The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Wilson, Edward
Wilson, Edward, was born at Hampstead in 1814, and after completing his education he embarked in the Manchester trade in London. The confinement was not to his taste, and he proceeded to Australia in 1842. The infant settlement of Melbourne attracted him, and he took up a cattle station near Dandenong. He soon became an adverse and uncompromising critic of the political administration of Mr. C. J. Latrobe, the superintendent of the district of Port Phillip. The reception which his vigorous letters received induced him to turn his thoughts to journalism, and in 1847 he purchased the Melbourne Argus from Mr. Wm. Kerr, incorporating with it the Patriot, which was the lineal descendant of the first newspaper published in Melbourne. A few years later the Daily News was bought and merged in the Argus, which was conducted with such indomitable energy and enterprise, and such conspicuous literary ability by Mr. Wilson, that it prospered immensely, notwithstanding the difficulty of producing a daily paper in such a disorganised state of society as resulted from the outbreak of the gold fever in 1852. Prior to this Mr. Wilson had taken a leading part in the resistance which was offered by the colonists to the influx of convicts from Tasmania, and which led to the passing of the Convicts Prevention Act. He strenuously supported the separation of Port Phillip from New South Wales; he cooperated earnestly with the Anti-transportation League founded in 1851; he denounced the unjust and irritating conduct of Governor Hotham towards the mining population; he largely contributed to secure the establishment of responsible government in the colony; and he was the first to advocate a popular land policy, and the recession of the pastoral tenants of the crown before the advance of agricultural settlement. He was also the founder of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, and is credited with the distinction of having introduced the lark, thrush, and other British songbirds, as well as the sparrow, into Australia. After many years of severe intellectual labour, Mr. Wilson, in 1857, returned to England, but revisited Australia and New Zealand in the following year, finally settling at Hayes, in Kent, in 1864, where he lived a life of dignified retirement until Jan. 10th, 1878, when his death took place as the result of a paralytic seizure. He was one of the founders of the Colonial Institute in 1868, and was ever earnest in promoting any movement calculated to benefit the colony he had been largely instrumental in calling into existence.