Founder Paddy Gleeson: "King of Clare"

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

A true specimen of the fine old Irish gentleman was Edward Burton Gleeson, known familiarly as Paddy Gleeson, the King of Clare, who followed pastoral and agricultural pursuits with great perseverance until the time of his death, in 1870. From: "THE FOUNDER OF CLARE"

Arrival in S.A. -- Settled at Gleeville -- Life at Clare -- The Gleeson Family -- Read More

"Edward Burton Gleeson was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1803.

  • Gleeson had taken up a British government post in India where he seems to have prospered.

  • With his wife Harriet and family he arrived in South Australia from India in on 27 July 1838 on the "Emerald Isle".

  • By 1840 Gleeson was reported as owning 7,300 sheep, 55 cattle and 24 horses.

  • He initially had land in what is now Beaumont, a suburb of Adelaide, a property he named Gleeville.

  • He reported very favourably on the climate of Adelaide to friends back in India, praising the purity of the air.

Left: 1865, overpainted photograph of Edward Burton Gleeson


Gleeson was adversely affected during the colony's financial crisis in the late 1830s, and indeed was charged by the Insolvency Court in 1945, causing him to be detained until he found bail on April 29 1845. (Ashton's Hotel p. 317)


Gleeson remained in South Australia and prospered in the mid-north, where he established his property Inchiquin and laid out the town of Clare in 1841, named after his birthplace.

  • He also held land leases around Condowie, east of CLare, and in the far north, west of Mount Eyre but concentrated upon his property at Clare.

  • He became the first mayor of Clare when it was proclaimed a corporation in 1868.

  • When he died two years later the shops and hotels on the main street closed in his honour.

  • He was a friend of John Horrocks, a fellow pastoralist in the Clare region and an explorer.

  • Known as Paddy Gleeson, he was the unofficial 'King of Clare' and a popular identity.

  • He was also a stipendiary magistrate and a keen sportsman, interested in horse racing." - SA Memory

The Corporation of Clare was proclaimed in September, 1868. "Paddy Gleeson, King of Clare." as he was nicknamed, (being very short and stout), became first Mayor.

Arrival in South Australia


Gleeson had a British government post in India where he seems to have prospered and alongside his East India Company ‘day’ job he also made a tidy sum from investing in local banks.

  • But the tropical climate was having an adverse effect on his brother John’s health, so the Gleesons decided to move to more clement climes ion South Australia.

From: Blyth Agriculturist (SA) Wed 4 Jul 1951 Page 4

It is well-known that the Gleeson brothers, their wives and children came to Australia from Madras on the (ship) "Emerald Isle", in July, 1838. -- Recorded in a short article in the "Southern Australian" Sat. 28th July, 1838; -- the arrival of the "Emerald Isle" is recorded on Pages 50 and 57 of Opie's Records.


From The Southern Australian, Sat., 28th July, 1838.

The Australian Association of Bengal.

"On Monday last the "Emerald Isle" a 'fine vessel of 501 tons burden, and drawing 15 1/2 feet: This ship is chartered by the "Australian Association of Bengal" and is the second which that body has despatched from India.

  • She is principally filled with goods (including a packaged timber house) belonging to the passengers on board, who are both numerous and highly respectable."

  • There are some very fine horses, three of which entered Adelaide on Thursday night,

  • One of these is an entire horse of purest Arab blood, and said by the proprietor, Mr. E. B. Gleeson, to be true Nadgad.

  • The passengers per "Emerald Isle" from India, who remain in South Australia:— J. Donithorne, Esq., and servants. E. B. Gleeson, Esq., and Lady, two children and servants. (Paddy's brother) J. H. Gleeson, Esq, and Lady, two children and servants. Dr. Yeatman and Lady, child and servant, Mrs. Balydon

Settled at Gleeville


Edward Burton Gleeson, the founder of the Mid North town of Clare, originally owned a farm within the boundaries of Beaumont in the early 1840s, which he named "Gleeville". The farm included Manning house which was a package house bought over from India with Gleeson.

From: Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) Thu 13 Oct 1932 Page 42 "PADDY" GLEESON: POOH-BAH OF THE LOWER NORTH

"Gleeson arrived in South Australia when it was but nine months old. He came from India, and he brough