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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Atkinson Family

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Fast Facts
Type of person Family

Date of arrival 1839
Principal occupation Farmers and pastoralists.

The four Atkinson brothers and their two sisters were a pioneer family who arrived in Willunga and the surrounding district by late 1839. Fifteen people with the surname Atkinson arrived at Port Adelaide on 12 Nov 1839 from London aboard the barque Singapore, Captain Hamilton. At least 9 were related, comprising of Mr. William Atkinson (25) and his wife Mary (22) and their two daughters Catharine (3) and Ann (2) plus three of William’s younger brothers – Robert (19), Thomas (17) and Joseph (15) and two sisters -Bridget (13) and Susanna (11). They were from a family of prosperous yeoman farmers from Waddingham, Lincolnshire in England.

In addition there were 6 members of another (unrelated) Atkinson family comprising of Mr. John Atkinson, his wife Maria and their four daughters (Henrietta, Emilie, Frances and Georgiana) who were cabin passengers.

It is assumed that at least the nine members of the Atkinson family were in Willunga by December of 1839 when the four Atkinson brothers were involved in building the Lincolnshire Inn (later Bush Inn). William, aged just 26 years, died the following year in 1840 and his widow Mary and their two daughters returned to England in 1842. The three surviving brothers all bought land in Willunga and the surrounding district becoming pastoralists and farmers.

Robert travelled to England in the mid 1840s and returned to Willunga in 1846 with a new wife, Mary Ann (nee Aldam). They subsequently had seven children (one of whom died young) before Robert died at the young age of 41 in 1862.

Thomas married Jane Bastian (Sampson Bastian’s daughter) and became a very successful farmer and pastoralist who was also active in public life including serving in the Willunga District Council for 28 years and being elected for two terms in Parliament. He lived into the twentieth century and died in 1906 when he was 84.

Joseph married Elizabeth Gidley Clift, daughter of John Clift of McLaren Vale, and they had 12 children (three of whom died young). Joseph was a farmer and died at 54 years old in 1878.

All three brothers and their sister Bridget are buried in in St. Stephen’s Anglican cemetery at Willunga. All subsequent generations of members of the Atkinson family are descended from just two of the brothers: Robert who had 7 children (6 sons and a daughter) and Joseph who had 12 children (4 sons and 8 daughters).

The second generation of the Atkinson family included two brothers (sons of Robert Atkinson) - Robert Fish and John who ran a store and bakery at 44 High Street from the mid 1890s into the twentieth century. Two of Robert Fish's sone - Robert Francis (Frank) and Thomas Fish (Tom) continued the business until the mid 1960s.

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