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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Vanstone, James

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1831
Place of birth Tamerton Foliot, Devon, England.
Date of arrival 1847
Principal occupation Gold miner, quarryman / labourer, storekeeper and gardener
Date of departure 1881
Date of death 1924
Place of decease Granville, NSW.

James Vanstone was born on 13 November 1831 in Tamerton Foliot, Devon, England. He was the son of John Vanstone senior (1803-1886) and his first wife, Mary Ann Vear (1800-1846). James Vanstone, aged 16 years, arrived in South Australia with his father and three brothers, John (19), William (13) and Phillip (7) aboard La Belle Alliance on 2 July 1847.

In March 1852, aged 21 years, James Vanstone went to Melbourne and presumably the goldfields, with his brother, John Vanstone junior (24), aboard "Chatham". He travelled back and forth from Willunga to the Victorian Goldfields between 1852 and 1854 and, at one stage in June 1854, gave power of attorney to Henry Walter Parker, Esq. to collect rents for his property in South Australia.

Aged 24 years, James Vanstone married his first wife, Alice (“Agnes”) Ann Polkinghorne (1838-1869), aged 20 years, on 29 August 1855 at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Willunga. She was the daughter of Richard Polkinghorne (1808-1874). They had three children:

  • William John (1856-1927) was born at Aldinga. He married Alice Sybil Griggs (1862-1938) on 11 July 1885 at the Baptist Church in Flinders St, Adelaide. They had four children. He died in Adelaide and is buried in Cheltenham Cemetery.
  • James (1859-1938) was born at Aldinga and married Alice May Higgins (1879-1907) on 28 January 1904 in Adelaide. He died in Perth, WA.
  • Simon Richard (1861- ) was born at Bald Hills near Yankalilla, SA.

After the early death of his first wife at Jupiter Creek in 1869, James Vanstone, aged 39 years, married his second wife, widow Caroline Dorcas Clarke (née Griggs) (1839-1922), aged 32 years, on 26 September 1871 at the Wesleyan Parsonage in Adelaide. She had been married to John William Clarke (1836-1871) and had one son from her first marriage:

  • Arthur Henry Arnold Clarke (1860-1936) was born at McLaren Vale. He married Teresa Catherine Wallis (1862-1927) on 20 March 1884 at the residence of the bride at Kent Town. They had one daughter. Arthur died at Glenelg, SA and is buried in West Terrace Cemetery.

James Vanstone worked as a quarryman/labourer in the Willunga District in the 1850s. By 1861 he was a farmer at Bald Hills and he became insolvent in 1862. In 1867 he was elected Steward of the Independent Order of Rechabites in Willunga and, in 1869, he paid rates on land and a house in section 267 near the township. From 1873 to 1879 he paid rates on a house and garden in the township of Willunga. In 1881 James and Caroline moved to Kent Town and in 1882 he was described as a storekeeper of Adelaide. They lived in Hyde Park for many years and James was described as a gardener of Hyde Park in 1902.

Caroline Vanstone (formerly Clarke, née Griggs) died on 7 August 1922 at Hyde Park, SA and is buried in West Terrace Cemetery. James Vanstone died on 4 September 1924 at Granville, NSW and is buried in Rookwood Cemetery, NSW.


  • 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
  • Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888
  • SAILIS 1863-1868 & 1868-1873 Part Lot 50 Willunga CT101/194
  • GRO Merge “V”
  • Evening Journal 7 Aug 1885:2
  • The Register 26 Sept 1921:6
  • The Register 16 Aug 1922:6
  • The Register 13 Sept 1924:8

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