Plaque commemorating the site of Waverley House

Barnett Levey (1798-1837) was a Jewish English-Australian merchant and theatre director.[1] Levey was born in London and migrated to Sydney in Sydney in December 1821. From 1826 Levey had joined concerts as a singer. In 1832 he received the first theatre license.[2][3] Levey, the first free Jewish settler, founded Theatre Royal, Australia's oldest theatrical institution. Levey has been regarded as the "father of Australian theatre."[4]

Barnett Levey built Waverley House in 1827, the first house in the Waverley district. The house later served as a convent and subsequently as a school for destitute girls and later as a boy’s school. In 1833, Levey built his theatre, the Theatre Royal, behind his hotel, the Royal Hotel. Levey ran the theatre until his death on October 2nd, 1837.[5][6]

Barnett Levey's home, Waverley House, gave its name not only to the Municipality but also to the Suburb, Street, Crescent and Lane.[7]

Levey was buried in the Jewish section of Devonshire Street cemetery and the headstone was eventually moved to Botany cemetery with all the other stones to make way for the railway.[8]


Barnett married Sarah Emma Wilson in 1825 and had four children. Barnett's brother Solomon Levey was a prosperous merchant.[9]


  1. ^ Bergman, G. F. J. "Levey, Barnett (1798–1837)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. ^ "AusStage".
  3. ^ "Levey, Barnett (1798-1837)", Trove, 2010
  4. ^ "Waverley House" (PDF). Waverely Council.
  5. ^ "Barnett Levey - Bondi Stories".
  6. ^ "Early history of the Theatre Royal in Sydney - Venue Histories". 29 December 2009.
  7. ^ "What's In A Name" (PDF). Waverley Council.
  8. ^ "LEVEY, Barnett". Cape Banks Family History Society.
  9. ^ "Barnett Levey". State Library of New South Wales.