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South Australian Company: Collection description

South Australian Company: Mapping | South Australian Company

Series List: Description of the arrangement of papers in the South Australian Company collection (BRG 42)


In accordance with the established archival principles and practice, the records of the South Australian Company have been arranged into series depending on their provenance and the nature of their subject matter. Thus series 1-23 consist of material emanating from the Company's London Office, among which are copies of the printed reports presented annually by the directors of the Company to its shareholders. These provide a useful overview of the Company's operations. Of even greater significance in illustrating the sorts of factors and considerations that influenced the formulation and direction of the Company's policies, are the seven volumes of meetings of directors, 1835-1912 and the three volumes of special meetings of shareholders, 1837-1890 and, most interestingly of the special Committee of Management which oversaw the establishment of the Company in the new province during the first critical year of colonization, 1836-1837.

Correspondence - London Office

The correspondence of the London Office comprises a major part of the collection (2.3 metres). Not only do these letters offer a valuable insight into the administration and functioning of a large, enterprising nineteenth century commercial institution, they also serve as a useful historical commentary on the socio-economic evolution of a small, isolated, rural based community. Among the London Office records are also several important documents connected with the formulation of the Company and its title to lands in South Australia, including copies of the Deed of Settlement of 1836, the Certificate of Registration of the Company issued in 1844, and the Charter of Incorporation granted to the Company by the imperial authorities in 1856. Collectively these documents give some indication of the objects and organization of the Company, the extent of its power, the names of the first new directors and shareholders, the capital expended in launching the new venture, and other matters associated with the general management and operation.

Kangaroo Island

Material relating to the Company's short-lived and largely unsuccessful Kangaroo Island establishment, embraces the correspondence of the Kingscote Office, 1836-1840 and other miscellaneous papers that show many of the difficulties and disappointments experienced by the Company and its fruitless efforts to reap some advantage from the unpromising environment of the island.

Correspondence - Adelaide Office

The majority of the South Australian Company (BRG 42) collection is made up of the records of the Adelaide Office. The most significant are the 8 volumes of minutes of meeting of the Company's South Australian Board of Advice from 1841 to 1937. Recorded in the minutes are the significant day to day policy-making decisions and business proceedings relating to the commercial affairs of the Company. The Adelaide Office generated vast correspondence (measuring 6.4 shelf metres) and includes communication between the colonial Manager and the London Office, and between tenants, government officials, landowners and colonists. These letters shed light of the development of the new colonial society during its formative years, and in particular provide a graphic account of the depression which shook the colony's infant economy during the early 1840s. The written records of the Adelaide Office are complemented by maps (BRG 42/119 and 120), specifications, photographs and site plans of the Company's large number of properties and allotments in and around Adelaide, particularly its warehouse and wharf facilities at Port Adelaide.

Land agreement papers

Many of the original agreements entered into by the Company for the sale and purchase of land, leases and mining rights between 1836 and 1946 are listed in papers of the South Australian Company, including details of the first land grants made to G.F. Angas and the directors and officers of the Company. There are several major registers of leases, land sales and selections, showing the extent and location of the Company's town and country lands, the mode of their utilization and disposal, and their sale price.

Bank of South Australia

The group also includes records of the Bank of South Australia, which was established by the Company as its own bank during the first year of settlement. These records consist of the correspondence of the manager of the bank (Edward Stephens) together with several lists of accounts and returns and other papers connected with the activities of the bank.

Further Reading

Diamond, Arthur Ian, Problems in the South Australian Company's Settlement of Kangaroo Island, Thesis [(B.A.(Hons.)) -- University of Adelaide, 1952?] [See also D 6215(T) for an index to the thesis].

Gee, Lionel C. E. (Lionel Carley Egremont) and Brown, H. Y. L. (Henry Yorke Lyell), Record of the Mines of South Australia, 4th edtion, Adelaide, 1908.

Price, A. Grenfell, Founders and Pioneers of South Australia, Adelaide, 1929

Sutherland, George, The South Australian Company; a study in colonisation, London; New York: Longmans, Green, 1898.

State Library of South Australia Library Guide: South Australian history: South Australian Company



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