Family Life in South Australia - a precis
Mr and Mrs Alfred Watts, c.1865.SLSA SLSA [B 7966]
"Family Life in South Australia Fifty-Three Years Ago
Dating from October 1837"
by Jane Isabella Watts
Published 1890 by W.K. Thomas & Co, Adelaide
Precis compiled by David Wilson, 2015, and is restricted to only the first two years in Kangaroo Island.
(Note that the author Jane Isabella Watts, the daughter of William Giles, codified many names, and that in this precis, an attempt has been made to provide their real names. Additional explanatory comments are in square brackets.)
EARLY COLONISTS. (1921, September 17). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 14. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165662458
Departure From England
Mr William Giles, through his connections in London, was offered in 1836 the position of manager of a bank in Western Australia, and his eldest son, William Jnr. , then a clerk in a London bank, the position of accountant. The family prepared for their move, by seeking every scrap of information about the new Swan River colony, including a visit to the pleasant London home of the Commandant of the colony, [James Stirling?] who was in London at the time. The destination was then altered to South Australia. Despite the dire warnings of their relatives and friends concerned at this decision, the whole family - at that time nine children from his first marriage, and his second wife and her child, embarked 18 May 1837 on the Hartley, [a newly built barque of 262 tons], 350 tons burden, bound for Kingscote, Kangaroo Island. They could not forget that the remains of the first wife [Sarah nee Roper], the mother of the eldest nine children, remained in a graveyard in Surrey.
A piano and many other possessions and gifts from friends were included in "the outfit, which had assumed gigantic proportions". Initial impressions were the vessel was small and terribly overcrowded. [The author then describes an on board friendship by Giles with another "pilgrim father", a friendship that persisted for another 35 years, both men dying within months of each other. This was almost certainly the Rev. Thomas Quinton Stow (1801-19 Jul 1862)] .
Just before reaching the Cape, "another child had been born" [George Hartley Giles b. 02 Aug 1837] and the mother [Emily Elizabeth Giles nee McGeorge] was carried ashore in a hammock, to the consternation of the customs officials. The Giles family enjoyed their three weeks ashore, and the kindness and hospitality of the locals. With replenished provisions and livestock, the Hartley was overloaded causing much discomfort to the passengers. A terrible storm lasting several days delayed their departure.
Captain F. [unknown] a retired military officer, an Irishman recently widowed, was missed at table and mourned - his fate is unclear.
Another frightening gale was encountered, and livestock slaughtered "to save lives". Progress was slow, and provisions running low; an albatross pie was a failure.
After a five months voyage, the Hartley reached Kangaroo Island [16 Oct 1837] - with no signs of civilisation the first impressions were "dull, dreary and desolate", but spirits lifted when they reached Nepean Bay.
Arrival at Kangaroo Island
[22 Oct 1837]
Upon anchoring, a burst of sunshine and a rainbow were considered to be an optimistic omen for the start of a new life in their adopted country.The Company's Chief Manager [David McLaren] gave them a polite but not very cordial welcome. McLaren was somewhat straight-laced and puritanical in his religious views - devoid of fun and laughter. The ladies had to be carried ashore in the sailors' arms - this mode of conveyance somewhat primitive and undesirable - but happy to have their feet on solid ground at last.
They were surprised to see how much had been done in one year. There was a neat, white wooden house - "a counting house"; a large wholesale store and workshops; building materials, boats, casks, machinery everywhere. On the cliff a retail store and row of workmen cottages, and in the distance two or three stone brick houses, with some excellent framed wooden ones that had been brought from Tasmania; besides sundry tents and bush huts. The township had been named Kingscote after one of the directors of the Company, and had been cleared of the tall scrub.
They were conducted to the superintendent's house overlooking the beautiful harbour, comparable to the Bay of Naples. Two or three acres of land had been fenced in, with a white gate, and a garden laid out, of vegetables and flowers.
William Giles was to replace David McLaren, and their reception was politely cold. After a meal of fresh food, Mrs McLaren showed them to their new temporary abode - two unfinished rooms and the use of the kitchen in a stone cottage used by Mr and Mrs Charles Simeon Hare. The boys and servants (a cook and gardener who had voyaged with them) were accommodated in tents nearby.
Charles Simeon Hare [who arrived with his wife on the Emma in October 1836] was a very odd and peculiar character, yet his boastful eccentricities were matched by his kind-heartedness. The Giles learned with some alarm it was more Australian to dress down for dinner. As there was only one horse on the island engaged on a farm 8 miles away [Cygnet River] all the furniture and stores had to be brought from the beach by hand trucks. There was not enough room in the cottage and many items had to be stored in the roof space. The sitting room was "crowded to repletion" with elegant and luxurious furnishings.
The one small bedroom had to accommodate seven people. Mrs Hare had a pet opossum which scuttled around the roof and Mrs Giles had an aversion to this (and any animals), worrying that it might leap onto her or her baby's face, Mr McLaren milked his goats on the kitchen table, and his wife put her foot down, fearing that pigs would be allowed into the house next. Mr Giles had purchased an Alderney cow from the captain of the Hartley [Captain Thomas Fewson] - the only cow on the island - which provided some milk for a time; but after it dried up, he procured some goats, which provided their dairy needs. Food provisions were quite expensive [prices are given], particularly meat and flour. They saw no kangaroos, though wallaby meat could occasionally be bought from the earlier inhabitants, like "Whalley" and his two black wives "Puss" and "Polecat". These earlier inhabitants were considered by the newcomers to be escaped convicts from Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) twenty years earlier.
Fish of all kinds were plentiful, whenever the fishermen were sufficiently sober and energetic to catch them. The labouring population (250-300 persons) suffered from drunkenness. Water was scarce and had to brought in from a considerable distance to the township by casks. Strangely enough, when the Company had relinquished their whaling operations and when the place was abandoned by all but 2 or 3 families, a fine spring of water was found a few yards from the beach.
The Giles family became acquainted with a strange old Teuton geologist [Johannes Menge, who arrived on the Coromandel in January 1837]. and whose scientific knowledge was more theoretical than practical; although he was remarkable linguist, teaching Mrs Giles and elder daughters [Mary and Jane], Hebrew. But his visits were incessant and ill-timed, frequently inviting himself to dinner. After his contract with the Company ended, he fossicked around the Mount Crawford area, living in a hollow tree, and had the misfortune of being robbed of his life savings shortly before he died [in the Victorian goldfields]. There was more important work for them to do rather than study Hebrew - namely educate the children in English, and attend to making suitable clothes for the family. A grand dinner party had been arranged for their arrival (the first on Kangaroo Island), and Jane was to make her debut. A young newly married neighbour who had been a dressmaker in England, spurned their requests for help, and so sunny faced and golden haired eldest sister Mary obliged and a suitable dress was ready in time.
The dinner party reception was hosted by the cordial Thomas Beare (who escorted Mary). David McLaren occupied the place of honour at the head of the table. Jane's escort was a square built young doctor [Dr Lovell Byass ?]. Menge and Charles Hare featured in the entertainment and everyone was having a good time (even the normally dour McLaren) until remarkably, one of the guests, another German, rose and denounced the company, their country and their countrymen. The party was finished, and so was the indiscreet speaker.
The family were seldom without visitors, with many ships calling in to Nepean Bay landing cargo before proceeding to the mainland. Mr Giles was determined to offer a cordial welcome to the new immigrants, in contrast to that he and his family had received. At times there could be 18-20 at the table. Two female servants made possible entertaining on such a scale. But one, the stout cook [name unknown] tragically rolled onto her own baby one night, smothering it. As a result she was indisposed for some time and the Giles girls had to take up some of the duties - Mary making clothes for her brothers, and Jane becoming the "chief baker" often with disastrous results. Every member of the family was actively employed and had to submit to serious privations.
Lydia in her role of messenger girl, suffered a bad leg injury from a dog bite. Lydia's best friend was Lucy Ann Beare, of the same age. Lucy's mother had died shortly after arriving on K.I. Recreation for Mrs Giles and Mary involved practising the piano, writing letters or needlework, and for the younger children consisted of shell gathering at the Bay of Shoals, although Jane often had to carry Emily (aged 2). Samuel (age 7) loved the sea.
One frequent visitor at about his time was the Advocate General, Mr Charles Mann snr., a clever, agreeable man, brimful of information about many topics. [Born 1799, died 1860. he arrived on the Coromandel, Jan 1837].
Their New House and First Dinner Party
The new house built for them was now ready, and although they owed a great debt of gratitude to Mrs and Mrs Charles Simeon Hare for allowing them to use the two rooms in their cottage for the past seven months, they were excited about the move to more spacious accommodation.
Hare was particularly popular with the children showing them great kindness. He was fond of 8 year old Samuel teaching him about the sea and boats. Samuel wanted to become a whaler, but his days were already numbered.
Hare recited to the interested family the melancholy tale of the ill-fated "Africaine" expedition, [see The Tragedy of Dr Slater and Mr Osborne ] in which he played a role in the search effort. [The author in a footnote acknowledges that two men had died, not one, as Hare had informed her.]
Most of the Giles "boys" had struck their tents and left for Adelaide, and one for Tasmania to purchase sheep. All the belongings were moved to the new house by hand truck, including those stored in the ceiling space since they first arrived. Hare's dog,"Snap" came too. The new house was about a mile from Kingscote - "a large substantial stone one" with picturesque coast scenery, looking down on a pretty beach, flanked by steep cliffs. Although the building was still not completed, it had the luxury of a fireplace. The children's bedroom was up steep awkward steps into the roof and was subject to the wind.
The next morning two ships arrived, the Goshawk and the Pelorus carrying Governor Hindmarsh.
A church service was held in a large tent accommodating 60-70 people [on the site what must now be the Pioneers Cemetery]. After the service they met their father, back from Adelaide, and Alfred Watts who had arrived recently from Hobart and had been appointed to a responsible position with the Company. On coming home from the evening service, Mr Watts, who was escorting the sisters, accidentally dropped the lamp, leaving the party in darkness, but younger brother [John] was able to pilot them safely home.
That night at the supper table, Mr Giles announced that it was his intention to invite the Governor and the Captain of the Pelorus to his house for dinner the next evening. This caused quite a consternation as the family had only just moved in to their new house, and they had no provisions to feed a party of 24. With some local foraging by some messengers, a few provisions were found, but rescue came from the Captain of the Goshawk [Captain Robert Laing] who provided items of food and drink fit for a Governor.
"The carpet had been laid down in the dining room, curtains and pole affixed to the windows, pictures hung upon the walls, and with good napiery,and a sufficiency of glass, silver, and wax lights upon the tables, an excellent repast was provided as anyone not absolutely an epicure could possibly desire, the wallaby soup in particular much enjoyed for its rarity." The Colonial Secretary [Samuel Stephens] was "a good-looking, dapper little man", danced well and sang soft sentimental ditties, and considered by the ladies as quite effeminate, wearing a ladies' No. 4 in boots. His colleague the Private Secretary [George Stevenson], tall and powerfully made, not handsome, but intellectual, a "well shaped head", and with undoubted talent, as shown by the newspaper he later produced. Captain Hindmarsh "was of middle height, pleasant looking, frank, genial, affable manners, and every inch a sailor". But one of his eyes of the brightest blue, was glass. Coffee and music and singing ended the evening, and the important visitors returned to the beach and embarked for Adelaide that night.
Visitors were reduced to a trickle, as fewer ships called in to Nepean Bay - the last for some time being the Duke of Roxburgh (May 1839). While Jane cared for the young restless brother, who found peace near the sea, she reflected on her future and whether she would be able to resume her studies, and to become educated like her mother.
The Governor had appointed Mr Giles as Special Magistrate, and "it was astonishing the number of petty grievances, family bickerings, and such like, that immediately cropped up; all of which he was called upon to redress, invariably advising the litigants to a peaceful settlement whenever practicable." At one court hearing, the man accused of stealing hams, when sentenced, had to wake up the constable "I say, old fellow. Wake up. Don't you hear what they're saying? You're to take me to prison." This was done, to a special stone building erected as a gaol. But with aid of an accomplice, the prisoner had escaped that night - having made a hole in the wall as the mortar was made from sea-water, and had crumbled to dust. On his recapture the magistrate incarcerated him in a 300 gallon butt, but again he escaped, plundered the store and made off to a whaling hip in the harbour. The author swears this to be true. On two occasions the magistrate's life was threatened - Mr Alfred Watts defusing one situation.
David McLaren had left his house vacant apart from two rooms used by the chief manager, and for his own reasons required Mr Giles to leave his pleasant home on the point and relocate to his official residence - with the proviso that he be accommodated there whenever he visited the island. The family was disappointed that they had to leave the house in which they were so comfortably settled, which shortly afterwards fell into ruin, and destroyed by fire.
The "official residence" was more finished, although less commodious. "The dining and drawing rooms, both of excellent size, 20 feet by 16, with two pretty French windows in each, opening up onto a highly ornamented verandah, 60 feet in length, were not only plastered and coloured, but had handsomely carved mantel-pieces, giving the rooms, when the furniture was all arranged, a more English aspect ..."
The children would dread the increasingly infrequent visits of the Calvinist David McLaren as he could not relate to them with his dour, humourless demeanour. But McLaren would delight in his own son "Jonathan", who had the opposite qualities of his father. As the visits became less, the family soon had the house to themselves.
Mr Giles obtained a recipe for making yeast, which he gave to Jane, who was alarmed to learn that not only was she the baker, she will now have to learn to be a brewer. She enlisted the help of two German boys "Auguste" and "Carl". Although she good-naturedly complained of her lot, Jane realised that their family were relatively fortunate, when considering the situation of others in Adelaide "where large families, brought up in every comfort, if not luxuriously, in the old country, were crowded into tents for many months together, exposed alike to the fierce heat of the Australian summer sun and the cold, sharp, frosty nights and heavy rains of winter." One new mother and her new born first child were drenched in their tent. Another family lost their thatched roof in a gust of wind from their cottage on North Terrace, allowing them to study the stars that night, "with no obstruction to impede their view".
The Rev Thomas Quinton Stow with his family [six altogether] lived in a huge tent for three months after their arrival [on the Hartley 20 Oct 1837], and during the hottest season of the year. This tent was used for worship by a large number of people who suffered from the heat inside. Mrs Stow, in particular suffered, although she remained cheerful and energetic until "her health gave way under the strain".
"In addition to unsuitable accommodation, the want of servants was felt heavily in the early days by many ladies, who, in feeble health and delicately nurtured, were compelled to perform the most laborious domestic duties, such as cooking in the sun at a camp fire, and doing the washing for their families." The price of food and provisions was exorbitant, due to their scarcity.
Another story of the perils of living in tents involved a lady accompanying the Colonel and Mrs Gawler in the Port Lincoln district. The tent was blown away in the middle of the night, but the "maiden all forlorn" was rescued by the Governor's man-servant.
Festivities - The New Doctor
Two strangers, one strangely dressed, from the ship anchored in the bay nonchalantly walked up to the house. They were travelling from Sydney to the Western Archipelago. Both fond of music, they returned over the next days with their instruments and enchanted their hosts with their renditions, and a festive week was had by all, concluding with a ship board musical reception.
Just before the Christmas holidays, a picnic to the salt lagoons on the northern side of the bay was arranged. Mr Watts and another young gentleman from the same office was asked to join the family. They sailed from the recently constructed jetty in a six oared cutter, kept for Mr Gile's disposal, through the Bay of Shoals to a picturesque spot beside the largest of the lagoons.
Fishing was the most popular recreation for the young men : schnapper roe was comparable to caviar. On one moonlight fishing expedition, organised by Captain Laing of the Goshawk, some of the party landed to search for sea fowl but were trapped by the rising tide and had to wade back to the boat. Rowing for hours in damp clothes to reach home, resulted in one having to have his fashionable Hoby's boots cut off his feet, as well the worst cold he ever had.
There were many sharks in the bay, and many tall tales about them, including one of thirty-five feet that crushed a boat. Three men stood inside its jaws, and liver produced 60 gallons of oil.
Mr and Mrs Giles' 12th [13th?] child was born, a pretty delicate boy [Edward Hollingworth Giles], and after Mrs Giles recovery, Dr Byass and his wife decided to leave the island, unable to settle down there, as a consequence of the death of their only child [Lovel ?, buried in Reeve's Point Cemetery]. The replacement doctor, [Dr Harvey] with his wife and two sons, moved into the adjoining residence, just vacated by Mr Alfred Watts who had to urgently return to Adelaide. [As the supplanted Watts was Jane's future husband, this would no doubt have coloured her opinion of Dr Harvey (and one of his sons), whom she described at length in most unflattering and bitter terms. Although she did have utmost respect and compassion for Harvey's long suffering wife, Sophia nee Fildes, whom she describes in glowing terms. See two accounts, quoting this book: Dr James Benjamin Harvey ] When the Kingscote settlement was broken up, the Harvey family were relocated to Port Lincoln, and Jane corresponded with her dear friend Sophia, until her death [from consumption, in December 1842].
Death In The House
Towards the end of summer [18 Feb 1838] little Samuel, who had so loved the sea, died. He had been enticed by a neighbour's son [son of Dr Harvey?] to miss church and go crab fishing. After being exposed to the sun all day, he returned to be admonished by his father and sent to bed, one of the sisters staying with him. The next day he suddenly suffered from leg pain and a profuse nose bleed, and Dr Harvey was sent for, who pronounced he had "a severe cold". That night he had fever and delirium, which did not abate and Mr Giles consulted another person who had practised medicine on the island but was not passed the College of Surgeons, who diagnosed typhoid fever brought on by sunstroke. Dr Harvey ridiculed his opinion. The Giles family had no option but to resort to prayer. But sadly the 9 year old died, and was buried at the [Reeves Point] cemetery - a wild spot, the churchyard overlooking the sea.
Another misfortune then befell the family, with their servant, "Patty", whose love, a sawyer "Mark Tapley", had been killed in a terrible accident, crushed to death by a dray in the Tiers, just prior to their planned marriage in Adelaide. [Jane describes in detail Patty's earlier life, and her circumstances, and various beaux, including a one-eyed plasterer.] The incident had a deleterious effect on Patty, whose duties were largely taken up by the girls in the family: they lamented that supplies of suitable food, such as game, were in short supply. "If those uncouth barbarians the islanders, in their garments and moccasins, made from the skins of wild animals, could only have been prevailed upon to bring in wallaby, then all would have been plain sailing ...."
Another servant, a rough German girl named "Lisette" was taken on. She was accidentally hit by shot from the gun of James Giles who was hunting parrots, and Dr Harvey was enraged, declaring it was a way of the English to assassinate the Germans.
While Mr and Mrs Giles were away in Adelaide, the whaling season closed and about 60 men from various whaling stations came into Kingscote to be paid. A rough, lawless mob, they spent much of their time at "the low grog-shops that infested the place, drinking and quarreling to a fearful extent, that their conduct more resembled that of brute beasts rather than of sane men." There were no police, apart from one constable Hodge, and the Giles were annoyed by the "disgraceful scenes" at their door and the nearby tavern, and became quite fearful of their vulnerable situation. Recently there had been a murder, one drunken fisherman beating another with a boat-hook, and he promptly rowed ashore and presented himself to Mr Giles claiming "he had killed his mate". The murderer escaped penalty "through a flaw in the indictment, but perished miserably, it was said, in the bush a few years afterwards."
Their staunch friend [Mrs Stow ?] and her little son, returned with Giles parents from Adelaide and stayed with them a month. They also brought back with them another servant, an uncouth Scottish woman, who Jane likened to one of the witches from Macbeth. She was to look after the baby , who sadly died [Edward Hollingworth Giles, 1838-18 July 1839] and was laid to rest next to his bother in the churchyard cemetery.
Farewell To The Island
No ships touched the island, except one or two on route to England or other colonies, and the monotony was becoming painful. The inhabitants of Kingscote had nearly all left for the mainland. The managers had decided to pursue more profitable ventures than just whaling - which proved unprofitable due to "unsuitable ships, inefficient captains and worthless men". There was little prospect in farming, due to the "small extent of good agricultural land in the district, together with the enormous expense incurred in clearing it."
"Orders, therefore, came from the head manager that the place was to be abandoned, notwithstanding the many thousands of pounds laid out there in good, substantial buildings and other improvements. Everything now not absolutely required for daily use was packed up in readiness for the Rapid, one of the Company's ships which had been ordered to call at Nepean Bay and convey the family to Adelaide. But their particular friend, Captain H.[Captain Devlin?] who commandeered her and whose genial, pleasant manners had made him so great a favorite that he was always a welcome guest at their house, where indeed, when ashore, he passed most of his time, must have misunderstood the instructions given, as he never made his appearance at all, and nearly three months of weary waiting passed away before a vessel of any description came in bound for Adelaide."
"The lady visitor [Mrs Stow ?] ... was sorely perplexed and troubled for the delay" having had no news from her family for so long. Then at last they saw "gliding unexpectedly round Point Marsden, a large vessel from England, and arrangements were quickly made with the captain to take them all on board. [Possibly the cutter made in Tasmania, Water Witch which The SA Company purchased in 1839 to replace the Rapid, but hardly "a large vessel from England"]. There was only time for the sisters to snatch a hurried peep at their favourite haunts when the moment of departure came, and the whole family bade a long and last farewell to Kangaroo Island".
"Family Life in South Australia" then continues from their arrival in Adelaide.
Other notable families arriving on the Hartley in 1837 that may have spent some time on Kangaroo Island, are Mr. John Gale Shepherdson, Rev. T. Q. Stow, Mr. W. B. Randell, afterwards stock manager of the Company at Gumeracha. They might be indicated in the diary entries above.
AN INTERESTING BOOK.
By A. T. Saunders.
In the Public Library is a little book printed in 1882 for private circulation, without the author's name and with initials (in nearly all cases wrong ones) instead of names. Internal evidence shows that the writer was the second daughter of Mr. William Giles, who succeeded Mr. David McLaren as manager of the South Australian Company. This well-written little book deals with events from 1837 to 1845, beginning in England, when Mr. William Giles, of Montpelier square, Brompton, London, decided to emigrate to Australia. His first idea was to go to Western Australia; but by good luck he decided upon our State.
In May, 1837, by the ship Hartley, of 322 tons (Capt. Thomas Fewson), the Giles family sailed from England, and they arrived at Kangaroo Island in October, 1837. after a passage of 150 days, including 21 days in Capetown.
Mr. Giles was born on December 27, 1791, and was twice married. He brought with him six sons and three daughters by his first wife, and his second wife had a child on board the Hartley a few days before the ship arrived at Capetown, in addition to the 'young infant' mentioned by the author.
Fifty adults "of a superior class" (in official language), came as passengers by the Hartley, including the Rev. T. Q. Stow and family, and J. B. Shepherdson and family and the Randell family, including the Murray pioneers.
Miss Jane Isabel Giles, known as 'Minnie,' was 13 when the Hartley arrived, so I assume her book is largely written from memory. Mr. McLaren, who is called John Knox, was on the island when the Hartley arrived, and welcomed the Giles family, who landed at Kingscote, the Hartley going on to Glenelg.
Mr. C S. Hare received the Giles family politely, but coolly, as Mr. Giles was to take the position he held in the South Australian Company. A good description is given of Mr. Hare, who is called 'Bombastes.' Mr. Hare became a well known man, and died here 22/7/1882. The Register gave a long obituary notice of him.
—Primitive Conditions. —
The Giles family were fortunate in that from the first they had a house— small though it was— for in Adelaide for months (and in winter) many had no shelter but tents, as Miss Giles describes. There was only one horse on the island, and Mr. Giles bought from Capt. Fewson a milch cow, which was the only cow on the island. There were several goats, and an amusing account is given of how 'Bombastes' milked his goats on the kitchen table.
There were wallabies on the island, but no kangaroos. Whally, the European King of the island and his mites 'Puss' and 'Polecat,' are described, also Professor Menge. The lastnamed account agrees with that of Surgeon Leigh. Menge is said to have gone from Kangaroo Island to Mount Crawford, and lived in a tree. Another German, Sprivogel, at a dinner on the island, became exhilarated, and said some unpleasant things about Englishmen, which caused a commotion.
— Entertaining Governor Hindmarsh. —
In June, 1838, H.M.S. Pelorus arrived at Kingscote, bringing Governor Hind-marsh and suite. 'There is an amusing description of the difficulty the Giles family had to provide sufficient and suitable food for the distinguished visitors. Governor Hindmarsh is described as of middle height, frank, genial, affable. The sailor with him had lost an eye, and wore a glass one. George Milner Stephen, who was Acting Governor, after Governor Hindmarsh left, in July, 1838, and who married a daughter of Governor Hindmarsh, is described as a good-looking, dapper, little gentleman, 'light curly hair and whiskers, small in every way, wore fours in ladies' boots a 'skit' said, plays the guitar, and has plenty of small talk.' The Private Secretary George Stevenson— the editor of The Register — said to be 'powerfully made and not handsome in features". Mr. Giles was made resident Magistrate for Kingscote July 11, 1838.
A Van Dieman's Land convict, having been captured and again escaped from the Kingscote Gaol, on being recaptured was put into a 300-gallon butt for safe custody, but by some connivance escaped therefrom and got away in a whaler. Meantime Governor Gawler had arrived. Another child was born to Mr. Giles on the island, and died there.
In August. 1839, the family left for Port Adelaide, and landed at the 'old port' August. 1839. They stayed at Anthony's Hotel, which was built of wood, but clean and well kept. A description of Mr. Stow's first church is given— walls of pine, thatched roof, calice windows. The family settled down in a wooden five-roomed cottage at the east end of Rundle street, but soon after moved to one of the Tavistock houses, which were of brick, and among the best in Adelaide.
A picnic at Gleeson's— Gleevile Beaumont —is described, and also a bullock dray jaunt to Crafers Hotel, and a walk there from to the summit of Mount Lofty.
—Dissenters and Weddings. —
Then we have a wedding at Trinity, at 8 a.m. In those days Dissenters were very low in the eyes of the law, while the youngest Anglican, Catholic, Quaker, or Jew clergyman could perform marriages, Dissenters were barred, and had to be married in Trinity, till Mr. Drummond, in defiance of the law, performed marriages, with a curious result, as will be shown. Mary, eldest daughter of William Giles, Esq., late of Montpelier square, Brompton, was married at Trinity Church on Thursday morning, June 25, 1840, by the Rev. C. B. Howard, to Josiah Partridge, Esq., solicitor, late of Stroud, Gloucester. Mrs. Partridge was known in the family as Myra. Her husband practised alone, and also as senior partner of Partridge and Taylor. Miss Giles gives a racy description of these marriages and other social engagements. Miss Bathgate, who kept a boarding house in Adelaide from 1839 till it became Hornabrook's York Hotel (now the Grand Central) in 1849, is described just a little satirically. The Register (6/8/69) records the death of Miss Bathgate in London on 5/6/1869.
— Opening of 'New' Port Adelaide. —
There is an amusing and interesting account of the opening of 'new' Port Ad laide, October, 1840, and of Mrs. Gawler landing on the wharf the first cargo — a box of tea. The Stow Church in Freeman street is noted. The Giles and Stow families were very friendly. A visit to Klemzig is recorded, and mention is made of Mr. Gouger's house, corner of Hill street and Strangways terrace, afterwards Younghusband's, and now a hospital. On May 18, 1842, in Rundle street, by the Rev. T. Q. Stow, Alfred Watts, Esq.. of South terrace, was married to Jane Isabella, second daughter of William Giles, Esq., J.P., the bride being the 'Minnie' of the Giles family, and the writer of the book.
Mr. Watts in 1839 was in the office of the S.A. Company, and became a partner in the firm of Philip Levi & Co.. which firm was ruined by the drought of 1865, and had to assign, but by 1872 had paid 20/ in the pound, and had a surplus. Mr. Watts was related to Mr. Percy Wells, and the firm of Watts & Wells was formed, which built the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, or supplied the material for it. Mr. Watts sat in Parliament for Flinders from 1868 till 1875, and died about 1880. Mr. and Mrs. Watts had no family; they lived at Leabrook, near Burnside, for some 15 years. There was a curious error regarding their marriage. Governor Grey promptly did justice to the Dissenters, and by Act No. 12 of 1842 validated marriages by Dissenting ministers before the date of this Act,' March or April, 1842, and empowered Dissenting and other ministers to marry. This Act did not come into force till June 1, 1842, and, of course, marriages by dissenting ministers in April and May, 1842, were invalid. This was not discovered until Mr. Watts noticed it after his marriage, but it made no difference to Mr. and Mrs. Watts, and by Act No. 18 of 1852 the error was rectified. Mr. A. H. Davis, of Moore Farm, wrote the bridal song, and James Chambers drove them to Mr. Stephens's house at Marino, where they spent their honeymoon.
Mr. Gouger's removed from Strangways terrace to South Adelaide, and some verses of his are given. There is a good description in rhyme of the first four Governors in the book by A. H. Davis, and some verse by Nathaniel Hales. Girls married very young in Adelaide about 1840. Mrs. Watts was only 18 when married, and she mentions a bride of 15 and her sad end.
Lena, the third daughter, evidently married Mr. G. M. Waterhouse, who was Premier of New Zealand after he had been Premier of South Australia; but I have no account of the marriage, nor have I seen a full obituary of Mr. Waterhouse. who died in 1906. In the book are a number of interesting letters from Lena, recounting her trip to Europe and America, saying they sailed from Adelaide in the V - , 1854. and returned in the N - , 1856. The Register shows that (20/12/53) the ship Victoria. 523 tons, cleared from Port Adelaide far London, and that among her passengers were Mr. and Mrs. Waterhouse, and that (12/4/56) there arrived at Port Adelaide the Norman, with Mr. and Mrs. G. M. Waterhouse om board.
The Register (12/5/62) announces the death of Mr. William Giles at his residence, Beaumont, aged 70, leaving 10 sons, 6 daughters, and nearly 30 grandchildren. Mr. G. A. Anstey was evidently very friendly with the Giles family, and in The Register (20/2/99), the obituary of Mr. Thomas Giles is given. He was the Giles of Anstey & Giles, so well known in the early days, and married a daughter of Capt. O'Halloran, by whom he had four sons, Drs. Anstey and Henry Giles, T. O'Halloran Giles, and Eustace Giles.
The book describes Governor Grey and his wife, and mentions the loss of the two passengers per the Africaine, who were landed on the island, with others, at their own request, in order to walk to Kingscote. They never arrived and their remains were not found. In The Register (1/5/66) is a letter from Charles Nantes, the then sole survivor of the Africaine party of 1836— respecting some remains then recently found.
Mr. Anstey built a cottage on North terrace, in 1839. opposite the School of Mines site, and I think that Mr. J. M. Phillipson afterwards owned it. This cottage was for years occupied by two lawyers named Hance, father and son. The Register (28/1/67) describes a fire in the roof, which fire I well remember. Galvanized iron had been put over the thatch, and the thatch caught fire by some means and was put out with difficulty, as the iron had to be removed.
Any one who is interested in the early history of this State will enjoy Mr. Watts's book, and I fancy that the facts in this account will help such a one to read the book with more pleasure. Anyway, I hope so.Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Monday 12 September 1921, page 3