Biographies, Annotations and Other Information
The following brief Biographies and Annotations including additional information such as relevant locations, places, buildings etc were compiled by Reg Butler (Hahndorf Historian) over many years.
The Biographies are divided into alphabetical sections which can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate links below:
Biographies - D to F
Davis, Abraham (1796-1866).
Surrey-born Davis arrived in SA aboard the Lord Goderich in 1838, with his wife and three children. He established himself on prosperous Moore Farm, at the Reedbeds, from where his grain and vegetables won notable prizes at the agricultural shows. In 1840, Davis joined N Hailes as a member of the first Adelaide City Council, and later served as a JP. During the early 1860s, A Davis edited a short-lived newspaper, the Thursday Review, which preached a very conservative view of colonial life.
Deacon, William Archer Senr ()
Debney, George (c1817-1897).
Born in Whitechapel, London, England, George emigrated with his parents to SA in 1838 Lloyds. At first a farmer at the Reedbeds, George had the good fortune to invest wisely in the new Burra copper mine and used his profits to open a furniture factory on the site of the present-day Adelaide Arcade. Respected for his seductive sofas and other works, G Debney won the contract to furnish the new Legislative Council Chambers in North Terrace in 1855. Unfortunately, a disastrous fire destroyed the factory and its contents; George had to start again quickly to re-do the order. Without incident, he made the furniture for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Government House bedroom during the 1867 Royal visit. G Debney also conducted many society funerals in his capacity as an undertaker, performed property valuations, became Chairman of the Burnside Council and acted as trustee for many deceased estates. Further reverses caused him to sell his business in 1876-1877 to Patrick Gay (hence Gay’s Arcade); author and politician Simpson Newland bought the Debney house at Burnside and built the well-known Undelcarra homestead on the site. More tragedy pursued George - his wife and daughter drowned when their rowing boat overturned in the sea at Glenelg during 1860. G Debney died more or less in poverty, after a life of dramatic changes of fortunes.
Lived in Coromandel Row, after he arrived in Adelaide.
To SA 1837 Lady Emma, with wife Rose; a son, Richard, born after arrival. Ambrose became a bootmaker in Hindley St, Adelaide, in the late 1830s. It is likely that he left SA fairly soon again, as the 1841 Census, the 1840s Directories and other records make no reference to him.
Duff, Captain John Finlay (1799-1868)
Scottish-born John Duff brought his own ship, the Africaine, to South Australia several times before deciding to settle there permanently. He acted as Port Adelaide harbour master and developed extensive commercial links with neighbouring colonies, especially Van Diemen’s Land, using his own fleet of vessels. J Duff took part in many public affairs.
Duke of York.
A 200-ton barque built in Bideford, Devon, England, during 1817, and named after Frederick Duke of York, King George IIIs second son. The SA Company bought the vessel from GF Angas, fitting it up as a whaler to operate from South Australian waters. Amongst the notable passengers on the ship’s five-month voyage to the Antipodes in 1836 was Samuel Stephens (first colonial manager of the SA Company), the Beare family (who founded the Adelaide suburb of Netley) and Daniel Schreyvogel (the province’s first German colonist and office clerk to the SA Company). Unfortunately, the Duke of York was wrecked off Point Curtis, Queensland, the following year, while engaged in South Seas whaling operations. By 1838, four of the SA Company’s initial fleet of five vessels had been lost through shipwreck.
Dutton, William (1805-1849)
Born in Hanover, where his father held a diplomatic post, WH Dutton emigrated to Sydney and then Adelaide. He brought some stock overland and more by sea. In January 1839, W Dutton took out the colony’s first Special Survey with two partners. Too many business interests in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to exercise efficient supervision led to WH Dutton’s bankruptcy in 1841. Eventually, William’s only surviving son, Henry, inherited Anlaby Station near Kapunda, established by William’s bachelor brother, Frederick. WH Dutton died in Melbourne, after which his widow, Charlotte, and her family returned to live in North Adelaide. Dutton’s mother-in-law had married his business partner John Finnis as her second husband.
East, Samuel ‘Sammy’ p22 SA Record 1/2/1840
A native of Twickenham, England. ‘East & Breeze, large builders … I scarcely knew him, he looked so well, … He is partnership with a man named Breeze, a builder; they are the largest builders in Australia; they have got houses and land; they pay £250 a week for labour only. I should think East was worth two or three thousand pounds at the least. … a bricklayer has 12s a day, and labourers 6s and 7s a day … I am at work for Mr East for 6s a day, abut I could get more at something else … We have got a small house with three rooms, which we pay 15s a week for, belonging to Mr East (rents are very dear)l, but we let one room for 9s a week to a young lady that Ann works for … so, between us, we make up about £3 a week’. Comments by bricklayer William Allen.
East Terrace, Adelaide.
The distinctive step-pattern street laid out by Colonel Light on the eastern side of central Adelaide’s square mile to avoid the very marshy ground in the East Parklands. Purely residential in colonial times, this quiet area rapidly attracted prosperous residents to build mansions there; no doubt the attraction being their close proximity to busy commercial quarters.
Easther, William (c1814-30/6/1889).
To SA 1837 Katherine Stewart Forbes. In business in Adelaide; then lived in Mitcham and Hahndorf. Operated sawmills at Hahndorf. Retired to Mitcham; then to Unley Road. Linked with the Mitcham District Council. Leading person to get the Institute built. An actor - used to play in the old Adelaide theatres. Could recite long passages of lines from memory into old age. Kept his energy until within a few months of his death. Wife Sarah (c1814-25/7/1885).
In 1849, wealthy Quaker businessman Jacob Hagen laid out Echunga in the Hundred of Kuitpo, a few kilometres south of Hahndorf. Three years later, the quiet agricultural hamlet became the scene of South Australia’s earliest gold rush, when the population grew fast. In 1854, the Hagens returned to England, but retained much property at Echunga, which they left in the care of their land steward, George Sanders. Echunga’s Hagen Arms Hotel commemorates the efforts of the township’s founder.
The Echunga Road which JW Bull mentions left the Old Mount Barker Road in the vicinity of the Crafers Inn and crossed the Onkaparinga River just beyond Mylor. Joseph Hawdon forded the first cattle to come overland from NSW across this point in 1838. The ford itself became known as Warland’s Crossing, probably after William Warland, who ran the nearby Wheatsheaf Inn. During 1844, a well-publicised flood washed away the bridge which had just replaced the ford. Again, the ford served alone until the more durable Hack’s Bridge appeared c1848.
Elder, Alexander (1815-1885).
Scottish-born Elder arrived in South Australia during 1840, aboard his father’s vessel, the Minerva, which was loaded with merchandise to begin a commercial firm in the young colony. Gradually, the business developed into the well-known pastoral enterprise, Elder, Smith & Co. Alexander Elder returned to England in 1853, where he acted as the London representative for the firm he had founded in the Antipodes.
Lived in West-street, Brompton, for many years. Came aboard the Pestonjee Bomanjee 7/10/1854.
Born Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. To SA by 1839, when he married the widow Elizabeth Nicholls, nee Elsherton. Listed variously as a builder and carpenter in Hindley St, Adelaide, until 1844.
A recent graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, John Hutt became the SA Company’s Superintendent of Emigration to SA between 1836-1838, at £250 a year. Using sub-agents, as well as his own contacts, Hutt encouraged a wide range of people to emigrate to the new colony. At one stage, it appeared likely that J Hutt would succeed Hindmarsh as the second Governor of SA. After this disappointment, Hutt apparently lost much interest in the project, although he was a member of a 1849 syndicate which hoped to build a railway line in the province.
Emigration Square, Adelaide.
A large area of land on West Tce, Adelaide, in the vicinity of the present-day Adelaide High School, where rows of temporary wooden cottages containing two rooms had been erected. Newly-arrived colonists could rent a single room divided by a three-quarter wall partition into two areas. Homes were primitive enough to encourage people to move out as soon as possible. Aborigines made quite a living by cutting up trees for firewood for Emigration Square inhabitants. Water came up in water-carts from the Torrens River.
On 8 April 1802, the British maritime explorer Matthew Flinders in the Investigator met a French ship, the Geographe, off the SA coast west of the Murray Mouth. Both vessels greeted each other civilly, a remarkable event, because their two nations were at war in Europe. Flinders gave the bay its name as a result of this exchange. In the late 1830s, the South Australian Company established whaling stations on the shore of Encounter Bay.
Exchange Hotel, Adelaide.
Samuel Payne, the founder of Payneham, established the hotel on his own Town Acre in 1839 as the Australian Arms, in Hindley St. Following several more name changes, the inn became the Exchange Hotel from 1854, under which name the hotel still trades. Exploiting its central position in what was then the city’s central business district, successive enterprising landlords built up a large patronage. A meeting of corn factors in the hotel dining room during 1843 resulted in the development of Ridley’s stripper to aid SAs infant wheat industry.
Arrived on the Trafalgar. Wife, Henriette, aged 35, with 4 children, applied for destitute relief in 1856, because he went away for two and three-quarters years. Observer 23/2/1856 p2.
A sea port at the mouth of the Fal River in southern Cornwall. Two castles guard the entrance to a spacious harbour. Few emigrant boats departed for SA from this port. The town became famous as the departure point for packet-ships leaving Britain with foreign mail. A special mail coach plied reguarly along a fast mail-road between London and Falmouth to carry HM Mails to and from the wharf-side. Favourable winds and currents often made Falmouth an easier place than Plymouth and Portsmouth to use as a port.
Fenden, Francis (1810-1892).
A shipbuilder, F Fenden established one of Glenelg’s first hotels, the Reed Hut, in 1838. This establishment became The Glenelg in 1839. His partner in the venture was Francis Henning. Fenden bought a number of Port Lincoln allotments when that township was laid out in 1839. Later, Fenden grew vines and farmed near Salisbury.
Gent Thebarton, and Sarah, nee Jenkins, his wife. Rented a Torrens-side part of Section 46 (B) at Thebarton. Insolvent by 1/12/1857, they surrendered their lease to George Bean currier Thebarton, their neighbour.
Ferguson, William (1809-1892).
Born in Roxburghshire, Scotland, W Ferguson emigrated to SA 1836 Buffalo, with his wife of only a few months. On arrival, William went into various business partnerships with fellow passenger Robert Cock. Besides building the province’s first auction room, the men also laid out the Magill Estate, where W Ferguson took charge of the farming aspects. Unfortunately, the Fergusons lost their property in the 1841 economic crash, and retired to a farm at Myrtle Bank, with some of the stock which well-wishers bought for the family at the mortgage sale. William saw his children marry into prosperous pastoral families - Cudmores, Hawkers, Mortlocks, AB Murray, Tennants - and enjoyed a comfortable old age.
Finke, William (1815-1854).
A Londoner, W Finke arrived in South Australia during 1836, aboard the Tam O’Shanter. He obtained a clerk’s position in the Colonial Treasurer’s office and early owned property near Gilles Arcade in Currie Street, Adelaide. In time, W Finke became a prosperous sheep owner. During 1854, William managed James and John Chambers’ inland exploration expedition. His deputy, JM Stuart, named the Finke River after his former boss, while leading his own Northern Territory expedition during 1860.
Finnis, John (1802-1872).
Finnis first came to South Australia in 1838 with Captain Sturt, in charge of overlanding cattle. He established a station on the present site of Hahndorf for fattening beasts for market. Early the next year, Finnis joined with WH Dutton and D McFarlane in the purchase of the First Special Survey, which included the Hahndorf station. The first Hahndorf settlers worshipped in one of Finnis’s stockman’s huts. During the 1840s, he captained vessels trading passengers and goods between Britain and Australia and New Zealand; later, his ship took South Australian miners bound by sea to and from the Victorian gold diggings.
First Special Survey.
GF Angas, Chairman of the South Australian Company, had insisted on the inclusion of Special Survey land sales in the South Australian land regulations issued in 1835. However, Governor Gawler was the first person to put this idea into action. He sold the First Special Survey to Messrs Dutton, Finnis and McFarlane on 11 January 1839. The partners paid £4,000 in advance for the survey of 15,000 acres in the vicinity of present-day Mount Barker; these men had the first choice of 4,000 acres and the rest was sold to the public at the uniform price of £1 an acre. Nearly forty Special Surveys were made until Governor Grey successfully urged the abolition of the scheme.
Fonsaker, Joseph (?-d 3/5/1850).
To SA 1843 Wallace. Lived in the Black Forest and then Pt Adelaide. A dealer by occupation. Wife, Mary Ann, nee Glisdale. 3 sons, 3 daughters. Died after a short illness.
Reference Observer 3/6/1854 p222c.