Biographical entry: Wickham, Francis (1850 - 1926)

10 May 1926


Francis (Frank) Wickham was born in Somerset, England circa 1850, the son of Annie and John Hancock Wickham. He was shipwrecked in the Bougainville Strait around 1875 and remained in the Solomons to work for his rescuer, Captain Alexander Ferguson. Wickham began to trade for himself in the Roviana Lagoon, New Georgia, after Ferguson was killed in 1880, and became a prosperous and influential trader and planter who owned several sailing vessels and significant tracts of land in Roviana and Marovo lagoons. His successes were due in large part to his strategic friendship with chief Hingava (q.v.) and his ability to mediate between the local people, traders, the government and missionaries. Wickham provided pivotal assistance to the Methodist Church in establishing a Solomons mission in Roviana in 1902. He married three times and had six children: Harry (q.v.), Alick (q.v.), Edward (q.v.), Rachel Tottie (c. 1893-c. 1956), Possie (c. 1896-c. 1961), and Edna (c. 1898-c. 1980).

After thirty-two years in the Solomons, Wickham sold his landholdings and moved permanently to Sydney in 1908, with his youngest son, Edward (q.v.). He had trading and family connections in Australia, including his son Alick (q.v.) in Sydney and his brother George Wickham in Ballina, New South Wales. In Sydney, he took an interest in his sons' sporting activities and became a Vice-President of the East Sydney Swimming Club in 1909-1910. He never again lived in the Solomons. Wickham died on 10 May 1926 of chronic nephritis and cardiac failure at age seventy-six, in Kensington, New South Wales, and was cremated at Rookwood Cemetery. (Bennett 1987, 55, 58, 61, 63, 65, 80, 93, 114, 372, 396, 387, 388; Golden, 1993, 40, 195-196, 199, 206-208, 211, 360; Gary Osmond, interviews with Wickham family, Munda and Honiara, Nov. 2004; Osmond 2006) (entry by Gary Osmond)

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Bennett, Judith A., Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago, 1800-1978, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1987. Details
  • Golden, Graeme A., The Early European Settlers of the Solomon Islands, Graeme A. Golden, Melbourne, 1993. Details


  • Osmond, Frederick G., 'Nimble Savages: Myth, Race, Social Memory and Australian Aquatic Sport', PhD, University of Queensland, 2006. Details