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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Wedge, Hon. John Helder

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Wedge, Hon. John Helder, M.L.C., was born in England in 1792. He arrived in Tasmania in 1824, having received an appointment in the Survey Department of that colony. In 1828 Mr. Wedge made three exploring journeys from Circular Head into the north-west portion of the island, having been instructed by the Government to report on the discoveries of the Van Diemen's Land Company's surveyors, Messrs. Goldie, Fossy, and Hellyer. On his return he strongly urged on the Government the reservation of a township and area at Emu Bay, but, unfortunately for the colony, his advice was not taken, and the land was granted to the Van Diemen's Land Company. Some years later, with Mr. Frankland, the Surveyor-General, he explored the country from the head waters of the Derwent to Port Davey, tracing the Huon River from its source. In 1835 he went to Port Phillip as agent for a syndicate of fifteen Tasmanians, including Batman, J. T. Gellibrand and himself, to take up a large tract of land, and 600,000 acres were purchased from the blacks before the party led by J. P. Fawkner arrived. The land purchased extended from the mouth of the river Yarra to three miles above the first fall, thence fifty miles in a north-west line, thence fifty miles in a westerly line, thence eighty miles to the Barwon River at Geelong, and thence along the shore of Port Phillip Bay to the point of commencement at the mouth of the Yarra Yarra River. The purchase was disallowed by the Sydney Government, though at a later period a grant of land was given to the company as compensation, Mr. Wedge selling his share in 1854 for £18,000. After the collapse of the company he went to England, returning to Tasmania with Bishop Nixon in 1843, when he accepted the post of manager of the Christ College estate at Bishopsbourne. In 1855 he was elected member of the old Legislative Council for the district of Morven, and on the introduction of free institutions in 1856 was elected member for the new Legislative Council for the district of North Esk. He was a member without office of the short-lived Gregson Ministry from Feb. 26th to April 25th, 1857. At a later date he represented Hobart, and afterwards the Huon, in the Legislative Council, retaining his seat until his death. He resided for many years on his estate of Leighlands, near Perth, but in 1865 removed to the estate of Medlands, on the river Forth, where he died on Nov. 22nd, 1872, at the age of eighty.