Skip to Main Content

South Australian History: South Australian Company

This guide covers a range of topics relating to the history of South Australia, including the South Australian Company, researching Aboriginal history in South Australia, mines and mining, and the South Australian experience of religion and education

South Australian Company

In 1834, the South Australian Colonisation Act was passed in the United Kingdom, leading to the British colonisation of land that is now the state of South Australia. The 1834 Act empowered the King to establish South Australia as a British Province, initially as a commercial and administrative partnership between the British government and the SA Colonization Commission. The Province was to be designed for migrants, not convicts and was to be funded by the sale of land to the wealthy and to investors. This money in turn would partially fund the transport of labourers and other workers to the colony. The South Australia Act of 1842 repealed the earlier Act, and made South Australia an official British Crown Colony.

The South Australian Company, formed in London in 1835, made a significant contribution to the foundation and settlement of South Australia. It was founded by George Fife Angas and other wealthy British merchants. Its immediate purpose was to encourage the purchase, in advance, of land in the planned colony. The company continued until 1949 and contributed various infrastructure as well as establishing the Bank of South Australia.

The library holds the original business records of the South Australian Company in the archival collection. The library purchased the 1836 original Deed of Settlement and various copies of the Deed, which established the Company and South Australia. The Deed of Settlement has been digitised and can be viewed online. In 2004 the Deed was accepted for inclusion in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register.

Newspaper articles

The National Library of Australia Trove website provides word searchable access to digitised Australian newspapers from 1803 to 1954.

The State Library also has a number of indexes to newspapers. These can help find the particular issue of a newspaper which reports an event. See the Newspaper Collection guide for more details.

For newspaper titles not available on Trove check the State Library catalogue. Some suggested newspaper articles are listed below.


9 December 1948, p.2.  'Ending of famous S.A. Company.'

Frearson's Weekly

3 February 1883, pp.820, 825 col. B. Facsimile of the original signatures of the first directors of the S.A. Company (and text).


7 April 1894, p.30 col. B. 'The South Australian Company and its tenantry.'

7 July 1894, p.19 col. E. 'The South Australian Company.' Resignation of Mr. W.J. Brind and appointment of Mr. H.Y. Sparks as Manager; biographical sketch of Henry Yorke Sparks; meeting of South Australian Company tenants at the Kanmantoo Hotel.


18 June 1836, p.1 col. A. ‘Advertisements: South Australian Company.’ Establishment of the 'Company's Bank' in South Australia.

18 June 1836, p.6 cols. A-C. 'The South Australian Company.'

3 June 1837, p.4 col. A. ‘South Australian Company.’ Progress report.

11 November 1837, p.2-3 col. D. ‘South Australian Company.’ South Australian managers blamed for becoming involved in local disputes.

3 February 1838, p.2 col. D - p.3 cols. A-C. ‘To the editors of the South Australian Gazette.’ Complaining of the attitude adopted towards the Company by the Gazette; and editor's reply.

24 February 1838, p.3 cols. C-D. 'South Australian Company.' Colonial management of the Company criticised.

17 March 1838, p.3 col. A. 'The Lady Mary Pelham.' Fatalities attending the vessels belonging to the Company.

15 September 1838, p.3 cols. A-B. 'South Australian Company's bank.' Colonial management attacked.

1 December 1838, p.4 cols. B-D. ‘South Australian Company.’ Second annual general meeting.

29 December 1838, p. 3 col. A. ‘To the editors of the South Australian Gazette.’ Letter to the editor and editor's reply: bad feelings caused by the Company bidding against the colonists at auction sales; commercial department of the Company to be closed.

30 November 1839, p.3 col. C. 'Superior whaling station.' At Rosetta Cove, Encounter Bay, lately used by the South Australian Company, to be let. Advertisement.

27 June 1840, p.5 col. B. 'Management of the South Australian Company.' Negotiations with Captain Sturt have been suspended for the present.

6 September 1894, p.7 cols. A-F. 'The South Australian Company: Its relation to the colony.' Lecture by the Chairman of Directors.

11 September 1894, p.7 cols. A-F. 'South Australian Company: The tenants' grievances.' Deputation to the Chairman of Directors.

11 September 1894, p.7 col. F. 'The South Australian Company and its critics.' Letter to the editor: C.H. Nield.

South Australian

29 September 1838, p.3 col. C. 'Abuse of the Company's officers by the Gazette.' “We always considered that to be abused by that paper was an honour.”

Sunday Mail

4 February 1928, p.4 col. F. 'Romantic Adelaide: 3-Links with the past.’ Ninety-two-year-old company.

Books and pamphlets

Capper, Henry. South Australia: containing hints to emigrants, proceedings of the South Australian Company, a variety of useful and authentic information, a map of the eastern coast of Gulf St. Vincent and a plan of Adelaide. Hampstead Gardens, S.A.: Austaprint, 1975?

Capper, Henry. South Australia: containing hints to emigrants, proceedings of the South Australian Company, a variety of useful and authentic information, a map of the eastern coast of Gulf St. Vincent, and a plan of Adelaide. 2nd ed., considerably augmented. London: Robert Tyas, 1838.

Capper, Henry. South Australia: extracts from the official dispatches of Colonel Light, Surveyor General of the province of South Australia, and from letters of settlers who have reached Nepean Bay ... (and) the proceedings of the South Australian Company compiled and published by H. Capper. South Australian facsimile editions; no.16. Adelaide, Public Library of South Australia, 1962.

Hodder, Edwin. George Fife Angas, father and founder of South Australia. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891.

McCarthy, Greg. Things fall apart : a history of the State Bank of South Australia. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2002.

McLaren, David. South Australia: to the editor of the Sydney Herald: information relative to the Colonization Commissioners and the South Australian Company. Sydney: Kemp and Fairfax, Ptrs., 'Herald' Office, 1841.

Miscellaneous reports, 1837-1881. Adelaide, 1837-1881. 1. Second supplement to the first report of the directors..., by the South Australian Company 1837. 2. Fifth report of the directors of the South Australian Company..., by the South Australian Company, 1841. 3. Abstract of proceedings at a meeting of the shareholders of the South Australian Company, 1841.

O'Neill, Sally. George Fife Angas. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Perkins, Arthur James. South Australia; an agricultural and pastoral state in the making: first decade, 1836-46. Adelaide: Govt. Pr., 1939.

Pike, Douglas. Paradise of dissent: South Australia 1829-1857 2nd ed. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1967. pp.196-220, ch. 9: 'The South Australian Company.'

Price, Archibald Grenfell. Founders & pioneers of South Australia: life studies of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Charles Sturt, George Fife Angas, Sir John Hindmarsh, William Light, George Gawler, David McLaren, Augustus Kavel, and Francis Cadell; with illustrations & maps. Adelaide: Preece, 1929.

South Australia: facts illustrative of its state and prospects, submitted to the consideration of the public generally, and of capitalists, farmers, and intending emigrants particularly. Southwark London, England: J. W. Maddox, 1842.

South Australian Company. Articles of agreement (regarding leases of land: blank form). s.l: s.n.;183-

South Australian Company. Deed of settlement and royal charter of incorporation (of the) South Australian Company. London: William Brown and Co. Ptrs., 1879.

South Australian Company. (List of) gentlemen (who) were appointed directors. s.l.: s.n., n.d.

South Australian Company. New colony of South Australia: to experienced farmers, possessing small capitals. London: The Company, 1837.

South Australian Company. Prospectus of the South Australian Company. London: The Company, 1835.

South Australian Company. Scale of charges on goods warehoused in the South Australian Company's bonded stores, Port Adelaide ...1856. Adelaide: Shawyer, Printer, 1856.

South Australian Company. South Australia. London 1851.

South Australian Company. To experienced farmers possessed of small capital. London: The Company, 1848.

Stephens, John. The land of promise : being an authentic and impartial history of the rise and progress of the new British province of South Australia: including particulars descriptive of its soil, climate, natural productions, &c., and proofs of its superiority to all other British colonies : embracing also a full account of the South Australian Company ... by one who is going. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1839.

Sutherland, George. The South Australian Company: a study in colonisation. London: Longmans, 1898.

Thornton, Robert. The South Australian Company, 1835-1949 : history and archives. Photocopy. Originally published in Archives and manuscripts, v.15, no.2, Nov., 1987

Further resources

Periodical articles

Cabbages and kings. Vol. 13, 1985, pp. 21-33. Giles, Clint. 'William Giles and the part he played in shaping South Australia.'

South Australiana 

Vol. 21, no. 2, September 1982, pp. 114-119. Thornton, Robert. 'The South Australian Company, 1835-1949: a research note.'

Vol. 21, no. 2, September 1982, pp. 120-131. Jones, L.J. 'The South Australian Company's mill: a tardy early colonial enterprise.


Diamond, Arthur Ian. Aspects of the history of the South Australian Company (microform): the first decade. Thesis (M.A.), University of Adelaide, 1955. Card index to material researched for Aspects of the history of the South Australian Company and further unpublished work on the same topic is located with Archival Heritage Collections material at D6215(T).

Diamond, Arthur Ian. Problems in the South Australian Company's settlement on Kangaroo Island. Thesis B.A.(Hons.), University of Adelaide, 1952?

Research notes

Research Notes RN - 415 A list of papers, reports etc. relating to the South Australian Company held by the Mitchell Library, Sydney. 1949.

George Fife Angas in 1875

B 1259

View more information about this image here.

Copies of this image may be made for private research/study. You may order a high quality photographic copy. Any other use requires permission from the State Library of South Australia 

Finding people and information online

The Australian Dictionary of Biography is an excellent resource for finding information on prominent Australians. Some of the men who were involved with the South Australian Company and who are included in the Dictionary are George Fife Angus, William Giles, David McLaren and Samuel Stephens.

The State Library catalogue contains online images of people in the company. Search by keyword or subject.

The catalogue also has online images of buildings and places associated with the Company, such as the Company's first office in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island (not much more than a wooden hut) and later, the offices on North Terrace. To find images search on words such as south australian company and limit the search to pictorial.

For further background reading on the establishment of the company see the State Library's entry on SA Memory: History of the South Australian Company.

Archival material

Angas, George Fife  Papers of George Fife Angas, philanthropist and a founder of South Australia, comprising letters and correspondence, newspaper cuttings, printed material, indentures, documents concerning emigration from Hamburg, silhouette, plans, will, bookplate, notice of dissolution of partnership, drafts of bills, addresses from electors. Includes papers relating to South Australian Company. 1808-1880. PRG 174

Diaries of Charles W. Stuart  Diaries kept during his voyage out to Australia, including his trip to South Australia on the 'True love' from the eastern colonies, and while manager of stock for the South Australian Company. 1833-1843. D 6872(L)

Finnis, Harold Jack  Papers of H.J. Finnis. c1837-1980. PRG 368

Correspondence and papers concerning early shipping in South Australia. 1963-1966. Includes lists of officers and seamen engaged on the 'Lady Mary Pelham', the 'Sarah and Elizabeth', the 'Guiana', the 'John Pirie' and the 'South Australian' showing commencement of engagement, name, advances, function, period of engagement, remuneration and remarks; has an appendix which is a 'List of servants engaged by the South Australian Company to serve in the colony between December 1835 and.'.. PRG 368/15