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Sir Walter Watson Hughes
Title : Sir Walter Watson Hughes Sir Walter Watson Hughes
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Date of creation : ca. 1885
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 94 x 56 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

Portrait of Sir Walter Watson Hughes.

Walter Watson Hughes was born in Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland in 1803. As a young man he went to sea at first working on whalers and then in 1829 arriving in Calcutta where he bought the brig Hero and traded in opium around the oceans of the east. Hughes arrived in South Australia around 1840. He initially purchased sheep and took up land near Macclesfield in the Adelaide Hills. Later, with his brother-in-law John Duncan, Hughes bought land at Wallaroo on the northern Yorke Peninsula.

Hughes was interested in mineralogy and believed that mineral deposits existed on Yorke Peninsula. He charged his shepherds with observing for evidence of these deposits whilst minding the sheep. One of Hughes' shepherds, James Boor, reported a sighting of green rocks in 1859 and Hughes established a copper mine on his property the following year.

In 1861 copper was discovered on Hughes' Moonta property and by exploiting both sites in 1877 Hughes' mining company was the first Australian company to make a million pounds in dividends. Hughes also had pastoral interests near Watervale and it is thought that he planted the first vineyards in that district. He also owned land at Hoyleton in the mid-north, Burra, near Lake Albert and the Torrens Park estate established by Robert Torrens.

In 1872 Hughes was petitioned by the council of the new Union College for a donation. His pledge of 20,000 pounds so exceeded the expectations of the council that it decided to use the donation towards the foundation of a university instead. Others were inspired to donate by Hughes and the University of Adelaide was established in 1874.

Hughes served on the Adelaide Municipal Council during 1842 and 1843 and stood unsuccessfully for the legislative Council in 1871. He spent much of the period between 1864 and 1870 in England and retired there permanently in 1873. He was knighted for his services to the colony of South Australia in 1880. Hughes died on 1 January 1887.

Period : 1836-1851,1852-1883
Region : Yorke Peninsula
Further reading :

Bailey, Keith (H. Keith). The Wallaroo mine, Kadina, South Australia (1860-1923) : a pictorial history, Adelaide : National Trust of South Australia, 1985

Cockburn, Rodney. Pastoral pioneers of South Australia, Blackwood, S.A. : Lynton Publications, [1974], volume 1, pp. 136-137

'Death of Sir Walter Watson Hughes', Adelaide observer, 8 January 1887, p. 38, col. b-c

'Death of Sir Walter Watson Hughes', South Australian register, 5 January 1887, p. 5

Hughes, Walter Watson. Personal papers, PRG PRG 728

'Sir Walter Watson Hughes : statue unveiled ; speech by the chief justice', Register, 29 November 1906, p. 7, col. a-b

Internet links :

Australian Dictionary of Biography online edition: Search for Hughes, Walter Watson

State Library of South Australia Factsheet: Mines and mineral resources



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