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Thomas Braidwood Wilson RN

1792-1843

Thomas Braidwood Wilson (1792-1843) was born in West Lothian, Scotland. In 1815, he served as a surgeon in the Royal Navy and not long after, was appointed surgeon-superintendent on several convict ships sailing to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.

After the first voyage to Sydney on HMS RICHMOND in 1822, he sailed on HMS PRINCE REGENT in 1824 and HMS MANGLES in 1826. In 1829, Wilson boarded HMS GOVERNOR READY bound for Australia when it was wrecked in the Torres Strait. He and some of the crew were able to row to safety in Timor. Wilson left Timor in HMS AMITY for Swan River and Perth. He later sailed to Hobart taking with him a collection of European plants and the first hive of bees to survive the trip to Australia.

In 1822 and 1826, Wilson was granted land for his explorations in Western Australia, part of which he named Braidwood. In 1835, he published accounts of his voyages around Australia’s coasts, which he titled ‘Narrative of a Voyage Around the World: Comprehending an Account of the Wreck of the Ship GOVERNOR READY, in Torres Straits; A Description of the British Settlements on the Coasts of New Holland, more particularly Raffles Bay, Melville Island, Swan River, and King George's Sound; also the Manners and Customs of the Aboriginal Tribes’. In it, he described the treatment of the convicts and the European introduced diseases that were decimating the Aboriginal population.

In 1836, Wilson relocated his wife and two children to Braidwood, New South Wales, making it his eighth voyage to Australia. Misfortune soon followed, however, when Wilson’s son and wife died within months of each other in 1837 and 1838. His loss intensified when he was declared bankrupt by the early 1840s. On 11 November 1843, Wilson committed suicide, leaving behind his sixteen-year-old daughter.