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Auburn Historian Col. J.W. Castine

Updated: Feb 11

"Ancient History"

73 Years in South Australia


By a Special Representative, republished below by David Wilson

J. W. Castine
"Years ago we knew Mr. Castine as 'the colonel.' 'Was it possible,' I asked myself, 'that this young-old man with the sprightly step of a youth of fifty-five to sixty was within coo-ee of ninety years?" I believe, as a matter of strict accuracy, he is in his 87th year."
"He loves Auburn, this energetic old gentleman, because it gave him his start in life. He told me he and his partner, Frederick Goss, borrowed £10 to provide the capital to start their store. The colonel at that time was in his 20th year.
He 'did' for himself, and slept under the counter at night. But he had an immense energy, and a definite will to win, the two main ingredients of success."

"Colonel Castine is, with the exception of Sir Josiah Symon, the oldest living representative of our former legislators, and is the sole survivor of the Downer Ministry of 1892-93, in which he held the portfolios of Education and Agriculture."

"I could not have encountered a richer mine of historic information than the colonel, who happened to be in Auburn for 'Back to St. John's' week."

"He not only saw Auburn in the very early stages of its being, but he has been writing a history of the town, not, I understand, with the the intention of publishing it, but rather of leaving behind him a written record of its early days.

When it comes to historic facts I have no conscience — and I 'pinched' as much as I could of Colonel Castine's manuscript.' (see below)




Mr. John William Castine was born at Plymouth, Devon, England, on May 26,1846, and came to South Australia on September 6, 1862. His chief occupations have been those

of store keeping and valuing stocks and land, before entering State Parliament in 1884.

J.W.Castine's 'The Universal Provider' store at Auburn 1910

Colonel Castine, who was of French descent, was born at Plymouth on May 27, 1846. and came to South Australia in 1862. For a period he was a general storekeeper, and later he became a land valuator.

Soon after his arrival in this State he settled at Auburn. and in 1877 he removed to Riverton, where he lived for many years, and took an active interest in movements for the welfare of the town and district.

In 1884 he was elected to the Assembly for Wooroora the district in which he had lived for 20 years, and held the seat continuously for 18 years.

Mr. J.W. Castine, pictured in 1893

He lost his seat in the Assembly in 1900, when a re-arrangement of the district was made, and the district of Light added to Wooroora.

He still retained his interest in politics, however and took a prominent part in the fusion of the three parties which formed the Liberal Union in 1909.

Many years ago he was president of the Rifle Volunteer Force Council, and a member of the Select Committee on defence, and he served for five years on the headquarters staff as inspecting officer of all the rifle clubs in South Australia.

In 1887 he and Brigadier-General Dean helped to establish the Commonwealth National Rifle Association. He was a valuable member of the Parliamentary Rifle Club.

"Crack shots of S.A" with Col. Castine_(left)

Colonel J.W. Castine (centre)

  • Messrs. E. W Castine, M.L.C., (pictured, right) and

  • Ern's son Jack Castine (pictured left)

  • Jack's daughter, grand-daughter Jenni

'Man Of Sterling Worth'

Colonel Castine was described by the Premier (Mr. Playford) as a man of sterling worth.

'He was noted for his energy, for his many interests, and for his meritorious service to the State,'' said Mr. Playford.

'For many years he was associated with the Liberal movement, and he took a keen interest in political matters generally."

Mr. F. W. Coneybeer, one of Colonel Castine's former colleagues in Parliament, said that he was a fluent speaker, a keen debater, and a loyal member of his side of the House. Many new members had profited by his valuable advice.

He sat on many Royal Commissions, e.g.


Royal Commission appointed to consider the desirability of establishing a State Bank and Royal Mint

Robert Caldwell (Chairman)

  • S. Solomon

  • William Copley

  • F. Krichauff

  • J. W. Castine

  • P. McM. Glynn

  • T. Playford

  • Samuel Tomkinson

  • Henry Scott

Amazing French Descent

Colonel J. W. Castine is descended from an old French family that originally took an active part in establishing many townships in N. America.

He was born in Plymouth, Devon, England, in 1846, and received his education at College House, Saltash, Cornwall.

CAST1NE—BARKLA.—On the 16th December 1868, at St. John's, Auburn, by the Rev. A. J. Boake, B.L, Mr. J. W. Castine, of Auburn, to Nannie, third daughter of Captain Barkla, Rose Hill, Auburn.

April 14th 1896, from "Glenburn" Riverton:

..."the government of this colony has thought fit to honour my public actions by declaring a large tract of county, measuring upwards of ten miles square, to be named after me." [p.54]

[Hundred of Castine, west of Port Augusta]

"For sixteen years I have had the privilege of holding a commission ... now holding the rank of major. My four sons have also served in the ranks.

...From our family Bible (probably from the county record of Cornwall in the west of England).

"Daniel Castine, born Feb 7, 1708

Robert Castine, a son, born Nov 18, 1745

William Castine, a son, born Nov. 17 1768

John Castine, my father, born April 19, 1808. "John married Mary Record (born HAM), born in 1808. They had 3 children: John William CASTINE and 2 other children, Mary R K Costine. (Father) John passed away in 1878, at age 69"

John William Castine, only son, the writer, born May 27, 1846."

"Four stalwart sons and one daughter have been born to me, my eldest son is the only one at present married and a daughter is the issue of the marriage.

  • Ernest William Castine (eldest son) (1869-1955)

    • His daugher Rita Eileen Castine. 11 August 1895–27 July 1974 ... She married John Stanley Douglas Angus on 14 October 1919, in Marryatville, South Australia, Australia.

    • John William Castine was born in 1902, in [Watervale]

  • Sidney Barkla CASTINE (of Kimba) (1872 - 1938) CASTINE—PROVIS.—On the 22nd July 1901 at Holy Trinity Church, Kingston, by the Rev. R. Kenny, M.A., Sidney Barkla, second son of Lieut.-Col. Castine, M.P., to Amy C. H., second daughter of Chris Provis, Esq., of Tarooola. Death 1938 - On the 8th of June, at his late residence, Kimba (suddenly). Sidney Barkla. loving husband of Amy and father of Clemen, Haywart. Richard, Desmond, and Keith. Aged 66 years.

  • Oswald Hatchard Castine (1874 - 1964) manager of the Riverton stock branch of Goldsbrough, Mort & Co. for more than 30 years. 1899 CASTINE—WILKINSON.—On the 6th December, at Holy Trinity Church, Riverton, by the Rev. F. E. Perrin, M. A., Oswald Hatchard (Wally), third son of Major J. W. Castine, M.P., to Edith Alice, youngest daughter of the late George Smith Wilkinson, of Port Adelaide, and stepdaughter of Captain W. E. Gadd, of Riverton. died 13 June 1964 in Riverton Cemetery, of Riverton S.A.

  • Clement Claude Castine, (1876 - 1938) took up farming at Kangaroo Island, was secretary of the South Australian Rifle Association from 1928 until the time of his death at Magill, 9 August 1938 at age 62, and an active member of the Adelaide Rifle Club. Mr. Castine was rifle shooting correspondent for "The Advertiser." - Obituary He has left a wife and two daughters. Kathleen and Claire.

"If the above genealogy be correct, ... there remains, at the most, but two generations between the life of the Baron and that of Daniel Castine...

"I firmly believe that it was during the (reign of Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England) ... Anselm and Joseph Dabadis, the Baron's two sons, were taken to England and their domiciled, either by compulsion or force." [p.53]

Ancestor Baron de Castine

Baron de Castine founded the town of Castine, in Maine, U.S.A. His descendants eventually re-crossed the Atlantic, and became naturalized subjects of the British Crown.

Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie, Baron de Saint-Castin

The town of Castine, Maine, is named after the Baron de Saint-Castin and, from 1670 until 1674, it was the capital of Acadia.

If Castine is the baron’s namesake, it is largely because he mingled with Amerindians which, of course, benefited New France, but also showed that Jean-Vincent did not look upon Amerindians as inferior human beings.

In fact, he married an Amerindian woman and, after her death, her sister.

The family seat of the Castines then became transferred to the mouth of the Penobscot River, anciently known as the Norumbeque, upon a peninsula, just where the stream broadens into the Bay.

The peninsula contains only some ten or twelve hundred acres, but the fighting for its possession which distracted so many generations would seem to indicate for it an importance out of all proportion to its dimensions.

  • On the sunny slopes of this bit of land is built the modern town of Castine. The Indians call it Pentagoet, which signifies ''the entrance to a river."

  • As early as 1566 there was a French trading and fishing station on it, and in 1613 the French claimants erected some sort of fortification.

The French Regiment

  • In 1654 the English took possession of the place, under orders from Cromwell, then Protector.

  • Long afterwards, when the Iroquois had been reduced to submission, the Baron de Castin turned his steps toward the French post, at the mouth of the Penobscot, on the peninsula that now bears his name.

  • Why he came here nobody seems to know. It was a strange adventure for a scion of the ancienne noblesse, with great expectations awaiting him in his native land. Possibly he was fascinated by the stories told him by Madockawando, the chief of the Tarratines, who visited Quebec during Castin's sojourn there.

He was the friend and companion-in-arms of that people, and eventually became the chieftain's son-in-law, by marrying his daughter Mathilde. He was also made a sachem of the tribe, adopting its manners and costume.

During Castin's time, in 1674, the Dutch took possession of Pentagoet, but were driven out

by the Boston English, the Baron holding his own during all these mutations.

Castin had two sons by Dame Mathilde.

His second wife was Marie Pidianske, by whom he had at least two daughters.

St. Castin returned to France in 1701, and was cheated out of his inheritance by the Lietenant-General of Oleron, yet, as he carried a fortune home " in good dry gold," he never came to want.

  • Permanent possession of the Penobscot country was taken by the English in 1759. Fort Point was then built by Governor Pownall, of Massachusetts.

  • After many vicissitudes the name of Baron de St. Castin was, in 1796, given to the town. The village may be said to be overlaid with traditions, and a full account of them with a portrait of the Baron will be found in vol. xxiv of the "Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine," date September, 1882.


In 1882 J.W. Castine disposed of his Auburn business, and visited England, passing en route through Italy and France. He returned in the ill-fated ship "Austral," leaving her only a few days before she foundered.

He was prevailed on to contest the representation of Wooroora in the Assembly, and, after a severe contest, was returned by a large majority in 1884.

S.A. Parliamentary Rifle Team 1896

"Towards the close of each session of Parliament it was customary to play a cricket match, Parliament v. Press, and also to indulge in a luncheon, the losers to pay for the feast. In December, 1888, the Parliamentary team was badly beaten: — Parliament. 93; Press, 144. Only three of the Parliamentarians got into double figures. They were E. W. Hawker 27, J. W. Castine 25, A. McDonald 18."

Read more: Clare History Group|Clare's mystery Mural explored

Most people have heard of the Knappsteins, but why is E.W. Castine in this picture?

Pictured: Otto Knappstein pours wine with E.W. Castine, 1930

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