Morton, William Clement

Date of Birth/Death:


William Morton – labourer, superintendent of roads, mail driver and basket-maker.

William Clement Morton (1824-1913) was born in Wimbledon, England in about 1824 to an unmarried domestic servant, Ann Morton. He trained as a cane basket weaver in England. In late 1848 he emigrated to South Australia aboard Trafalgar that arrived at Port Adelaide on 16 Jan 1849. On board Trafalgar he met Sarah Elizabeth Rhodes (Roads) (1831-1874) who he married shortly after their arrival. After about two years in Adelaide they had moved to Willunga by 1851 with their 2 sons and another 3 children were born in Willunga. William and Sarah had a total of five children (4 boys and a girl)-

  • Robin (Robert) (1850-1886) b. at McLaren Vale. m. Maria Dunwill Paddick in 1871, d. at Aberdeen (Burra).
  • William (1852-1940) b. at Adelaide. m. Annie Humphrey in 1877, d. at Unley.
  • George (1854-1859) b. & d. at Willunga. died of Diptheria aged 5 years.
  • Frank (1858-1863) b. & d. at Willunga. died aged 5 years
  • Nellee (1863-1951) b. at Willunga. m. Frederick George Humphrey in 1881, d. at Payneham.

In about 1869 the Morton family moved into the cottage at 19 St. James Street (Lot 3 – now called Uppalong), which was then owned by Richard Mortimer. William Morton paid rates on land, a house and garden (Lot 3) from 1869 until 1883. After Richard Mortimer’s death in 1883 the cottage was sold to Richard Townsend in 1885 and then to William Morton in 1888. William planted Ozier willows along the creek that ran through the property in Willunga. When the shoots were ready, he split and wove them into various items, most notably farm and vineyard baskets and chairs.

His wife Sarah Elizabeth, aged 43 years, died in 1873 and William, aged 56 years, remarried in 1880 to widow Elizabeth Brown (née Foxworthy) (1852-1943), who was just 28 years old, and they had another 5 children (2 boys and 3 girls):

  • Ethel May (1878-1969) – daughter of Elizabeth Poxworthy adopted by William. b. at Adelaide, d. at Willunga
  • Roger (1881-1962) b. at Willunga. m. Naomi Edith Portis in April 1913
  • Irene Emily (1885-1975) b. at Willunga. m. George Carson Ferguson ay Semaphore in Oct 1913
  • Edgar (1888-1968) b. at Willunga. m. Bridget Rose Wheeler in July 1912
  • Frederick (1889-1961) b. at Willunga, d. at Willunga.

William Morton lived at Uppalong for the rest of his life, eventually passing away on 15 June 1913, aged 93 years, and he was buried at St. Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery with both of his wives. His second wife Elizabeth died in 1943, aged 91 years.


South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
South Australian Deaths Index of Registrations 1842-1915
South Australian Marriages Index of Registrations 1842-1916
Willunga National Trust Blue Folder – Family Histories Vol. 40-13 M,N
Statton, J. 1986. Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885. William Morton – Vol III. p.1138.
Passengers in History – South Australian Maritime Museum
Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888
SAILIS (online) CT 447/67
Ancestry (online)
SA Genealogy database (online)
1875 ‘WILLUNGA.’, The Express and Telegraph 5 March, p. 2. (SECOND EDITION.), viewed 26 Dec 2023,
1880 ‘Family Notices‘, South Australian Register 13 August, p. 4. , viewed 26 Dec 2023,
1886 ‘Open Column.’, Burra Record 30 March, p. 3. , viewed 26 Dec 2023,
1913 ‘MARRIAGES.’, The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), 25 October, p. 4. , viewed 16 Dec 2023,

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