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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Atkinson, Robert

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1820
Place of birth Waddingham, Lincolnshire, England
Date of arrival 1839
Principal occupation Publican, farmer, land-owner.
Date of death 1862
Place of decease Willunga, South Australia.

Robert Atkinson was born at Waddingham in Lincolshire, England on 30 June 1820. Religion – Church of England. The second surviving son of Robert Atkinson (1774-1832) and Susanna Fish (1788-1832) of Hayes Farm, Smitherby.

The four Atkinson brothers (William, Robert, Thomas and Joseph) and their sisters Bridget and Susanna, some with their families, travelled to South Australia on board Singapore from London. They arrived at Holdfast Bay on 12 November 1839, Robert was then aged 19 years.

The Atkinson brothers built the first hotel (“Lincolnshire House” later The Bush Inn) on lots 6 and 7 in the township of Willunga in Dec 1839. In 1843 Robert was issued with a depasturing license and in 1844/45 with an occupation license. In about 1844/45 Robert Atkinson appears to have returned to England as on 19 June 1846 Mr. Robert Atkinson with his new wife Mary Ann (nee Aldham) arrived in Port Adelaide on board the barque Hooghly, Captain Henry, from London.

Robert, aged 26, had married Mary Ann Aldam, aged 24 years, (1822 - 20/12/1893) on 14 Feb 1846 at Kingston-on-Hull, Yorks, England. They subsequently had seven children (6 sons and a daughter):

  • Charlotte (1846-1928, married William Sara, son of George Sara, on 28/06/1866),
  • George (1849-1924, married Sarah Hill, daughter of Richard Hill, on 04/10/1873),
  • Thomas (1851–.1852 aged 17 months,
  • Thomas Aldam (1853 –1927, unmarried),
  • William Joseph (1855-1898, married Marion Frances Harvey on 24/09/1880) ironmonger,
  • Robert Fish (1857-1922, married Susan Whitelaw on 09/05/1883) and
  • John (1859-1911, married (1st) Helen Elizabeth Delano on 26/03/1883 and (2nd) Amy Melissa Lane on 16/07/1897). He was a baker at Willunga.

Robert purchased township allotments 6 & 7 in St. James Street (including the Old Bush Inn) in the township of Willunga for 35 pounds from Henry Johnson on 22 June 1846. Robert was granted the license for the Old Bush Inn on 9 March 1847 and held the license in 1847-8 and again in 1850. Robert also purchased 55 acres in section 761 east of the township of Willunga for 103 pounds on 27 Nov 1856 and he owned land in Myponga. He is listed as the owner or occupier of lot 1 in the township of Willunga in 1857-58.

Robert Atkinson was listed in the Land Returns for 1843 as having 71 cattle, 3 horses and 21 pigs. He was a regular competitor in both the annual Willunga and Yankalilla Ploughing Matches. Robert was also active in public life including being the Secretary of the Willunga Farmers and Stockholders’ Club in 1844-45 and elected as an auditor for the Willunga District Council elections in 1860.

Robert, then aged just 41 years, died on 8 June 1862. He was buried in St. Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery and his slate gravestone was carved by George Sara.


  • Adelaide Observer 28 June 1862:1
  • South Australian Deaths Index of Registrations 1842-1915 p.41
  • South Australian Deaths Index of Registrations 1916-1972 p.90
  • South Australian Register 20 March 1844
  • South Australian Weekly Chronicle 13 July 1861:5
Mary Ann Atkinson, nee Aldam
Mary Ann Atkinson, nee Aldam
Robert Atkinson's headstone, St. Stephen's cemetery, Willunga.
Robert Atkinson's headstone, St. Stephen's cemetery, Willunga.

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