John Caldwell was born in 1817 in Drumrayn, County Tyrone, Ireland, son of Charles Caldwell. He married Jane Love (d. 1864) in Ireland in 1841 and they had three sons and two daughters. On 3 January 1866, he married Ann, widow of the Reverend Benjamin Hurst, at Goulburn, NSW. He died on 14 April 1884 at Goulburn. Ann Hurst Caldwell died at Goulburn on 19 October 1886. He was a Wesleyan Methodist. The family are buried in the Old Goulburn Cemetery.
Occupation & interests
Caldwell, his wife, brother and sister-in-law arrived in Sydney on 11 March 1841 as second class passengers on the Brothers. Caldwell initially worked for a draper named Richardson but by 1844 had established his own grocery shop at 200 Pitt Street. By 1863, he was a JP and auctioneer with a wholesale grocery and importing business at 278 Pitt Street and 261 Russell Street. In the latter half of 1866, he was declared bankrupt, causing him to retire from Parliament and public life. In 1872, he moved to Hurstville at Goulburn, the home of his second wife.
John Caldwell was a zealous convert to Methodism and advocate of the temperance cause. He was an active lay official of the Methodist Church and Superintendent of the York Street Sunday School. He was a foundation Trustee of Darling Street Methodist Church in Balmain. Caldwell was at the first meeting to establish ragged schools in Sydney. He was a prominent member of the Destitute Children’s Asylum, the Sydney Infirmary, the Female Refuge, the City Mission, and especially the Benevolent Society of NSW. He established a Night Refuge for Sydney’s homeless and destitute. He was a member of Goulburn Public School Board, Hospital Committee, and Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
On 7 December 1860, Caldwell, a professed free trader of liberal views, was elected to the Legislative Assembly as representative for East Sydney, being re-elected in 1864 before retiring on 13 September 1866.
Local government service
Caldwell was elected to Sydney City Council as Alderman for Macquarie Ward from 1 December 1859 to 1 December 1861. He became an Alderman of Goulburn Council in July 1879.
City of Sydney Archives: Aldermen’s Files; Archives Investigator
Connolly, C N 1983, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901, ANU
Leichhardt Historical Journal Volume 13
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW: Manuscripts & printed books catalogues.
Royal Australian Historical Society Journal Vol 77(4), April 1992
Society of Australian Genealogists: AGCI Index; A6/CAL/Pam: John Caldwell
Sydney Morning Herald 21 December 1864, p. 6