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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Spargo Family

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Fast Facts
Type of person Family
Date of birth c. 1814
Place of birth Baldhu, Cornwall
Date of arrival 1853
Principal occupation Quarryman and miner
Date of death 1871
Place of decease Willunga

Robert Spargo, 39 year old Cornish miner from Baldhu near Truro, emigrated to SA in 1853 with his wife Grace and six daughters aged 14 and under. At the time, boys nine or older were allowed to work; daughters under 14 were not. The Spargos had many mouths to feed and presumably limited income for doing so.

Miners were needed in the new Province and the family sailed from Southampton on the ‘Magdalena.’ On arrival Robert found work at a Willunga slate quarry. The family rented a cottage nearby and he later built a cob home there, extant in 2013.

The first-born, aged 14, had died at sea but four more children were born in Willunga although two died as infants and another daughter Eliza, a nursemaid at nearby Thornaville, drowned in a picnicking tragedy at the Carey Hole waterhole. She was 23. This sad outing in 1865 had begun as a celebration of the only son George’s 10th birthday.

Spargo was hospitalised in 1867 with emphysema and died in 1871. He is buried in St Stephen’s Anglican cemetery. Grace, 75, died in 1894 and is buried in West Terrace cemetery. A riparian-rights dispute with Willunga Council embellishes her place in local history.

203 words


  • Vaudrey G. C. Water under the bridge: The story of Robert and Grace Spargo 1991.

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