South Australian Company

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The South Australian Company was formed in London on 9 October 1835 by George Fife Angas and other wealthy British merchants to develop a new settlement in South Australia; its purpose was to build a new colony by meeting an essential financial obligation of the South Australia Act of 1834. The South Australian Company ended business in its own right on 17 March 1949 when it was liquidated by Elders Trustee & Executor Company Ltd, which had been managing its Australian affairs since the death of the last Colonial Manager, Arthur Muller in 1936.[1]


The formation of the company followed considerable lobbying by the South Australian Association, a group consisting of philanthropists, radical thinkers, dissenters and merchants. After a years of negotiation, false starts, changes and amendments to suggested charters, the British Parliament finally gave approval and passed the South Australian (Foundation) Act on 15 August 1834.[2]

The founding Board of directors were George Fife Angas (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.[3]


The original purpose of the company was to help prospective colonists meet the obligations set out in the South Australia Act of 1834;[4] 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, who purchased £40,000, 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.[4][5]

Arrivals of 1836[edit]

In January 1836 four ships sailed from England on behalf of the Company, they developed a settlement at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, in July 1836, but when farming proved unviable, they transferred their settlement to the mainland. The Company provided basic infrastructure for the new colony and sold or leased land to immigrants who came to settle.

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

27 July Duke of York (190 ton) S.A. Company 38 passengers
30 July Lady Mary Pelham (206 ton) S.A. Company 29
16 August John Pirie (105 ton) S.A. Company 28
21 August Rapid (162 ton) Commissioners 24
11 September Cygnet (239 ton) Commissioners 84
5 October Emma (181 ton) S.A. Company 22
2 November L'Africaine (316 ton) Various 76
20 November Tam O'Shanter (360 ton) O. Gilles 74
23 December HMS Buffalo (850 ton) Commissioners 171[6]

The Commissioners[edit]

Under the Acts that established the Colony, the UK government appointed Commissioners to oversee implementation of the Acts; Thirteen based in London with a Resident Commissioner stationed in the colony; those first appointed were Colonel Robert Torrens (Chairman), Rowland Hill (Secretary), G. Barnes (Treasurer), George Fife Angas, E. Barnard, William Hutt, J. G. Shaw-Lefevre, W. A. Mackinnon M.P., S. Mills, Jacob Barrow Montefiore, G. Palmer, and J. Wright; the first Resident Commissioner was James Hurtle Fisher.[6]

Colonial Managers[edit]

The Colonial Managers of the South Australian Company were:

Samuel Stephens 1836 1837 [7]
David McLaren 1837 1841 [8]
William Giles 1841 1861 [9]
William John Brind 1861 1894 [10][11]
Henry Yorke Sparks 1894 1900 [12][13]
Henry Percival Moore 1901 1929 [14][15]
Arthur Leopold Albert Muller 1930 1936 [16][17]
(none) 1936 1949 [1]

Officers of the company[edit]

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

Company Secretaries
  • 1878–1911 James Hutchison [32]
  • 1911–1930+ Henry Brandreth Gibbs F.C.I.S.[33]
Attorneys in South Australia
Local Board of Advice, Adelaide

Company offices[edit]

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.

List of people associated with the South Australian Company[edit]

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).

Who Association Streets Notes
George Fife Angas (1789–1879) Commissioner Angas Street
Raikes Currie (1801–1881) Founding director Currie Street
Divett, Edward Trustee Divett Place
Sir James Hurtle Fisher (1790–1875) Resident Commissioner (#1) Hurtle Square [41]
Fussell, John Trustee
George Gawler (1795–1869) Governor of SA (1838–1841) Gawler Place Gawler (town), Gawler Ranges, etc. Refer Gawler (disambiguation)[42]
William Giles (1791–1862) Colonial Manager (1841–1860) [9]
Robert Gouger (1802–1846) Colonial Secretary (#1) Gouger Street [43]
Pascoe St Leger Grenfell (1798–1879) South Australian Church Society Grenfell Street
Sir George Grey (1812–1898) Governor of SA (1841–1845) [44]
Charles Hindley Founding director Hindley Street [3]
Sir John Hindmarsh (1785–1860) Governor of SA (1836–1838) Hindmarsh Square [45]
William Hutt Commissioner Hutt Street
Henry Kingscote Founding Director Kingscote, Kangaroo Island[3]
Sir George Strickland Kingston (1807–1880) Deputy Surveyor General Kingston SE[46]
William Light (1786–1839) Surveyor General Light Square [47]
David McLaren (1785–1850) Colonial Manager (1837–1841) [8]
Moore, Henry Percival Colonial Manager (1901–1929) [14][15]
Sir John Morphett (1809–1892) Land Agent Morphett Street [48]
Muller, Arthur Leopold Albert Colonial Manager (1930–1936) [16][17]
Sir John Pirie Founding director Pirie Street [3]
Rawson, Christopher Founding director [3]
Frederick Robe (1801–1871) Governor of SA (1845–1848) Robe, South Australia[49]
John Rundle Founding director Rundle Street [3]
Smith, Thomas Founding director [3]
Sparks, Henry Yorke Colonial Manager (1894–1900) [11][12][13]
Edward Stephens (1811–1861) First manager of SA Banking Co [50]
Samuel Stephens (1808–1840) Colonial Manager (1836–1837) [7]
Todd, James Ruddell Founding director [3]
Robert Torrens (1780–1864) Commissioner River Torrens[51]
Daniel Bell Wakefield (1798–1858) Drafted the bill that became the founding act Wakefield Street [52]
Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796–1862) Early proposer of colonisation [53]
Henry Waymouth Founding director Waymouth Street [3]
William Wolryche-Whitmore South Australian Church Society Whitmore Square
Sir Henry Edward Fox Young (1803–1870) Governor of SA (1848–1854) [54]


  1. ^ a b "Ending Of Famous S.A. Company". The Advertiser (Adelaide). 91, (28135). South Australia. 9 December 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 7 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. ^ History of the South Australian Company, SA Memory
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The South Australian Company South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register 18 June 1836 p.6
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Majority of the Colony of South Australia South Australian Register 5 January 1858 p.3 accessed 2 July 2011
  7. ^ a b Stephens, Samuel (1808-1840), Australian Dictionary of Biography online retrieved 1 July 2011
  8. ^ a b McLaren, David (1785-1850) Australian Dictionary of Biography online retrieved 2 July 2011
  9. ^ a b Tregenza, John (1966). "Giles, William (1791-1862)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
  10. ^ William John Brind SA Memory
  11. ^ a b '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. ^ a b Death of Mr. H. Y. Sparks South Australian Register 22 October 1900 p.4
  13. ^ a b Death of H. Y. Sparks The Advertiser 22 October 1900 p.5 – Includes biography
  14. ^ a b Personal The Advertiser 6 December 1913 p.19 (Henry Percival Moore)
  15. ^ a b Personal The Advertiser 11 January 1901 p.5 – Includes brief biography of Henry Percival Moore
  16. ^ a b New Manager – South Australian Company The Mail 28 December 1929 p.3 – Includes brief biography of Arthur L. A. Muller
  17. ^ a b Obituary – Mr Arthur L. A. Muller The Advertiser 10 March 1936 p.21
  18. ^ Angas, George Fife (1789–1879), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  19. ^
  20. ^ The Globe - 03 June 1886 p.5
  21. ^ Leeds Mercury - Friday 08 June 1888 p.7
  22. ^ The Globe - 06 June 1889 p.5
  23. ^ Adelaide Observer - 17 July 1897 p.39
  24. ^ Dundee Courier - Thursday 09 June 1898 p.2
  25. ^ Joslin, Henry, 1839-1927
  26. ^ Clarke, Stanley, Sir, d.1911
  27. ^ & Kennaway, John H., Sir, d.1919
  28. ^ Johnston, Andrew, d.1922
  29. ^ Grant, John Henry
  30. ^ Hodge, R.H. Hermon, Sir
  31. ^ & Barr Smith, Thomas Elder, 1863-1941
  32. ^ Hutchison, James
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Fisher, Sir James Hurtle (1790–1875), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  42. ^ Gawler, George (1795–1869), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  43. ^ Gouger, Robert (1802–1846), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  44. ^ Grey, Sir George (1812–1898), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  45. ^ Hindmarsh, Sir John (1785–1860), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  46. ^ Kingston, Sir George Strickland (1807–1880), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  47. ^ Light, William (1786–1839), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  48. ^ Morphett, Sir John (1809–1892), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ Stephens, Edward (1811–1861), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  51. ^ Torrens, Robert (1780–1864), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  52. ^ "Streets of Adelaide and North Adelaide" (PDF). State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  53. ^ Wakefield, Edward Gibbon (1796–1862), Australian Dictionary of Biography online
  54. ^ 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[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Copyright photo of a South Australian Company promisary note for sixpence, issue Kingscote, 1 June 1836, signed by Samuel Stephens