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Thomas Watson 1859

by Joseph Backler

Thomas Watson was born near London in 1795. He arrived in Sydney in 1821 and was appointed Keeper of the South Head Lighthouse the following year. Between 1826 and 1837 Watson was Sydney Harbour Pilot, leaving that position to pursue commercial shipping and trading enterprises.

In 1839 Watson rescued Joe Forbes who had spent 17 years as a captive on Timor, having been taken as a ten-year-old cabin boy. In this portrait he wears the silver medal awarded to him by Lloyds of London in honour of the rescue.

Watson was later instrumental in organising two statues of Captain Cook — one in Hyde Park and another in his home suburb of Randwick.