Phillips Hyam

Full name:

Phillips, Hyam

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:


Occupation if known and land ownership:



Arrived Free


The earliest mention of Hyam Phillips being in Berrima is June 1837 when John Belfour, appearing as a witness at a Supreme Court trial in Sydney, refers to himself as the ‘clerk to Mr Phillips in Berrima’.[1] No clue is given as to what Mr Phillips was doing in the township at that date but given that he employed a clerk,  he was clearly a person of means.

After this no mention of Phillips has been found until 1840 in which year he agreed to buy the Imperial Brewery and Store in Berrima from Joseph Levy.[2] The sale was prompted by Levy wanting to concentrate on a newly opened Victoria Inn and spend more time in Sydney.

In November 1841 Phillips advertised the brewery and his stores:

BERRIMA BREWERY— The undersigned begs to inform the inhabitants of Berrima and its vicinity, that their Brewery Establishment having now commenced operations, they are ready to undertake, and prepared to furnish such persons as may favor them with their orders, with Beer of the best quality, and at the very lowest rate it can be procured. The undersigned will have the assistance of the late proprietor of the business (Mr J. Levy) from whose experience they hope to be enabled to carry on their business, so as to give general satisfaction, and obtain not only the patronage of his friends, but also that of numerous other respectable persons residents in this part of the colony.
N B. — Cooperage in all its branches executed with despatch, and on reasonable terms.

H PHILLIPS & CO. Berrima, 18th November, 1840 [3]


HYAM PHILLIPS begs to inform ;his friends and the public in general that he has succeeded Mr Joseph Levy in the Berrima Store, and trusts that he will be able to secure a fair share of the patronage that the residents of the Town of Berrima and the surrounding district gave to his predecessor. P. begs to inform his customers, that he has laid in an extensive stock of Ironmongery, among which will be found some excellent Rim, Stock and Door Looks, as also an assorted stock of Cut Glass, Hosiery, Calicoes, Prints, Ribbons, Silk Goods, Slops, &c. 

H.P. begs to remind Country Settlers that their men can be provided with the best rations, on reasonable terms viz— Bread, Pork, Beef, in fact, every article that is necessary in a Provision Store.

The Berrima Brewery is now conducted by H. P., who will spare no expense as to sending out every article from his establishment — first rate. Every Article in this line can be had on the Establishment, and orders promptly attended to, and charges will be moderate. H. P. in conclusion, has to remark, that he shall make it his constant study to soil the best article, and at the cheapest prices; his Christmas Stock is shortly expected which will embrace every article in his line.

The Australian 17 November 1840

On the 1841 census Hyam’s address is given as Argyle St. A possibility for the location of the brewery and store are Lots 2 and 3 of Section 15 which Joseph Levy had purchased in December 1839.[4] These are prime plots, opposite the Courthouse and adjacent to the new line of road and Levy paid a high price for them – £82. They are also on a spring-line offering a brewery a supply of good quality water.

But the purchase of the brewery and store business coincided with a downturn in the economy and when Phillips was eventually unable to pay for his purchases, Levy had to take it back.

In 1844 Phillips became the licensee of the Jew’s Harp, which was just south of Berrima Bridge on one of the six plots purchased by Henry Forster, the township’s gaoler, in 1841. The Jew’s Harp operated for three years, 1844-6, the first two with Phillips as the licensee.[5]

A description of this inn is given when Forster advertised it for let in 1846:

TO BE LET, for a term of years, as may be agreed on, that well known public-house the ‘Jew’s Harp Inn’ situate in the town of Berrima, containing two parlours, eight bed-rooms, tap-room, and bar, detached kitchen, coach-house, and seven-stalled stable, large yard, and every other convenience.

With the house may also be had a garden containing a variety of fruit trees, &c.

Possession can be given on the 1st July next, and to a respectable tenant the terms would be extremely moderate.

For further particulars apply to H. FORSTER. [6]

By this time Phillips had moved on again. A notice in the Sydney Morning Herald for 20 July 1846 reads:

HYAM PHILLIPS begs leave respectfully to inform his friends and the public, that he has recently removed from the Jews Harp Inn, Berrima, to that old established house ‘The Surveyor-General,’ where those who favour him with their patronage will receive every attention and comfort.

This was the year after James Harper, owner of the Surveyor General, died and Phillips was moving to the Surveyor General as licensee.

A list of donations to the Irish Relief Fund in 1846 reveals that there was also an Emma Phillips (wife or daughter) and a Hyam Phillips Jnr both of whom donated 5/- (Hyam donated 10/-).[7] In the same year he also promised £5 to the building of an Episcopalian Church in Berrima.[8]

He was still in Berrima in 1847 when he is mentioned in connection with a court appearance.[9]  But his name disappears from the list of jurors so he must have left soon after. The trail of Hyam Phillips goes cold: it is a common name.

Similarly his origins are unknown. The entry on the 1841 Census with his as the head of household suggest he was a free settler, but when he arrived and who is wife was we do not know.[10]

He could have moved back into Sydney’s Jewish community or it is possible like many others, the family moved south. The name Hyam Phillips does appear in Wagga Wagga where a Hyam Phillips bought land and established the Hope Inn in 1853.[11] Further research is required to confirm whether this is Berrima’s Hyam Phillips.

[1] SG&NSW Advertiser, 10 June 1837

[2] Australian, 17 November 1840

[3] Australian, 21 November 1840

[4] SRNSW. Registers of Land Grants and Leases, Vol. 57 folios 105 and 107

[5] SRNSW. Publicans Licences. NRS 14401 [4/77]; Reel 5059 and NRS 14401 [4/76]; Reel 5059

[6] Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 1846

[7] Sydney Chronicle, 10 October 1846 p3

[8] Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 1846

[9] Sydney Morning Herald, February 1847; and The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser, 18 October 1850

[10] Sydney Morning Herald, 3 May 1844; and Sydney Morning Herald, 23 March 1842; and SRNSW Indexes to eligible jurors: Berrima 1844; Series Number: 854; Reel: 2759

[11] This was taken over by a Thomas Turvey in 1857 and renamed the Bridge Hotel in 1862. It is now known as the Riverina Hotel –