Jay, Richard Gardiner Dr

Date of Birth/Death:


Richard Gardiner Jay was born at Badley, Suffolk on 21 September 1813, and was baptised at age sixteen in November 1829 the son of Edward Jay, a miller and merchant, and Sarah Emmerson. He obtained his Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, London in February 1837. On 21 February 1842 he registered as a medical practitioner in New South Wales having arrived in that colony on the Eweretta on 27 December 1841 from London as the ship’s surgeon. He practised medicine at Mudgee, New South Wales until he left for London on the Louisa as the ship’s surgeon, sailing from Sydney in March 1843. He married Anne Smith Jenkins on 11 February 1845 at St Giles, Reading, Berkshire. They had several children with the eldest two born in England:

  • Gerald  born July 1846 at Romford, Essex,, baptised at Barking, Essex, died 1901 Walkerville
  • William Eugene born November 1847 at Barking, Essex, died 1877 Wallaroo
  • Edward Gardiner born February 1850 at Hindmarsh, died April 1850 place not stated
  • Kate Gardiner born December 1851 (registered Adelaide district), died December 1852 death not registered
  • Horace Pennington born 8 May 1854 at St Anne’s Lodge, Willunga, died December 1906 North Adelaide
  • Melville Richard born 16 February 1856 at St Anne’s Lodge, Willunga, died October 1919 Stonyfell

In May 1849, as the ship’s surgeon on the Susannah from London and Plymouth, he arrived in Adelaide accompanied by his wife and two children. A son, Edward Gardiner Jay, was born in February 1850 at Hindmarsh but died ten weeks later.

In December 1850 he placed an advertisement in the press to inform the inhabitants of Glenelg, Brighton and neighbourhood he was opening his medical practice near the Brighton Inn. A short time later in 1851 or early 1852 Dr Richard Gardiner Jay arrived in Willunga. A daughter Kate Gardiner Jay was born on 21 December 1851, place not given but perhaps Willunga. She died twelve months later and is memorialised, with her brother Edward, in St Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga next to their parent’s grave.

In November 1853 Dr Jay was called to attend to two accidents that occurred at Port Willunga. Archibald Bain had fallen off the top of a wall of the corn store and lacerated his scalp and bruised his spine and chest. He recovered as did James Harding who suffered a broken ankle after falling from the new jetty.

Dr Jay was community minded. In February 1852 he protested with others at the removal of police from Willunga. He was also involved with the local Mechanics’ Institute, a movement that originated in England to provide reading matter, adult education, and social activities to members. On 16 March 1854 he gave a lecture on ‘Literature – its uses and varieties’. Later, in January 1855 he arranged an evening of musical entertainment, tickets for which were available from either him or the secretary. In February 1871 he presented some readings at a ‘quarterly soiree’ of the Mechanics’ Institute held at the Oddfellows Hall which was well-attended.

He owned and lived at St Anne’s Lodge on St Peter’s Terrace in Willunga. This house remained in the Jay family until October 1886. Two children were born there – Horace Pennington on 8 May 1854 and Melville Richard on 16 February 1856.

He attended a Levee at Government House in November 1867 for the visiting HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. He was also appointed a Justice of the Peace. On 25 September 1873 his sixty-year-old wife Anne Smith Jay died at Willunga and was buried at St Stephens Anglican Cemetery. The following month he presided over the annual meeting of the Willunga Branch Bible Society that was held at the McLaren Vale Congregational Church. Dr Jay later remarried to Susan Colton (nee Bond) at the Independent (Congregational) Church Manse at McLaren Vale on 4 November 1874. (She was the widow of Thomas Colton, an early settler of McLaren Vale who had built Sylvan Park in 1858. He was the son of William Colton who built the Devonshire Arms Hotel, McLaren Vale in 1849. Thomas Colton returned to England, married Susan Bond at Upton, Devon on 3 April 1855 and brought his bride back to McLaren Vale).

In January 1877 Dr Jay travelled by the coastal steamer, the Kangaroo, to Wallaroo to visit his son William Eugene Jay who had a medical practice there. Dr Jay senior arrived the day before his son died suddenly at home. Perhaps the loss of his son caused him decide to leave Willunga and take up practice in Wallaroo. The following month Dr Jay was given a ‘complimentary dinner’ at the Bush Inn and presented with an emu egg inkstand ‘as a tribute of esteem, by the ladies’ of Willunga’ on his leaving the district. His second wife Susan died at Wallaroo Bay on 3 December 1877. She is memorialised on her first husband’s headstone in the Congregational Cemetery, McLaren Vale.

Dr Jay died 11 May 1879 at his son’s residence North Adelaide and was buried 12 May 1879 with his first wife Anne in St Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga. He had spent an impressive twenty-five years in Willunga as the local medical practitioner for the town and district.


Genealogy SA, https://www.genealogysa.org.au/resources/online-databases.html

Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga Doctors, Folder 42:9.

Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga District Doctors 1841-1909https://willungantsa.au/willunga-district-doctors-1841-1909/

Australian Medical Pioneers Index, http://www.medicalpioneers.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi

Reece Jennings, An Annotated List of Registered Medical Practitioners – South Australia: Nos. 1-1018 (1844-1918), 1994, Mandrake Press, Adelaide.

‘Apothecaries’ Hall’, Saint James’s Chronicle, 18 February 1837, page 4. (Findmypast)

‘Married’, Berkshire Chronicle, 15 February 1845, page 3. (Ancestry.com.au)

SAILIS, CT29/186, https://sailis.lssa.com.au/home/auth/login

Ancestry.com.au: Essex, England, Select Church of England Parish Registers, 1518-1960.

Findagrave via Ancestry.com.au. St Stephen’s Cemetery, Willunga. Shared headstone with Edward Gardiner Jay died 1850.

”Advertising’, Adelaide Observer, 11 March, p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158096699

1854 ‘Advertising’, Adelaide Observer, 30 December, p. 6. ,  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158100459

1867 ‘VISIT OF H.R.H. THE DOKE OF EDINBURGH.’, The South Australian Advertiser, 2 November, p. 2. ,  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28802184

1874 ‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 10 November, p. 4. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39815141

1877 ‘SHIPPING NEWS. ARRIVED.’, The Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal, 13 January, p. 2. ,  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110093820

1877 ‘Provincial Telegrams.’, South Australian Register, 13 January, p. 5. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40786055

1853 ‘Accident at Port Willunga.’ and ‘Another Accident at Port Willunga’, South Australian Register, 17 November, p. 3., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48547040

1879 ‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 12 May, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42977490

For information about the Colton family, see The Rich Valley, Adele Pridmore, McLaren Vale Institute Committee, 1949, pages 6, 12, 13.


Search Our Web Pages