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Jacqueline Fox, Thomas Wells, Emancipist Entrepreneur

Published: Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Jacqueline Fox presents her research on Thomas Wells. Transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1817 for embezzling from his London employer, Thomas Wells soon demonstrated the ‘spirit of persevering industry, for which he was so eminently distinguished’. Wells served as clerk to Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell, acquired substantial land grants, bred Merino sheep and exported wool to England – but found himself in debtors’ prison when his speculations failed. Wells was also an accountant, court reporter, and the purported author of Michael Howe, the Last and Worst of the Bushrangers (1818), an early Tasmanian ‘psychopathic outlaw’ narrative. This work-in-progress presentation explores some of the ways in which Thomas Wells’ turbulent life reflects the complex forces that shaped his age.

Dr Jacqueline Fox is a researcher, writer and editor, with a PhD in History from the University of Tasmania. Her first book, a biography of Chief Justice Sir John Pedder, was shortlisted for the Dick and Joan Green Tasmanian History Award in 2020. Jacqueline is currently researching a biography of emancipist entrepreneur and writer, Thomas Wells.