Ikey Solomon,
Prince of Thieves


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Even before Ikey Solomon got to Tasmania, he had built a name for himself in London as "Prince of Thieves".

Have you read the book "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens? Or perhaps you've seen the musical named "Oliver" (based on the book)? If you have, you'll know who Fagin is. He's a character who sends out young boys to steal for him. Solomon is supposedly the inspiration for the character, Fagin.

In London, Solomon ran a jeweller's shop on the surface. Underneath this cover, he dealt in stolen goods.

He was arrested several times for his criminal activities (such as picking pockets). However he managed to get away many times, thanks to luck or the help of his friends.

Eventually he fled and went to Denmark and later, the United States. In the meantime, his wife Ann was sentenced to transportation for receiving stolen goods. In 1828 Ann arrived in Hobart with four of her children.

Of his own accord, Solomon himself travelled to Hobart. He purchased real estate in Hobart and opened a shop. So, unlike other convicts he actually began his life in Van Diemen's Land as a free man.

Being so well-known, he was soon recognised. It was known to the authorities that Solomon was a fugitive from justice. However nothing could be done without an official warrant.

Solomon tried to get his wife assigned to him. After repeated requests, this was finally allowed.

In 1829, several warrants for Solomon's arrest did arrive. At one point it looked like Solomon might be let off on a technicality. Unluckily for him, a warrant prevailed and Solomon found himself on a ship bound for England, where he would be tried in court.

In England, Solomon was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years, for dealing in stolen goods. Apparently the trial caused a sensation! Back Solomon came to Hobart again. This time he was sent to Richmond gaol.

In 1834 he was sent to Port Arthur. A year later, he was granted a ticket-of-leave on condition that he live at least twenty miles (32 km) from Hobart.

Over a period of time, he became estranged from his family. Following several run-ins between him and his wife, Ann ended up in the Female House of Correction. She was released a little while later after her daughter wrote many petitions. In 1840 Mrs Solomon was granted a conditional pardon.

In 1840 Solomon himself was granted a condition pardon. He got his certificate of freedom four years later. He died in 1850.

As with the story of Martin Cash, I'm amazed at how Ikey Solomon managed to get himself out of sticky situations and end up a free man, when compared to other convicts. In this case, it's probably not so much due to charm but more to luck, loyal friends and maybe awe of his fame!

More information on Ikey Solomon can be found at
The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online website


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