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Paterson River history

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Caleb Wilson

Caleb Wilson features in the history of the Paterson Valley as owner of the Tocal and Brisbane Grove estates from 1834 until his death in 1838.

He was born in 1769 in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England and probably served an apprenticeship with his father who was a tailor. In December 1803 he left England with his third wife, Ann, and their two children Felix and Catharine, bound for Sydney as free settlers in the female convict ship Experiment. Ann died during the voyage. Felix arrived in Sydney with his two young children in June 1804 and was granted 100 acres of land at Richmond.

He became one of the wealthiest men in the colony through pursuing his trade, working his land, lending money and holding mortgages, and by establishing a large import business with a warehouse and hardware shop in George Street, Sydney. At the height of his wealth he built a mansion in Potts Point, called Grantham, after the town in England where he was born. The house was demolished in the 1930's but Grantham Street in Potts Point remains.

Grantham c1845

Caleb Wilson's mansion Grantham in Potts Points Sydney c1845 (attributed to Frederick Garling.

Caleb spent a large sum of money on improvements at Tocal, notably the Convict Barracks and an overseer's cottage (now called "Thunderbolt's Cottage") which both survive today. After Caleb's death in 1838, his Paterson Valley interests passed to his son, Felix who went on to build Tocal Homestead.

Tocal's convict barracks in earlier times

Tocal's convict barracks as seen in the early 1900s. Built by the Wilson's in the late 1830s, it is now boutique accommodation for hire (photo: Tocal College archives).

Tocal overseer's cottage in the early 1900s

Tocal overseer's cottage as seen in the early 1900s. Built by the Wilson's in the late 1830s, it is now named Thunderbolt's Cottage (photo: Tocal College archives).


Archer, Jean. Caleb Wilson – Owner of Tocal 1834-1838. Paterson: CB Alexander Foundation, 2018.

See also


Tocal's convicts

Tocal Directory 1822-1964

Tocal Homestead