Samuel Way (at left), South Australia's chief justice for 40 years, with state governor Day Bosanquet, his wife and guests, at Waterfall Gully in 1913. Way is a prime example of rising in status in South Australia from a humble start. That rise was helped by his connections in freemasonry but Way was also the classic South Australian religious Protestant Dissenter. The suburb of Wayville is named after his Methodist minister father.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia

CONSCIOUSNESS OF SOCIAL RANK a strong driver of middle class Dissenters' wish to set 
up colony and be free to improve their status

SOCIAL CLASS WAS A DRIVING FACTOR behind the founding of the colony of South Australia.

Middle class Dissenter businessman, wanting the freedom to fulfil their ambition and improve their status, were a core of this drive. Dissenters and nonconformists were members of Protestant churches (Methodist, Baptist, Congregational etc) opposed to the established Church of England: state church of the Protestant aristocracy.

Dissenters felt their opportunities for advancement were stymied in Britain. 

Although it was carried the ideals of Jeremy Bentham and the system of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the colony of South Australia initially became a commercial enterprise, with the South Australian Company wanting as much say as the British crown in its settlement. This led to early disputes and eventually early bankruptcy of the colony.

But the middle class Dissenters kept struggling against any sign of establishment power in the colony. This was expressed in the axing of government aid to churches (pointedly the Church of England) as soon as the middle class Dissenters gained some democratic power through the Legislative Council.

The colony’s middle class Dissenter businessmen, particularly South Australian Company chairman George Fife Angas, were not universally interested in democracy extended to the working class. Angas bent Wakefield’s vision by allowing big land holdings. This started of the colony’s own version of an agrarian aristocracy. The 1840s copper discoveries, with a fight to stop any control over them by the British government, added another strata to a colonial wealthy elite.

South Australia did make big early democratic rights for the working class. But these gains always have to be seen in the context of the Dissenter middle class warding off any threats to their advancement by British establishment power, external and internal, over the colony.

Middle class Dissenters joined the pretensions of propriety and prestige by building Italianate buildings in late 19th Century Adelaide  – a façade that masked pockets of backstreet slums matching the worst in London.



with the freedom of beliefs and the chances to advance socially

Robert Gouger blends political progressive activism with pious social conservativism

Robert Gouger, the most ardent and active promoter of founding the South Australia colony, is typical of middle class pious Protestant Dissenters. This middle class pious Dissent brought out progressive social activism alongside conservatism on the effects of alcohol, gambling and loose sexuality. This progressive yet conservative effect explains why South Australia could lead the world in getting women the vote and yet be the “wowser” state well into the 20th Century.

George Fife Angas the model of middle class pious Dissent with capitalist drive

George Fife Angas, the first chairman of the South Australian Company, epitomises the marriage of middle class pious Dissent with capitalism. Although a successful businessman, Angas hoped a South Australian colony would "provide a place of refuge for Pious Dissenters of Great Britain, who could in their new home discharge their consciences before God in civil and religious duties without any disabilities”. This was a hope for middle-class freedom of religion and opportunity.


Edward Wakefield's land scheme undermined by huge surveys sold to wealthy interests

The South Australian Company, headed by George Fife Angas, brought a new class dynamic to the colony. The company’s dominant role dented Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s system of controlled land sales at a controlled price with a vision of a colony of small yeoman farmers. Despite his pecuniary interest, Angas  argued successfully for special surveys, where large capitalists could buy 4000 acres anywhere in the colony. Angas became the colony’s the largest landowner.


Vision for a middle-class bourgeois society with religion freedom and hard work rewarded

Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s system for colonising South Australia was based on a vision for a middle class bourgeois society with religious freedom and reward for hard work. Wakefield wanted South Australia's social structure centred around the middle class. He was concerned that this had broken down in other Australian colonies where the lower classes, including former convicts, were unwilling to work for land owners when they could start up their own farms and enterprises.


COLONY'S EARLY TENSION OVER ESTABLISHMENT ASPECTS between the Anglican church and the middle-class Dissenters 

Early backlash over Church of England's exclusive right to perform marriages

Originally, only Church of England clergy could perform marriages in South Australia. This upset Dissenters who were anxious that the Church of England wouldn't be the established state church of the colony. The Dissenters were satisfied when colony’s first Marriage Act 1842 extended authority to perform weddings to other Protestant (Congregational, Baptist, Methodist etc) ministers and to rabbis. Priests of the Roman Catholic Church got the same right in 1844.


Anglican Holy Trinity on North Terrace first church for Adelaide's social establishment

The Anglican Holy Trinity in North Terrace is the oldest surviving church in South Australia. This was Adelaide’s establishment church. It was built with funds from the South Australian Church Society, formed by members of the established church in England in 1834 to raise money for church buildings and clergymen in the new province. The first Anglican clergyman, Irish evangelical Charles Beaumont Howard, was, controversally for Dissenters, the government colonial chaplain.


Anglican high church bishop Augustus Short claims precedence over all of Adelaide faiths

As high churchman, the first Anglican bishop of Adelaide, Augustus Short, clashed with his own mainly evangelical flock and with the colony's Dissenters. Short, educated at Westminster and Oxford, became interested in the high-Anglican Oxford movement. He was consecrated bishop in Westminster Abbey in 1847. Short only surrendered his claim to precedence over all faiths as bishop of Adelaide in 1872. This claim went against the founding principles of South Australia.


Anglicans rebuffed on cathedral site in city but Bishop Short adds to local intellectual life

The present site of St Peter’s Cathedral represents a rebuff to the authority of the Anglican Church in South Australia. In 1848, conservative governor Frederick Robe granted land in Victoria Square, marked in Colonel William Light’s plan for public use, to the Anglican church to build a cathedral. But the legality of the grant was  questioned. Anglican bishop Augustus Short in 1855 took the matter to the Supreme Court who confirmed the grant was invalid and the building couldn’t proceed.


but give generously through philanthropy to 19th Century society

Angas, Baker, Bowman, Hawker and Hughes pastoral success stories among big failures

Increases in demand and the price for wool were early boosts for pastoralists such as George Fife Angas, John Baker and the Bowman, Hawker and Hughes families. Having brought in merino sheep and Hereford cattle, Angas set up huge properties with the Collingrove, Lindsay House and the Hill River homesteads. John Baker (briefly premier in 1857) arrived in 1838, opened a Hindley Street store, bought big parcels of land and imported 10,000 sheep from Tasmania.

Pastoralists prominent in parliament but urban democratic checks avoid squattocracy

South Australia avoided the rural-versus-city divide that allowed wealthy squattocracies to control the eastern colonies. South Australia's Legislative Counci provided blocking power for pastroalists. But the House of Assembly gave voting rights to middle-class urban residents, who benefitted from South Australia’s copper mining boom, and middle-class small rural land owners. This yeoman farmer class was broadened by Selection Acts 1868-84 and by later soldier settlement schemes. 


James Stein pioneers sheeps runs from Kadlunga in mid north; dies destitute in 1877

James Stein was a pioneering European settler of South Australia’s mid north and founder of the now heritage-listed Kadlunga pastoral estate. From a Scottish whisky distilling family fallen on hard times, Stein was part the first livestock (5000 sheep) overlanding party from Bathurst to Adelaide, following the Murrumbidgee River. He pioneered a sheep run from Mount Horrocks to Burra Creek near where copper was found in 1845. Stein became insolvent in 1848 and died destitute.

Thomas Elder's use of camels adds to wealth that fuels his racing interests, philanthropy

Thomas Elder worked for a year with his brother George before joining Edward Stirling, Robert Barr Smith and John Taylor as Elder, Stirling & Co. that in 1859 financed the Wallaroo and Moonta Copper Mines, making them rich. Elder and Barr Smith started Elder Smith & Co. that became one of the world's largest wool-selling firms. Elder saw camels as the answer to the outback transport problems of thier huge pastoral holding. He also brought out "Afghans" to manage the camels.

Robert Barr Smith and Thomas Elder become major wool sellers: both major philanthropists

Robert Barr Smith married Thomas Elder’s sister Joanna in 1856 and, after profiting from copper mines at Wallaroo and Moonta, in 1863 he and Elder partnered the huge pastoral company Elder, Smith & Co. that became one of the world’s largest wool sellers. Barr Smith’s wealth supported Adelaide’s religious, cultural and educational institutions, notably Adelaide University, and £10,000 to fund spires on St Peter’s Cathedral. His son Tom Elder Barr Smith followed this tradition.

Alexander Hay: a key figure in land reform and supporting secular compulsory education

Alexander Hay gained free passage to South Australia in 1839 and went to became a prominent merchant, pastoralist and politician. A Scot who became a devout Congregationalist, Hay worked as a “wharfer” for the South Australia Company for two years before buying land to farm at Gumeracha. As a politician, he was a key figure in land reform and promoting secular and compulsory public education. He became an Anglican, living in his Mount Breckan mansion, later in life.


Mortlocks set St Peter's, Cambridge, politics, racing, Adelaide Club, philanthropy pattern

William Ranson Mortlock started a grazier dynasty as veterinary surgeon and sheep inspector in Adelaide before occupying what became Yullana station, near Port Lincoln, in 1847. He was elected the House of Assembly for the seat of Flinders in 1868. His son, William was educated at St Peter’s College and Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1891, he bought Martindale Hall at Mintaro that become his family’s main station. His son John's bequest in honoured in the name of Mortlock Library.


Lancelot Stirling a politician, businessman, polo player, fox hunter and racing identity

Grazier (John) Lancelot Stirling was president of South Australia’s Legislative Council for a record 1901-32 term. He was the son of Edward Stirling, who became a wealthy partner in the Wallaroo and Moonta Copper Mines. Lancelot Stirling was educated at St Peter’s College and Trinity College, Cambridge. Besides being a pastoralist and politician, he had a life-long interest in sport including polo. He was master of Adelaide Hounds fox-hunting club and well known at racing meetings.

1840s COPPER MINE BOOM CREATES URBAN INVESTOR CLASS as balance to pastoral influence; middle class businesses emerge 

Snobs (small investors) outdo wealthy Nobs in dividends from the Burra copper mines

After copper was found at Burra Burra in 1845, wealthy capitalists called the Nobs (including John Grainger, Charles Bagot and Francis Dutton) bought the southern half of the mine area and a group of smaller investors – shopkeepers and merchants of the South Australian Mining Association (the Snobs) – took the northern half that proved the much more productive. The South Australian Mining Association, run by secretary Henry Ayers, had jumped quickly into action at its Burra Burra northern mine. It soon had 10 Cornish miners, a blacksmith and a captain on its site and began blasting in September 1845. Bullock drays loaded with the red copper oxide ore were soon heading to Port Adelaide. Over the mine's 32 years, fewer than than 100 shareholders of the South Australian Mining Association shared a then-huge £826,586 in mining dividends. The economy of South Australia, in the doldrums since governor George Grey had arrived in 1841, recovered completely.


Mining investors still an economic and social force long after Burra copper mine closes

South Australia's longest mining-based boom lasted from the 1880s until 1928 – but its source was beyond South Australia. The tradition of investing in mines at Kapunda, Burra, Moonta and Wallaroo in the 1840s continued as Adelaide Stock Exchange enjoyed rich dividends when silver, lead and zinc deposits were discovered at Broken Hill in 1883. Ten years later, gold was found at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. George Brookman was a major beneficiaries among Adelaide investors.


William Burford builds major soap-making business after revival by the copper boom

Devoutly religious (Baptist then Church of Christ) William Burford in 1840 founded what became one of the Australia’s earliest soap makers and its oldest through to the 1960s when it closed after being dominant soap maker in South Australia and Western Australia. Burford opened a soap and candle business on the Grenfell Street-East Terrace corner.  The business failed several times, but revived with the copper boom from the Burra (1848), Moonta and Wallaroo (1863) mines.


Fowler brothers turn grocery shop into huge Adelaide wholesaler and brand builder from 1854

D. and J. Fowler (Australia) was started by Scottish brothers David and James Fowler, in 1854, as a grocery shop in King William Street, Adelaide, that became one of Australia's largest wholesale grocers. After James Fowler died in 1858, a third brother George joined and ran the company from King William Street from 1865 while David took over a London office. In 1881, Fowlers built a warehouse at Port Adelaide to store 30,000 tons of merchandise. Branches opened in Fremantle, Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie. Besides gaining a Shell dealership, Fowlers started a shipping agency for imports and exports including wool, wheat, meat and flour. They built Paou Chung Factory on King William Road and took over Barnfield & Turner’s London Condiment Company at Maylands. They renamed H. B. Hanton's at Fullarton as Lion Preserving Company and expanded into canned fruits with a factory at Nuriootpa (later sold to R. McEwin and Sons of Glen Ewin fame). Henry Harford in Mill Street, Adelaide, became Lion Confectionery Works. Fowlers contracted farmers in South Australia's south-east to grow chicory for Lion coffee/chicory essence. Fowlers introduced packaged tea with Paou Chung (1883) and Amgoorie (1896) brands. Adelaide Milling (bought in 1895), Robur Tea, Adelaide Bottle Company and Waltons added to the firm’s diversity. The Lion Factory, packaging self-raising flour and other goods, opened on North Terrace, Adelaide, in 1907. In 1899, D & J Fowler became a limited liability, with 2,000 shares given to employees. In 1982-83, it was taken over by the Adelaide-based Southern Farmers.

Methodists' Prince Alfred College challenges Anglican St Peter's

James Jefferis starts education society at Congregational church; also university founder

Arriving in Adelaide in 1859, Jefferis’s preaching at the North Adelaide Congregational Church (with its new building in 1861) attracted many with his liberal approach to religion. In 1860 he started the North Adelaide Young Men's Society. The future leading citizens who were educated through the society were remembered as “the Jefferis boys”.  Jefferis was a member of the association that launched Adelaide University and a member of university council in 1874-77 and 1894-1917.


John Lorenzo Young's educational institution attracts sons of the colony's Dissenters

The strong element of Protestant Dissent in founding South Australia was carried into the colony’s education system through John Lorenzo Young and his Adelaide Educational Institution, starting at Ebenezer Place, Adelaide, from 1852, and later at Parkside. This became the private school for the sons of colony’s elite Dissenters. Some went on to eminent careers including premier Charles Cameron Kingston, Joseph Cooke Verco and several members of John McDouall Stuart’s expedition across the continent. The opening of Prince Alfred College by the Methodist church in 1869 contributed to the decline of Young's school.


Anglican St Peter's from 1847 provides a private collegiate school on the elite British model

St Peter's College originated from wealthier early colonists wanting their sons to have private schools equal to those that they attended in Britain. They founded the Church of England Collegiate School of South Australia in 1847 in the schoolroom of Trinity Church on North Terrace. The school's foundation at Hackney was followed by first Anglican bishop Augustus Short, arriving with £2,000 from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to set up a Church of England school.


Prince Alfred College Methodists' response to Dissenter need for English elite school

Prince Alfred College, founded at Kent Town in 1869 by the Methodist Church, represented Adelaide’s emerging Protestant Dissenter establishment. Named after Prince Alfred during his visit to Adelaide in 1867, it became the social rival of St Peter’s Collegiate. Its signalled the decline of John Lorenzo Young’s Adelaide Educational Institution. Prince Alfred College was closer to the English model and taught Latin and Greek as required with Adelaide University's opening in 1874.


DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS IN COLONY LEADING WORLD FROM 1851; state aid to Church of England killed; Legislative Council exclusive

Founding concessions: Self government at 50,000 and no Church of England privileges

South Australia's founding act, passed by the British parliament in 1834, allowed colonists to set up their own representative government when the population reach 50,000. And the Church of England wasn't to be given privileges over other religions. These were key concessions to the middle class Dissenters behind the founding the colony. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Robert Gouger and George Fife Angas had different visions for the colony but were all middle class Dissenters. 



South Australia's 1851 constitution makes it one of most democratic places in the world

South Australia’s constitution, adopted in 1851, made it one of the most democratically progressive places in the world, ahead of other Australian colonies, the UK and most European countries. The constitution made the colony self governing with two houses of parliament able to bring in laws. A 37-member House of Assembly lower house joined the 18-member fully-elected Legislative Council upper house. For Assembly elections, every male (including Aboriginals) over 21 could vote.

South Australia first part of the British empire to end state aid to the Church of England

Ending state aid to churches in 1851 made South Australia the first part of the British empire to cut links between government and the Church of England. The state aid cut, backed by the League for the Preservation of Religious Freedom, was made by South Australia’s newly-elected bigger Legislative Council. The state aid debate was broadly between middle-class Protestant Dissenters (against) and Anglicans, represented by the high-Anglican aristocratic governor Frederick Robe.


Legislative Council voting restricted to males owning property worth at least £100

Despite the democratic advances of the South Australian parliament from 1856, voting for the Legislative Council upper house was restricted to males owning property worth at least £100. The property qualification for upper houses of other Australian colonies was higher than this, creating a dominant “squattocracy” that South Australia avoided. But the South Australian Legislative Council was still a conservative chamber that represented the wealthy rural and business class.



then via first unions, first political party, first Labor government 

Early protests over colony's Masters and Servants Act to lock in labour and conditions

The Masters and Servants Act 1837 was the third law brought into force in the new colony of South Australia. An  indentured migrant could be imprisoned for six months for deserting his employer. While indentured labourers were imprisoned at Adelaide Gaol for desertion, their employers were also convicted for not providing wages or housing. But when wages were high and labour in demand, many indentured migrant absconded in search of better opportunities.


Aboriginals, 'Afghans' exploited in their vital work for the outback pastoral industry

South Australia’s pastoral industry, generating major wealth for some, couldn’t have survived in the outback without the labour of Aboriginals and “Afghans”.  Many Aboriginals were paid in rations, board or promised wages to work and live in horrendous conditions. In 1866, Thomas Elder imported 120 camels with Afghan attendants took supplies from Port Augusta to his vast outback pastoral stations such as Beltana where they staged a strike over poor conditions.


South Australia's unions first to be legalised outside Britain in 1876; UTLC formed in 1884

South Australia was the first territory outside Britain to legalise trade unions, in 1876. The United Trades and Labor Council (UTLC) was formed in 1884. From the earliest European settlement of South Australia, employees complained about poor working conditions, long hours and poor wages. The first known strike was in Colonel William Light's own camp. It took until 1886 before the eight-hour day was legislated. Working conditions in factories within the city were often poor.

United Labor arrives in 1890s as colony's first political party; elected as minority govt in 1905

South Australia had no formal political party system until the first members of parliament from the South Australia United Labor Party arrived in the early 1890s. Before that, members of parliament were conservatives or liberals. The liberals were the legacy of the progressive attitudes of the colony’s Dissenting founders. Conservatives tended to be aligned with the British establishment attitudes. Tom Price became premier of a minority Labor government in the 1905 elections.  



erects North Tce-King William St Italianate facade; slums hidden

Middle class – not aristocratic – traits in Italianate North Terrace and King William Street

Adelaide buildings in North Terrace and King William Street took on their colonial Italianate – middle class rather than aristocratic – character in the 1870s-80s. The consciousness of a heritage of civic life from British and European models – and to be seen to emulate those models – was extremely strong. Adelaide's elite was aware of the need to acquire the buildings and institutes they saw as integral to municipal life. The 1870s and 1880s were important for private philanthropy. 


Henry Ayers, premier and mines chief, hosts the wealthy at balls in North Tce mansion

Ayers House is the last of North Terrace’s 19th Century’s mansions occupied by those who grew wealthy primarily from the colony’s copper boom. Henry Ayers loved entertaining this elite. Ayers, five times premier and tough secretary of the South Australian Mining Association, lived there 1855-97. During Ayers’s premierships, the house was used for Cabinet meetings and state dinners. (Ayers Rock was named after him when South Australia administered the Northern Territory.)


Governor's wife takes on doctors and their North Tce power base to get Queen Vic hospital

North Terrace became a power base for the medical profession. That power was challenged by Audrey Tennyson during her husband’s term (1899-1902) as South Australian governor, Tennyson led the push for South Australia’s first (Queen Victoria) maternity hospital. She secured land at Rose Park from the South Australian Company and £500 from Robert Barr Smith. Biggest opposition came from the medical profession whom Tennyson criticised for being “furious at losing a few fees”. 

Adelaide city slums suffer high mortality in 1870s before deep drainage work starts

In the 1870s, mortality rates in the slum areas of Adelaide city were declared higher than in central London. A dramatic increase in city population in the 1860s added to the serious problems. Primitive disposal of human waste into the parklands until the 1880s, pungent fumes from the cemetery, and toxic fumes from factories, all contributed to the poor environment of the city. Adelaide became the first Australian capital to make a start on having a deep drainage sewage in the 1870s.

social/cultural dominance that starts dissolving on several fronts

Enthusiasm over visits and exhibition building among major gestures of royal allegiance

Prince Alfred, the duke of Edinburgh, visited Adelaide in 1867 – the first by a member of the British monarch’s family. He laid the foundation stone for the General Post Office before a crowd of 3,500, with the city’s elite at the front. Being Anglican and having British family heritage were essential to that high social status and that continued into the 20th Century. The duke and duchess of York were present when the nave of t St Peter’s Cathedral was consecrated during their 1901 visit.

Governors' levees show colonists' social status and loyalty to crown, Anglo-Saxon culture

Governors’ levees or formal receptions allowed members of South Australia’s society to display their social status and the reinforce loyalty to the British crown and Anglo-Saxon culture. At the 19th Century levees, “gorgeous uniforms were conspicuous in the procession of patriotic colonists”. Lord Kintore, governor 1889-95, was in the dress of a Privy Councillor. With local democracy, the governor remained “leader of society, first man in the colony, as well as the representative of His Majesty”.


James Fergusson as aristocratic governor sparks resentment from Protestant Dissenters

Governor James Fergusson (1869-72) brought especially South Australian social issues to a head in a clash with Dissenter Lavington Glyde. Fergusson's classic aristocratic background included Rugby school, succeeded to his father’s baronetcy, at Oxford without getting a degree, joined Grenadier Guards, entered House of Commons as a Conservative, served as under secretary for India and the Home Office. The Duke of Edinburgh was at his swearing in as South Australian governor.


South Australia has nation's only League of Empire from 1904; disappears in 1954

South Australia from 1904 had possibly the only Australian branch of the League of the Empire. Its first president was chief justice Samuel Way, with Madeline Rees Ward as secretary and governor George Le Hunte as patron. The patriotic League was prominent at the wreath laying ceremony at the statue of Queen Victoria on Victoria Square each Empire Day (May 24, celebrated as the Queen’s birthday prior to 1901). The league dwindled and disappeared in 1954.


Big impact from tiny Jewish populace: one premier, eight mayors of city of Adelaide

Despite tiny numbers, Jews have made a remarkable impact on South Australia with eight mayors or lord mayors of the City of Adelaide and Vaibon Louis Solomon briefly premier in 1899. One of those mayors, Lewis Cohen, made a humiliatingly unsuccessful trip to England in 1911 to get Adelaide adorned with the title of lord mayor. Cohen, who suggested the elaborate statue of King Edward VII in North Terrace, saw the “lord mayor” granted in 1919 when Richard Glover took the office.


Anglo patriotism lashes South Australia's Germanic settlers after start of World War I

The closing of 49 Lutheran schools and changing many town names was part of the backlash against South Australian Germans during World War I. The 28,000 Germans were South Australia’s largest non-British group. Although culturally diverse, German speakers in early 20th Century Adelaide city, could go through a day without needing English when they shopped, went to the doctor; read the Australische Zeitung in a konditorei (coffee shop) or dined in the city’s German hotels.

St Paul's, bastion of city's high Anglicans, shuts in 1983 and becomes a nightclub

St Paul’s Anglican Church in Pulteney Street, Adelaide, was decommissioned in 1983 and became a nightclub for a while. St Paul’s had represented “high” – with more mystic ritual of the established church – rather than “ low” Anglicanism. From the 1860s, its worshippers, including Henry Ayers, represented a Who’s Who of Adelaide. South Australian Anglicans declined as the majority of churchgoers from the 1870s and by the 1970s Roman Catholics were the largest denomination.


Protestant liberalism aids Catholic foothold that becomes majority by mid 20th Century

Having no convicts, with their sizeable Irish content, meant 19th Century Protestant South Australia didn’t expect Roman Catholicism to be an issue in its society.
But it made significant early inroads through the Jesuits and Mary MacKillop's Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. The orders benefited from South Australia's liberal element. When MacKillop was excommunicate, her nuns were supported by Jewish businessman Emanuel Solomon and  Presbyterian Joanna Barr Smith.


frayed by Bank of Adelaide's collapse, Legislative Council reform 

Adelaide Club remnant of days when the rich dominated aero club and yacht squadron

The exclusive Adelaide Club on North Terrace was built in 1864 for some of South Australia’s most influential political, pastoral, business and professional figures. The Royal Aero Club at Parafield and the Royal Adelaide and Mount Osmond golf clubs were other venues for the wealthy. Henry Dutton, another St Peter’s College graduate and pastoralist, was a member of the South Australian Yacht Squadron. His 43-metre steam yacht Adele was one of the finest pleasure yachts in Australia.

Colleges, knighthoods and freemasonry lose their force in class structure of society

Private colleges, knighthoods and Freemasonry lost their influence in the social class structure in the second half of the 20th Century. These wealthy schools restrict enrolments by their high fees but they’re no longer identified with a particular strata or sector of society. Knighthoods were initially abolished nationally in the 1970s. Freemasonry created an exotic social network but with a class heirarchy. Its prominence has waned since having nearly 28,000 members in the early 1960s.


'Financial royal family' of Adelaide robbed of clout in collapse of establishment firms

In the 1970s, South Australian Labor premier Don Dunstan (a St Peter’s College-educated “class traitor”) claimed that a “financial royal family” ran the state. That “family” was the directors of the Bank of Adelaide, SA Brewing and The Advertiser newspaper. By 1979, the Bank of Adelaide had to be sold. In the 1980s, South Australia lost the head office of major home-grown establishment national companies through the collapse of Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort and Adelaide Steamship Co..

Conservative power of Legislative Council sunk by Steele Hall and Don Dunstan's reforms

Dismantling political control by the conservative establishment and rural interests during much of the 20th Century begin in 1968. Liberal Country League premier Steele Hall made the first steps to end the electoral gerrymander (or “Playmander”) that had kept his party in power, by favouring country seats, for 27 years. He later supported Labor premier Don Dunstan, who reformed the Legislative Council – preserve of the conservative establishment – by having it elected by all voters in the state.


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