Paterson Historical Society have launched a new book entitled, William and Elizabeth Paterson: The Edge of Empire, written by RAHS member Dr Brian Walsh.
William Paterson was the longest serving official during the first two decades of European settlement of New South Wales, but has largely been overlooked by historians. Dr Walsh’s book rescues William and his wife Elizabeth from obscurity.
William Paterson commanded the regiment nicknamed ‘the Rum Corps’, and led a rebel government after his officers deposed the NSW Governor, William Bligh, in a military coup. The book chronicles William Paterson’s achievements and weaknesses as a botanist, officer and acting governor. It challenges populist views of the Rum Corps and Rum Rebellion and reviews this turbulent period from Paterson’s perspective.
As a keen part-time botanist, William Paterson became Australia’s first Fellow of the Royal Society, Britain’s peak body for the advancement of science. Today, his contribution is commemorated by a plant genus and more than 20 species named in his honour.
Elizabeth Paterson was an intelligent, high-ranking colonial woman who made her mark in a male-dominated society and rode out the political storms that surrounded her husband. Elizabeth and her friend Anna King established the Sydney Female Orphan School, becoming the first women in Australia to manage a public institution.
The 224-page book can be purchased through Paterson Historical Society.