The People of Early Mt Barker District

The following is intended to list some of the families living in the Mt Barker area last century. This is by no means a complete list. I will endeavour to add  more as I come across them. I have also tried to indicate where in the area, these families lived. If you know of a family that lived in the area that is not listed here, please let me know by E-mail. There are hundreds of names I could list here, and eventually will add more - they don't have to be the rich and famous either - in fact, I would prefer they were just the ordinary people who went quietly about their lives without really raising a fuss. I have recently added a new section containing short biographies of the lesser known people of the District - the Little People - those that the histories of the town forgot.

1839 - 1900

From SA Directory of 1885 From SA Directory on 1889
Marriages in Mt Barker pre-1900 Marriages near Mt Barker pre-1900
More Mt Barker Identities The Little People - biographies of local families



Mr. Justice - born Richard Bullock Andrews in England in 1823, he came to SA in around 1853. He lived in Littlehampton before it was called that - earlier known as Andrewville after this man. He practised law in Mt Barker and was admitted to the Bar in 1855 and moved to Adelaide. Two years later, he was elected to the house of Assembly and became the Attorney General during the Torrens administration. He attained this same position in several subsequent administrations including those of Dutton and Ayres in 1863, 1865, 1867 and 1868. He became a QC in 1870 and resigned from Parliamentary duties to become a crown solicitor and public prosecutor. In 1881 he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court. His health failed him towards the end of 1883, and he passed away in June of 1884, leaving a widow and daughter.


Robert, arrived in SA 1855 from Melbourne (arrived there in 1854). Bought what was the "Oakfield Hotel" from Lachlan McFarlane and renamed it "Auchenderroch" after his family home in Scotland. (biography)


Allan, squire of Dalmaney Park, earlier of Nairne has a weekly carrying service from Nairne to Adelaide via Mt Barker in 1841 using a bullock dray


J.J. - school teacher -1847 (mentioned here)


Mr. - wattle extractor


James Penn - later Sir James, arrived SA 1846, lived on a property called "Quambi Springs" near Mt Barker Springs - grew grape vines and kept an Arabian horse stud on the property. (biography)


squatting in Mt Barker area 1839. Probably related to Paltridge.


John, farmer/gentleman invented a mechanical reaper in 1841 which was later to become "Ridley's stripper" patented by John Ridley in 1843. His son John  is credited with having discovered copper  in the northern Flinders Ranges after his return from the goldfields. 

Joseph, brother of John, farmed land near Littlehampton - the area became known as "Bull's Gully"

Extract from Tomorrow's World : The Australian Initiative:-

English flour miller John Ridley arrived in Adelaide in 1839 with a James Watt steam engine and milling machinery, and set up South Australia's first steam-driven flour mill. In 1843, the shortage of labour and a bumper wheat harvest led him, and a local farmer named John Bull, to develop the grain stripper that cut the crop, removed and placed the grain into bins. Ridley followed Bull's unsuccessful first attempt at a working model two months later with a similar design that worked. The stripper was a major advance on the laborious harvesting of wheat by hand. It meant that four men could strip as much wheat grain from straw in one day as they used to in a whole harvest season. Ridley returned to England in 1853 to adapt the stripper to local conditions.



B. - farmer - growing wheat


bullock team owner/driver


Friend and his brother Joseph lived in the township in 1843, and were employed as fencing contractors for which they were paid in land rather than cash. (mentioned)


Dr. John - later Sir John - owned property in Mt Barker that had formerly belonged to the May family. He was the first doctor to become Premier of SA in 1889. (biography)


Samuel, uncle of TH Stephenson, built the "White house" in Walker street


Richard "Dickie", son of Benjamiin, educated by Victor Dumas at Mt Barker. Blacksmith - taking on the family business from his father - had a blacksmith shop where the present day Courier office stands


George & Francis - brothers, arrived SA 1839 took up land at Mt Barker and also at Macclesfield. Two other brothers Robert & Samuel (later Sir Samuel) arrived later and lived in the Wistow/Bugle Ranges area.


Captain Francis - settled at Blakiston in 1840, married to Elizabeth Hawdon, (sister to Joseph Hawdon of "Overlander" fame), arrived SA aboard "Cleveland" on 18 December 1839. Early Magistrate in Mt Barker. His daughter Elizabeth married the Reverend John Gower, incumbent of St James's church Blakiston 1874-1899


Alfred Compton - moved to Mt Barker in 1874 from St Mary's area, member of founding Institute committee, stock breeder and judge of stock, also Justice of the Peace


John, shop keeper, wheat farmer - grew first wheat in SA with John Hillman at Nairne. He was also a wine grower, having some of the earliest vines growing along the Nairne - Woodside Road.


Sir F.L. Dumas

Victor - school teacher, Huguenot and descendant of French novelist Alexandre Dumas, migrated to South Australia in the mid 1840's.

Charles Morris - son of Victor, started the Mt Barker Courier newspaper in October 1880, member of parliament in 1898; married to Amelie Paltridge - had three sons and two daughters, son John Russell Dumas became an engineer in WA, another son was later Sir Frederick Lloyd Dumas of Adelaide.


John and family, flour miller, built a slab hut in Cameron Street 1845, built first flour mill in the town of Mt Barker, later built "The Laurels". Elder of the Methodist Church, credited with donating money to build the church which still stands today. The family came from Bondleigh and Bedeford, Devon, England, arriving in 1840 on the "Lysander". John Dunn also built mills in Bridgewater, Port Adelaide, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Wilmington, Quorn, Wolsely, Hawker and Port Broughton. His mill business was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere at its peak. (biography)


William Hampden and his wife who was previously Charlotte Cameron, arrived in SA on 26th December 1838 from Sydney aboard the ship "Parland". Travelling with him were three children aged 6,7 & 9. He had been a Justice of the Peace in Sydney for a time prior to coming to South Australia. Both Hampden Road and Dutton Place in Mt Barker are named after him. Mr Dutton was the son of Frederick Hugh Hampden Dutton, the British Vice-Consul and agent for packets in Cuxhaven, Germany. He was involved with John Barton Hack, Captain John Finniss and Duncan MacFarlane in having the first 4000 acre survey completed in the colony and also in bringing sheep overland. He died in Melbourne in November 1849.


squatting in Mt Barker area 1839


Captain John - master mariner, pastoralist, overlander. Along with William Hampden Dutton and Duncan McFarlane, was one of the owners of the property upon which Hahndorf stands today. Captain Dirk Meinertz Hahn entered into a contract with the three men which granted the Lutheran refugees who had travelled from Germany & Prussia with him,  150 acres of land rent free for one year. In the agreement, Captain Finnis and partners were to supply the immigrants with provisions of seeds, fowls, cattle, and pigs on credit for the first year or until their first harvest.


John, farmer near the base of the Mount - family still own the property today. Won first prize (on display in the National Australia Bank, Gawler Street, Mt Barker) for wheat samples with 4 other farmers from the area at the Great London Exhibition in 1851. Also won first prize for wheat at the Adelaide Agricultural and Horticultural Society exhibition in 1847.


George partner of Samuel Davenport at Bugle Ranges.


Benjamin - build a house in Blakiston called "Gray's Inn", tennented land from Allan McFarlane. Carpenter, brewer, surveyor. Gray laid out the town of Littlehampton and named it after his former home in Sussex.


James, bought butchering business from McFarland in  1845, worked in slab hut until 1851, moved business to Gawler Street (butchering carried on in the same shop by a succession of owners until about 1994)


Mr. - owned land that had formerly belonged to the May family and also to Colemans. (property belonged to the Herbig family for many years - and part of it still does)


John - worked for Duncan McFarlane


John Barton & his brother Stephen were early farmers and land owners in the district. Hack Street is named after him. Farm was situated on Western Flat between Echunga and Mt Barker. Hack was a Quaker - his barn was used as their meeting house, he later gave some land for a church and burial ground. (mentioned)

John Barton Hack was born at Chichester, England on July 18, 1805.  He contracted an illness which affected his lungs, and was told to seek a warmer climate, so he sailed for Launceston with his wife, six children and his younger brother in 1836.  Hack spent one month buying livestock and equipment before heading for Holdfast Bay, whre he arrived in February, 1837.

Among his various ventures in SA Hack served on the committee for naming the streets of Adelaide - perhaps this is where your statement "he laid out the streets of Adelaide " came from.

Hack fared well initially but soon suffered some heavy losses.  He bought Blenkinsop"s whaling station at Encounter Bay in 1838, but that was taken from him during the 1841 depression.  He bought 4000 acres (1620 ha) near Mount Barker, called Echunga Springs, where he made his home.  Hack planted some of the colony's first vine cuttings and
installed a windmill in his garden.  He spent 17000 on Echunga Springs, making it a valuable showpiece.

He claimed he was the most active person in the colony but by the end of the 1841 depression his finances were depleted. He returned to Adelaide in 1863 due to ill health, and became general accountant to the railways in 1870 and controller of railway accounts in 1879. He resigned in 1883 and died on October 4, 1884 at his home at Semaphore.

Hack has been regarded as being too soft hearted to be a successful pioneer, having paid high wages, befriended Aborigines and ex-convicts (in those days frowned upon), and advocated temperance, among other things.  He was brought up a Quaker and gave land in Pennington Terrace for Friends' meeting house.

His son Theodore went on to become Mayor of Port Adelaide and Semaphore and to represent Gumeracha in parliament from 1890 to 1893.

- "What's Your Problem" - The Advertiser



Miss - rans a school for young ladies


Mr. - wattle extractor


John, carpenter, wheat farmer - grew first wheat in SA with John Disher at Nairne, builder of Scott's Creek bridge, had land in the township of Mt Barker as well. John arrived in South Australia with is wife and 5 children aboard the Katherine Stewart Forbes on 17 October 1837, their 6th child was born at Holdfast Bay, just two days later. John owned a substantial amount of land in the Nairne, Mt Barker, Kanmantoo and Hay and Native Valley areas during his lifetime, disposing of it all before his death, to his children and creditors. He married twice, first to Johannah Palmer in 1827 and then to Elizabeth Haggett in 1855.


Amos - discovered and grew Subterranean Clover on the road to Nairne 1889


W. - farmer and founder of W. Jacobs & Sons meat works


squatting in Mt Barker area 1839


John - share farmed with Higgins, Clancy & Murphy on land rented from Finnis on the Bald Hills Road towards Nairne.


Thomas - share-farmed with Walter Paterson on the road to Wistow


James, tenant of McFarlane near Blakiston, arrived in SA on the ill-fated Java in 1840 as a single man.


Rev. Alexander - ran boy's school in the basement of the old Presbyterian manse


Mr. - had a station (farm) in the district which was attacked by a party of 15 aborigines in March of 1843.


James, butter and cheese maker, had a factory (still stands but not operational) at Blakiston


J. of Hahndorf, carried the first mail to Adelaide in a pony and trap


Joseph, wife, five sons and six daughters - settled in a slab hut on the bank of  Western Flat Creek in 1839. The family property "Fairfield" was built in 1845. Some of his children were:- Frederick, William, Margaret (Mrs. George Phillips) and Lucy (Mrs. Coleman). (mentioned here and some recollections of their early lives in SA are mentioned here.


Duncan. Built a pise cottage alongside the creek at the bottom end of present day Kiaora Street. Early Magistrate in the town. Butcher - ran his business in the slab hut until he sold it in 1845.

MacFARLANE Lachlan, related to Duncan, built the Oakfield Hotel, considered to be the most pretentions building in the colony at the time. It was later sold to Robert Barr-Smith and renamed Auchendarroch.


Allan (not related to Duncan), farmer, arrived 1839 with wife and family.


Mr & Mrs - had various schools at Blakiston and Mt Barker


Mr. ? - blacksmith


Henry - Justice of the Peace, chaff-cutting business and farmer, one time proprietor of the Great Eastern Hotel at Littlehampton.


George, donated part of the land that St James', Blakiston stands on


F.R. - builder of Nixon's flour mill half way between Hahndorf & Mt Barker


Thomas and family, 1846 - lived in a slab cottage on Cameron Road near where the old Tannery stood (modern day Bi-lo supermarket). His wife was the sister of John Dunn. Tanner and bootmaker. His son William married Elizabeth Dunn, daughter of John Dunn, who was his cousin. (mentioned)


Walter, wife's burial plot is marked by a sundial in the park on the corner of Wellington Road and Hurling Drive. Builder. Mr. Paterson farmed land with a partner named Lambert on the road to Wistow. Mr Paterson also assisted in the building of the prototype reaper for John Bull which would become Ridley's stripper.


Joseph, tennent of McFarlane near Blakiston


bullock team owner/driver


A. - farmer - growing wheat


bullock team owner/driver


William Benjamin - had a early carrying business in the district. His family arrived in the colony in 1839, and by 1854 the family had a large livery stable in Adelaide and were the colony's principal mail contractors. The business was sold to Cobb & Co. in 1867. He married Louisa Ann Carvosso (daughter of Menoti Lee Carvosso), but sadly they had no children of their own. The couple raised the children of Louisa's sister. He was know affectionately as 'Big Ben'. For a time, he had a financial interest in Cobb & Co., but soon tired of this and turned his hand to his pastoral properties, growing grapes, and breeding horses and greyhounds. He became a member of Parliament and was instrumental in the setting up of the Botanic Gardens and the Zoo. He was a judge for the Royal Agricultural Society. His wine growing pursuits turned to the production of spirits and he later merged his private concern with that of the SA Brewing Company, of which he became Managing Director. He maintained a large business interest portfolio, including Colton, Palmer & Preston, a famous hardware firm in Adelaide; and was later Chairman of the Mount Crawford District Council and the Mayor of Glenelg. He represented the seat of Burra in Parliament from 1875-1890 and again from 1899-1906, and the seat of Port Adelaide from 1890-1893. He was briefly the Treasurer of SA during the Morgan administration; Treasurer and Minister for Public Works under Sir Thomas Playford, and again under Sir John Downer; and was part of the shortest ministry in history - that of Vaiben Solomon in 1899 which lasted only eight days. He died at Glenelg in July 1923 and is buried at St Jude's cemetery.

RYDER Joseph - first Clerk of Nairne District Council, lay preacher in Mt Baker with the Anglican Church. Mr. Ryder was one of the members of the Anglican congregation who, along with the likes of Francis Davison, were instrumental in the building of the St James' Church at Blakiston.


squatting in Mt Barker area 1839


Alfred - son of William Searcy who was one of the first police officers in the town and who went on to become the colony's first chief inspector. Alfred was born in Mt Barker in 1854 and educated at Dumas' School and later at Pultney Grammar School. In 1869 he was indentured with the Adevertiser  as a journalist. He stayed with the paper for four years and then joined the Customs Department. He once saved a woman and child from drowning and earned a certificate from the Royal Humane Society of London. He married in 1876 to Jane Annette Rainsford and had seven children - 3 girls and 4 boys. In the 1880's he went to Darwin to direct the collection of Customs fees. He spent some time in dealing with Chinese, Macassans, Queensland smugglers and other law breakers. By 1896 he had returned to Adelaide and followed his brother Arthur into politics, becoming clerk assistant to the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Assembly. He became Clerk of the House himself in 1918 and Clerk of the Parliament in 1920. A published author as well as a journalist, Alfred Searcy wrote about his time in the Territory and his work there as a Customs officer. He died in Adelaide in 1925.

SEARCY Sgt. William - one of the first police officer in the town. Sgt. Searcy arrived in SA on 3 September 1849, and was married to Charlotte Edwin Roffe, and due to his diligence within the police force, later became the colony's first chief inspector of police. His son Alfred was born at Mt Barker and educated at Dumas' school there before going on to Pultney Grammar School. He became an indentured journalist with the Advertister, and another son Arthur was also well known in the state. Sgt. Searcy established the police station at Echunga, and also the regular visits to the Echunga goldfields, for the purposes of checking and issuing mining licenses.


James - proprietor of the Blakiston Arms inn built in 1851 and who leased the hotel to its first registered licensee in 1852 - Thomas O'Donoughue.

John Banks - Arrived in SA on "Hartley" in 1837 with his wife and famiy. He went to Mt Barker as a schoolmaster in 1838. (mentioned) He was later appointed as a Stipendiary Magistrate, and in 1847 was the post master at Mt Barker.


Walter, certificate of freedom convict - blacksmith, carpenter and bullock team driver, carted goods to outlying farms from Adelaide, including Aboriginal rations. Built a house on the corner of Mann and Hutchinson streets (knocked down in 1949) which had underground rooms in it. He married in 1843 in Hobart, to Mary Ann Scammell, the daughter of William Scammell, silversmith, of London, who had gone to Tasmania as nurse to the children of the first Baptist minister in Van Dieman's Land, the Reverend Henry Dowling. They had four children born in Tasmania and several more in South Australia. Two of their daughters married brothers James and Joseph Barclay Berry, who were both school teachers in the general area for a number of years. Walter died in 1876 and is buried at St James' Blakiston, while his widow lived until 1910 and is buried in West Terrace.


Matthew, farmer - lived at Nairne. He was a lawyer for Scotland who came to SA to be a land owner - and that he did, having purchased over 4000 acres in the district. He married Elizabeth Corse Nairne, after whom he named the town of Nairne. Mrs. Smillie could often be seen driving to "town" in a dray with a large sofa strapped to it for her comfort. She would almost always be escorted by her servant, a tall Afro-American who wore a silk top hat. They could always be seen thus, on a Sunday going up the hill to church.


Thomas Henry - arrived in Mt Barker in 1858 - worked in a general store for his uncle Samuel Cook, builder of the "White house", founding member of the Institute. His family still reside in the town.


Samuel donated part of the land that Blakiston Church stands on


Joseph, certificate of freedom convict, previously in the employ of Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney during their overland trek from NSW, arriving in SA 1838. Married to Ann Adams in 1846, lived in the area of Mt Barker Springs and Wistow. Descendants still live in the town today - I am one of them.


Mrs. - kept the "Crooked Billet Inn" at Nairne in 1841


Bessie, nurse to McFarlane children

TONKIN William - lived in Mt Barker as early as 1842. There were two William Tonkin's in the town - and were related. One lived near Peringa mine, the other in the town near the Mt Barker Creek opposite the old tannery area, alongside the tree in which trooper Uphill once lived. (Letter home to his family)


Theodore - gentleman farmer, built a house on the corner of Sims Road and Wellington Roads Mt Barker. Descendants still live in the town today - I am one of them.


Alfred, mail coach driver between Mt Barker & Strathalbyn

Harry - son of Theodore. Builder & Stone Mason, built several of the fine homes in the town


Henry, arrived in 1849 lived at Nairne, had a tannery there, which still stands near the creek where he built it shortly after arrival in the town. The shop front now hold the curio shop called "Upstairs Downstairs", which specialises in things Victorian.


William, partner of  Samuel Daveport at Bugle Ranges. He was a fairly well off Anglo-Irishman who also had property at Beaumont, and was a well known bushman. He was killed in 1854 when thrown from his horse at Rivoli Bay. He is believed to have endowed a scholarship at St Peters College, Adelaide, for young country boys to study there.


Eric - married to Dorothea Ann Schach in 1847 - 1st marriage in Blakiston Church, father of Louis (lawyer and politician)

Louis - son of Eric - solicitor. Married Agnes Bowman of Finniss. Prominent townsman and lawyer, elected to parliament in 1889, and was at one time Attorney General and also Minister for Education.


Mrs - teacher and wife of Dr. Walker (mentioned)


A. - had a flour mill in the town in the 1860's


George, fencing contractor with Cleggett brothers.


Dr. Octavius and his wife Ann - lived at Nairne for a while then moved to Mt Barker, lived in the old Crown Hotel (RSL rooms). Weld Park is named after him. His daughter Eleanor was one of the first female doctors in SA. Dr. Weld died on 28th  October 1901 at Mt Barker at the age of 68. He was a justice of the peace for the town, and a genuine man of the people. He left money to be set aside for a public park for children - hence Weld Park was built in his memory. Dr. Weld was married to Anne Johnston in 1861 at St James' Church, Blakiston, and had four children with her - Theodosia in 1862, Annie in 1866, Mary Eleanor in 1870, and Elizabeth Eleanor in 1873. He was the son of Joseph Weld and.... He is buried at the St James' church yard, where an old fashioned pink tea rose which bears his name is planted on his grave.


bullock team owner/driver. Edward Yates was the publican at the Morning Star hotel, Wistow for a number of years. His descendants still live in the town.

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last updated 8 May 2008