The most recent set of additions to the Dictionary includes biographies of the first 14 mayors of Sydney, written by consulting historian Terri McCormack, and they are certainly an interesting and varied bunch.
Sydney was incorporated as a city in 1842, and the first council sat on 9 November of that year. (You can find extensive history of the City at the City of Sydney website, prepared by the City’s excellent historians). Most of the early aldermen were businessmen, but at least four were the children of convicts whose families had made good very quickly in their new country, and at least seven started out as manual workers. Here’s a taste:
John Hosking was the first mayor, in 1842, when his business was riding high. His wife was Martha Terry, daughter of Samuel Terry, ‘The Botany Bay Rothschild’, a convict who became the richest man in the colonies. Hosking’s business acumen, or luck, was not as good as his father-in-law’s, and he was driven out of public life because of bankruptcy in 1843.
Thomas Stafford Broughton was an orphan at the age of nine, who became a successful tailor, property owner and slum landlord. He was mayor in 1847, but he lived to see the twentieth century, dying in 1901.
Edward Flood was the bastard son of a convict, and apprenticed as a carpenter when he was still a boy. He became a fine cricketer and a founder of Sydney’s first cricket club, as well as a prosperous builder and businessman. A foundation councillor in 1842, the next year he punched another councillor who called him an idiot, and was fined £50, but it didn’t stop him becoming mayor in 1849. In his long life, he served in both houses of the parliament, and was a director of many of Sydney’s early companies. At a testimonial dinner given for him in 1865, he was described as “a man, trained as a mechanic, occupying at one time a humble position, and proud to acknowledge that position, yet, by his own continuous and steady industry he has elevated himself to a position in which he is admired as a politician, loved as a friend, and trusted as a statesman”.
George Hill was also the son of convicts. He became a butcher like his father, but built a business empire of pubs and later pastoral land. He was mayor in 1850, and later went into parliament.
Daniel Egan was born in Windsor and trained as a boatbuilder, later becoming a shipping agent and merchant. He was mayor in 1853, and later went into the New South Wales Legislative Council, and later Assembly. His wife Mary Ann (or Marian) drowned in the wreck of the Dunbar in 1857, New South Wales’s worst maritime disaster.
We’ll be adding more city aldermen and mayors and linking them up to all of their other exploits and connections, over the next few years. To see what connections the City of Sydney Council already has in the Dictionary of Sydney, follow the links from this page, and see what you can find!
The Dictionary of Sydney is proud to acknowledge the enormous support that the City of Sydney provides to the project, as our Major Government Partner.