Clift, John (senior)

Date of Birth/Death:


John Clift – Farmer and publican

John Clift senior was born on 13 May 1798 in Dittisham, Devon, England. He was the son of Joseph Clift (or Clyff) (1770-1832) and Mary (nee Lambel) (1774-1833). The family were members of the Church of England. John Clift married Eleanor Gidley (1799-1871) on 29 August 1822, Blackawton, Devon. They lived for over 20 years in Dittisham where all nine of their children were born. John and Eleanor Clift arrived with their nine children (aged between 1 and 16 years) on board Orissa on 10 March 1840. They first settled on section 497 (now within the Belair National Park) but soon moved to McLaren Vale where they purchased land near the Wilson family.

In the 1850s John Clift senior paid rates on 400 acres of land (sections 98, 494, 497, 498, 499) and later on section 500, 503 and 718. At one stage he paid rates on a mill (section 135) on 19 acres. John Clift was a farmer and publican at McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat. He exhibited wheat at the Willunga Show in March 1856 and won a prize for the best brood mare with foal at foot. John Clift with his son Nicholas held the license of the Clifton Arms (now McLaren Vale Hotel) in Bellevue from 1859 to 1864.

John and Eleanor Clift had nine children:

  • John Willing (1824-1878) m. Elizabeth Tritton Wilson (1829-1923) on 25 April 1850 at St. Stephens Church, Willunga. He was a farmer at McLaren Vale (sections 98, 503, 533 and later 718), d. at Kilkerran, SA
  • Joseph Frederick (1826-1913) m. Harriet Symmons (1830-1909) on 16 July 1856 at Willunga, d. at Kadina, SA
  • Mary Ellen (1827-1905) m. (1st) Richard Bell (1813-1855) at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide on 30 May 1846 (2nd) Edward William Harris (1815-1871) at Willunga on 16 Jan 1863, (3rd) John Dodd (1809-1878) on 28 Sept 1871 at Carrickalinga, d. at Henley Beach, SA
  • Elizabeth Gidley (1829-1898) m. Joseph Atkinson (1824-1878) at St. Stephens Church, Willunga, d. at Nairne, SA
  • Anne Marie (1829-1917) m. Samuel Miller (1822-1908) at Willunga on 12 Sept 1852, d. at Port Germein, SA
  • William Mann (1831-1886) m. Mary Jane Kelly (1835-1900) at Willunga on 19 April 1856. He was a farmer at McLaren Vale in the mid 1850s (sections 436 & 603) and later Balaklava, d. at Balaklava
  • Harriet Caroline (1834- 1918) m. Thomas Price (1829-1896) at St. Stephens Church, Willunga on 5 Aug 1855, d. at Paskeville, SA
  • Nicholas Robert (1836-1910) m. Louisa Knuckey Rowe (1841-1915) at St. Stephens Church, Willunga on 23 March 1861. He won a prize in the ploughing match at Willunga in August 1857 and was a blacksmith, publican and farmer at McLaren Vale and later at Stow, d. at Stanbury
  • Louisa Jane (1838- ) m. Charles Miller (1834-1884) on 2 Feb 1859 at Adelaide. Charles was the brother of Samuel Miller who married Lousia Jane’s sister Anne Marie.


Eleanor Clift, aged 72 years, died on 6 Jan 1871 and John remarried to Sarah Tiller (nee Hall) (1807-1876) on 21 Nov 1871 at Trinity Church, Adelaide. Sarah Clift, aged 69 years, died on 3 July 1876 and John married for the third time to Mrs Ann Smart (1815- ) on 5 Dec 1877. John Clift, aged 82 years, died on 6 April 1879. John and Eleanor Clift are both buried in St. Stephens Church Cemetery in Willunga.


Devon, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry. Also Findmypast.

Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum

South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906

South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937

South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972

SA Census 1841, Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888

Family Histories. C. Manuscript folder held by the National Trust (Willunga Branch). Blue folder 40-3

Statton J. (ed) 1986. Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885. Volume 1

1849 ‘Advertising’, Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), 13 October, p. 1. , viewed 04 Feb 2024

1879 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), 9 April, p. 2. (SECOND EDITION), viewed 04 Feb 2024

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