson




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