Colton, William

Date of Birth/Death:


Principal occupation=Farmer, Hotel licensee

William Colton was born in Devon, England c1791 and possibly baptised 6 April 1791 at Harberton, Devon son of Thomas and Mary. He married Elizabeth Blackler (born ca 1799) in about 1820. William (aged 44), with his wife Elizabeth (aged 40) and their four sons William (junior) (17), John Blackler* (15), Thomas (12), and Edwin (7) arrived at Port Adelaide aboard the 540-ton ship Duchess of Northumberland on 19 December 1839. The ship was under the command of Captain Frederick Geare and carried a general cargo, 11 ‘superior class paying’ passengers and between 160 and 350 steerage passengers. It had departed from London on 5 August and son Albert (aged 1) had died on 8 September of ulceration during the voyage. On Christmas Day 1839, William Colton and Charles Hewett accompanied William Randell on a tour of the South Australian Company’s southern country sections seeking land on which to settle. They chose four sections (including sections 136 and 147) that they named Oxenberry and Lower Oxenberry Farms, part of District C that they called Doringa Valley, later McLaren Vale. William Colton and Charles Hewett were responsible for a letter addressed to the Editor of the Adelaide Chronicle newspaper that was published in October 1840. It described their farms in glowing terms and the great successes that they had in the colony. This was part of a campaign that started in December 1839 to promote the opportunities offered by the new colony after negative commentary had been circulated and published in newspapers in other colonies, India and in England. A slightly different version of the same letter addressed to the Directors of the South Australian Company and dated September 1840 was published in the South Australian Record newspaper in February 1841. On 11 March 1840 William Colton selected section 497 (80 acres) by virtue of land order 1046. He held an occupation license in 1843 and 1845. In 1846 he purchased Lot 349, section 84 (80 acres) in District C for 80 pounds and then on 5 November 1847 he purchased section 177 (80 acres) for 110 pounds at the Government Land Sale. In 1847 William Colton served on a Grand Jury for the Supreme Court (Criminal) and he held the license for the Devonshire Hotel (located on section 146) in McLaren Vale in June 1849.

William Colton, aged 58 years, died on 10 July 1849 and he is buried in the McLaren Vale Congregational Cemetery. His wife Elizabeth died 7 March 1888 at Hackney. She was buried with her husband in the McLaren Vale Congregational Church cemetery.

*[John remained in Adelaide where he set himself up in business, became Mayor 1874-1875; represented Noarlunga in the House of Assembly and was State Premier 1876-1877 and 1884-1885. He received a knighthood.]


FindMyPast, Devon Baptisms, Harberton, Devon, England

Genealogy SA,

Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum,

Diane Cummings, Bound for South Australia, State Library of South Australia,

1839 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Record (London, England : 1837 – 1840), 10 July, p. 1. , viewed 03 May 2024,

1839 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Record, 10 July, p. 1. ,

1840 ‘STATE OF THE COLONY.’, South Australian Record and Australasian and South African Chronicle, 16 May, p. 6. ,

1840 ‘SPECIAL SURVEYS.’, South Australian Record and Australasian and South African Chronicle, 3 October, p. 6. ,

1840 ‘To the Editor of the Adelaide Chronicle.’, Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Literary Record, 7 October, p. 3. ,

1841, South Australian Record and Australasian and South African Chronicle, 24 February, p. 7. ,


1843 ‘Advertising’, Southern Australian, 13 January, p. 2. ,

1845 ‘COLONIAL SECRETARY’S OFFICE.’, South Australian Register, 26 February, p. 1. ,

1846 ‘LAND SALES.’, Adelaide Observer, 11 April, p. 3. ,

1847 ‘LAW AND POLICE COURTS.’, South Australian Register, 10 March, p. 2. ,

1847 ‘LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.’, South Australian Register, 6 November, p. 2. ,

1849 ‘NEW GENERAL LICENCES.’, South Australian Register, 3 June, p. 4. ,

1849 ‘BENCH OF MAGISTRATES.’, South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal, 14 June, p. 3. ,

1849 ‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 14 July, p. 2. ,

1902 ‘THE LATE SIR JOHN COLTON.’, Chronicle, 15 February, p. 33. ,

Sir John Colton,

FlickrID=42146469510= Colton headstone, McLaren Vale Congregational cemetery. Photo from Mark Staniforth

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