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"A Squatter" Sir Samuel Wilson (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1885

by Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph (sheet: 38.0 cm x 26.3 cm)

Sir Samuel Wilson (1832-1895), pastoralist and politician, arrived in Victoria in 1852, and with his three brothers established successful squatting runs along the Wimmera River. Wilson became an expert station manager and his natural skill in mathematics allowed him to design a system of gravity-fed channels and dams on his landholdings. He bought out his brothers after 1869 and continued to expand his empire by purchasing leases and freehold land in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. He served in the Victorian Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly and supported Federation. In the 1870s Wilson funded the building of the University of Melbourne’s gothic Wilson Hall. He returned to England in 1881 and served in the House of Commons. The Vanity Fair text accompanying this plate notes that he took ‘considerable interest in the introduction of salmon, goats and ostriches into Australia’ and that he was ‘very, very rich, and, on occasion, very free with his money.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Mr Ronald Walker 2001
Accession number: 2003.206.7