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National Trust of South Australia


Shilton, Charles Thomas

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1854
Place of birth Lechlad, Gloucestershire, England
Date of arrival 1875
Principal occupation Coach Driver
Date of death 1945
Place of decease Blackburn Street, Adelaide.

Charles Shilton was a coach-driver in the southern districts from the 1880s until 1916.

Charles Thomas Shilton was born on 7 May 1854 in Gloucestershire. He probably arrived in SA on Christmas Eve 1875 on the Lady Jocelyn, as a young single agricultural labourer.

Three years after arriving, Charles Shilton married sixteen year old Euphemia Craigie on 23 December 1878 in the United Methodist Free Church in Adelaide. She was the daughter of William Cullen Craigie and Margaret (Mary) Ann WYLIE of Strathalbyn, and grand-daughter of Benjamin Wylie and Euphemia BELL, later described as from Esk Bank at Strathalbyn, who had arrived on the Fairfield from Liverpool on 30 April 1839.

Charles and Euphemia had five sons and five daughters – two died as infants. Charles Henry (Harry) b 1879 married Laura Elizabeth Clements; Albert b 1881 married Alice Marina Hunt; Percy John b 1885 married Clarice Mabel Barrett; Olive (Ollie) May b 1888 married Albert Lloyd; Frank Harold b 1890 married Hazel Grace Warren; Ruby Florence b 1895 at Willunga, married George Francis Howard; Charles Thomas b 1899 died at Kangarilla aged 5 months; Euphamia (Fame) Bell Wylie b 1900 married Richard George Freer; Doris Neta Clarie b 1904; Gwendoline May b 1906 at Kangarilla died aged 14 days.

Charles Shilton drove coaches for Cobb & Co. and later for John Hill & Co, initially living at or near their Pirie Street depot which stabled 500 horses.

From 1881 to 1895 Charles drove the morning coach from Adelaide to Willunga and back. Following that, he drove for seven years from Blackwood to Kangarilla to connect with the Ashbourne coach driven by his son Harry. He transferred to the Noarlunga to Normanville route for seven years, then returned to the Willunga run for two years. His usual pay in later years was six gold sovereigns a month. His final work for John Hill & Co was at their Pirie Street head-quarters where he drove drags and other horse-drawn vehicles.

Charles' sons Frank, Harry and Percy were coach-drivers drivers on hills routes including Ashbourne, Kangarilla, Blackwood, Normanville and Angaston.

Charles Shilton played a prominent part in two historical events. He drove the coach that took the Duke of York (later King George V) and his brother the Duke of Clarence part of the way from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Coorong, during their visit to South Australia in 1881. In recognition, he was presented with a silver-mounted whip now on display at Willunga Court House Museum. When the ‘Star of Greece’ was ship-wrecked at Port Willunga in 1888, he drove a coach from Adelaide to transport the traumatised survivors back to Adelaide.

Charles and Euphemia celebrated their silver wedding at Normanville in 1903. He retired from coach driving during World War I. In 1916, although over 50 years of age, he served for six months in the Remount Reinforcements Unit at Mitcham where his skills as a horseman were invaluable in training Australian war horses for overseas service.

Tragedy struck in June 1926 when Charles and Euphemia’s son Percy accidentally killed himself while shooting rabbits on his farm at Angaston. Euphemia died two years later in July 1928, aged 66.

Following his War service, Charles worked for Harris Scarfe Ltd until 1929 when he was 75. In his retirement he was cared for his daughter Doris. He died in June 1945 at his home in Blackburn Street, Adelaide, aged 91 years.


  • The Register Monday 7 June 1926 page 6
  • The Advertiser Friday 8 June 1945 page 8
  • Memories of coaching days by Frank H Shilton 1956.
Willunga mail coach, 1885
Willunga mail coach, 1885
Mail Coach outside the Bush Inn, Willunga, ca 1908.
Mail Coach outside the Bush Inn, Willunga, ca 1908.
Charles T Shilton, 1916
Charles T Shilton, 1916

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