South Australian Company

img-221122428-0001 south australia company

First Directors of the South Australia Company, January 1836. Printed in Frearson's Weekly, 25 May 1878.

A number of wealthy British merchants, including George Fife Angas, formed the South Australian Company in 1835. This joint stock company was a reaction to the slow take up of land orders for the Province of South Australia. British Parliamentary support for the province was conditional upon the sale of £35,000 of preliminary land orders and provision of an emergency fund of £20,000 through the newly-established South Australian Colonization Commission. When it became evident that the Commission would fall short of this target Angas, also a member of the Commission, was given permission to purchase all remaining land orders at a reduced rate of 12 shillings per acre. Through an initial outlay of £200,000 the South Australian Company secured the purchase of 13,700 acres of land, and pastoral leasehold rights over a further 222,000 acres in the new province. Amongst its significant commercial interests in South Australia the company was granted the right to establish the first official whaling station in South Australia.

Floated in January 1836, the South Australian Company wasted no time in commissioning two ships to set sail carrying company officials, labourers and whalers for the new province.  Through Angas’ tireless efforts the Company obtained from the Commission authorisation for its ships the Duke of York and the John Pirie to depart ahead of the official survey party in February 1836. The Company’s remaining ships the Cygnet, Lady Mary Pelham and the Emma departed later that year and were also among the first nine ships to arrive in South Australia.

In the early years of the province, the South Australian Company provided much of the infrastructure and also established the Bank of South Australia.  It was eventually wound up in 1949.

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