LEWIN, John William Esquire (1770-1819)

John William was the son of English artist and author William LEWIN and as a naturalist, author and artist in his own right was anxious to come to NSW.

For some unknown reason he missed the ship “Buffalo” which his wife was already on board ready to sail to NSW. She was befriended by the captain and his wife, but when John William LEWIN later arrived in the colony he found himself in a lawsuit defending his wife against accusations of misconduct with the second mate of the Buffalo, Anna Maria was eventually acquitted of all misdoings.

In 1804 Governor KING granted LEWIN 100 acres of land at Parramatta, but he was more interested in his art, collecting insect specimens, and engraving plates for his 2 books on insects and birds.

He produced commissioned word for every Governor of the Colony including a water colour of Governor MACQUARIE crossing of the Blue Mountains and featured Australian insects, birds, and plants in their natural environment.

The farm must not have prospered for by 1808 the LEWIN’s were back living in Chapel Row (Castlereagh St,) then later Brickfields Hill.

In order to have an income Gov MACQUARIE appointed him Coroner at £40 a year and doubled his salary in 1814.

He received other land grants in the following years but none of them seemed to be a financial success. LEWIN had hoped the proceeds from the sale of his books would enable him to return to England but although this was not realised they greatly increased his fame.

He died 17th August 1819 was buried Old Burying ground (Town Hall) the Devonshire Street, then moved to Botany.

His wife Maria Anna was also talented. She made drawings of plants helped with colouring of prints and engravings. She eventually returned to England with a son William Arden, born 1808 after another son had died.

Sources: National Library of Australia – Trove

John William Lewin headstone in Devonshire Street Cemetery

John William Lewin headstone in Devonshire Street Cemetery. Image courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.