South Australian Company

The South Australian Company, also referred to as the South Australia Company, was formed in London on 9 October 1835, after the South Australia (Foundation) Act 1834 had established the new British Province of South Australia, with the South Australian Colonization Commission set up to oversee implementation of the Act.

The South Australian Company was a commercial enterprise, and not officially connected to the British Government or the Colonization Commission, but turned out to be indispensable in allowing emigration to the new colony to begin. The founding board of the company, headed by George Fife Angas, consisted of wealthy British merchants, with the purpose of developing a new settlement in South Australia, building a new colony by meeting an essential financial obligations of the South Australia Act 1834. It bought up unsold land to the level required by the Act for emigration to be allowed to begin.

During the first years of settlement, the company built a great deal of infrastructure and contributed to the creation of industries such as fishing and mining, and it continued to play an important part in the business affairs of the colony (and later state) of South Australia for over a hundred years. It ended business in its own right on 17 March 1949, when it was liquidated by Elders Trustee & Executor Company Ltd. Many streets in Adelaide were named after men associated with the company.


The South Australian Association (1833–1834) had lobbied the British Government for years to set up a new colony in southern Australia. The members of the Association were men of varied backgrounds, from philanthropists to merchants, including Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Robert Gouger, Robert Torrens Sr and George Fife Angas. The Association underwent numerous negotiations and submitted and resubmitted many plans, until the British Parliament finally gave approval and passed the South Australia Act 1834 on 15 August 1834. The Association's original plan was for the colony to be more or less independent, but the government thought otherwise; a Governor would represent the Crown (British Government), and would share administration of the new colony with the London-based South Australian Colonization Commission, which would be represented in the colony by a Resident Commissioner, Surveyor-General, and various other officers. The new Act also required that a certain amount of land had to be sold in the colony before anybody was allowed to emigrate.[1]

History of the company


George Fife Angas, after resigning from the Association, offered to set up a company to buy up the remaining unsold land, which was agreed by the Colonisation Commissioners, so long as this new company, the South Australian Company, did not attempt to set up monopolies in the colony.[1]

The founding Board of Directors of the South Australian Company, established on 9 October 1835, were Angas as Chairman; Raikes Currie; Charles Hindley MP; James Hyde; Henry Kingscote; John Pirie, Alderman; Christopher Rawson; John Rundle MP; Thomas Smith; James Ruddell Todd; and Henry Waymouth; with Edmund John Wheeler (Manager); Samuel Stephens, (Colonial Manager); and Edward Hill (Secretary pro tem).[2]

The original purpose of the company was to help prospective colonists meet the obligations set out in the South Australia Act 1834.[3] The United Kingdom did not want the "province" to be a financial burden, like other colonies, and imposed certain conditions through the Act. One of these conditions was the sale of real property (land) to the value of £35,000. Each director was required to buy at least £2,500 in shares in the company. The biggest sales in land carried out by the company were done in the names of Angas,[3][4] who purchased 102 lots of land of 135 acres (55 ha) on behalf of the company, which included prime real estate in both town and country, totalling 13,770 acres (5,570 ha), and with the right to rent an additional 220,160 acres (89,100 ha) of pasturage (worth £40,000),[1] and the Currie family, who purchased £9,000. Research published in 2018 and 2019 concluded that these sales and the creation of company, which secured the establishment of South Australia, link the colony's creation with slavery in the British West Indies.[3][4]

It was this purchase of land that enabled emigration to commence. It was purely a commercial venture, but without it, the colonisation plan would not have come to fruition.[1]

First Fleet of South Australia (1836)

After a historic meeting at Exeter Hall on 30 June 1834, where the principles, objects, plan and prospects of the new Colony of South Australia were explained to the public, hundreds of enquiries from prospective emigrants arrived at the South Australian Association's headquarters in London.[5]

In January 1836 four ships sailed from England on behalf of the Company, ahead of the Colonisation Commission's planned expedition. They developed a settlement at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, in July 1836, but when farming proved unviable, both the settlement and the Company's operations were moved to the mainland. The Company provided basic infrastructure for the new colony and sold or leased land to immigrants who came to settle.[1]

Over the course of six months, nine ships, which may be termed the First Fleet of South Australia, arrived in the new colony:[6]

27 JulyDuke of York(190 tons)S.A. Company38 passengers
30 JulyLady Mary Pelham(206 tons)S.A. Company29
16 AugustJohn Pirie(105 tons)S.A. Company28
21 AugustRapid(162 tons)Commissioners24
11 SeptemberCygnet(239 tons)Commissioners84
5 OctoberEmma(181 tons)S.A. Company22
2 NovemberAfricaine(316 tons)Various76
20 NovemberTam O'Shanter(360 tons)O. Gilles74
23 DecemberHMS Buffalo(850 tons)Commissioners171


During the first years of settlement, the company undertook the construction of a great deal of infrastructure: roads, bridges, mills, wharfs and warehouses. It contributed to the creation of the whaling, fishing and shipbuilding industries and encouraged mineral exploration. There was, however, a financial slump, or Depression, in the 1840s, and company dividends were unable to be paid out until 1848, after copper was discovered at Burra.[1]

The company continued to be an important part of the business affairs of Adelaide and the colony (later state) for over a hundred years.[1]

From 1872, the South Australian Company occupied offices on North Terrace on the corner of Gawler Place. The new building, "Gawler Chambers", was completed in 1914.

It was wound up on 17 March 1949, with the management of its remaining business transferred to Elders Trustee & Executor Company Ltd.[1]

Lists of people

Colonial Managers

The Colonial Managers of the South Australian Company were:

Samuel Stephens18361837[7]
David McLaren18371841[8]
William Giles18411861[9]
William John Brind18611894[10][11]
Henry Yorke Sparks18941900[12][13]
Henry Percival Moore19011929[14][15]
Arthur Leopold Albert Muller19301936[16][17]

Officers of the company

Most of the major streets in the Adelaide city centre were named after the founding directors of the company

  • 1836–18?? Raikes Currie[2] (Currie Street)
  • 1836–18?? Charles Hindley (Hindley Street)
  • 1836–18?? James Hyde
  • 1836–18?? Henry Kingscote
  • 1836–18?? John Pirie (Pirie Street)
  • 1836–18?? Christopher Rawson
  • 1836–18?? John Rundle (Rundle Street)
  • 1836–18?? Thomas Smith
  • 1836–18?? James Ruddell Todd
  • 1836–1848 Henry Waymouth (Waymouth Street; died 23 January 1848[27])
  • 1880–1911 Major General Sir Stanley De A.C. Clarke, G.C.V.O., C.M.G.[28]
  • 1889–1919 Sir John H. Kennaway, Bart. C.B., M.P.[29]
  • 1891–1922 Andrew Johnston [30]
  • 1895–1931 John Henry Grant [31]
  • 1899–1931 Sir R.H. Hermon Hodge (later Lord Wyfold) [32]
  • Joseph Fisher
  • Robert Barr Smith
  • Tom Elder Barr Smith[33]
Company Secretaries
  • 1878–1911 James Hutchison [34]
  • 1911–1930+ Henry Brandreth Gibbs F.C.I.S.[35]
Attorneys in South Australia
  • William Bartley [36]
  • 1850–1906 Sir Samuel Davenport, K.C.M.G.[37]
  • 1876–1923 John Warren Bakewell [38]
Local Board of Advice, Adelaide
  • 1841–1885 William Bartley [36]
  • 1841–18?? Edward Stephens
  • 1856–1870 William Bakewell, M.P., Crown Solicitor [39]
  • 1876–1923 John Warren Bakewell [38]
  • 1886-1930+ Joseph Fisher[40]
  • 1894–1932 Sir John Lancelot Stirling K.C.M.G., M.L.C.[41]
  • Edward Stephens
  • Edward Robert Simpson (died 11 July 1900) [42]

Others associated with the company

Most of the major streets in the Adelaide city centre were named after the founding directors of the company. Naming of the settlements streets was completed on 23 May 1837 and gazetted on 3 June by the Street Naming Committee (Adelaide).

George Fife Angas (1789–1879)CommissionerAngas Street
Raikes Currie (1801–1881)Founding directorCurrie Street
Divett, EdwardTrusteeDivett Place
Sir James Hurtle Fisher (1790–1875)Resident Commissioner (#1)Hurtle Square[43]
Fussell, JohnTrusteeTook over from Henry Waymouth after his death in January 1848.[44]
George Gawler (1795–1869)Governor of SA (1838–1841)Gawler PlaceGawler (town), Gawler Ranges, etc.[45]
William Giles (1791–1862)Colonial Manager (1841–1860)[9]
Robert Gouger (1802–1846)Colonial Secretary (#1)Gouger Street[46]
Pascoe St Leger Grenfell (1798–1879)South Australian Church SocietyGrenfell Street
Sir George Grey (1812–1898)Governor of SA (1841–1845)[47]
Charles HindleyFounding directorHindley Street[2]
Sir John Hindmarsh (1785–1860)Governor of SA (1836–1838)Hindmarsh Square[48]
William HuttCommissionerHutt Street
Henry KingscoteFounding DirectorKingscote, Kangaroo Island[2]
Sir George Strickland Kingston (1807–1880)Deputy Surveyor GeneralKingston SE[49]
William Light (1786–1839)Surveyor GeneralLight Square[50]
David McLaren (1785–1850)Colonial Manager (1837–1841)[8]
Moore, Henry PercivalColonial Manager (1901–1929)[14][15]
Sir John Morphett (1809–1892)Land AgentMorphett Street[51]
Muller, Arthur Leopold AlbertColonial Manager (1930–1936)[16][17]
Sir John PirieFounding directorPirie Street[2]
Rawson, ChristopherFounding director[2]
Frederick Robe (1801–1871)Governor of SA (1845–1848)Robe, South Australia[52]
John RundleFounding directorRundle Street[2]
Smith, ThomasFounding director[2]
Sparks, Henry YorkeColonial Manager (1894–1900)[11][12][13]
Edward Stephens (1811–1861)First manager of SA Banking Co[53]
Samuel Stephens (1808–1840)Colonial Manager (1836–1837)[7]
Todd, James RuddellFounding director[2]
Robert Torrens (1780–1864)CommissionerRiver Torrens[54]
Daniel Bell Wakefield (1798–1858)Drafted the bill that became the founding actWakefield Street[55]
Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796–1862)Early proposer of colonisation[56]
Henry Waymouth (1791–1848)Founding directorWaymouth Street[2]
William Wolryche-WhitmoreSouth Australian Church SocietyWhitmore Square
Sir Henry Edward Fox Young (1803–1870)Governor of SA (1848–1854)[57]

See also


  1. "South Australian Company". SA Memory. State Library of South Australia. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  2. "The South Australian Company". South Australian Gazette And Colonial Register. South Australia. 18 June 1836. p. 6. Retrieved 3 December 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  3. Coventry, C. J. (2019). "Links in the Chain: British slavery, Victoria and South Australia". Before/Now. 1 (1): 37–39. doi:10.17613/d8ht-p058.
  4. McQueen, Humphrey (2018). "Chapter 4: Born free : wage-slaves and chattel-slaves". In Collins, Carolyn; Sendziuk, Paul (eds.). Foundational Fictions in South Australian History. Wakefield Press. pp. 43–63. ISBN 9781743056066.
  5. "Brief History: Colony built on a dream". Exploring Adelaide. Tourist Information Distributors Australia. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  6. "Majority of the Colony of South Australia". South Australian Register. Vol. XXII, no. 3509. 5 January 1858. p. 3. Retrieved 9 December 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  7. Stephens, Samuel (1808-1840), Australian Dictionary of Biography online retrieved 1 July 2011
  8. McLaren, David (1785-1850) Australian Dictionary of Biography online retrieved 2 July 2011
  9. Tregenza, John (1966). "Giles, William (1791-1862)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
  10. William John Brind SA Memory
  11. 'The South Australian Company' The Adelaide Observer 7 July 1894, p.14 col. E.
    Resignation of Mr. W.J. Brind and appointment of Mr. H.Y. Sparks as Manager; biographical sketch of Henry Yorke Sparks.
  12. Death of Mr. H. Y. Sparks South Australian Register 22 October 1900 p.4
  13. Death of H. Y. Sparks The Advertiser 22 October 1900 p.5 – Includes biography
  14. Personal The Advertiser 6 December 1913 p.19 (Henry Percival Moore)
  15. Personal The Advertiser 11 January 1901 p.5 – Includes brief biography of Henry Percival Moore
  16. New Manager – South Australian Company The Mail 28 December 1929 p.3 – Includes brief biography of Arthur L. A. Muller
  17. Obituary – Mr Arthur L. A. Muller The Advertiser 10 March 1936 p.21
  18. "Ending Of Famous S.A. Company". The Advertiser (Adelaide). Vol. 91, no. 28135. South Australia. 9 December 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 7 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  19. Angas, George Fife (1789–1879), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  20. "South Australian Company: George Fife Angas".
  21. The Globe - 03 June 1886 p.5
  22. Leeds Mercury - Friday 08 June 1888 p.7
  23. The Globe - 06 June 1889 p.5
  24. Adelaide Observer - 17 July 1897 p.39
  25. Dundee Courier - Thursday 09 June 1898 p.2
  26. Joslin, Henry, 1839-1927
  27. "Family Notices". South Australian Register. Vol. XII, no. 841. South Australia. 7 June 1848. p. 2. Retrieved 3 December 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  28. Clarke, Stanley, Sir, d.1911
  29. & Kennaway, John H., Sir, d.1919
  30. Johnston, Andrew, d.1922
  31. Grant, John Henry
  32. Hodge, R.H. Hermon, Sir
  33. & Barr Smith, Thomas Elder, 1863-1941
  34. Hutchison, James
  35. "South Australian Company: Henry Brandreth Gibbs".
  36. "South Australian Company: William Bartley".
  37. "South Australian Company: Sir Samuel Davenport".
  38. "South Australian Company: John Warren Bakewell".
  39. "South Australian Company: William Bakewell".
  40. "South Australian Company: Joseph Fisher".
  41. "South Australian Company: Sir John Lancelot Stirling".
  42. "South Australian Company: Edward Robert Simpson".
  43. Fisher, Sir James Hurtle (1790–1875), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  44. "South Australian Company". South Australian Register. Vol. XII, no. 881. South Australia. 25 October 1848. p. 3. Retrieved 2 December 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  45. Gawler, George (1795–1869), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  46. Gouger, Robert (1802–1846), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  47. Grey, Sir George (1812–1898), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  48. Hindmarsh, Sir John (1785–1860), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  49. Kingston, Sir George Strickland (1807–1880), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  50. Light, William (1786–1839), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  51. Morphett, Sir John (1809–1892), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  52. E. J. R. Morgan (1967). Robe, Frederick Holt (1802–1871). Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2. Melbourne University Press. pp. 383–384. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  53. Stephens, Edward (1811–1861), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  54. Torrens, Robert (1780–1864), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  55. "Streets of Adelaide and North Adelaide" (PDF). State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  56. Wakefield, Edward Gibbon (1796–1862), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  57. H. J. Gibbney (1976). Young, Sir Henry Edward Fox (1803–1870). Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6. Melbourne University Press. pp. 452–453. Retrieved 18 September 2011.

Further reading

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