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Clare's First Settlers

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

We acknowledge that the earlier occupiers of the land in South Australia were the indigenous people of South Australia.

  • This article relates to the European concept of owning the land through purchase from the previous owner and

  • in this case the previous owner was the colonial government who assumed the land was previously unoccupied!


"Because of some doubt expressed by a critic last week as to whether Explorer Edward John Eyre was a Clare man or not 100 years ago, to which a reply founded in fact has already been given, the following sets out data as supplied by the S.A. Archives regarding the first land ever to be held in Clare and district:—

  • a Land office Notice of Nov. 1839 for £2.000 cash and 25 Land Orders of 80 acres each for a compact figure of 15.000 acres

  • on the banks of the Hutt and country adjacent, both sides of the river between parallels 33—30 and 33—35 South latitude, and

  • a chain of ponds to the East of the Hutt was notified."

What does this mean?

John Horrocks and a servant rode to the Clare Valley and picked Penwortham as a spot to take up land.

John Horrocks established his Hope Farm at Penwortham and built his first cottage there in 1839.

  • He was squatting on the land.

  • He named Penwortham after his home in Lancashire, England.

  • Horrocks wasted no time in settling the village and building a 2-roomed stone cottage which still stands today.

  • Upon Horrocks’ untimely death in 1846 his plans for a thriving community died with him and today we are left with a quiet, charming village with a feel of days gone by

John Horrocks, the young English explorer, was one of the first to establish vines in the Clare Valley - he also has the misfortune to be remembered as the explorer who was accidentally shot by his camel! Hope Farm, at Penwortham, was his first pioneering Clare Valley venture, established in 1840.

The green oasis-like quality of the valley impressed and attracted the early pioneers who came from England, Ireland and Poland; the first agricultural ventures were wheat growing and sheep - the Hawker family settled at "Bungaree" in 1839 and their direct descendants still live and farm there today.

  • Having given over his stone cottage to his shepherd, by1842 John Horrocks had built a more substantial home for himself and called it “Hope Farm”.

  • Sadly, Hope Farm house was demolished in 1915 to make way for the railway to Clare.

1839 was the one year in which the SA government was allowing Special Surveys of 15,000 acres from which the speculator could claim 4,000 acres of surveyed land for £4,000.

A group of nine men clubbed together for the Hutt River Special Survey in 1839 but it was 1841 before the survey actually happened.

The Hutt River Special Survey was lodged in December 1839 by:

  1. John and Peter Horrocks (brothers),

  2. John Morphett on behalf of himself and Francis Wilson,

  3. Henry Rigge, of (35) Bond Street, London (perfumer and photographer),

  4. John King of Calcutta and

  5. Edward Gleeson;

  6. Osmond Gilles and John Bristow Hughes also participated in this survey.

Gilles put his nephew Daniel Oakden in charge of his Hutt River lands thus making him one of Horrock’s earliest neighbours.

  1. The Horrocks brothers took 960 acres,

  2. Edward Gleeson took 500 acres upon which he later established Clare,

  3. Osmond Gilles took 80 acres as did

  4. John Bristow Hughes who built up Bundaleer station.

Thus began the furthest settlement from Adelaide in 1839 although most settlers only moved to the district in 1841 or 1842. Penwortham was the first white settlement in the Clare Valley.

Their selections and those records are preserved in the State Archives as follows:—

  1. Horrocks, Esq. (12) Sections 9, 17, .23, 26, 33, 35, 55, 58, 59, 60, 112, 115

  2. John King, Esq., Calcutta (India) 8 Sections— 46, 47, 48, 49, 54, 56 and 20 acres of Section 44.

  3. Edward burton Gleeson, Esq., of Gleeville, S.A. — Sections 40, 42, 43, 136, 138, 139 and 20 acres of Section 44.

  4. Frances Wilson, Esq. — Jeffries Square St. Mary Axe, London (7) — Sections 52, 53, 120, 121, 128, 129, and 20 acres of Section 127.

  5. Colonel George Wyndham, (10) — Sections 5, 6, 63, 82, 83, 86, 87, 90. 132, 135.

  6. Henry Riggs, Esq. — (7) — New Bond Street, London — Sections 68, 69, 76, 15, 103, 111, and 20 acres of Section 102.

  7. Edward John Eyre — Section 130.

  8. John Baxter, Esq. — Section 133.

  9. Osmond Gilles, Esq. — Section 57.

Details of the Sections from the map above: (arranged North to South)

Wolta Wolta house, Clare SA
Wolta Wolta Heritage Accomodation

John Hope arrived in: S.A. in 1839, began pastoral operations at Koolunga,. and he later acquired "Wolta Wolta."

Denis Henry (?) . a storekeeper - had a a lease of 12 acres of Section 40 in 1848, and his store eventually became Clare's first hotel."

The town of Clare went through several name changes but from 1846 onwards was called Clare.

Mayor Paddy Gleeson

Its founder, known to all and sundry as ‘Paddy’ rather than by his given name of Edward, seems to have been a pretty canny farmer; by the 1850s he had acquired leaseholds on a massive 150,000 acres and turned his family into something approaching local aristocracy. Gleeson also planted approximately 800 vines at Inchiquin in the 1840’s.

E.B. Gleeson (1803-1870) known as the ‘Father of Clare’ in South Australia named his house there ‘Inchiquin’

In 1842 E. B. Gleeson had the town of Clare laid out on Section 40 and part of Section 42 and named it after his native county in Ireland. Clare is a little bit of rural Ireland transplanted into a valley of the lower north (The Hundred of Clare was proclaimed on 14 November 1850.)

  1. Gleeson's homestead. Inchiquin was in the corner of Section 43. -- Old Inchiquin was a plain, white washed building with a thatched roof, and was built on the site of the present tennis court. -- The present house Inchiquin is a beautiful old home, one and a half miles out of Clare, and is remarkable for the fact that it has only belonged to two families in its 100 years of existence: The Gleesons and the James Hills, of Bundaleer. -- The Gleesons were there from 1838 to 1884, -- and then the Hills acquired the property.

  2. Gleeson also named Donnybrook.

  3. Before 1842 Gleeson had a sheep and cattle run at Gleeville. near Beaumont. in the Adelaide Hills.

  • Gleeson seems to have been a bit of a one-man band around the town of Clare.

  • At one stage he was the postmaster; later, he became the first chairman of its district council.

  • A gruff, stern sort of character, he is reputed to have taken his duties as a special magistrate very seriously, ruling the little townstead with an iron fist.

  • During the Famine he encouraged Irish people to emigrate to the Clare valley and when, in the early 1850s, the St Patrick’s Society brought out 5,000 Irish girls to work in South Australia as servants, Clare was one of the handling stations for the operation.

Read More:

  1. Penwortham celebrates John Ainsworth Horrocks’ 200th birthday, by Meredith McInnis March 29 2018 - Northern Argus

  2. Detailed map of early sections in Clare area

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