Early SA History

Events and statistics in South Australian history 1834-1857 covering the period from settlement of the Colony to the commencement of responsible Government.
 
1834
South Australian Colonisation Act (4 & 5 William IV. Cap 95) assented to - 15 August.
 
1835
Board of eleven commissioners appointed to control land sales and revenue, and also the flow of emigrants. Col. Robert Torrens, Chairman. Rowland Hill, Secretary.
 
1836
Capt. John Hindmarsh gazetted Governor of South Australia - 21 January
South Australian Company registered - 22 January
Col. William Light gazetted Surveyor General - 4 February
SA Company vessels 'Duke of York', 'Lady Mary Pelham' & 'John Pirie' arrived at Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island in July and August, followed by 'Emma' in October
First migrants land on KI from 'Duke of York' - 27 July
Col. Light arrived at KI to survey area around Nepean Bay - 20 August
Col. Light commenced coastal exploration to find a suitable harbour - 5 September
First school in colony opened at KI by Capt. Bromley
Capt. Hindmarsh arrives at Holdfast Bay in 'Buffalo' and proclaims the establishment of government in SA as a Province of Great Britain - 28 December
Capt. Hindmarsh, Col. Light and J.H. Fisher (Resident Commissioner) visited the site chosen by Light for Adelaide - 30 December
Population of new province of SA 546 Europeans - 31 December
 
1837
Col. Light's commenced surveying the site of Adelaide into 1042 acre allotments, called Town Acres, on either side of River Torrens - 11 January
Survey of Town Acres completed - 10 March
First allotment of land for preliminary land orders - 27 March
Naming of streets and squares of Light's plan commenced - 23 May
The first newspaper (Gazette and Register) printed - 3 June
Supreme Court of South Australia established
Public hospital on North Terrace opened
First Congregational service conducted in Adelaide by Rev. T.Q. Stow - 19 December
Public expenditure was £5,283
Ships wrecked were 'Sir Charles McCarthy' (near Holdfast Bay) and 'South Australian' (Rosetta Harbour)
 
1838
First execution took place - Michael Magee for an attempt on the life of the sheriff, J. Smart - 2 May
First ballot for country sections of land held - May
First wool export of 4 bales to England in the 'Orator' - 21 May
German settlers, led by Pastor Kavel, arrive on the 'Prince George' and settle at Klemzig
First missionaries to the aborigines arrive from the Dresden Missionary Society (Teichelmann and Schurmann) - 12 October
Governor Hindmarsh was recalled and second Governor, Lt-Colonel George Gawler KH arrived on the 'Pestonjee Bomanjee' - 17 October
Population estimated at 6,000 - 31 December
Police force formed
Land sales for the year total 47,932 acres at £1 per acre
Cattle and sheep arrive in the colony, brought overland from New South Wales by Joseph Hawdon, Edward John Eyre and Charles Sturt
Total livestock approximately 480 horses, 2,500 cattle and 28,000 sheep
86 acres under cultivation including 20 acres of wheat
Imports total £158,582 and exports £6,442
3,154 migrants departed from England during the year
Recorded 83 births, 67 deaths and 75 marriages
Public revenue £1,448 and public expenditure £16,580
Ships wrecked were 'Elizabeth' (Rivoli Bay) and 'Parsee' Troubridge Shoal
 
1839
Branch of the Bank of Australasia established - 14 January
Fire destroyed the houses of Light and Fisher at Thebarton with losses including Light's private journal from the previous 30 years - 22 January
Construction by the South Australian Co. of the first road in the colony linking the new site of Port Adelaide to Adelaide commenced - 25 May
Col. William Light died at Thebarton - 6 October
South Australian Agricultural Society established and later merged to form the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia - October
443 acres cultivated including 120 acres of wheat
Recorded immigration was 477 persons
Adelaide's rainfall was 19.84” (504mm)
Public revenue £19,826 and public expenditure £96,186
 
1840
Edward John Eyre commenced overland journey to Western Australia
Total debt chargeable on the revenue of the colony reaches £305,328 2s 7d - 1 May
New Port Adelaide opened by Governor Gawler coinciding with the opening of the new road to the port - 14 October
First wharf named McLaren Wharf for David McLaren, South Australian Company Manager
Municipality of Adelaide was incorporated being the first in Australia (the Council went bankrupt in 1843)
First Council election was held with James Hurtle Fisher elected Mayor - 31 October
Settlement at Noarlunga laid out
2,503 acres cultivated including 1,059 acres of wheat
Total inwards and outwards shipping 425 with tonnage of 83,787
Population estimated at 14,600
Recorded immigration was 2,992 persons
Land sales reached 299,072 acres
Public revenue £30,618 and public expenditure £171,430
 
1841
Population 15,485 - 1 January (the 1841 census is the only one in South Australia for which any detailed records survive)
The first mine in South Australia, Wheal Gawler at Glen Osmond, commenced producing silver-lead ore - the mineral deposit was discovered by Thomas & Hutchins, two Cornish miners
First Savings Bank established - 6 March
Governor Gawler was recalled
Third Governor of South Australia, George Grey Esq. - 15 May
500,000 acres of land surveyed by mid-year
Edward John Eyre arrives at Albany, Western Australia
Road tolls imposed on carriages and stock at Glen Osmond
Shipment from Cape Town of 57,200 vine cuttings and a “choice variety of fruit trees” - October
Public expenditure cut, resulting in considerable unemployment
Public revenue £25,329 and public expenditure £89,999
Nearly 2,000 destitute persons on government support - December
Government revenue £51,000 and expenditure £180,000
Economic depression leads to the suspension of assisted migration
Immigration was recorded at 776 persons
Adelaide rainfall was 17.96” (456mm) over 93 days
4,721 acres cultivated for wheat, 1,000 acres for barley and 1,000 for oats
 
1842
Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages commenced - 1 July
Legislative Council constituted
South Australian Board of Colonization Commissioners abolished
Copper discovered at Kapunda by Francis Dutton
Division of part of the colony into counties - Adelaide, Eyre, Flinders, Gawler, Hindmarsh, Light, Stanley, Sturt
Due to the depressed state of the economy, 642 out of 1,915 houses in Adelaide were vacant and 216 were in a state of disrepair - December
Public revenue was £23,404 and public expenditure £68,434
15,281 acres cultivated for wheat
Estimated livestock was 250,000 sheep, 21,000 cattle, 1,000 horses
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) 150 with total tonnage of 25,354
Adelaide rainfall 20.32” (516mm)
 
1843
Ridley's harvester stripper invented
Flour mill built at Hindmarsh
28,690 acres under cultivation with 23,000 acres of wheat
Livestock estimated at 1,576 horses, 29,000 cattle, 331,000 sheep
Australia's first exports of mineral ore from Glen Osmond
First steam engine in the colony built by Messrs Wyatt
Imports total £109,137, exports £80,858 of which minerals were £127
Public revenue was £24,952 and public expenditure £34,386
Immigration was recorded at 1,213 persons and emigration at 1,477
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) was 104 with total tonnage of 15,533
Adelaide rainfall 17.19” (437mm)
 
1844
The first Colonial Census was held indicating a population of 17,366, including 96 at Port Lincoln - 26 February
Adelaide's population approximately 10,000
200 German settlers arrived - 18 September
First Roman Catholic Church erected in the colony at Morphett Vale was dedicated - 8 December
Immigration was recorded at 1.114 persons and emigration at 436
Estimates of at least 1,000 persons arriving in the colony from New South Wales during the year
Public revenue was £26,899 and public expenditure £29,362
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) was 139 with total tonnage of 18,489
26,918 acres under cultivation with 18,980 of wheat
South Australia produced wheat in excess of its own requirements
Imports £118,915 and exports £95,272 of which wool was £42,769 and minerals £6,436
Adelaide rainfall 16.88” (429mm)
 
1845
Copper discovered at Burra
Gold discovered near Montacute
Assisted migration resumed
Immigration was recorded at 2,336 persons and emigration at 449
Charles Sturt's exploration of north-eastern South Australia
Governor of South Australia, Lt-Colonel Frederick Holt Robe - 25 October
Population estimated at 21,759 - 31 December
Public revenue was £32,433 and public expenditure £40,775
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) was 225 with total tonnage of 26,558
Imports were £184,819, exports £148,459 of which £72,235 was wool and minerals £19,020
Livestock includes 26,146 cattle and 480,669 sheep
Adelaide rainfall 18.83” (478mm)
 
1846
Population at census, 26 February, was 22,390, including 132 at Port Lincoln and 70 on Kangaroo Island. Adelaide's population 13,871.
937 births during year, 360 deaths and 189 marriages.
Immigration recorded was 4,458 persons and emigration 863.
The first pastoral leases granted.
John Horrocks uses Australia's first camel for exploration.
Mining - 6,461 tons of copper ore produced with a value equal to $285,000.
Adelaide rainfall 26.89" (683mm) over 114 days.
Public revenue £47,286, public expenditure £38,690.
Government revenue £47,286 ($95,000), expenditure £38,690 ($77,000).
Imports £330,099 and exports £312,838 of which wool £106,510 and minerals £143,231.
Area under cultivation for agriculture 33,292 acres of which 26,134 acres for wheat.
 
1847
First winery in the Barossa Valley commenced operations.
St Peter's College established.
Livestock includes 56,375 cattle and 784,811 sheep.
Road tolls at Glen Osmond ceased.
Population estimate 31 December - 31,153.
Immigration recorded was 5,645 persons and emigration 885.
Adelaide rainfall 27.61" (701mm).
Hailstorm in Adelaide with hailstones ranging in size from marbles to pigeon's eggs - 19 July.
First building society in colony established - The Adelaide and Suburban Building Society - 10 February.
Public revenue £66,342, public expenditure £58,879.
Imports £410,825 and exports £350,348 of which wool £56,130 and minerals £174,017.
 
1848
Savings Bank of South Australia established.
First ferry over the River Murray - at Wellington.
Pulteney Street Church of England Grammar School established.
St Peter's College established.
Governor of South Australia: Sir Henry E F Young - 02 August.
Population estimate 31 December - 38,666.
Immigration was 7,664 persons and emigration 1,042.
Public revenue £82,911, public expenditure £80,129.
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) 412 with total tonnage 90,956.
Imports £384,326 and exports £504,068 of which wool £98,582 and minerals £320,624.
Adelaide rainfall 19.74" (501mm).
Area under cultivation 48,911 acres including 29,737 acres for wheat.
 
1849
Central Board of Main Roads established.
Population estimate 31 December - 52,904.
Immigration recorded was 16,166 persons and emigration 2,694.
First shipload of Irish orphans arrived - June.
Village of Woodville laid out.
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) 549 with total tonnage 155,920.
Public revenue £108,301, public expenditure £82,637.
Imports £599,548, exports £402,853 including wool £108,539 and minerals £219,775.
Adelaide rainfall 25.44" (646mm).
 
1850
The British Parliament passes an Act granting representative government to South Australia.
Population estimate 31 December - 63,700.
Immigration recorded was 10,358 persons and emigration 4,221.
Public revenue £238,983, public expenditure £239,081.
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) 559 with total tonnage 174,455.
Imports £845,572, exports £570,817 including wool £131,731, minerals £365,464 and breadstuffs £38,312.
Livestock includes 6,488 horses, 60,034 cattle and 984,190 sheep.
Acreage under cultivation - total 64,728 of which wheat 41,807, hay 13,302 and other crops 9,619 acres.
Adelaide rainfall 19.51" (496mm).
The South Australian Register became a daily paper - 01 January.
The postal system included 63 Post Offices and handled 266,588 letters and 393,177 newspapers. Income was £5,413.
Savings bank depositors - total number 672. Total Savings Bank funds £11,772.
64 Public Schools had a total enrolment of 1,867 scholars.
 
1851
Central Board of Education established.
Population reaches 66,538 by 31 December. Adelaide's population 32,810 (Census 01 January - 63,700).
Immigration recorded was 8,464 persons and emigration 6,025.
Mount Barker farmer John Frame wins a gold medal at the Great Exhibition in London for the quality of his wheat.
Legislative Council elections held - July.
Public revenue £222,559, public expenditure £183,506.
Shipping (total inwards and outwards) 538 with total tonnage 155,002.
Imports £690,777, exports £602,087 including wool £148,036, minerals £310,916 and breadstuffs £73,359.
Adelaide rainfall 30.63" (778mm).
The postal system included 72 Post Offices and handled 364,595 letters and 517,722 newspapers. Total income was £6,805.
Savings bank depositors - total number 732. Total Savings Bank funds £14,785.
115 Public Schools had a total enrolment of 3,031 scholars.
 
1852
Arrival of the First Gold Escort under the leadership of the Commissioner of Police, Alexander Tolmer,
with gold valued at £18,456 9s, sent by 300 gold diggers - 19 March.
Second Gold Escort arrives in Adelaide with £70,000 gold (1,600 ounces) from 851 diggers - 04 May.
Eleven ships arrived at Port Adelaide with 687 passengers returning from the Victorian gold fields - June.
Gold discovered at Echunga - 23 August.
Immigration for the year 20,789 with emigration at 16,475.
Population estimate 31 December - 68,663
 
1853
Gold Escorts discontinued after bringing gold valued at approximately £2 million to South Australia - December.
Navigation of the Murray commences with W R Randell's Mary Ann and Francis Cadell's Lady Augusta.
The cost of the necessaries and comforts of life in South Australia increased by about 150% during the year.
Immigration recorded at 20,128 and emigration 11,648.
Population estimate 31 December - 78,944
 
1854
First full scale public railway (horse drawn) in Australia between Goolwa and Port Elliot commenced operation.
Immigration recorded at 17,258 and emigration at 5,467.
Population estimate 31 December - 92,545
Adelaide's rainfall 15.35" (390mm) - the driest year since settlement.
 
1855
Governor of South Australia: Sir R G MacDonnell - 08 June.
First electric telegraph in South Australia commences operation between Adelaide and Port Adelaide,
being a private enterprise of James MacGeorge - 26 November.
South Australian Museum opened.
First South Australian postage stamps issued.
Immigration for the year 17,211 and emigration 4,501.
Population estimate 31 December - 96,982
Population at census on 31 March - 85,821.
 
1856
First Government telegraph in South Australia opened (Adelaide to Port Adelaide) - 18 February.
First telegraph line between Adelaide and Melbourne opened - 19 July.
Number of telegrams sent for year - 14,738.
Railway from Adelaide to Port Adelaide constructed.
241,886 passengers and 26,354 tons freight carried
New South Australian Constitution proclaimed - 24 October.
South Australia contributed £200 to the testimonial to Florence Nightingale for her services in the Crimea.
Fire in Hindley Street destroys property including that of Messrs. Solomon & Co. Total loss estimated at £100,000.
Immigration for the year 9,525 and emigration 7,278.
Population estimate 31 December - 104,708
 
1857
First meeting of the first South Australian Parliament - 22 April.
Railway from Adelaide to Gawler (25 miles) completed - 05 October.
Total railway traffic for year 359,335 passengers and 95,190 tons freight.
Construction of a jetty at Glenelg commences.
Number of telegrams sent for the year - 35,792.
South Australian postal service handles 934,550 letters and 849,946 newspapers with 110 Post Offices..
Immigration for the year 8,138 and emigration 4,909.
Population estimate 31 December - 109,917.
Savings Bank depositors number 1,775 with total funds of £70,136.
167 public schools have a total of 7,480 scholars.
Number of churches and chapels in colony - 294.
Shipwrecks during the year:
Phaeton, Sultana, Koenig Wilhelm II (Guichen Bay)
Haleyon (near Murray Mouth)
Swordfish, Josephine L'Arizeau (Port Elliot)
Maid of the Valley (Port Willunga)
 
Sources:
South Australian Year Book
Statistical Sketch of South Australia 1876, Josiah Boothby
The History of South Australia , Edwin Hodder 1893
A History of South Australia - From Colonial Days to the Present, (1984), R M Gibbs
Information assembled 24th January 1998 by Robert D Blair.