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Alexander Tolmer
Title : Alexander Tolmer Alexander Tolmer
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Creator : Government Photolithographer, photographer
Source : B 449
Date of creation : ca. 1860
Format : Photograph
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

Alexander Tolmer

Born in England 1815 of French refugee parents, Alexander Tolmer's early childhood was spent in France. After his mother's death, eight year old Alexander rejoined his widowed father who had remarried and was a language teacher in England.

After a brief episode in which he ran away to sea, Tolmer returned and began training as a language teacher but instead joined the British Cavalry, 16th Lancers. By 21 he was an acting adjutant and drill supervisor. After being refused the vacant adjutancy position in which he was acting, Tolmer decided to migrate to South Australia.

In 1836 he had secretly married Mary Carter. They arrived in Adelaide with their infant son on the ship, Branken Moor on 8 February 1840. Tolmer carried a letter of introduction to Governor George Gawler and was almost immedialtely made sub-inspector of police, then rapidly promoted to inspector. His primary task was to organise a mounted police branch. Much of his time was then spent in the bush chasing cattle thieves, murderers, smugglers and looking for illegal alcohol stills.

After having been an acting commissioner and police magistrate, Alexander Tolmer became Commissioner of Police in 1852. He soon formed a native police force and introduced a detective branch. In the early 1850s, The Victorian gold rush led to a currency drain from South Australia. The resulting Bullion Act of 1852 prompted Tolmer to suggest an overland gold escort service from Victoria to South Australia. He accompanied the first escort on 10 February 1852 and returned a month later with gold worth 21,000 pounds. The Gold Escorts lasted until December 1853 and saved South Australlia's economy .

After complaints about police disorganisation, mainly due to during Tolmer's long absences and a number of public disputes with his subordinates, an official inquiry was held. In November 1853 he was demoted. However he remained in the police force, as inspector and then superintendent until 1856.

Tolmer then took on a range of positions, including those of crown lands ranger and inspecting ranger in the 1860s. In 1877 he became a sub-inspector of credit lands at a salary of 330 pounds.

Tolmer's first wife had died in 1867, leaving him with three children. In 1869 he married Jane Douglas with whom he had four daughters and two sons.

In 1882 his Reminiscences of an Adventurous and Chequered Career at Home and at the Antipodes was published in London. In 1885 he retired and became an investor in Broken Hill Mining. Alexander Tolmer died at Mitcham on 7 March 1890, survived by his second wife and large family. He left an estate of 8,350 pounds.



Related names :

Tolmer, Alexander (1815 - 1890)

Coverage year : 1860
Period : 1852-1883
Place : South Australia
Region : Adelaide city,South East
Further reading :

Blake, L. J. Gold Escort Melbourne : Hawthorn Press, 1971

Bull, J.W. Early Experiences of Life in South Australia and an Extended Colonial History Adelaide, S.A. : E.S. Wigg & Son, 1884

Gibbs, R. M. The History of South Australia Adelaide : Balara Books, 1969

Tolmer, Alexander Reminiscences of an Adventurous and Chequered Career at Home and at the Antipodes Adelaide, [S. Aust.] : Libraries Board of South Australia, 1972

Internet links :

Australian dictionary of biography online edition Alexander Tolmer

The Australian gold rush: stories from Australia's culture and recreation portal

Gold! (Victorian Cultural Collaboration)

SA Memory, Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 List of purchases and gold sales

SA Memory, A rich tapestry : South Australian communities Effect of Victorian gold rush on South Australia

South Australia Police Historical Society



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