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Colonel William Light was appointed to the position of surveyor-general for South Australia in 1836. Light was under time constraints to select the site for the capital city and survey the land, as colonists who had already purchased South Australian land from England were keen to take it up. He selected a site on the east of St Vincent's Gulf for the capital after rejecting Encounter Bay and Port Lincoln. Light believed the advantage of the site was that it was near both the Port River for a water supply and the Mount Lofty Ranges, which would attract rain and provide an attractive backdrop to the city. Its main disadvantage was that it was 12 kilometres from the suitable port site - now Port Adelaide.

The city of Adelaide was named after Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV of England. Adelaide was born in 1792, the eldest daughter of the duke of Saxe-Meiningen. She married William, then the Duke of Clarence, in 1818. She had not met him before the wedding. Adelaide became queen in 1830 when William ascended to the throne. Her two daughters died in childhood leaving William's niece, Victoria, heir to the throne. William asked the South Australian Colonization Commissioners to name the colony's capital after his queen. Adelaide's central thoroughfare was named for the king and its central square after the heir. Queen Adelaide died in 1849.

According to Cockburn, Adelaide might have been called Wellington after the Duke of Wellington who assisted the passage of the South Australian Colonization Bill through the British parliament.


Cockburn, Rodney. Nomenclature of South Australia, Adelaide : W.K. Thomas & Co., Printers, 1908, chapter I - A [unpaged]

Adelaide, wife of William IV
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