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National Trust of South Australia


Atkinson, Robert Fish

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1857
Place of birth Willunga
Principal occupation Clerk, auctioneer and storekeeper
Date of death 1922
Place of decease Willunga

Robert Fish Atkinson was born on 10 July 1857 at Willunga and baptized at St Stephen’s Church on 23 Aug 1857. He was the fourth surviving son of Robert Atkinson (1823-1862) and Mary Ann Aldam (1822-1893). He lived in Willunga (1857-1878 & 1896-1922) and at Port Pirie (1877-1896). He went to school at Buckland House and later in life he was a clerk, auctioneer and storekeeper.

During the eighteen years he is believed to have lived in Port Pirie (1877-1896) He is recorded as having played in the first football team at Solomontown (Port Pirie) in 1877. He is listed in the South Australian Directory of 1893 as a clerk and living in Solomontown, Port Pirie. He placed entries in the category of poultry, birds and game at the Port Pirie Show in October 1888 and served on the committee of the Port Pirie Agricultural Show in 1893. He was listed as the starter in North-Western Jockey Club race meetings between 1889 and 1894. In 1892-3 he was the owner of a bay gelding, Fleet, entered in races at the North-Western Jockey Club, Warnertown, Laura and Redhill. He was also active in local government as the auditor for the Port Pirie Town Council elections in between 1891 and 1895. He was Secretary of the Port Pirie Mining and Prospecting Company in Sep-Oct 1895. A farewell social was given at the Royal Exchange Hotel in Port Pirie on Friday 20 March 1896 by the Australian Order of Foresters (A.O.F.) for R.F. Atkinson “who intends leaving here shortly to join his brother in business”. When he left Port Pirie it was mentioned that he had for some years been the chief clerk at Messrs. H.A and W. Goode, a storekeeping business with Willunga connections.

In 1896 Robert Fish Atkinson purchased a half share in the business at 44 High Street from Thomas Aldam Atkinson and then in 1907 he bought the other half share from his brother John Atkinson. He owned the business until his death in 1922.

By Feb 1898 Robert Fish had largely reestablished himself at Willunga. In that year he put in entries to the Willunga Agricultural Show categories of pigs, ducks and vegetables, in 1906 he entered in the category of baker’s bread and in 1909 he was on the Show committee. He later entered poultry and became a judge in the produce category at the Mt. Compass Show. He returned to many of the activities that he had undertaken in Port Pirie such as becoming the starter at the Noarlunge races in 1900 and his horse named Bodalla won races at Yankalilla, Meadows and the Onkaparinga races from 1901. In July 1900 he was elected a councilor for the Willunga ward and later became Chairman of the Willunga District Council, where he served for many years. He is listed in the South Australian Directory of 1900 as a storekeeper and living in Willunga. He was successful in a government tender (he paid 2 pounds 10 shillings) to collect the tolls from the Port Willunga Jetty for 1900. In 1909 he gave evidence before the “Proposed Southern Railway Commission” at Willunga where he was described as an “auctioneer and storekeeper”.

Robert Fish Atkinson (aged 25 years) married Susan Whitelaw (b c1862-31/05/1918) (aged 21 years) on 9 May 1883 at the residence of W. Liddle(s) in Port Pirie. She was the fifth daughter of James Whitelaw of Port Pirie. Susan Atkinson died aged 56 years on 31 May 1918 and is buried at St. Stephen’s cemetery.

Robert Fish and Susan Atkinson had eight children (4 boys and 4 girls; 1 boy and 1 girl died in infancy):

  • John Aldam (1884-1966) born at Port Pirie m. Elizabeth Ellen Jackson (c1883-1942) on 20 Sept 1911 at St. Stephen’s Church in Willunga. 4 children – Dorothy Mary (1912- ), Robert Aldam (1914-1951), David George (1916-2006) & Jack Whitelaw (1920-1974). d. aged 82 years on 6 Aug 1966 at McLaren Vale.
  • Ethel Mary (1886-1918) born at Port Pirie d. aged 31 years on 23 March 1918 at Eastwood (unmarried)
  • Amy Isabel (1888-1971) born at Solomontown, Port Pirie m. Stuart William Paterson on 1 Sept 1918 at Maughan Church in Adelaide. 7 children - Barbara Susan, John Stuart, Elizabeth, Margaret, Robert Avon, William Bruce and Colin Thomas. Moved to WA.
  • Robert Francis (Frank) (1890-1972) born at Port Pirie m. Clarice Idonia Lovelock (1894-1970) 2 children - Robert Frank (1921- ) and Colin Harry (1925-1930) d. aged 5 & buried in St. Stephen’s, Willunga. d .aged 81 years on 2 Feb 1972 at Glenelg and he is buried in St. Stephen’s, Willunga.
  • Thomas Fish (Tom) (1892 -1968) born at Solomontown, Port Pirie m. Hazel May Waye. D. aged 81 years on 17 Feb 1968 at McLaren Vale.
  • Dorothy Marian (22/11/1894-03/04/1895) born at Solomontown d. aged 4 months at Solomontown, Port Pirie
  • Dorothy Susan (1896-1950) born at Willunga m. Raymond Duport Waye (1895-1973) d. 11 Feb 1950 aged 54 years
  • William Archibald (1899-1899) born at Willunga d. at Sellick’s Beach aged 3 months & 2 weeks

Robert Fish Atkinson (aged 65 years) died on 12 August 1922 at Willunga, his wife Susan (aged 56 years) had died in 1918 and both are buried in St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Willunga.


  • Australia City Directories 1845-1948 for Robert F. Atkinson 1903 and 1908
Atkinson's, early 1900s
Atkinson's, early 1900s
Susan Atkinson, nee Whitelaw
Susan Atkinson, nee Whitelaw

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