Wilson, John

Date of Birth/Death:


John Wilson – Labourer, Farmer and Victualler (Innkeeper). John Wilson was born on 27 Oct 1805 in Alfriston, Sussex, England. His parents were Richard Wilson (1785-1845) and Elizabeth (née Head) (1776-1857). John, aged 23 years, married his first wife Elizabeth Simmons (1807-1844), aged 21 years, on 2 Aug 1828 in All Saints, Lewes, Sussex, England. They had 5 children:

  • Jane (1829-1897) born at All Saints, Lewes, Sussex, married George Kenney (1823-1879) on 8 Feb 1848 at Adelaide, they had twelve children, she died at Harrietville, Vic.
  • Elizabeth (1831–1908) born at Lewes, Sussex, married (1st) George Edward Bould (convict) (1818-1853) on 17 June 1847 at Adelaide, they had three children, (2nd) William Slang (1831-1865) in 1855 at St Stephens Anglican Church, Willunga, they had four children, (3rd) ? she died at Rosedale, Vic. She was known as “Granny Russell”
  • Fanny (1832-1916) born in Sussex, married Jonas Fry (1830-1899) on 1 Feb 1850 at Willunga, they had seven children, she died at Blumberg (Birdwood), SA.
  • Margaret (“Martha”) (1837-1920) born in Sussex, married Thomas Henderson (1839-1929) in 1865 in Victoria, she died at Bulga, NSW.
  • Edward (1838-1843) born at Lewes, Sussex, died as a child (aged 5 years) in Adelaide.

John Wilson (33), his wife Elizabeth (32) and five children (Jane, Elizabeth, Fanny, Margaret and Edward) arrived at Port Adelaide aboard Buckinghamshire on 21 March 1839. Elizabeth Wilson, aged 37 years, died in 1844 in Adelaide.

John’s second wife was Emma Amy (formerly Whitbread, née Mills) (1810-1880) and they married at the Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide on 7th August 1845. She had been married to agricultural labourer Isaac Whitbread (1810-1840) and they had emigrated to South Australia arriving on 16 June 1840 on board Charles Kerr with their 4 children:

  • Charles (1834-1907) born at Tidcomb, Wiltshire, England, married Eliza Ann Scullen (1835-1917), they had 11 children, he died at Kadina.
  • William (1836-1928) born at Tidcomb, Wiltshire, married Catherine Hyde (1833-1922), they had 13 children, he died at Ardrossan.
  • Matilda (1837-1924) born at Ham, Wiltshire, married John Sykes (1843-1893), they had 9 children, she died at Glen Huntley, Vic.
  • Sarah Ann (1840-1917) born at sea, married John Jacob (1837-1920) on 2 June 1856 at Willunga, they had 7 children, they moved to Mt Gambier, Melbourne and later NSW, she died at Narrandera, NSW.

It is said that Emma Amy and the children lived in a dug-out on the banks of the River Torrens. Isaac Whitbread, aged 30 years, died on 18th June 1840 soon after arriving in Adelaide and he is buried in West Terrace Cemetery. Thus John Wilson brought four surviving children (aged 8 to 16 years) and Emma Whitbread (née Mills) brought four children (aged 5 to 11 years) to the marriage and then John and Emma Wilson had two more children:

  • George (1846-1933) born at Aldinga, married Annie Mary Bloss (1844-1907) on 16 Sept 1868 at Dandenong, Vic, he died at Sale, Vic.
  • John junior (1848-1921) born at Aldinga, married Mary Anne Payne (1847-1934) on 16 Feb 1868 at St James, Vic, they had 13 children, he died at Leongatha, Vic.

John owned part of Lots 2,3 and 4 at Port Willunga along with Lots 5, 6, 7, 9 and 30 at the time of the 1866 Plan (Lots 5, 6 & 7 are the Lewis Arms Hotel land). He also had other farming sections around Willunga.

John Wilson had built a private residence in 1845-1846 as his family home at Port Willunga. In 1850 he applied for a license for the “Port Hotel” at Port Willunga but his application was not successful. By 1856 he had extended the building, added the front gabled section and it was licensed as the “Lewis Arms” Hotel. Wilson was the first licensee of the Lewis Arms Hotel from 1856-1859. Comprising of 5 rooms upstairs and 7 rooms downstairs and built from stone that was said to have been brought in from Burra and that during the unloading of the stone, John was badly injured and walked with a cane for the rest of his life.

In 1860 he was declared insolvent by the courts. His properties, livestock and farm machinery/equipment and the alcohol/stock and all hotel sundries were sold off by the mortgagee.

It is unknown what happened to him and his family after he lost everything. Somehow he ended up in Victoria.

John Wilson passed away in 1885 in Rosedale, Victoria. Emma Amy Wilson had already passed away in 1880. They are both buried together in Rosedale Cemetery, Victoria.


  • Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum
  • South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972
  • Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888
  • SAILIS CT 1198/56


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