Read their story
William Richardson (1818-1883) emigrated to the Mount Barker area in 1839, aged 21. After farming in Mount Barker for several years he founded ‘Dalveen’ pastoral estate near Woodchester. He married Jane Rhind (1825-1901) in Adelaide and they raised ten children.
William’s nephew, Adam Watson Richardson, left Scotland for Melbourne in 1853 and arrived in Mount Barker the following year. He established a pharmacy on the corner of Gawler and Walker Streets, and his shop became a fixture of the town for the next forty years. He also established pharmacy branches in Nairne, Woodside and Mount Pleasant. He married twice and fathered thirteen children.
The first of the Richardson family of Dunbar, Scotland, to come to Mount Barker was William Richardson (1818-1883), the eventual founder of ‘Dalveen’ station near Woodchester. William emigrated in 1839, aged 21, seeking a drier, sunnier climate for his health. He came aboard the barque Superb with his widowed mother and his friend, Robert Lawson (1816-1876). The young men farmed in the Hills, with William growing wheat, barley and potatoes on ‘Couston’ in Mount Barker (section 4016). By 1842 he was able to outlay £160 for the property that would become ‘Dalveen,’ named after the rounded hills of Dalveen Pass in Lanarkshire. Meanwhile Robert explored the farming potential of both Mount Barker and Callington, where he was reputedly the first European to identify copper deposits, then pushed further out as far as Naracoorte (then spelt Narracoorte).
In a significant event for both men’s lives, the Bussorah Merchant arrived at Port Adelaide from Plymouth in 1848. Amongst its passengers were Eliza Bell (1822-1894), who had followed her brother Allan Bell and his wife to South Australia (see Bell Family History Post), and Eliza’s Edinburgh-born companion Jane Rhind (1825-1901), who may have come out as a servant for the Bell property ‘Dalmeny Park.’
William married Jane in April 1849 at a Wesleyan Church in Hindley Street, in a ceremony witnessed by Robert Lawson, Allan Bell and John Hamilton (a friend who became Chief Inspector of Sheep); being illiterate, Jane signed with her ‘mark.’ Together the couple developed ‘Dalveen’ over more than thirty years, during which time they raised ten children, most of whom lived long lives. The property, now a prominent poll merino stud, has remained in the hands of the Richardson family to this day. William and Jane are buried at Woodchester Cemetery, among many other Richardson family members.
Seven months after William and Jane’s marriage, Robert Lawson married Eliza Bell in Adelaide. As the Narracoorte Herald put it years later, “Both Mr Lawson and his young wife lacked nothing in stamina and grit, and after their marriage they rode through the wilds of the unknown bush from Adelaide to Padthaway, where she assisted him to build up the station and bring up a considerable family.” They had seven children, two of whom died in infancy. After Robert’s death at the age of 60 (from heart disease), Eliza managed the station herself. It is now well-known as Padthaway Estate Winery. Eliza died at ‘Padthaway’ in 1913, aged 91, and was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery.
In the meantime a second Richardson immigrant had arrived in Mount Barker from Dunbar. Adam Watson Richardson (1829-1894), or ‘A.W.’ as he was known, was William’s nephew. He had trained as a chemist in Edinburgh, but when he set out for Australia aboard the Signet in 1853, aged 24, he headed for Melbourne, which probably meant he was bound for the goldfields. If so he had no luck, because a year later he fell back on his profession and purchased a pharmacy on the corner of Gawler and Walker Streets.
The business had been conducted for the previous six years by Joseph Bull (brother of John Wrathall Bull of the Ridley Reaper controversy – see Walter Paterson History Post). Richardson bought it with fellow druggist Robert Cayme, but by the end of 1854 the partnership dissolved, and Richardson became sole proprietor of a business that he would conduct for the next four decades. For many years the corner of Gawler and Walker Streets was known as ‘Richardson’s Corner.’
The principal role of pharmacists in the nineteenth century was much as it is today, involving the preparation and dispensing of remedies and the counselling of patients. Other products sold at Richardson’s included stationery, wallpaper, window glass, oils, paints, kerosene, lamps, remedies for cats and horses, and tobacco products including cigars, pouches and pipes. Over the years Richardson established several additional pharmacy branches in Hills towns, including Nairne, Woodside and Mount Pleasant. He was highly regarded in the Mount Barker community, serving for many years as a Justice of the Peace and giving his time to numerous local institutions and committees.
A.W. was married twice. His first wife, Jane (‘Jeannie’) Thomson (1842-1881) was the daughter of and Scottish immigrants Walter Thomson (1808-1882) and Jean Crawford (1819-1885) of O’Halloran Hill, who had arrived in Adelaide aboard the Prince George in 1838. Jeannie and A.W. were married in 1861 and had ten children. While families of this size were commonplace at the time, it is worth contemplating the fact that Jeannie produced babies in 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1867, 1869, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1875 and 1878 before dying suddenly of at the age of thirty-nine, while visiting ‘Dalveen.’ Two years later A.W. married Albertina Moss (1862-1947), who had been born in the same year as the birth of his eldest child. She produced more babies in 1885, 1889 and 1890, although the last child, little Gertrude, only lived for a day.
A.W. died of bronchitis and pneumonia in 1894, aged 65. Albertina kept running the pharmacy for another thirteen years, introducing a visiting dental service in 1899. She closed the business in 1906 and rented the shop out (to Walter Herbert Blades), then sold it at auction in 1912 (to Henry Bruce Chapman) before moving permanently to Perth. The shop and associated rooms still stand at 15-19 Walker Street. The Gawler Street frontage is currently occupied by a café and florist, with the Walker Street frontage housing a retail shop selling equestrian clothing and equipment.
A.W. and Jeannie are interred together at the Mount Barker Cemetery. Jeannie’s epitaph reads “A Peerless Wife, a Devoted Mother and a True Gentlewoman.” There is also a memorial to three of their children who died young. John Watson Richardson, their first-born boy, died in 1872, aged ten. He was visiting his grandparents at O’Halloran Hill when he suddenly succumbed to ‘sunstroke’ – a rather unsatisfactory diagnosis from a modern point of view. Annie Richards died of diphtheria in 1875, aged six. The cause of death of nineteen-year-old Ellis Dudgeon Richardson in 1882 is not recorded, other than that he was afflicted by a lingering illness. All the rest of their many siblings lived long lives, apart from Elizabeth (1870-1898), who died aged 27, two days after giving birth to her first child, who also did not survive.
A.W. was not the only one of his immediate family to migrate to the Adelaide Hills. His younger brother Robert Watson Richardson (1837-1899), another chemist, emigrated sometime before 1863 and established a large family with Margaret Inglis of Woodside. Sister Elizabeth (1826-1865) also came out, emigrating in about 1853 with her husband James Ferguson (1812-1859), a Scottish solicitor who had taken a position as clerk to the Onkaparinga Board of Road Commissioners. They settled at Inverbrackie, but James died in 1859 and Elizabeth died in Adelaide six years later, leaving a ten-year-old son, John Charles Ferguson. A.W. took the boy under his wing and trained him in pharmacy at Mount Barker. John eventually married the fourth daughter of Allan Bell, named Eliza Bell after her aunt, and opened his own pharmacy at Orroroo.
Unfortunately John Ferguson was stricken by consumption and died in 1883 at the age of 38, leaving a family of five. He and Eliza are buried together under a polished granite slab just to the west of the Richardson family graves at Mount Barker Cemetery. Two of John and Eliza’s unmarried children, James Allan Ferguson (1879-1941) and Martha Lawson Ferguson (1890-1973), are buried in a matching grave beside them.
Related History Posts: