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5 corrections, most recently by wilmarlibrary - Show corrections



Death has within the last few years laid   its irresistible hand upon a large number of that splendid band of business men   who were attracted to this colony during

the first two decades of its history, and who, by their energy, foresight, and enter- prise, did so much to foster and build up the commerce of the young colony. The latest victim is Mr. Edgar Smith Wigg, the founder of the well-known firm which still bears his name, who passed away at his residence, North Adelaide, early on Sun- day morning at the advanced age of eighty one years. The deceased gentleman was born in Suffolk, on June 7, 1818. His early life was spent in the eastern counties, where he was engaged in banking pursuits. In those days the circulating library had not been evolved, and to meet the growing demand for knowledge Mr. Wigg organized a book club for the mutual benefit of him- self and his fellow-clerks. This venture was so successful that Mr. Wigg decided to extend its operations, and take up book- selling as the occupation of his life. His first place of business was in Warwick- shire, England. Towards the end of the forties, however, his attention was directed to Australia by the late Dr. Lang, of Sydney, who was the moving spirit in the agitation in connection with the Queens- land emigration proposals. Mr. Wigg made up his mind to try his fortunes in the new country of which he had heard so much, and took a passage to Port Phillip by the ship William Hyde, which left London on January 29, 1849. He arrived at Port Ade- laide in May of the same year, and as he considered that South Australia presented a good opening he decided to settle in the colony. He was never the man to allow the grass to grow under his feet, and he at once began to look around for an oppor- tunity to establish himself in business. He eventually decided to open a bookseller's business in Rundle-street. Mr. Wigg was always a wide reader and deep thinker, and from the first his chief aim was to pro- mote the circulation of a good, wholesome class of literature. Whenever an oppor- tunity presented itself for adding to or ex- tending his business he was always ready to take advantage of it, and as a result of his exertions he steadily built up one of the best and most extensive businesses of the kind in the colonies. Although Mr. Wigg never sought to obtain Parliamentary honours he was closely associated with the local govern- ment of the city for several years, and did good work for the citizens in connection with sanitary matters. He first entered the City Council in 1871, and retained his seat until the end of 1874. He then re- signed for the purpose of taking a trip to Europe. During his visits to the great cities of the old world he devoted special attention to the question of deep drainage, and also made a close study of all matters relating to sanitation. He returned to the colony in 1870, and was again returned to tbe City Council at the annual elections that year. The information which he had acquired during his travel proved most valuable to the Council. He heartily sup- ported the proposal to establish a thorough system of deep drainage. He also advo- cated a policy of improving and beautify- ing the city, and it was largely owing to his influence that the work of widening the city road from King William-street to O'Connell-street, North Adelaide, was un- dertaken. The erection of the Albert Bridge was also due in large measure to his advocacy. In 1880 Mr. Wigg again visited Europe, taking his family with him. On his return to South Australia he decid- ed to retire from active participation in business affairs, and handed over the management of the establishment to his eldest son, Mr. E. Neale Wigg, and his son in-law, Mr. W. L. Davidson. The deceased gentleman was for many years closely as- sociated with the North Adelaide Baptist Church, and held several offices in that body. He also evinced an active interest in benevolent and educational institutions, and did good work in connection with efforts which were made a few years ago for providing an institution for the educa- tion of the blind. Mr. Wigg had been in poor health for about four years, and it had been apparent for some time that he was failing. The cause of death was pneu- monia. The deceased has left three sons, Mr. E. Neale Wigg, of Melbourne, Dr. A. E. Wigg, of Norwood, and Dr. H. H. Wigg, of Unley, and four daughters, two of whom are married, one to Mr. W. L. Davidson, and the other to Mr. F. A. Joyner.