Solomons family reunion

March 21, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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More than 200 descendants of Emanuel and Vaiben Solomon, convicts  who landed in Australia in 1818, held one of the largest reunion on record in the Jewish community.

Family reunion


Family members met at the Alma Sports Club in North Caulfield, Melbourne for the event which took place over two days earlier this month.

Descendant Alma Goldman told J-Wire: “It was organised by two sisters, Jenny and Katrina Cowen, who are great great granddaughters of the Solomon brothers. It took them 15 months to find us all.”

The guests, including many from interstate and New Zealand, attended the shule service at the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation on Shabbat followed by kiddush

Goldman said that on registration family members were given colour coded name tags to help them recognise and find related family members.

Guest speakers from around the world included Rabbi Roderick Young from London who discovered at 23 that he was Jewish and also a descendant of the Solomon brothers.

Several  family members who are historians spoke as well as representatives of and a genealogist  from Salt Lake City.

A snuff box dating back to 1800 was presented to the Jewish Museum of Australia.

The family tree now has 1700 names and there are over 4000 descendants.

Goldman said: “It was a very emotional and amazing time.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard sent the following message:

Trevor Cohen spoke in detail at the reunion, giving an updated account of the family history.
He told J-Wire: “The reunion was of the descendants of Samuel Moss Solomon otherwise known as Shlomo the pencil maker who was born in 1769 and his 10 children by his 2 wives Betsy Moses with whom he had 8 children and his 2nd wife and first cousin Esther Davis with whom he had another 2. His last child Betsy who married Michael Cashmore, one of the pioneers of Melbourne, was born in 1821 when Esther was nearly 47! Esther went on to live to be 100 and was said at the time to be Australia’s first centenarian.

 The Solomon family arrived in Australia in waves of migration following the 2 siblings Emanuel and Vaiben who were transported as young convicts for 7 years and suffered the very worst of the system including many encounters with the cat-o-nine tails. Unlike the vast majority of convicts they were successful emancipists and, certainly in the case of Emanuel, rose to the very pinnacle of society.

Emanuel did serve in both houses of the South Australian Parliament but it was the descendants of his older brother Moss who made their name in Australian politics. Moss’s son Elias served in the first Federal Parliament together with his nephew VL Solomon who was also the shortlived Premier of South Australia and after whom the Federal seat of Solomon was named.”

The family  web site’s account states: “Emanuel Solomon ended up in South Australia (which was supposed to exclude ex-convicts), he ran an extremely lucrative enterprise gaining his wealth through shipping merchandise from Sydney (through his brother Vaiben) to Adelaide, he purchased large sways of land in South Australia, Western Australia and in and around Darwin (then known as Palmerston). Emanuel became a great, philanthropist and benefactor to the arts, the theatre he built in Adelaide still stands. He assisted the beatified Mary Mckillop by providing free accommodation for her nuns. Having educated his many children Emanuel then encouraged them to live the life that would benefit all Australians – many including Emanuel were Members of Parliaments, his children held positions such as Premier of South Australia (albeit for 7 days and hence receiving the nick-name of Sudden Solomon). “Blackie Solomon”, who was one of the founders of Darwin, earned his nickname by betting the gents of Adelaide that he could walk down the main street of Darwin (Palmerston) naked and that no one would notice. He won his bet by blacking his body with boot polish and walking down the street with the local indigenous people. A nephew saw action in the Boer War, another helped write the Constitution of Australia and in fact the Solomon family are one of only two families to have two representatives in the first Australian Parliament. The Federal Electorate of Solomon is of course named after another family member, V L Solomon. Emanuel’s son, Joseph Samuel Solomon, enlisted in the South Australian Militia and is reputed to have joined the famous explorer, Stuart on his inland journey of South Australia The Solomon’s have their far share of war heroes too. We know of at least four young men, who were at Gallipoli, one paid the ultimate price. We also lay claim to the first Jewish Lieutenant Colonel (Benjamin Solomon) and the only person to have served in the Boer War and both World Wars (Brigadier Walter Samuel Solomon – Salvation Army). Then there is the relative who together with his wife sailed on the Titanic unfortunately he did not survive. We have artists and spies and even streets, towns and mountains names after family members!

The familiy names associated include: Alexander, Barnett, Benjamin, Boas, Keesing, Cashmore, Cohen, Daniels, Fewster, Issacs, Joshua, Jacobs, Jacobsohn, Marks, Lipman, Marks, Morell, Moss, Montefiore, Myers, Phillips, Salom, Victorsen and Voules Brown.”


One Response to “Solomons family reunion”
  1. Trevor says:

    The information provided on the Solomon family history is full of factual errors and unfortunately detracts from the colourful story.
    I have no idea who provided the information, but as the family member who gave the keynote address at the Reunion I must point out for example, that those present were descended not necessarily from Emanuel, but from his father Shlomo and his 10 children and his 111 grandchildren, and that VL Solomon was not the son of Emanuel, but the grandson of his older brother Moss. The story is a great one and it should be told accurately

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