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National Trust of South Australia


Morton, William

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth c. 1824
Place of birth Wimbledon, England
Date of arrival 1849
Principal occupation Labourer, superintendent of roads, and mail driver and in his spare time he made cane baskets and chairs.
Date of death 1913
Place of decease Willunga

William Clement Morton was born in Wimbledon, England in about 1824 to an unmarried domestic servant, Ann Morton. He trained as a cane basket weaver in England. In 1848 he emigrated to South Australia on aboard Trafalgar that arrived at Port Adelaide on 16 Jan 1849. He may have brought osier willow saplings with him.

On board Trafalgar he met Sarah Elizabeth Rhodes (Roads) (1831-1874) who he married shortly after their arrival. After about two years in Adelaide they had moved to Willunga by 1851 with their 2 sons and another 3 children were born in Willunga. Five children (4 boys and a girl) Robin (Robert) (1850-1886) b. at McLaren Vale. m. Maria Dunwill Paddick in 1871. William (1852-1940) b. at Adelaide. m. Annie Humphrey in 1877. George (1854-1859) b. & d. at Willunga. died of Diptheria aged 5 years. Frank (1858-1863) b. & d. at Willunga. died aged 5 years Nellee (1863-1951) b. at Willunga. m. Frederick George Humphrey in 1881.

After 1869 the Morton family moved into Upalong Cottage at 19 James Street (Lot 3), which was owned by Richard Mortimer. William Morton paid rates on land, a house and garden (Lot 3) from 1869 until 1883. After Richard Mortimer’s death in 1883 the cottage was sold to Richard Townsend in 1885 and then to William Morton in 1888. William planted planted osier willows along the creek that ran through the property in Willunga. When the shoots were ready, he split and wove them into various items, most notably farm and vineyard baskets and chairs. William Morton worked as a labourer, superintendent of roads, and mail driver and in his spare time he continued to make cane baskets and chairs.

His wife Sarah Elizabeth, aged 43 years, died in 1873 and William, aged 56 years, remarried in 1880 to widow Elizabeth Brown (nee Foxworthy) (1852-1943), aged 28 years, and they had another 5 children (2 boys and 3 girls): Ethel May (1878-1969) - daughter of Elizabeth adopted by William. Roger (1881-1962) b. at Willunga. m. Naomi Edith Portis in April 1913 Irene Emily (1885- ) b. at Willunga. m. George Carson Ferguson in Oct 1913 Edgar (1888-1968) b. at Willunga. m. Bridget Rose Wheeler in July 1912 Frederick (1889-1961) b. at Willunga.

William Morton lived at Upalong for the rest of his life, eventually passing away on 15 June 1913, aged 93 years, and he was buried at St. Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery with both of his wives. His second wife Elizabeth died in 1943, aged 91 years.


  • South Australian Register 13 Aug 1880:4
  • South Australian Register 8 Aug 1881:4
  • Burra Record 30 March 1886:3
  • The Express and Telegraph 21 Jan 1888:2
  • The Advertiser 9 April 1913:14
  • The Advertiser 30 June 1913:14
  • The Express and Telegraph 25 Oct 1913:4
  • Passengers in History database. South Australian Maritime Museum
  • South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972

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