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.
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.
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).
The original purpose of the company was to help prospective colonists meet the obligations set out in the South Australia Act 1834. 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 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), 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.
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.
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.
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.
|27 July||Duke of York||(190 tons)||S.A. Company||38 passengers|
|30 July||Lady Mary Pelham||(206 tons)||S.A. Company||29|
|16 August||John Pirie||(105 tons)||S.A. Company||28|
|21 August||Rapid||(162 tons)||Commissioners||24|
|11 September||Cygnet||(239 tons)||Commissioners||84|
|5 October||Emma||(181 tons)||S.A. Company||22|
|2 November||Africaine||(316 tons)||Various||76|
|20 November||Tam O'Shanter||(360 tons)||O. Gilles||74|
|23 December||HMS Buffalo||(850 tons)||Commissioners||171|
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 1940s, and company dividends were unable to be paid out until 1848, after copper was discovered at Burra.
The company continued to be an important part of the business affairs of Adelaide and the colony (later state) for over a hundred years.
First office, erected 1836 at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island. (c. 1870)
Lists of people
The Colonial Managers of the South Australian Company were:
|William John Brind||1861||1894|||
|Henry Yorke Sparks||1894||1900|||
|Henry Percival Moore||1901||1929|||
|Arthur Leopold Albert Muller||1930||1936|||
David McLaren 1837-1841
William Giles 1841-1860
William Brind 1861-1894
Henry Sparks 1894-1900
Henry Moore 1901-1929
Arthur Muller 1930-1936
Officers of the company
Most of the major streets in the Adelaide city centre were named after the founding directors of the company
- 1836–1848 George Fife Angas (1789–1879)  (Angas Street)
- 1848–18?? James Ruddell Todd
- 1886–1888 Sir John Rose
- 1889–1897 Charles Gay Roberts
- 1898–1898 Godfrey Webb
- 1899–1923 Henry Joslin 
- 1836–18?? Raikes Currie  (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)
- 1880–1911 Major General Sir Stanley De A.C. Clarke, G.C.V.O., C.M.G.
- 1889–1919 Sir John H. Kennaway, Bart. C.B., M.P.
- 1891–1922 Andrew Johnston 
- 1895–1931 John Henry Grant 
- 1899–1931 Sir R.H. Hermon Hodge (later Lord Wyfold) 
- Joseph Fisher
- Robert Barr Smith
- Tom Elder Barr Smith 
- Company Secretaries
- Attorneys in South Australia
- William Bartley 
- 1850–1906 Sir Samuel Davenport, K.C.M.G.
- 1876–1923 John Warren Bakewell 
- Local Board of Advice, Adelaide
- 1841–1885 William Bartley 
- 1841–18?? Edward Stephens
- 1856–1870 William Bakewell, M.P., Crown Solicitor 
- 1876–1923 John Warren Bakewell 
- 1886-1930+ Joseph Fisher 
- 1894–1932 Sir John Lancelot Stirling K.C.M.G., M.L.C.
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)||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|||
|Fussell, John||Trustee||Took over from Henry Waymouth after his death in January 1848.|
|George Gawler (1795–1869)||Governor of SA (1838–1841)||Gawler Place||Gawler (town), Gawler Ranges, etc.|
|William Giles (1791–1862)||Colonial Manager (1841–1860)|||
|Robert Gouger (1802–1846)||Colonial Secretary (#1)||Gouger Street|||
|Pascoe St Leger Grenfell (1798–1879)||South Australian Church Society||Grenfell Street|
|Sir George Grey (1812–1898)||Governor of SA (1841–1845)|||
|Charles Hindley||Founding director||Hindley Street|||
|Sir John Hindmarsh (1785–1860)||Governor of SA (1836–1838)||Hindmarsh Square|||
|William Hutt||Commissioner||Hutt Street|
|Henry Kingscote||Founding Director||Kingscote, Kangaroo Island|
|Sir George Strickland Kingston (1807–1880)||Deputy Surveyor General||Kingston SE|
|William Light (1786–1839)||Surveyor General||Light Square|||
|David McLaren (1785–1850)||Colonial Manager (1837–1841)|||
|Moore, Henry Percival||Colonial Manager (1901–1929)|||
|Sir John Morphett (1809–1892)||Land Agent||Morphett Street|||
|Muller, Arthur Leopold Albert||Colonial Manager (1930–1936)|||
|Sir John Pirie||Founding director||Pirie Street|||
|Rawson, Christopher||Founding director|||
|Frederick Robe (1801–1871)||Governor of SA (1845–1848)||Robe, South Australia|
|John Rundle||Founding director||Rundle Street|||
|Smith, Thomas||Founding director|||
|Sparks, Henry Yorke||Colonial Manager (1894–1900)|||
|Edward Stephens (1811–1861)||First manager of SA Banking Co|||
|Samuel Stephens (1808–1840)||Colonial Manager (1836–1837)|||
|Todd, James Ruddell||Founding director|||
|Robert Torrens (1780–1864)||Commissioner||River Torrens|
|Daniel Bell Wakefield (1798–1858)||Drafted the bill that became the founding act||Wakefield Street|||
|Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796–1862)||Early proposer of colonisation|||
|Henry Waymouth (1791–1848)||Founding director||Waymouth Street|||
|William Wolryche-Whitmore||South Australian Church Society||Whitmore Square|
|Sir Henry Edward Fox Young (1803–1870)||Governor of SA (1848–1854)|||
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