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Phillips, Solomon (1810–1877)

by Colin Choat

Solomon Phillips was born in London in 1810, son of Philip Phillips and Rosetta, nee Moses. In 1832 he married Caroline Solomon, who was born in London in 1813. Shortly afterwards the couple came to Australia, arriving in the Enchantress in April 1833.

In Sydney, Phillips took up a position as Assistant Minister at the then newly formed Bridge Street Synagogue. The couple soon afterwards moved to Parramatta where Solomon opened business as an auctioneer. He became active in the political and literary affairs of Parramatta and was secretary and treasurer of the Road Trust and Town Council.

At the opening of the York Street Synagogue in 1844 Solomon Phillips assisted in the consecration ceremonies and afterwards performed the duties of reader.

In 1852, there was a gold mining boom in Victoria and Phillips took his family to Melbourne where he went into partnership with Mr. Bowling as importers of furniture, pianos and ironmongery. However the business did not prosper and following the death of his partner the business ceased operation.

In 1859 the secessionist Macquarie Street Synagogue was formed and Phillips returned to Sydney to take up the position of Minister. He worked closely with the synagogue committee which included Abraham Joseph Levy, who had married Phillips' sister, Catherine, in Sydney in 1833.

A foster son of Solomon Phillips, Victor Cohen, described Phillips in 1860: "Of medium height, he was a man of pleasing and dignified bearing and appearance. Proudly conscious of his high office and the need of upholding the traditions of the faith, he had yet a merry twinkle in his rather deep-set eyes. He was an ardent Hebraist, musician and scholar. His services were much in demand, not only in Sydney and suburbs, but throughout the whole of the country districts of the colony."

In 1874 Phillips, because of ill health, retired from the position as Minister of the congregation. He went with his wife and some of his children to Melbourne. He died at Carlton on 23 February, 1877. Caroline Phillips died at East Malvern, Victoria on 15 May 1904.

Their children were Rosetta (1834-1916), Philip David (P. D.) (1836-1909), twins Ephraim and Daniel (1838, both died in babyhood), Lydia (1839-1913), Joseph (1840-1901), Mondle Emanuel (1841-1865), Edward Elias (1843-1925), Lewis Samuel (1845), Hannah (1846-1920), Simeon (1847-1925), Abraham (1849-1910), David Solomon (1850), and Samuel Asher (1852-1913).

Rosetta married Alexander Fox and their son, Emanuel Phillips Fox became a distinguished Australian artist. P. D. Phillips became a well-known solicitor and a Shakespearian scholar. Simeon represented the electorate of Dubbo in the Legislative Assembly and was Mayor of Dubbo.

Original Publication

  • People Australia, 2011

Citation details

Colin Choat, 'Phillips, Solomon (1810–1877)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 October 2020.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012