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William Hampden Dutton (1805–1849)

by Geoffrey Dutton

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DUTTON BROTHERS: William Hampden (1805-1849), Frederick Hansborough (1812-1890), pastoralists, and Francis Stacker (1818-1877), politician, were the first, third and fifth sons of Frederick Hugh Hampden Dutton, British vice-consul and agent for packets at Cuxhaven, Germany. A fourth son, Pelham John Richard Dutton, who arrived in Sydney in 1834 and engaged in pastoral pursuits in the Monaro district of New South Wales, and later in business in Adelaide, is not to be confused with Captain William Dutton of Portland. William chose to pursue the science of rural economy in Prussia, and after completing his formal studies travelled through Prussia, Saxony and Silesia observing the management of sheep and becoming well versed in the development of fine wool from inferior stock. His first employment after arrival in Australia in 1826 was with the Australian Agricultural Co., as superintendent of the company's flocks at Retreat Farm, thirty miles from Sydney, but later in that year he turned to Alexander Riley for whom he had selected 200 pure-bred Saxon merinos. For some time he worked with Edward Riley at Raby before returning to Europe in 1827. Next year he made an agricultural tour through Switzerland and Germany, and studied the cultivation of the vine, the olive and dried fruits in southern France. He thought of emigrating to Swan River in 1829, but his father had insufficient capital to start him as a settler, so he applied through the Duke of Cambridge for a colonial appointment. Unsuccessful he borrowed £2000 from Alexander Riley and sailed with his brother Frederick for Sydney where they arrived in March 1830. He then managed Raby for Alexander Riley until he took possession of his land grant at Goodradigbee in 1831.

On 2 July 1831 at Sydney W. H. Dutton married Charlotte, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Cameron of the 3rd Regiment. Next year he and Frederick went into partnership in sheep at Yass and later in the Monaro district. In 1836 they established near Albury a cattle run at Mullengendry whence 1000 cattle sold to John Barton Hack were overlanded to Portland and shipped to Adelaide, where they arrived in 1838. William visited South Australia briefly with his family early in 1839 and at Mount Barker with Captain John Finnis and Duncan Macfarlane bought a 4000-acre (1619 ha) special survey, the first in the colony. While William travelled between Sydney and Melbourne where he had mercantile ventures, Alexander Buchanan overlanded 5000 sheep belonging to Frederick, who tried in 1839 to form a sheep company at Mount Dispersion, sixty miles (97 km) north of Adelaide; when it failed Frederick took up the run which had been founded by Finnis, and renamed it Anlaby after the Yorkshire home of his sister Charlotte's husband, Richard Cankrein. His first overseer was his brother Francis who, after education at Hofwyl, near Berne, Switzerland, and six years in a mercantile office at Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, had arrived in January 1840 to assist William in his pastoral and business ventures at Port Phillip. William had many other irons in the fire but the loss of 7000 sheep led to his insolvency in 1841; through his father's influence he again applied for public office without success. He died in Melbourne on 21 November 1849.

Meanwhile his brothers thrived. At Anlaby the original 120-acre (49 ha) section was gradually increased to 70,000 acres (28,328 ha) of freehold and the first 20,000 sheep to some 60,000. While working at Anlaby in 1842 Francis had discovered with Captain Charles Bagot the Kapunda copper mine. In search of suitable miners to work it, he went in 1845 to London where he sold his share and next year published South Australia and its Mines. After returning to Adelaide he married in 1849 Caroline, the daughter of Marshall MacDermott; they had two sons and a daughter.

Frederick Dutton also invested in copper. In 1846 he and Alexander Lang Elder were partners in a 20,000-acre (8094 ha) special survey at Mount Remarkable, and he had interests in the Princess Royal at Burra, and in other mines at Kapunda and Montacute. He added lands on Yorke Peninsula to his pastoral holdings and was active in affairs at Adelaide. In 1852 he was nominated a member of the Legislative Council, but resigned a year later. He was a director of the Bank of Australasia. From 1852 onwards he imported pure-bred Rambouillet and Saxon sheep from Europe, Anlaby becoming the oldest stud sheep station in South Australia. He later retired to England, making periodic visits to Australia. He died unmarried in 1890, leaving Anlaby to his nephew Henry, William's only surviving son.

Francis Dutton entered politics as a moderate democrat; offering himself as a 'staunch advocate of the Rights of the People', he was elected in 1851 and again in 1855 as representative of East Adelaide in the Legislative Council, where he played a leading part in framing a democratic constitution for South Australia. He also wrote a pamphlet on the subject in German. After responsible government was granted, he was elected in 1857 as one of the six members for Adelaide in the new Legislative Assembly, and became commissioner for crown lands and immigration in the Hanson ministry. In 1860 he was returned for Light, but resigned in 1862 to go to London as South Australian commissioner at the Great Exhibition. Re-elected for Light later in the year, he was premier for eleven days in June 1863, and again for six months in 1865, resigning to become agent-general for South Australia in London. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1872. While still agent-general, he died in London on 25 January 1877.

F. S. Dutton was an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a fluent linguist. Much in demand for public and social committees, he made a valuable cultural, as well as political, contribution to early Adelaide. The district of Dutton and Mount Dutton in the far north of South Australia bear his name.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Kerr, ‘The Wool Industry in New South Wales 1803-1830’, Business Archives and History, vol 2, no 1, Feb 1962, pp 18-54
  • CO 323/133
  • Dutton papers (privately held).

Citation details

Geoffrey Dutton, 'Dutton, William Hampden (1805–1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




21 November, 1849 (aged ~ 44)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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