Smith, Charlotte

Date of Birth/Death:


Charlotte Smith was born on 12 November 1841. A Miss C Smith is listed as owning land in Willunga from 1856. This could be Charlotte’s mother, Charlotte J Smith, who arrived in Australia from Scotland in 1840.

By 1862, Charlotte was almost certainly teaching privately in Willunga. For 12 years she unsuccessfully sought a Board of Education licence for Willunga, which would have granted her a stipend to add to the fees she privately collected from her students. It appears that the Board would consider the funds available, the number of prospective pupils and the need for a new teacher in the locality before licensing and subsidising another teacher. In 1864 ‘Miss Smith, of Willunga, [is] informed that the Board are unable to grant the licences applied for, as they feel it to be their duty to devote the funds at their disposal to the support of schools situated at greater distance from other licensed schools…’(Adelaide Observer, 1864)

One source lists Charlotte as licensed by the Board of Education in 1867 to teach in Kapunda and is she listed as Head Teacher there from 1867 to 1869. However, newspaper entries for the Board of Education indicate that Charlotte Smith’s private school was continuing to operate in Willunga, where she was not licensed, during this time, and by 1868, she had built a new schoolroom. In 1874, a memorial seeking a Willunga licence for Charlotte, signed by a large number of parents and other residents, was forwarded to the Board of Education. It was considered against Mary Bassett’s and Charlotte was the successful candidate, as the Board would license only one of the teachers who applied that year.

In 1875, the old system of licensing and subsidising teachers within which the private school existed, changed. The new Education Act engaged the state in directly funding and administering compulsory schooling. Therefore, when the Willunga Public School opened in 1877, Charlotte closed her private school, which catered for 70 girls, and became Head Teacher at McLaren Vale Public School. Her School building at 9 Main Road was then used as the Willunga Public School Headmaster’s residence. Following a year at McLaren Vale, Charlotte returned to Kapunda school, where she remained for a further 8 years.

In 1882, five years after returning to Kapunda, she disappeared from the list of ratepayers in Willunga. In 1886 she transferred to LeFevre Peninsula Girls’ School and, in December 1890, she retired. After suffering heavy financial losses, Charlotte resumed teaching. She had a private school in Semaphore in 1895 and taught at Cavanaghville School from 1899. On a visit to Adelaide during the school holidays, she died on 11 January 1906 at Alberton. Her obituary describes her as highly educated and an excellent teacher who ran a ‘very efficient school’.


1864 Adelaide Observer, 13 August, p. 3. , viewed 30 Jan 2024,

1874 Evening Journal, 12 May, p. 3. (SECOND EDITION), viewed 12 Jan 2024,

1865 South Australian Register, 8 November, p. 3. viewed 12 Jan 2024,

1868 South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, 31 October, p. 7. viewed 12 Jan 2024,

1906 The Register, 13 January, p. 10, viewed 12 Jan 2024,

South Australia. Education Department. Brian E. Condon. Service histories of S.A. State Teachers 1852-1960 Volume 6: Teachers by Surname Q to S Prepared by Brian Condon. Smith, Charlotte p. 78.

Willunga National Trust – papers and documents available at the Willunga Courthouse.

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