Richmans Creek, Flinders Ranges South Australia

Henry John Richman


Henry John Richman (SLSA)

Henry John Richman was born in Hampshire, England on 14 January 1826. His parents, John and Frances Richman, decided to migrate to South Australia where the whole family arrived in February 1839. His father John Henry Richman, a solicitor made it known that he intended, after his six months' residence, to apply for admission to practice in the Supreme Court of the Province of South Australia. He gave his address as Grote Street, near the Adelaide Hotel, or Acre 297, corner of Wakefield and Pulteney Streets.

Young Henry continued his education for a short time under the Rev. Thomas Quinton Stow, whose classical academy, opened in 1838, was the beginning of higher education in South Australia. It didn't interest Henry though; he liked the out-doors and found working on farms and pastoral properties much more interesting. His father worked in the legal profession and on 21 September 1841, Henry's sister Sophia, married Walter Watson Hughes, seaman, opium trader and later sheep farmer, mine owner and philanthropist. It turned out be of benefit for the whole family. Hughes would be knighted in 1880.

On 3 November 1847 Henry John Richman applied for, and was granted, an occupation licence at the Hummock Ranges. Among some of the other applicants were; John Baker for an area between the Reedy Creek Special Survey and the River Murray, WW Hughes for the Broughton Plains, John Tennant for land about 15 miles north of Port Lincoln and William Dare near Mount Bryan. All of them would eventually do very well.

Within ten years of arrival Henry had gained enough experience and money to start out on his own. As early as 1851 he bought nearly 1500 sheep and began his pastoral enterprise near Mount Brown, in the Flinders Ranges. That same year William Younghusband of Crystal Brook and Adelaide had also been involved in pastoral and agricultural pursuits, in the Counties of Stanley and Gawler, as well as in the Northern District. When candidates were sought for the New Legislative Assembly, Henry supported him and did so again at the next election in 1855.

Meanwhile, Henry acquired several more leases; some large ones, eg. lease no 59 comprised 37 square miles, while lease 350, granted on 1 July 1854, embraced 14 square miles. Soon his holdings covered large areas of Richmans Valley, Richmans Creek and Richmans Gap, all named after him. In September 1856 and July 1857 his station was visited by Watson, Inspector of Sheep for the Northern District. In August 1857 Henry was appointed Justice of the Peace.

During these years Henry married Mary Nagle and they were to have four children. John Henry on 18 December 1853 but he died on 12 Debruary 1855. He was named after his grandfather. Frances Alice born was in 1855, Alice Frances born on 13 November 1856 at Mount Brown and Edward in 1858 also at Mount Brown.

Henry named his head station and homestead, Itali Itali, which was situated at Richmans Creek, about five miles from Mt Brown. Soon an eating house was established, about two kilometres from the homestead, on the main track between Quorn and Wilmington. Within a short time it became a hotel and was named the Iklee Iklee Hotel run by Angus Nicholson.


Ruins of the old hotel.

The early years had not been easy for Henry as he was plagued by a shortage of labour for most of that time. Labourers prefered to stay around Adelaide, especially those who were married and had children. To make matters worse, almost all available labour, including the married ones, left South Australia to try their luck at the Victorian goldfields.

Even so, he was still able to make large donations when needed. In 1858, while at Mt Brown, he donated 63sh for the Indian Relief Fund and in October 1859 42sh for the Admella Shipwreck Fund. As his wealth increased so did his donations. In April 1866 he gave ten pounds to the St Mary's Sunday School and Institute and in 1871 the Bushmen's Club received twenty pounds from Henry.

On 15 December 1859, while looking for a site to put down a well at Mt Warwick, Henry and his overseer Hugh McCole found the remains of William Dalwood who had died some eight months ago. On his canteen they noticed the inscription; "William Dalwood perishing for water". He was not the first to die from lack of water and certainly not the last. Many others would suffer the same agony, even on Henry's property.

Henry travelled the north extensively as a JP attending local courts, especially those in Port Augusta and Melrose. In Melrose he owned property and in December 1859 advertised the sale of lot 25, section 7, at New Melrose in the Hundred of Wongyarra. It seems that being a JP took up too much time and hassle as Henry resigned his commission in June 1860. On 13 November of that year Henry's station was visited by, the-not-yet-famous, John McDouall Stuart and Kekwick to water their horses while on their way north.

In 1861 Henry diversified his interests and became a possible mine owner. In March he took up 21 mineral claims (683-703) about six kilometres south east of Kadina. His brother James, brother-in-law of Captain Hughes, was working at the Wallaroo Mines as a clerk. He would later inherite the Spring Vale Wine property of 117 acres (47 ha), with its cellars, casks and wines, from his uncle Sir Walter Hughes and sell it in 1889.

On 24 October Henry's sister Frances, married Gavin D Young of Wallaroo. Shortly after, on 21 January 1864 Henry's father John died at Warnbunga, aged 74. He was one of the oldest practitioners at the Bar and for many years had filled the office of Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates. His mother died on 19 September 1865 at Wallaroo, aged 58. When a new engine, designed by F May and constructed by Wyatt, was installed at the Moonta mines in 1868 it was named The Richman Engine. Hughes made large profits from the mines and willingly supported Henry financially.

When more labour finally did become available, most of South Australia was hit by a long-lasting and severe drought which did not finish in the north until 1865. When Goyder visited Itali Itali in 1864, he found that all sheep had been removed, whereas there had been some 7000 on the property before. For his assessment of the property Goyder valued the house at 120 pounds, a two-roomed pine hut at 17, outhouse at 1, stone store at 30, men's kitchen at 30 and the two wells and throughs at 50 pounds.


Mount Brown, 1933 (SLSA).

Goyder reduced his assessment from 170 sheep per square mile to 120. According to Henry Richman there had been five very dry winters during the last 15 years which had resulted in a lambing rate of only 30 percent. During a Royal Commission in 1866, Goyder reported how Henry Richman's run Itali Itali was worked intelligently, but had been rendered quite destitute largely through stock passing to and from the north. He recommended that the run should be rested for a few years, or at least until more favourable seasons had produced better food and conditions. His rent for the pastoral lease no 1099 was cancelled until further notice.

During January 1866 Henry was getting ready to visit England with his children. He was living at Sarnia House near Goodwood Park and had placed a notice in the papers that he would not be responsible for any debts contracted without his written authority. It would be a long stay and Sarnia, with its outbuildings and stabling was to be let as well as 60 acres of good grazing land. However, all furniture, goods, carts, horses and harnesses would be auctioned. While he was in England his South Australian business was managed by James Bowman.

After his return from England he acquired Carrawilla station. In October 1868 he sent 193 bales of wool from Port Augusta on the Cabot to England. A year later 72 bales went to England as did 14 casks of tallow. In October 1871, as many as 199 bales of wool left Port Augusta on the 760-ton Pekina.

Richman sold the Itali Itali run in 1873 to John Morphett, Samuel Davenport and Foster. Henry John Richman had done remarkably well regardless of all the problems. While Henry's eldest sister Emily was married by the Rev CJ Martin to George Cornelius Gooch of Mt Brown on 1 September 1858, his youngest sister Olive, married the Right Hon. Sir James Fergusson on 11 March 1873 in New Zealand.


James Fergusson, 1865 (SLSA).

A few months prior to this happy event, Olive had laid the foundation stone for St John's Church in Coromandel Valley on 21 December 1872. After Sir James' transfer to Bombay Lady Olive received the decoration of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India in 1881. Sadly, she died soon after, on 8 January 1882 from cholera, as did her niece Alice Richman. She diedsix days later on 14 January at Poona and was buried at Bombay.


Although the Itali Itali run had been sold, Henry remained very active with his other properties. In November 1874, the Martha Birnie took 13 bales from Port Augusta for London. On 28 October 592 bales were loaded on the Bundaleer and another 42 on the 734 ton-Beltana, all of them for London. In October 1876 as many as 434 bales were loaded on the Beltana, which had only recently returned from a trip to England. A third trip was made by the same ship a year later when she carried 457 bales of wool from Port Augusta.

Records from 1877 showed that Richman owned more than 28,000 sheep and 468 cattle. His eight leases covered an area of 528 square miles, which included Tent Hill, Pernatty and Lincoln Gap among them. Henry John Richman, who had been living for some years at 66 East Terrace, Adelaide, died on 2 August 1902, age 77, and was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery.

Richmans Creek

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