Con artists come in all shapes and sizes, and this was no different with John Thomas Wilson aka Abbott aka Soanes, who was available in a rugged, portly shape with red hair dyed brown and a silver tongue that prattled his glib patter to the gullible.
He'd done a runner from England as he'd bamboozled a schoolgirl from a filthy rich family to elope and get spliced. After the filthy rich family had had enough of him hanging about the family tree, they cut off his missus from the family dosh and he did a moonlight flit, nobly leaving the child bride and billy lids to battle for themselves and his many creditors to cry into their empty purses.
After a brief visit to USA, Mr Wilson hit Sydney Town around 1830 and wasted no time in getting his mitts and mug into every organisation available.
Once he'd set himself up as auctioneer and ironmonger, had seemingly successful businesses with ships tootling up and down the rivers, Mr Wilson started his womanising again, which was his downfall as these solid,upright citizens of Sydney wouldn't tolerate his carryings on.
One of his numerous public affairs was with a married actress who ditched her hubby believing Mr Wilson meant to marry her and even buy the Theatre Royal for her.
Alas, it was not to be and she became a fallen hussy whom the public viewed as yet another victim of Mr Wilson.
Satirical verse in the printed media about the silver tongued devil resulted in him horse-whipping a newspaper editor in George Street; the editor sued but was only awarded 5 pounds, much to the disgust of the public.
Around about this time Mr Wilson could see the tide was turning against him so he did what had worked before - he did another runner, leaving a pile of debts. The con-artist made his way back to England where he was promptly arrested. His creditors back in Or-stray-lia agreed to his conditional release so long as he was sent back to their waiting arms.
In 1838 Mr Wilson was banging his gavel and prattling his patter as an auctioneer in Sydney once again. Walking the walk and talking the talk he convinced his creditors to hang 5 while he built up his bank accounts.
But in the meantime Mr Wilson was promising the moon and stars to yet more soon-to-be-out-of-pocket creditors as he acquired the ship Nereus, got a booty of 60,000 pounds of goods and silkily explained to the now sweating-bullets creditors he was sending the ship on a trading voyage.
In October 1839 when all were hanging about to see the ship off, Mr Wilson boarded the Nereus to say fare-thee-well to the captain.
It was when the ship cleared the heads all the merchants started to panic that they sent another ship to play tiggy with the first, but alas, again Mr Wilson had given them the slip.
To read more about this infamous trickster click HERE, and HERE.