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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Schmidt, Richard William (Doctor)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1821
Place of birth Silesia, Prussia
Date of arrival 1849
Principal occupation Medical Doctor
Date of departure 1851
Date of death 1868
Place of decease Clunes, Victoria

Richard William Schmidt was born as Richard Wilhelm Schmidt c.1821 in Silesia, Prussia. He was the son of Wilhelm (William) and Magdalena Schmidt. His father was a medical practitioner. Schmidt married Amelia Kapitzky (ca 1821-1869) at the Scottish Church, Adelaide on 23 July 1850. They had seven children:

  • Maximilian ca 1852-?, possibly was born in South Australia but not registered.
  • Bernhard Frederick 1854-1925 was born in Castlemaine, Victoria and died in South Australia as Bernhard Frederick Smith.
  • Clara Amelia 1855-1924 was born in Castlemaine, Victoria and died in Bendigo Victoria. She married Robert McDonald.
  • Mary or Maria 1857-1857 was born and died as an infant in Dunolly, Victoria.
  • Albert 1857-1857 was born and died as an infant in Dunolly, Victoria.
  • Albert William 1859-1953 was born in Dunolly, Victoria and died in a place unknown. He married Sophia FitzRoy in 1905 in Sydney.
  • Bertha 1861-1861 was born at Tarnagulla, Victoria and died in Victoria aged 3.

Schmidt gained his medical qualification in Berlin in 1849 and arrived in South Australia on 30 August 1849 on the Wilhelmina Maria from Hamburg as the ship’s surgeon. That same year, he bought the Willunga medical practice from Dr W P Hill and lived in the vacant Police House until he built a residence in St Andrew’s Terrace. On 5 April 1850, he was registered to practise as a medical practitioner in South Australia. In 1850-51 he is noted in the General Registry Office for a land transaction. His stay in Willunga was very short (1849-1851) because by 24 June 1851 he was at Kooringa and listed as a member of the United Grand Lodge of England Freemasons.

In 1854 Schmidt had moved to the Victorian mining towns of Castlemaine, then Dunolly and Tarnagulla. On 15 January 1856 he was Naturalised in Victoria. By 14 January 1865 he became insolvent, blaming his predicament on losses in mining, bad debts and the pressure of creditors, adding he was unsuccessful in business and had a large family to support. By 11 April 1868, he obtained a Certificate of Discharge as an insolvent. Two days later he launched legal proceedings for defamation of character, after being accused of breaking his pledge as a total abstainer of alcohol. On 11 June 1868 he launched legal proceedings to recoup payment for medical attendance on an injured worker at the Ballarat and Clunes Company but the case was dismissed. On 7 August 1868 an R M Elder took him to court but details are unknown. He died of heart disease on 24 October 1868 at Clunes. In May the following year, his wife died of pericarditis, inflammation around the heart.


  • Australian Medical Pioneers Index South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972
  • General Registry Office Memorials
  • Victorian Birth Death and Marriage Indexes and Birth and Death Certificates
  • Ancestry – trees and Naturalisation record
  • Willunga National Trust blue file 42-9

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