John W. Wilson

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My name is John W. Wilson," said a stalwart man, with just a touch of grey, as he advanced to the edge of the platform. "I was born in London in 1835, and came out here in the ship Kent in 1854. There was a meeting of unemployed in October, 1854, at Flagstaff Hill." "Unemployed in 1854?" cried an unbeliever. "It can be proved from the files of the 'Argus'," continued Mr. Wilson. "They were mostly men in the building trade. I was a carpenter. I crossed over to Geelong, and walked with my swag to Buninyong. Two troopers came along as I got to Buninyong, and they asked: "Where's your license?" I said I hadn't got one, and right on the very land I own to-day in Ballarat I was seized by these troopers and put in the logs. That was my first experience of this glorious country. 'This was just about the time of the Eureka riot,' went on Mr. Wilson, 'There was a carpenter's shop at Ballarat, where you could get a cradle or a tent or a coffin. My first job in Ballarat was to make coffins for some of the poor fellows who were killed in the Eureka Stockade riots. I got 'stoney broke' again, and I walked right through Bendigo to Beechworth. There was only one way out, of Melbourne then, but I am blowed it they will go out of Melbourne now when there are railways everywhere. They would sooner starve in Melbourne. I say to any one — if you have strength, go into the country. We have a lovely country (prolonged applause), and the eyes of the world are on it.[1]

The Flag was flown half-mast on the Y.M.C.A. flagpole, yesterday, in memory of the fate Harry Wilson, who was killed in the war, as a token of respect to his father, Mr John W. Wilson, who has done so much for the Ballarat Y.M.C.A.[2]

Goldfield Activities in 1854

John Wilson was the carpenter who made the coffins for those killed at the Eureka Stockade.


John W. Wilson donated the land in Camp Street to the Ballarat Y.M.C.A.


The death occurred on Thursday of Mr. John W. Wilson aged 92 years. He presented to the Ballarat Young Men's Christian Association the land on which their headquarters are built, and also a house in the vicinity. He also gave to the Church of England Girls' Friendly Society the property which is now occupied as a hostel.[3]

Also See


  1. Freeman's Journal, 13 March 1913.
  2. The Ballarat Star, 19 August 1922.
  3. The Argus, 04 Feb 1927.