Article dated Thursday 29 May 1947

George Fife Angas and Founding of Colony

In the articles of this series dealing with Woodside, reference was made to the family of Lauterbach, and, apropos, there immediately floods in upon one the historically interesting stories of the epic emigration of the German population to this State in the early Colonial days.  When we cast our minds back to that remote day on the subject of that emigration, several names of eminent personalities obtrude, foremost of whom is George Fife Angas, whose name will ever be revered as one of the chief founders of the Colony, apart from the perpetuation of his name in one of the most flourishing towns in the State and a central thoroughfare in the capital.  It has previously been remarked with what energy these old pioneers lived their lives and the longevity of their allotted span.  In the late George Fife Angas we have still another monogenarian, for he was born on May 1st, 1789 and passed away at Lindsay House, Angaston, on May 15th, 1879.  His early years were spent at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where his father was a coach manufacturer, merchant and ship-owner.  It was proposed that he should engage in the legal profession, but instead he entered his father's business as an apprentice, and later became a partner with his brother.  Some years after the partnership was dissolved and George Fife Angas set up as a merchant and shipowner at London and Newcastle and his business prospered.  He was not satisfied to have prosperity as a selfish individual, and interested himself in movements for the amelioration of others.  As a young man he had now given indication of his benevolent character, and as a mere apprentice in his father's business had been the means of establishing a benevolent society for helping the aged and distressed coach-makers of the town of Newcastle.  He also opened a Savings Bank under the auspices of the society with a view to encouraging provident habits among the workers.  He was a Sunday school teacher and was largely instrumental in forming the Newcastle Sunday school Union in 1816.  Later he removed to London and decided to strive to promote the extension of Christianity in some of the distant countries with which he traded.  He had an important trade with Honduras, which his father had started, and in one of his vessels he sent a minister of the Baptist faith and undertook to contribute towards the support of the Mission in Honduras.  He granted free passages for missionaries to other missions as well.  He exerted himself to bring about the abolition of slavery on the Mosquito Coast, and to obtain other advantages for the natives.  He was a correspondent with such men as Wilberforce and other anti-slave champions.  The results he obtained induced him to form an association of merchants and others for the promotion of Christianity and civilisation through commercial and professional agency.  The movement received little active support and did not meet with success.  Besides endeavouring to spread Christianity in Central America, Mr. Angas was not neglectful of his own countrymen, and was a member of the committee of the British and Foreign School Society; a supporter of a mission to the sailors in the Port of London, and assisted in founding the British and Foreign Sailors' Society.

With such a background it is quite natural to find Mr. Angas as one of the prominent founders of South Australia under the Wakefield scheme of colonisation.  South Australia was founded by the English Colonial reformers, Wakefield and his disciples: Colonel Torrens, an Irish economist; George Fife Angas, a London capitalist.  The Duke of Wellington, who was instrumental in pushing the Bill through the House of Lords with the opposition of Peers who had invested money in New South Wales, and by the Adelphi young men, all the members of which belonged to the intelligent middle-class.  Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who was one of these young men, as was also his cousin, Robert Gouger, and all the members became protagonists of young Wakefield's scheme of colonisation.  The young men had good friends to aid them in their advocacy of Wakefield's system, and while Wakefield was in prison for abducting an heiress, Robert Gouger was organising committees and interviewing likely colonists for the proposed new colony.  Another friend of Wakefield was John Brown, who left a statement to the effect that the ablest and most admired member of the Adelphi young men was Richard Davis Hanson, the son of a London, fruit merchant and importer, who was practising in a small way at the Bar.  He was interested in Socialism, and embraced the Wakefield scheme enthusiastically, lecturing throughout the country and town wherever meetings could he arranged.  In 1833 he and Gouger contrived to initiate a fund to provide the proposed colony of South Australia with a chapel and a parson, a church and a clergyman. Another friend of the young men was John Morphett, the son of a London solicitor, Charles Mann was yet another.  He had been trained in law and journalism, and wrote for the establishment of the new Colony.  Most of these members of the Adelphi young men's society became famous in the colonial history of South Australia, but in those days when they saw the vision of a new social order in a far-away antipodean land they were perhaps more lovable.  Without their active and earnest propaganda the Colony of South Australia would not have come into being.  In 1833 they took an office at 4 Adam Street, Adelphi, where they explained to prospective colonists the advantages and attractions of the new colony.  They began a South Australian Literary Society even, and lunched on cheese and ale at the White Hart.

When the Colony became an achieved fact by the Bill which became law on August 19th, 1834, they naturally desired positions for themselves in the new land, and on many proposals of the newly-appointed first governor of the colony (Governor Hindmarsh) they did not agree, but in such disagreements the members of the Adelphi Group, as these young men came to he known, generally won the day.  An excellent illustration of this was provided when the names of the streets and squares of the city of Adelaide came up for discussion by a nomenclature committee which met in the Colonial Secretary's office on May 23rd, 1837, the personnel of which was Governor Hindmarsh, Judge Jeffcott, the Colonial Secretary (Robert Gouger), the resident Commissioner (James Hurtle Fisher), John Barton Hack, John Morphett, Edward Stephens, T. Bewes Strangways, the Colonial Store keeper (Thomas Gilbert), the Emigration Agent (John Brown), and the Colonial Treasurer (Osmond Gilles).  The Governor was for perpetuating the names of a list of naval heroes, and had Sir John Jeffcott move a motion with that object in view, but the proposition failed, and such as Duncan and Howe had to give place to those more closely associated with the initial efforts and final consummation in the birth of the new Colony.  Of course among the first names chosen are apparent in King William Street and Victoria Square, and Grote and Wakefield Streets were chosen instead of Duncan and Howe.  One can visualise John Brown at this meeting, for he had little respect for those placed in high office of whom he did not approve, and he was not apparently an admirer of the new governor — Rear Admiral John Hindmarsh - if we take cognisance of a note he wrote to Wakefield upon the publication of the appointment of the first governor of the new colony.  "You knew my opinion of him (Governor Hindmarsh) before we sailed." writes Brown, "He is wholly unfit for his office, and has come out for himself, and not for the Colony .. He is mentally, morally and educationally unfit for the post."  Governor Hindmarsh felt instinctively a combativeness towards the Adelphi Group and especially against Brown.  "I called on him in order to show that I was willing to overlook his offensive conduct on the Adelphi Terrace (when he had the impudence to object to an official chaplain).  This condescension on my part, instead of leading (as it naturally would have done in a well-regulated mind) to Mr. Brown's reformation, appears only to have increased the insolent malevolence of his conduct.  Thus Hindmarsh on Brown.  The Adelphi members were of a different ilk to the sea-caring Captain that was and now Rear Admiral and first Governor of the Colony, they looked upon as their own child almost.  They enjoyed the pleasures of entertainment, even as they in their earlier London days had foregathered at the White Hart and lunched on cheese and ale.  The Governor, so Colonel Light recorded in his diary had only once invited him to dine and that was when it was too late to prepare a dress shirt.  Visitors from abroad were told of his niggardliness, and a story was spread abroad to the effect that an Indian Judge had been dined by the officials of the Colony on kangaroo soup and roast emu, with choice wines.  The Governor's ideas of the height of hospitality, it is stated, were stirred by the example, and next day he invited the Judge to salt beef and ship's biscuit.  He had no one to meet his guest, but the faithless Judge told his first hosts about it, with special animus against the sherry.  Brown was wont to tell how the Governor unwittingly stole the door frames and fittings of Mr. Morphett's wooden-frame house, and what he said when he found out.  But he took no steps to replace them.

We have digressed from our biographical review of George Fife Angus to give some idea of the activities of the Adelphi Group who were actually responsible for the propaganda which eventually resulted in the birth and formation of the Colony.  They are perpetuated in the name of Adelphi Terrace at Glenelg where the Colony was proclaimed.  We will now return to the survey of Mr. Angas's interest in the affairs of the new settlement.  He accepted an appointment on the first Board of Commissioners to whom the task was committed of carrying into operation the Act which had received the assent of the British Parliament, and used his utmost endeavour towards the success of the enterprise.  The Act required that before the Commissioners exercised their powers £35,000 worth of land must be sold, but several months after the land had been offered only a portion of the stipulated quantity had been applied for.  At this juncture Mr. Angas and two other gentlemen stepped in, and upon the Commissioners agreeing to reduce the price to twelve shillings per acre, advanced the money to buy the remainder of the Sections.  These they handed over to the South Australian Company at cost price immediately arrangements for its formation were completed.  The Company raised a capital of £200,000, not only for the purchase of land, but to be enjoyed in forwarding settlers to the colony, establishing whole fisheries, introducing pastoral and agricultural pursuits, and in other ways stimulating production in the new settlement.  Mr. Angas also induced the Company to establish the first Bank, for which action he was fitted owing to his connection with his cousin, Mr. Joplin, the founder of Joint Stock Banks in England, whom he assisted in 1838 in establishing the National Provincial Bank of England, of which he was for several years a director.  He urged the Bank of Australasia to open, a branch in South Australia, and not succeeding, he met with success in his proposals to the South Australian Company; and £10,000 in sums varying from ten shillings to £10 was forwarded to South Australia in charge of Mr. Edward Stephens, arriving within a few days of the colony being proclaimed.  Mr. Angas being requested by the shareholders to do so, accepted the position of chairman of the South Australia Company, but relinquished his seat as a Commissioner.  So highly were his services valued however, that at the request of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Lord Glenelg) he continued to attend the meetings of the Board of Commissioners for three months after his resignation.  In every possible way open to him Mr. Angas worked for the interests of the young colony, and to encourage persons to emigrate he delivered a series of lectures while travelling through England for the benefit of his health.  He invested a large part of his fortune in South Australia, one of his most important purchases being what has been known as the Barossa Special Survey, the district in which he for many years made his home.

Article dated Thursday 5 June 1947

Mr George Fife Angas and Lutheran Emigration

In 1837 he interested himself in the emigration of German settlers to South Australia, and assisted many hundred of Lutherans under Pastor Kavel to come to the young colony.  These German people were being persecuted in their Homeland by their government which had introduced a scheme for uniting the Reformed and the Lutheran Churches.  These Lutherans were imbued with a deep and earnest faith, and they were willing to undergo any trials so long as they might follow and adhere to that faith.  In their resentment of and opposition to any government that proposed to dictate to them and alter their mode of worship, they naturally embraced Mr. Angas' offer to bring them out to the new colony of South Australia.  Even the descendants of those early German migrants speak with a reverence of George Fife Angas, for they have heard from the lips of their parents who had in turn listened to the encomiums of their grandparents in relation to the good works of Mr. Angas.  Pastor Kavel arrived in South Australia with the first shipload of German Evangelical Lutherans in December, 1938, and acted as their leader not alone in matters of religion but in temporal affairs also.  Shortly afterwards the German settlements of Klemzig and Hahndorf were formed.  Hahndorf was so named after Captain Hahn, of the brig Zebra.  Pastor Kavel resided for many years beloved by all.  Not only did he labor in a spirit of Christian unselfishness among his flock but he found time to publish an illustrated statistical pamphlet containing information of the young country of his adoption, which was forwarded to his countrymen overseas, and was responsible for many more German settlers leaving their native land for the antipodes.

With the brig Zebra (Capt. Hahn) came also in the year 1838 the ship Prince George from Hamburg with German families of which Pastor Kavel was the shepherd.  These settlers were generally poor, but industrious and honest, and John Wrathall Bull in his memoirs testifies that Mr. George Fife Angas never made a better use of his money than by offering to this body of Lutherans the means to migrate to the Colony of South Australia, and he is of opinion that Mr. Angas was a public benefactor to a greater extent than any other of its founders.  "He was not only one of the committee who struggled to obtain our charter," contends Mr. Bull, "that when his funds and presence in the Colony were so much needed he further made large investments, and a few years later took up his residence among us, and spent the remainder of his valuable life here; and thus set an example, which has not been always followed, by those who have made their fortunes here: too large a proportion of such fortunate individuals being now absentees, who draw their incomes to be spent in other countries."

When these Lutheran emigrants arrived in the colony there were no roads going over the Mount Lofty ranges, and the greater part of the goods of the community of Hahndorf were carried on their backs and shoulders to the little village named in honor ***** of Captain Hahn.  Those early German settlers had many trials afront of them.  Our system of government did not then admit of purchase on credit from the government, and the Germans instead of paying £1 to the State paid long credit prices to private speculators.  For the Hahndorf land they had to pay £7 per acre, and some 10 per cent, interest.  This land was part of the first special survey taken up by Messrs. Dutton, Finnis, and McFarlane at a cost to them of £1 per acre and was not the pick of the land.  They had to pay off the principal by annual instalments, the quantity being 240 acres which cost them £1,680.

Through Pastor Kavel they obtained credit for their provisions to the extent of £1,500 pending realisation on their own crops.  Their seed wheat cost them £1 per bushel; working cattle would have cost them £40 per pair.  Up to their arrival the population of Adelaide had a short supply of vegetables and dairy produce.  The Germans very soon began to carry into the city small supplies of butter and within a few months vegetables on the backs of the females.  Mr. Ernest Lauterbach is wont to recall how his great grandfather used to walk from Hahndorf by way of the Eagle on the Hill route to the city, carrying produce such as butter etc., and return on foot also to distant Hahndorf.  After a time a string of matrons and girls would be seen wending their way to the capital in their German costumes.  At their first harvest their little handmills were set going, and they very soon cleared off all their debts and purchased from the government 240 acres of land for cash at £1 per acre adjacent to their township.  Their implements were constructed by their own hands and were of very primitive forms that had been in use for hundreds of years in their native land.  It was not long before they were in better circumstances with fat horses which they treated in a manner that was an example to many others.  Early in the piece an old ex-sergeant in the Prussian Army who had fought at Waterloo under Blucher opened the first coffee-shop at Hahndorf and soon after a licensed house, and ran a pony mail cart which proved a boon to that small population.  Old Lubasch, as the old fellow was named, claimed to have been with the advance detachment of guns which unlimbered and fired the first volley upon the army of Napoleon and saved, he maintained, the English army.  Mr. John W. Bull records how he had many arguments with the old soldier in trying to convince him that the Battle of Waterloo was won before the arrival of Blucher, hut he was never successful in doing so.  He also describes how the sheep of Mr. D. McFarlane were sheared by the Germans, principally young women, who were careful not to snip the skin.  They never shore more than 30 each a day, and the wool was taken off very close, but the whole party worked with a will, and their earnings went towards paying off their land, Mr. McFarlane being one of those who had sold them the land.  Gradually, and with the passage of the years, the younger generations of the original German population became amalgamated with the other colonists, and notwithstanding two world wars the esteem in which the majority is held by the intelligent portion of the people still cements a firm friendship and a lasting admiration for those qualities of exceptional industry and honesty which has been inherited from those brave toilers against such terrific odds as exemplified in their forebears.  Their descendants gradually increased in numbers and many moved to other towns of the colony and those who remained lived to see such institutions as Hahndorf College play not an inferior part in the educational activities of the State.  Reference to an old record of the towns of South Australia state that Hahndorf in 1865 was a postal township in the electoral district and hd. of Onkaparinga, and under the control of the district councils of Echunga and Onkaparinga.  It is situated on the Hahndorf creek to the East of the river Onkaparinga and lies in an agricultural wheat-producing and vine-growing district.  There is a rich silver lead mine, discovered about five years ago, but not now worked, although much ore has been raised from it.  This mine lies near to the township, 14 miles S.E. by E from Adelaide, and four miles from Echunga.  Hahndorf has a post and money order office, a telegraph office, two good schools, three churches, and several stores and tradesmen's work shops.  There are two hotels—the German Arms and the Union; also a public pound, and an Oddfellows lodge (A.I.O.F.).  The nearest places are—(Mount Barker, 4 miles S.E., and Grunthal, 2 miles N.W. by N., the communication being by Rounsvell's daily mail coach or by carrier's waggon.  The surrounding country is hilly, many of the slopes and valleys being under culture.  The soil is good and overlies sandstone, slate and quartz. The population — chiefly a German one—numbers about 450 persons.  The geological formation of the neighbourhood is post-pliocene tertiary drift, consisting of large fragments of ochest, sandstone, and quartz, but slightly water-worn."