The following information is a copy of JK Stokes data on Mount Barker as contained in her Rootsweb ( Genealogy Website  and has been included here with permission.  No alterations or additions may be made to her information without further permission, although relevant comments and/or additions are welcome to be added at the bottom of each page.  (copied July 2014)

Robert Barr-Smith (1824-1915)

Was born on 4 February 1824 at Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of Rev. Dr Robert Smith, a Church of Scotland minister, and his wife Marjory, née Barr.  He was educated at the University of Glasgow and he worked in commerce before migrating to Melbourne in 1854 as a partner in Hamilton, Smith & Co.  The following year he came to Adelaide, and replaced George Elder in the mercantile and pastoral firm of Elder & Co.  In 1856 he married George Elder's sister Joanna, and in 1863 he and Thomas Elder became sole partners in Elder Smith & Co.

Robert Barr Smith in his study c 1907Their company pioneered the opening of outback South Australia, including the fencing of properties and sinking of bores for water.  The company also held pastoral leases in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.  In 1859 Elder Smith & Co financed the Wallaroo and Moonta Copper mines which, after some initial losses, brought large returns to the partners of the company.  Elder Smith & Co. also had interests in the Adelaide Steam-tug and Adelaide Steamship companies.  In 1882 Elder Smith & Co. was incorporated, with a nominal capital of £200,000 and Elder and Barr-Smith holding two-thirds of the shares, between them.  The next year they established a London office.  Barr-Smith was a major shareholder in Elder's Trustee and Executor Co., a spin off of the original firm, which was founded in 1910.  He was also director of the Beltana, Mutooroo, and Momba Pastoral companies, the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining and Smelting Co., the Adelaide Steamship Co., the South Australian Gas Co., the Mercantile Marine and Fire Insurance Co. of South Australia, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the English Scottish and Australian Bank, the Mortgage Company of South Australia and the South Australian Co.  And as a sideline, he also helped to found the Bank of Adelaide.

Auchendarroch - the summer residence of the Barr-Smith'sBarr-Smith's philanthropic activity became legendary.  A member of the Council of the University of Adelaide for nineteen years, his donations to the University totalled £21,400, including £9000 to the library which subsequently bore his name.  In 1900 he contributed £10,000 to the completion of the spires of St Peter's Cathedral.  He gave £2000 towards the establishment of the diocese of Willochra, and £2300 to pay off the debt on the Trades Hall in 1908.  He gave a number of pictures to the Art Gallery, defrayed the cost of an observatory at the summit of Mount Kosciusko for Clement Wragge, and donated a steam lifeboat to the South Australian government.  During World War I, he gave two ambulances for the front and offered his home, "Torrens Park" at Mitcham, for a military hospital.  This was much in keeping with his legacy, when during World War II and after, his former summer home "Auchendarroch" at Mt Barker became a convalescent home for service men and women, and later was used as 'Rest Home' for the aged and infirm.

Modest and unassuming by nature, Barr-Smith could not be persuaded into active politics, although he supported the free-trade advocates at the time of the founding of the Commonwealth.  Greatly respected, both by the business world and his friends, he was said to have refused a knighthood for services to the Colonies.  A keen patron of the turf, he often attended race meetings and bred and raced his own horses.  He died of senile decay at his residence in Angas Street, Adelaide on 20 November 1915.  His estate was sworn for probate at £1,799,500, the largest in South Australia up until that time; of this, more than £40,000 was left to charities.  His funeral, though a private one, was attended by the Premier, representatives from Adelaide University, prominent citizens, and leaders of Adelaide society.  He was survived by his wife, three of his seven daughters and one of his six sons.

The following are some of his descendants:

Robert Barr-Smith (1824-1918)  married Joanna Lang Elder in 1856


  • Robert Bruce Smith  born 26 Jun 1857 at Glen Osmond
  • George Elder Smith born 10 Oct 1858 at Glen Osmond and died 1 Jan 1914 at Somerton.
  • Neil Montgomerie Barr Smith born 18 May 1860 at Oaklands
  • Mabel Fairfax Smith born 13 Dec 1861 at Woodville and married Frederick William Braund in 1896
  • Tom Elder Barr-Smith born 8 Dec 1863 at Woodville and married Mary Isobel Mitchell in 1886
  • Jane Balfour St Clare Smith born 20 Dec 1864 at Woodville and married Thomas O'Halloran Giles in 1888
  • Joanna Fitzgerald Smith born 3 Feb 1866 at Woodville and married George Charles Hawker in 1886
  • Marjory Erlistoun Barr Smith born 11 Jan 1869 at Woodville and married William Mitchell in 1898
  • Hugh Raymond Smith born 8 Sep 1870 at Glen Osmond
  • Ida Thekla Smith born 8 Oct 1871 at "The Briars", Walkerville and died at "Torrens Park" Mitcham on 26 Nov 1875 aged 4 years.
  • Robert Bertie Barr Smith born 27 Nov 1872 at Adelaide and died 31 Dec 1909 at North Adelaide.
  • Ursula Halcomb Smith born 8 Apr 1876 at "Torrens Park" Mitcham and died at "Torrens Park" Mitcham on 13 Nov 1878 aged 2 years 8 months.
  • Dorothea Barr Smith born (no record of birth found) and died 27 Mar 1881 aged 16 months.

Children of Tom Elder Barr-Smith & Mary Isobel Mitchell

  • Joanna Lang Barr-Smith born 28 Feb 1887 at "Torrens Park" Mitcham, married James Hay Gosse
  • Christine Margaret Barr-Smith born 23 Jan 1890 at "Torrens Park" Mitcham
  • Robert Barr-Smith born 14 Sep 1893 at "Torrens Park" Mitcham
  • Mary Isobel Barr-Smith born 3 Jul 1898 at Glen Osmond, married Richard John Legoe
  • Tom Elder Barr-Smith born 28 Apr 1904 at Glen Osmond, married Eda Agnes Seeck
  • Ursula Barr-Smith born 19 Jun 1907 at Glen Osmond

Children of Robert Barr-Smith & Eda Suck

  • Robert Mitchell Barr-Smith born 25 May 1921


  • Biographical Index of South Australians
  • SAGHS Birth, Death & Marriage CD's, South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society & MacBeth Software
  • Australian Dictionary of Biography
  • Cyclopedia of South Australia vol. 1, HT Burgess, Adelaide 1908