Mount Barker - First Special Survey

The following was compiled by AM (Tony) Finnis mainly from information stated in the References at the end of the document.


The colony of South Australia was officially proclaimed as a British province on 28 December 1836.  However In 1834, The South Australian Association had persuaded the British Parliament to pass the South Australia Colonization Act 1834, which included the ability for the Colonization Commissioners to make orders and regulations for the surveying and sale of public lands.  The Act recognized that these lands were inhabitable, and made provision for colonization, government, and the funding of the new settlement on these lands.

In the publication "South Australia: An Agricultural and Pastoral State in the Making 1836-46"  it is stated,  ......  early concentration upon small farms was in part an expression of official determination to avoid the errors of large land grants, which were known to have crippled the development of other colonies within recent times, and notably that of Swan River.  Hence, it was remarkable that notwithstanding this bias for small holdings, the Commissioners should eventually have yielded to the South Australian Company — with great reluctance we are told — and agreed in 1835 to introduce a new clause into their land regulations, providing for ''Special Surveys'' which were eventually to form the basis upon which many large holdings were successfully erected.  The original clause was worded as follows:

" Anyone who shall hereafter pay in advance to the proper officer, either in England or in the Colony, the price of 4,000 acres of land, or upwards, shall have a right for every 4,000 acres thus paid for, to call on the Colonial Commissioner to direct the survey of any compact district within the Colony of an extent not exceeding 15,000 acres; and within 14 days after the publication of such surveys at the Land Office, to select his land from any part of such district before any other applicant."

On the 25th October, 1839, the Commissioners issued Revised Land Regulations, which among other things increased the maximum area of the "Compact District" for which a  "Special Survey" could be claimed, from 15,000 acres to 16,000 acres; and prescribed that the district should be divided into 200 80-acre sections, for which the claimant for a Special Survey, was given priority of choice for 50 sections, or 4,000 acres, chosen in such a manner that the purchaser would not acquire thereby more than two miles of water frontage.

Although the first "Special Survey" was not claimed until 11th January, 1839, that is to say, more than three years after the Proclamation of the province, it must not be supposed that the value of such Surveys had passed unperceived: indeed, it can safely be asserted that the advantages attaching to them — given judicious selection — were so great and so obvious that lack of means, coupled with complete ignorance of the country, can alone have deterred pioneer colonists from seeking to acquire Special Surveys from the very outset: and more especially was this the case of the South Australian Company, with its vast resources; the company that had to all intents and purposes compelled the Colonization Commissioners to accept this peculiar method of land settlement which to many seemed at variance with the principles of the South Australian Act;  ......

Of all the many controversies which troubled early South Australia, few had such long-lasting effects as the system of special surveys.  There were a total of 36 Special Surveys carried out, of which only 12 were owned by proprietors resident in the colony, until Governor Grey successfully urged the abolition of the scheme.

We know no more substantial proof of confidence in the prosperity of South Australia and of the value of her soil than that which is exhibited by the payment, in hard cash, of a sum of four thousand pounds for as many acres of land.  -  The Register, 26 January 1839.
If allowed, it will be a great monopoly and injustice to men of small capital.  -  From a letter  to The Register, 27 July 1839.

Purchase of First Survey

On 11 January 1839, William Hampden Dutton, on behalf of himself, Duncan Macfarlane, and Captain John Finnis, successfully applied for and purchased the first South Australian Special Survey.  This Special Survey was in the district of Mount Barker and included the existing cattle stations of John Barton Hack and John Finnis.

'The Southern Australian' dated 16 January 1839 stated:  We have the pleasure to learn that W. H. DUTTON, Esq. a gentleman of considerable experience in the colonies, and a large flock holder, has paid £4000 into the Treasury, and claimed a special survey of 4000 acres at Mount Barker. This is a most beautiful district, and the purchase of it by Mr. Dutton is the best proof that could be given of the excellence of the land in our Province.

Both Dutton and Macfarlane had arrived from Sydney on the brig 'Parland' on 26 December 1838, with Dutton being accompanied by his wife, 2 children and a servant (Ann Gales) plus a full cargo of sheep and horses.  John Finnis had previously overlanded livestock from NSW to South Australia, established a cattle station at Mount Barker, and set up permanent residence in Adelaide with his wife Luduvina after her arrival from Sydney on the 'John Pirie' in November 1838.

As John Finnis' cattle station was located within the area of the Special Survey, it is reasonable to assume that the partners had considerable knowledge not only of the area but also of the details of the Special Survey before forming their partnership and applying for the Survey.  It should be noted that John Finnis was WH Dutton's step father-in-law.  At one stage, John Finnis believed that he had lost control of his station to others, and so he had particular reason to protect his own interests via the Special Survey.  He had previously, on 1 December 1838, applied to Governor Gawler to do him '.... the justice of permitting my paying any amount Your Excellency may deem equivalent for the occupation of the run I hold.'

Referring to William Hampden Dutton and the Special Survey, AJ Perkins (South Australia-an Agricultural and Pastoral State in the Making) states - " ..... as we could hardly credit him with unerring instinct in the matter of land he had never seen, we are bound to conclude that before setting out for South Australia, with his family, his livestock and his goods and chattels, he must of heard of the fame of the Mount Barker pastures from quite dependable sources; from Joseph Hamden, may be, or perhaps from Sturt, or from Eyre; or better still from Captain John Finnis of the merchant service, another New South Welshman, who having shrewdly 'squatted' in the fertile valleys of Mount Barker, had found his personal means inadequate to the purchase of a Special Survey, and had probably corresponded on the subject with wealthier Sydney Citizens, one of whom at least, had presently appeared on the scenes, suitably provided, and of whom the Mercantile Captain is said subsequently to have become a partner."

However, two other parties were also very interested in the land involved.  They were John Barton Hack and the South Australian Company.  Dutton beat Hack by about two hours for the Special Survey.  Hack then accused Osmond Gilles, the Colonial Treasurer, of maladministration for giving a receipt for the property before the total purchase money was paid, and of himself being interested in the venture.  Hack appealed to Governor Gawler but to no avail, and the Dutton partnership got Hack's station.  The South Australian Company were also dissatisfied in being a non-competitor and started a bombardment of correspondence to Governor Gawler and in the press, however, the Governor adhered to his decision.  Interestingly, the Colonial Secretary, Osmond Gilles, later received three sections of the land from the successful applicants.  This would imply that this inducement may have been offered to the Colonial Secretary to expedite the decision in favour of Dutton and his Partners, although it should be noted that Gilles had previously paid the full price for the sections obtained.

As a result of this decision, the Partners secured fifty 80 acre sections in the Mount Barker district, four of which were for the township of Mount Barker and with three to be conveyed to Osmond Gilles.

The Partners had each been responsible for raising their own equal share of the capital required for the venture, although a substantial loan/s had been obtained from Thomas Walker, a wealthy Sydney merchant.

Confusion re Partners

There was some confusion at the time to whom the partners with WH Dutton actually were.  The following newspaper extracts are typical.

  • South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Saturday 12 January 1839  -  FIRST SPECIAL SURVEY - We have at length the happiness to announce that a special survey has been ordered yesterday the sum of four thousand pounds was paid into the hands of the Colonial Treasurer, Osmond Gilles, Esq, by William Hampden Dutton, Esq., for the priority of choice of an equal number of acres out of 15,000 to be surveyed in the beautiful and fertile district of Mount Barker. Mr. Dutton is understood to be acting in connection with Messrs. Macfarlane, Moore, and several other gentlemen recently arrived in Adelaide from Sydney.
  • South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Saturday 19 January 1839  -  SPECIAL SURVEYS - Since our announcement this day week of the first special survey taken by Mr. W. H. Dutton, in conjunction with Messrs. Moore and Macfarlane of Sydney, and our excellent Colonial Treasurer, Mr. Gilles, of the fertile vallies running from Mount Barker to Lake Alexandrina, three additional special surveys have been applied for and granted.  ......
  • South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Saturday 2 February 1839  -  FIRST SPECIAL SURVEY:  We are informed that Mr Moore of Sydney is not connected with the survey of the Mount Barker district taken by Mr. Hampden Dutton, but that Captain Finniss, who accompanied Captain Sturt overland from Sydney, possesses a large interest in this fortunate selection.  Captain Finniss has contributed very liberally towards the erection of the church and school-house for the new village of Hahndorf.  It is stated, we observe, by Mr. Mann in his last paper that Mr. Gilles, the Colonial Treasurer, has no interest in this survey.  We are requested to state that Mr. Mann's assertion is, as usual, untrue.

Agreement to Divide

At this stage there had been no formal agreement between the three partners, Dutton, Finnis and Macfarlane, as to the First Special Survey.  This was corrected when by an 'Articles of Agreement' dated 22 January 1839, the three Partners undertook that  .... within a period of one calendar month from the delivery of the grant of the land delineated in the Special Survey, to meet together at a specified time and place agreed upon by any two of them for the purpose of dividing the land into sixteen equal portions of 250 acres each.  One such portion of 250 acres was to be set apart to become the sole property of Osmond Gilles, and the remaining 15 portions were to be divided into three equal divisions of 1,250 acres each.

The respective values of each of these divisions were to be determined by referee (Richard Newland and George Milner Stephen), and should there be a disparity in value then an adjustment payment would be made within a period of three months from the date of the selection.  Custody of the agreement was committed to George Milner Stephen.

Agreement for Hahndorf Land

About 2 weeks after receiving the Special Survey, the Partners came to an agreement with a group of Lutheran immigrants, from Prussia and East Germany, for them to obtain portion of the land to occupy for farming and to create a village (Hahndorf).   This was the first commitment by the first Special Survey partners to dispose of the land obtained and was made prior to any sale announcements or the actual deed being issued.

The group of Lutheran immigrants who were fleeing religious persecution boarded the Danish ship Zebra under the command of Captain Dirk Hahn at Altona and began their voyage to South Australia on the 12th August 1838.  The Zebra reached Holdfast Bay (Adelaide) on 28 December 1838 and Port Adelaide (known then as Port Misery) four days later on 2 January 1839.  The Zebra started with 106 adults and 91 children as passengers, however, six adults and five children died on the voyage.  Upon arrival the ship's captain, Dirk Meinertz Hahn, set off to find suitable land where the immigrants could settle together as a religious farming community.  After investigating a number of sites and proposals which were considered to be unsuitable, Captain Hahn received an invitation from William Hampden Dutton and his partners, Captain John Finnis and Duncan Macfarlane to join them in an excursion to view the land they had acquired near Mount Barker as a result the first Special Survey.  On 24 January 1839, a party of 18 plus servants and including Captain Hahn, set out to investigate the land in question.  Captain Hahn was so impressed with the site that he immediately asked that the immigrants be allowed to settle there.  He then personally drafted an agreement which he submitted to the partners.  On 28 January 1839, Dutton, Finnis and Macfarlane came to the ship at Port Adelaide and concluded the agreement with the immigrants.  Subsequently, the immigrants reached the site in March 1839 after carting their belongings through the bushland.  At the suggestion of the partners, they named the village they established 'Hahndorf' (Hahn's town) in honour of the ship's captain.

Plan of Survey

Early in January 1839, a team of surveyors under FR Nixon laid out the Mt Barker Special Survey - some 15,000 acres of Adelaide Hills prime real estate.  On Nov. 5th 1839, a plan of the survey was exhibited for public information in the SA Land Office.

Announcement of Sale to Public

The South Australian Register dated 27 February 1840 (and thereafter on a weekly basis until 16 April 1840) carried the following announcement:

THE MOUNT BARKER DISTRICT  -  Open to Purchase  -  The Proprietors of the FIRST SPECIAL SURVEY of the celebrated Mount Barker district, beg leave to announce their intention of laying it open to the public.  To describe minutely a property so well known and so universally appreciated is unnecessary, but it may be remarked that it was the first special survey selected in South Australia after a most careful examination of the surrounding country.  The choice was made by Messrs. William Hampden Dutton, Macfarlane and Finnis, whose experience in New South Wales peculiarly qualified them for the task, and the acknowledged superiority of the Mount Barker survey over all the later surveys fully confirms the correctness of their judgement.  The first selection of 4,000 of the best acres out of the original survey of 15,000 has been recently made by Mr. Macfarlane, and forms the property now submitted to public notice.  In addition to the splendid quality of the land, chiefly alluvial flats rising into gentle undulating grassy hills, sufficiently timbered, and everywhere abounding with fresh water springs or running streams, the proximity to the district of Adelaide - the distance being only about 18 miles - renders this survey the most desirable location in the hill territory for the private residence of stockholders, as home stations where their flocks and herds can be brought from the more distant runs into the immediate neighbourhood of the market.  It is, at the same time, intersected by the main roads leading from the capital to New South Wales, the Port Phillip country and Lake Alexandrina.

The proprietors have selected one 80-acre section, beautifully situated, abundantly watered and commanding a full view of Mount Barker and the surrounding country, as the site of the Township of Mount Barker.  An experienced surveyor has been instructed to divide the township of Mount Barker into half-acre allotments with the necessary reserves for the erection of churches and schools, and the three 80-acre sections immediately adjoining the township are to be divided into 5-acre allotments to the purchase of which preference will be in the first instance given to the owners of half-acre allotments in the township, who will thus have an opportunity of obtaining in addition as many useful fields or paddocks as they may desire and the privilege of the back runs attached to the sections.

The rising German village of Hahndorf, which forms part of the Mount Barker property, ensures to purchasers a supply of the most valuable domestic and agricultural labour. 

The remaining portion of this fine estate, consisting of forty-three sections of eighty acres each, all well watered, of the richest soil, and chosen with a view of securing to each extensive back runs, will be disposed of singly or together as purchasers may offer.

Entry to these sections may be had immediately. The servants at Mr. Macfarlane's station will point out the ground.  Plans of the Survey may be seen and all particulars as to price, terms of payment, &c, may be known, on application to the proprietors.  Due notice will be given in future advertisements when the town plans will be ready for inspection.  -  Adelaide, February 25, 1840.

Withdrawal of Sale to Public

The Partners withdrew the above 'Announcement of Sale to Public' and then decided on the following method of sale, as announced in The Southern Australian  -  Adelaide, 16 April 1840.

THE MOUNT BARKER ESTATE  -  The proprieters of the Mount Barker Estate (the first special survey taken in the Province of South Australia) lose no time in announcing that they have withdrawn from public sale and competition in the colony the whole of the above property with the exception of a certain number of allotments in the Township of Mount Barker, which are still open to the colonists, and the particulars of each will be detailed in future advertisements.

Captain Grey, of H.M. 83rd Regiment, late residence King George's Sound, has been entrusted with full powers to effect sales in England of the whole of the country sections comprised in the survey, the first selected out of a block containing 15,000 acres of the richest land in the province. .......

The South Australian Register, dated Saturday 11 April 1840 stated:   The Mount Barker Estate. — We observe that this fine property, with the exception of some town and suburban allotments, is withdrawn from the colonial market, and transferred to England for disposal under the direction of Captain Grey.  Three 80-acre sections, however, were yesterday disposed of at Hahndorf, to the German settlers, at the rate of £7 per acre.

[Note:  Captain Grey, however, failed to sell any of the Mount Barker property]

Announcement in 'SA Register' 16 May 1840

The proprietors of the township of Mt Barker have the pleasure of informing the public that one of the plans of the above township is now ready for inspection at the sale rooms of Messrs V & E Solomon, Currie St.  Several copies of the plans in preparation, and in the course of the next week, will be in the hands of the other principal auctioneers and land agents of Adelaide.

In addition to the reserves left for Sale in England by Captain Grey, numerous allotments have been purchased during the last week, and as the number remaining is limited, all persons who desire to secure for themselves a most pleasant Summer residence, or a profitable investment, will do well to make early application.

Land Grant or Deed Poll

On 3 July 1840, a 'Land Grant or Deed Poll' was given under the hands and seal of George Gawler, Esquire, Commissioner of Public Lands.  This deed stated that as a result of a survey directed on 11 January 1839, 4,000 acres in fifty 80 acre sections had been selected in the map or plan thereof filed in the land office of the province, numbered as follows:

4002, 4003, 4004, 4005, 4006, 4211, 4212, 4213, 4214, 4216, 4217, 4218, 4014, 4441, 4442, 4447, 4448, 4450, 4449, 4451, 4455, 4456, 4458, 4459, 4460, 4452, 4453, 4454, 4443, 4446, 4461, 4466, 4467, 4468, 4469, 4473, 4472, 4476, 4475, 4474, 4480, 4479, 4477, 4478, 4482, 4481, 4483, 4484, 4485, 4486.

Release for Sale of Certain Township and Suburban Allotments

Sections 4467, 4473, 4472, and 4477 had been designated for the new Township of Mount Barker and under instruction from the Partners, these Sections were surveyed and laid out into 169 town allotments and 41 suburban allotments of various sizes, setting aside sufficient provisions for public roads and ways.  After the survey was completed, the Partners were desirous of selling such of these allotments as soon as possible to enable them to reclaim some of their financial outlay and repay certain loans.

On 23 and 24 September 1840, the Partners conveyed and released the following Sections and Allotments to Richard Francis Newland and Edward Castres Gwynne and their heirs and assigns upon certain trusts for sale or lease as covered in an 'Indenture' dated 24 September 1840.

  • Sections:   For the township of Hahndorf - numbers 4002, 4003, and 4004;  and to be transfered to Osmond Gilles - numbers 4014, 4211, and 4212.
  • Pieces and parcels of Town allotments numbered:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. 12. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115.

Partition and Ballot for Sections and Town Allotments

Location of Sections in First Special SurveyOn 28 September 1840, the Partners met at Mount Barker to discuss the proposal to divide the Special Survey into three counterminus sections as required by their 'Articles of Agreement'.  As the period stated in the Agreement for the partition of the special survey had long since elapsed and it was deemed expensive, inconvenient and unnecessary to carry out the provisions , particularly the division of the Special Survey into 16 equal portions, it was agreed by the Partners to rescind the 'Articles of Agreement'.

After considerable discussion it was finally agreed that in lieu thereof, the Partners would ballot for the eighty-acre sections surveyed after excluding the three sections totalling 240 acres which had in the meantime been conveyed to Osmond Gilles, and four other sections which had been set aside for a township (Mount Barker and suburban allotments). 

As a result, a ballot was then undertaken in the presence of Charles Mann and George Stephenson in which William Hampden Dutton, Duncan Macfarlane and John Finnis respectively proceeded to ballot for choice and make partition of the Special Survey appropriating the sections as follows:

  • William Hampden Dutton:     4458, 4478, 4455, 4449, 4460, 4452, 4218, 4216, 4217, 4479, 4485, 4486, 4451, and one-third of 4006 (middle Portion).
  • Duncan Macfarlane:     4466, 4453, 4468, 4475, 4474, 4483, 4459, 4442, 4214, 4446, 4443, 4482, 4456, and one-third of 4006 northern portion).
  • John Finnis:     4454, 4476, 4450, 4461, 4484, 4448, 4469, 4447, 4213, 4441, 4480, 4481, 4005, and one-third of 4006 (southern portion).

The sections not included in the above ballot were:  

  • Village of Hahndorf -  4002, 4003, 4004.
  • Conveyed to Osmond Gilles -  4211, 4212, 4014
  • Town of Mt Barker -  4467, 4473, 4472, 4477.

On 2 October 1840, a second meeting was held with the intention of the Partners balloting for the township allotments.  However, William Hampden Dutton was absent at this meeting due to his having relocated to Melbourne due to financial problems.  This meant that the 'conveyance of the legal estate of the several sections .....' could not 'therefore be readily made', and so an agreement was adopted 'for the purpose of carrying out the partition'.  William Hampton Dutton's brother Frederick Hansborough Dutton acted as Attorney for him to enable the ballot to proceed.  The ballot resulted in the following allotments going to the respective parties:

  • William Hampden Dutton:     Suburban allotments -  200, 196, 184, 172, 195, 206, 194, 175, 178, 187, 193, 186, 209.     Town allotments -  3, 68, 95, 73, 117, 1, 125, 152, 55, 62, 90, 41, 156, 120, 44, 135, 127, 136, 110, 59, 17, 34, 158, 33, 133, 19, 145, 161, 12, 140, 57, 38, 143, 67, 146, 24, 118, 70, 29, 138, 61, 21, 23, 27, 43, 121, 52, 113, 72.
  • Duncan Macfarlane:     Suburban allotments -  170, 171, 197, 180, 179, 198, 204, 201, 190, 189, 177, 173, 183.     Town allotments -  5, 97, 130, 78, 157, 154, 47, 123, 32, 164, 58, 76, 46, 129, 15, 10, 74, 69, 54, 162, 142, 151, 11, 36, 2, 18, 56, 167, 128, 92, 13, 45, 144, 63, 149, 77, 116, 76, 141, 91, 64, 31, 50, 165, 28, 122, 166, 147, 42.
  • John Finnis:     Suburban allotments -  185, 202, 174, 208, 182, 199, 176, 205, 188, 207, 181, 203.     Town allotments -  132, 168, 107, 22, 79, 153, 88, 26, 30, 20, 14, 81, 25, 134, 126, 114, 65, 82, 75, 150, 48, 155, 169, 37, 35, 66, 119, 148, 160, 80, 99, 94, 39, 108, 93, 98, 129, 49, 53, 51, 159, 96, 124, 131, 71, 163, 89, 4, 16, 40, 60, 137, 109.

The following allotments, which had been included in those previously transferred to Newland and Gwynne, were not included in the above ballot.

  • Suburban allotments -  191, 192.
  • Town allotments -  6, 7, 8, 9, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 111, 112, 115 and 139

Legal Requirements

It was agreed by the Partners that as from the date of the ballot each should ..... have and hold to them and their heirs the several sections and portions of sections and the town and suburban allotment in severalty and not in common, and for an estate of fee simple of inheritance in possession absolutely free and discharge of all tenancies or rights in common, either at law or equity.

It was also agreed that William Hampden Dutton would convey their respective portions to the other Partners on demand, and for the further assurance of the said parties it was agreed that a bill on the equity side of the Supreme Court of the Province should pro forma be filed by the said John Finnis against the others praying for the partition of the said special survey in consonance with the tenor of these presents and that the other parties would put in such answers as shall be needed and shall consent to a decree for partitioning of the survey and allotments.

The Partners agreed to share equally the expenses of the ballot, partition and inappropriation.

It was not until the 16 October 1841, that an 'Indenture' to the original 'Deed Poll or Land Grant' dated 3 July 1840 was signed by the partners which incorporated the above requirements and legally separated the individual partner's holdings in accordance with their ballot held 12 months previously. 

Some years later, on the 1 October 1849, a Memorial of the above Indenture was submitted to the Deputy Registrar, GH Barnard, of the Registry Office for the Province of South Australia and after being found to be correct was registered under number 266 book 17.  After certification by the Deputy Registrar on 16 November 1849, the document was received by the Registry Office and enrolled under number 27 book 6 page 34.

Partnership Difficulties

William Hampden Dutton became insolvent during December 1840 which not only created major problems for the Special Survey partnership of Dutton, MacFarlane and Finnis, but also the separate stock dealings carried out Finnis and Dutton.  This is discussed on a separate page.

Brief Biography of the Partners

DUTTON, William Hampden (1805-1849)  -  Born in Cuxhaven, Hanover, where his father held a diplomatic post, WH Dutton was one of a family of three sons, the others being Frederick Hansborough Dutton (1812-1890), and Francis Stacker Dutton (1818-1877).  WH Dutton had studied agricultural science in Germany from around 1822 to 1824, specialising in wool classing and sheep breeding.  He first arrived in Sydney, Australia in March 1826, and after an unsuccessful venture returned to England in 1827.  Dutton returned to Sydney in March 1830 and moved to the Loddon River in Victoria.  He married Charlotte da Silva Cameron (1813-1885) on 2 July 1831 (Charlotte became a stepdaughter of Captain John Finnis the following year).  In partnership with his brother Frederick, he ran sheep at Yass and later in the Monaro region of New South Wales, and in 1836 established a cattle run at Mullengendry near Albury, Victoria.  Dutton, his wife  and two children arrived in South Australia on 26th December 1838 from Sydney aboard the ship "Parland".  He had been a Justice of the Peace in Sydney for a time prior to coming to South Australia.   Dutton together with Captain John Finnis and Duncan Macfarlane bought a 4000-acre (1619 ha) Special Survey at Mount Barker, the first in the colony.  He returned to Victoria in 1840, however, too many business interests in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to exercise efficient supervision and the loss of 7000 sheep contributed to his insolvency in December 1840.  Sometime later, using his father's influence, he again applied for public office without success.   Dutton died in Melbourne on 21 November 1849, after which his widow and her family returned to live in North Adelaide.  His mother-in-law had married his business partner John Finnis as her second husband in March 1832.

FINNIS, John (1802-1872)  -  Born on 3 December 1802 at Dover, Kent, England.  In January 1814, John Finnis was indentured to Thomas Mercer, a London merchant/shipowner, with whom he trained for five years as a master mariner.  In 1830 he came to Australia, and established himself in Spring Street, Sydney.  The  following year with Joseph Montefiore he acquired the barque Elizabeth, and in 1836 he sailed in charge of the Sir William Wallace,  both engaged in whaling in the southern fisheries.  Finnis first came to South Australia with Captain Sturt in 1838, overlanding 300 head of cattle which they had speculatively purchased in New South Wales for sale in Adelaide.  On reaching Adelaide, Finnis established a cattle saleyard on West Terrace, Adelaide and a cattle station at Mount Barker, after which he promptly returned to Sydney, and by early 1839 was again on his way overland to Adelaide with several mobs aggregating 25,000 sheep and 7000 head of cattle.  Finnis joined Dutton and Macfarlane, in taking out the Mount Barker Special Survey during January 1839, the first such land sale in the colony.  Although he maintained residence in Adelaide and property in Mount Barker, Finnis returned to the sea in 1842, first as captain of the King Henry, and in 1843 as owner of the Joseph Albino, in which he carried passengers and cargo between England, Australia and New Zealand for several years until 1849 when she was seized by the American Govenment for alleged smuggling when arriving in California.  Two years later Finnis acquired the Petrel and carried gold-diggers from Adelaide to Victoria.  On 23 March 1832 at St James's Church, Sydney, Finnis married Luduvina Rosa da Silva, the widow of Colonel Charles Cameron of the 3rd Regiment.  She had seven children by her first husband; one was married to William Hampden Dutton, and another to Sir George Kingston.  After the death of his first wife in Adelaide, Finnis married Mary Ann Russell on 3 September 1856; they had two sons, John Mercer who died on 2 April 1909, and Samuel who died whilst still at school.  John Finnis died in Adelaide on 13 August 1872, and is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

MacFARLANE, Duncan (1793-1856)  -  Scottish-born Macfarlane arrived in NSW, Australia in 1824 as a sailor, and then began squatting in the mountains near present-day Canberra.  He came to South Australia in 1838 with his friend, William Dutton, on the brig 'Parland'.  Macfarlane joined Dutton and John Finnis in taking out the Mount Barker Special Survey during January 1839, the first such land sale in the colony.  The men had brought with them substantial loans from a wealthy Sydney merchant, Thomas Walker, apparently to snap up property in such a fashion should it become available.  Macfarlane established a station, using his own stock brought over by sea from NSW.  From the first Macfarlane showed great enterprise in his pastoral operations.  He imported 1,000 head of cattle from Sydney overland, and early in 1839 the brig David Witten landed at Port Adelaide for him 1,100 ewes of a very superior type from the Port Phillip district, only one being lost on the voyage.  Scottish shepherds came to live in a row of stone huts almost upon the later Mount Barker township, which Macfarlane and his partners laid out on part of his sheep run during 1840.  A sales office opened next to the homestead.  Soon, scab and closer settlement made the area unsuitable for sheep and Macfarlane shifted his pastoral interests to the South-East  where Millicent is now situated.  He lost a lot of sheep there from coast disease.  He also took up shares in the Glen Osmond silver-lead mines.  For a time he lived at the old York Hotel in Adelaide, and finally retired to a residence near Glen Osmond, where he died on 27 October 1856 at the age of 63 years.  His grave is in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.


The above was compiled by AM (Tony) Finnis mainly from information obtained from the following:

  • 'The First Special Survey by HJ Finnis' - (Extract from proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, South Australian Branch, Session 1950-51, Vol. 52)
  • 'Captain John Finnis 1802-1872, A Brief Biographical Sketch' - by Harold J. Finnis 1958  (published by 'The Pioneers' Association of South Australia')

  • 'The Expansion of the Pastoral Industry in South Australia' - by Sean C. Dawes  (published in the 'Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia' - No 12, 1984)

  • 'Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia - Vol 1 & 2'  (Gould Genealogy CD)

  • 'Account of the Colony of South Australia'  (Gould Genealogy CD)

  • 'Aldine History of South Australia'  (Gould Genealogy CD)

  • 'South Australia - An Agricultural and Pastoral State in the Making 1836-46'  (Gould Genealogy CD)

  • 'Mostly Mount Barker - in South Australia - Aspects of the early history of the district, including Blakiston', by Vivien S. Martin 1982.

  • 'Mount Barker - Mountain Upon the Plain', by Bob Schmidt.

  • Miscellaneous newspaper articles and reports.

  • State Library of South Australia - PRG 368 (Autobiographical/Biographical Harold Jack Finnis)

  • State Library of South Australia - PRG 396 (Papers relating to Dutton family property at Mount Barker).  Accessed by permission of family representative.

  • Finnis family document on Captain John Finnis and his Letters by Harold J Finnis (55 pages); File also available from National Library of Australia.