Polkinghorne, Richard

Date of Birth/Death:


Richard Polkinghorne was born in Breage, Cornwall, England on 12 June 1808. His parents were William Polkinghorne and Elizabeth (nee Lobb). His brother was Thomas Polkinghorne who had arrived in South Australia in 1840 and settled in Willunga. Richard married Alice James (1810-1880) in Breage, Cornwall on 25 April 1829. She was born in Breage, Cornwall, England. Richard and Alice had seven children (5 boys and 2 girls) born in Cornwall before emigrating to South Australia. Three of the boys died in infancy. Their 8th child, a daughter, was born in Willunga in 1850:

  • George (1829-1829) born and died in Breage, Cornwall.
  • Jane Richards (1831-1861) born in Breage, Cornwall, England, died in Willunga, married James Foreman (1825-1857) in Willunga.
  • Richard (1833-1833) born and died in Breage, Cornwall.
  • Alice Ann (1834-1869) married James Vanstone, farmer, of Bald Hills. She died of Typhoid fever aged 35 years.
  • Richard (September 1837-1838) born and died in Breage, Cornwall.
  • William Henry (1839-1882) born in Breage, Cornwall, England, died in Willunga. Married Johanna Harvey Matthews on 6 July 1865 in Willunga. They lived at Willunga. Johanna remarried to Charles Elliott in 1884 at McLaren (MacLaren) Vale.
  • Richard Thomas (1844-1885) married Sarah Ann Eaton at Adelaide on 6 April 1865. He was a butcher at Aldinga. Children – Henry James (1867- ), Alice Elizabeth (1869- ), Alfred (1871- ), Pricilla Jane (1873- ), Arthur (1874-1889), Ada (1877- ) and Florrie (1885- ).
  • Martha Selina (1850-1907) born and died in Willunga, married John Norman on 16 September 1869 in Willunga.

Richard and Elizabeth Polkinghorne arrived in SA on 21 May 1849 on board ship Pakenham with four children – Jane Richards 18, Alice Ann 14, William Henry 10 and Richard Thomas aged 5. The family had settled in Willunga by 1850. They lived at 22 St Georges Street on Lot 148. In 1852 Richard left for the Victorian goldfields and struck it rich after a several months of prospecting, returning to Willunga with £700 to invest in his house and farming activities. Some sections of his house at 22 St Georges Street were built in the early 1850s. In 1857, after a dispute about the initial land grants, he was able to formally purchase this land (lot 148) on which he had been living since his arrival. At the same time, he bought Lot 147, Pt Lot 151, and nearby Lots 182-189, 191, 192, 195 and 196. In the 1850s, he also owned sections 552 and 443, each of 80 acres, the latter occupied by son-in-law James Foreman.

Richard Polkinghorne was a farmer, pig breeder and butcher. He ran pigs on his land and had a butcher’s shop on the side of the house, together with a (wooden slab shed, Lot 183, St Georges Street, slaughterhouse) across the road on Lot 183. He exhibited the most successful collection of pigs at Willunga Show in 1866. Richard and Alice Polkinghorne were involved with the Primitive Methodist Church – Richard was one of seven men who, in 1860, purchased land on Strout Road upon which the Primitive Methodist Chapel was built. He participated in the 1863 Willunga Council elections when he seconded the nomination of Samson Dawe as Councillor. In the same year, he spoke in favour of a subsequently unsuccessful vote of no confidence in the Council over their plans to increase rates. In 1864, together with other local men, he signed a character reference for Thomas Culley, W A Budd and John Ward in relation to a ‘libellous’ cattle-stealing charge. The English oak tree at the front of Polkinghorne’s house was planted by Richard in the mid-1850s. In June 2015 it was added to NTSA’s Significant Tree Register as having Local Significance.

Richard Polkinghorne died at home on 4 October 1873, aged 64 years, and was buried at Strout Road Cemetery. He bequeathed all his property to his wife Alice. She died of apoplexy on 25 September1880, aged 70 years, leaving the property to Henry James Polkinghorne, Grocer, of Goodwood. In 1891 it was purchased by John Robert(s) Percy Male (J R P Male) and then Rose Foreman in 1937. Alice Polkinghorne’s burial place is not known.


Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum, https://maritime.history.sa.gov.au/research-types/passengers-in-history/

Genealogy SA, https://genealogysa.org.au/

David Barry Foreman, Some early Willunga history and a history trace on our childhood home and property, February 2006

1849 ‘SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE.’, Adelaide Observer, 24 March, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158927335

1865 ‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 7 April, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39116522

1867 ‘Advertising’, Adelaide Observer, 28 September, p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article159513424

1869 ‘Family Notices’, The South Australian Advertiser, 18 September, p. 2. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31993184

1873 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal, 6 October, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197669995

1884 ‘Family Notices’, The South Australian Advertiser, 11 October, p. 4. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35969125[Charles Elliott marriage to Johanna Polkinghorne]

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