William Dare

William Dare

Between 1836 and 1840 large numbers of British emigrants responded to widespread advertising offering free passage to South Australia. As many as 11,518 labourers and their families applied for free passage. The barque Royal Admiral, built in 1828 of 413 tons, left on 25 September 1837 under command of Captain Fotheringham.

Among her 208 passengers were 139 adults and 69 children. Of those 112 had qualified for a free passage, including a 15 year old boy, William (Billy) Dare. William would eventually play an important part in the development of South Australia's pastoral industry. He travelled with his older sister, Sarah Dare (26), a dressmaker, and brother George Dare (22), a wheelwright. They came from Black Horse Yard, Brixton, London where their father had been a gardener. George was with his de facto wife Mary Ann Gowne (20), and son aged 22 months.

There was also a young single man on board named Henry Inman who on 28 April 1838, was appointed Inspector of Police, with the task of organising and taking command of a new 20-man South Australian Police Force. On 24 October 1838 he was promoted to Superintendent of Police but on 18 May 1840 dismissed from office. Other passengers included the Hoyles family. They would get to know the Dare family members quite well and eventually become related.

The Royal Admiral arrived at Nepean Bay on Kangaroo Island, and three days later on 18 January 1838 at Port Adelaide. The Hoyles and Dare families then joined the pioneering settlers in Adelaide. There were then around 6,000 persons in the new Colony, with most of them camped under canvas on the banks of the Torrens River adjacent to the tiny village of Adelaide.

Within a short time William Hoyles and George Dare, both carpenters, had met with another carpenter, George White. Carpenters were in high demand because newly arrived settlers were keen to get out of tents and huts and build their houses. George White had arrived in December 1836 on the Tam O’Shanter, and had bought Town Acre 622, on the corner of Gilbert Street and West Terrace. White sold off some portions to various purchasers in 1839-40, while renting out others.

The Hoyles and Dare families moved to Town Acre 622 with George White. George Dare was employed by White and bought a portion of this land in 1839, but then ill feelings arose when his de facto wife Mary Gowne went to live with White (they were later to marry). George Dare told Mary Gowne he intended going back to England to marry her sister, and accordingly left. Billy Dare remained on, and in 1840 he also bought a parcel of this town acre from White, for £12, and lived there in a mud hut while working for the government grubbing trees in Hindley Street.

George returned from England on 8 February 1841 on the Royal Mail, obviously having failed in his quest to marry Mary Ann’s sister. He did not remain for long but migrated to Auckland, New Zealand, where he married and where many descendants reside today. His brother, Billy, then went shepherding in the Barossa Ranges, but no doubt visited the Hoyles family whenever he was in Adelaide. He eventually married their younger daughter Lydia, by then aged 18, in the Catholic Church at Adelaide on 28 December 1849.

After his arrival in 1838, Billy had first joined the Hoyles family on Town Acre 622 but then struck out to make his own way in life. He teamed up with like-minded young men, such as David Mundy, who later prospered as a pastoralist and built Lochiel Park at Campbelltown. In November 1847 he took out an Occupation Licence for his own sheep run at McVitties Flat, near Mount Bryan, where he built a hut and ran 700 sheep. Here William and Lydia had their first child, also named William, born at Mount Bryan on 16 January 1851.

When gold was discovered at Eagle Hawk, Bendigo, Billy joined the rush after selling the McVitties Flat property and sheep. During his absence Lydia remained with her widowed mother in Adelaide, along with her infant son. While in Adelaide she gave birth to a daughter on 6 August 1852, Annie Knapp Dare. Annie’s birth was registered as ‘unnamed’, possibly because Lydia wanted to consult with Billy on the child’s name. The name Knapp is his mother’s maiden name.

While Billy was off on his successful goldfields adventure, he accumulated gold to the value of £700, Lydia returned to Burra with their two children, William and Annie, where she died tragically young, aged only 22, on 27 August 1853. The official cause of death, was stated as strychnine poisoning. Perhaps accidentally when used as a liniment or ointment (common at that time), or perhaps deliberately, of post-natal depression. Billy promptly returned to Adelaide on the ship West Wind in November 1853.

Left to care for an infant son and daughter, Billy remarried on 17 May 1854 at Munjibbie sheep station to 26 years old Anna Wall, daughter of Edward Wall of Wookongarie Station, Ulooloo Creek, near Hallett. He later settled north of Burra and founded Piltimitiappa Station, near Mount Bryan East, where he was a pastoralist and horse breeder. The station name was derived from the native name of a creek in the district.

With the help of Aborigines, he fenced the run and employed several other men as shepherds who lived in cottages with their wives near the homestead. Among them Henry and Eliza Slate, Thomas Jones, and George and Matilda Clark. William and Anna had a son, Charles, in 1857 but he died an infant. Anna died at Dare’s Hill 21 July 1869, after a long and painful illness.

Billy remarried again on 18 April 1876 at Burra. His third wife, Mary Ann (formerly Canton, née Slater) was the widow of William Charles Canton, eldest brother to John Canton who had married Lydia Hoyles’ sister Ann. Mary Ann was therefore a maternal aunt to Billy’s two children, as well as being their stepmother. For the next six years their marriage was apparently bound by their mutual over-indulgence in alcohol. Mary Ann was living with him at Piltimitiappa Station, when she died there on 14 January 1882, aged 57.

An inquest held the following day at Burra concluded that her death was a result of alcoholic poisoning. 'There was a cask each of wine and brandy and a five gallon keg of rum brought into the house on the return of the party from the Burra, the greater part of this was drunk by Mr & Mrs Dare.' Dr Sangster had no hesitation in ascribing the death to alcoholic poisoning.

Being widowed again, Billy Dare promptly hired a female housekeeper from Adelaide, 49 year old widow Louisa Quarrington, nee Langley. Romance blossomed between them and on 13 August 1884 they were married at Bishop’s Court, West Terrace, Adelaide. His fourth bride already had a five year old daughter, Marie Louisa, who came to live with them and later adopted the Dare surname.

After all these years Billy still had gold fever, and on 3 October 1887 he and his son William, aged 36, applied for a quartz claim on Section 674 at the Ulooloo Goldfield, which they mined without success. Meanwhile the Government had resumed his Piltimittiappa pastoral lease and he had moved to a property named Walltellawerlinga, now known as Wallinga. He was paid £4,000 to compensate him for the improvements he had made. Eight years after his fourth marriage, on 4 May 1892, William Dare died, aged 69, at Walltellawerlinga and was interred there.

The Register of 19 May 1892 regretted to record the death at the age of sixty-nine years of Mr. W. Dare, one of the earliest settlers in the District of Hallett. The late gentleman, it said, was a colonist of 55 years, and arrived by the ship Royal Admiral. Like many other old colonists he tried his luck at the goldfields, working at the Eagle Hawk Diggings.

Returning from there he took up his residence at the Barossa. Going further north he took to sheepfarming, and spent some time at McVittie’s Flat. Shortly afterwards he took up the Piltimittiappa Run, and was joined by Mr. David Munday. He held the run for about 35 years, leaving it only a short time prior to his death.

The deceased took no active part in public matters, but was highly respected by all who knew him, having proved himself a good neighbour and rendered many kindnesses both financially and otherwise to those who were not so well to do as himself. His remains were interred near his late residence, it being his desire to be buried near the scenes of many years of his labours. Residents from the district attended the funeral. Around the grave were Mr W. Dare and Mrs Foster, deceased’s only son and daughter, the widow and her daughter, Messrs G. Hiles, J.P., of Petherton House; A.J. Lewis, Chairman of the District Council; H. Wilkins; T, and J. Wilks; Griffith, Harry, and many other old friends. The Rev. A. King, Anglican minister of the Burra, officiated at the grave.

A prominent landmark near Yunta, Dare Hill, is named after him.

With special thanks to Max Slee who provided most of the information.

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