Captain John Finlay Duff

Is your surname Duff?

Research the Duff family

Captain John Finlay Duff's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

John Finlay Duff

Also Known As: "Captain John Finlay Duff"
Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Dundee, Dundee City, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death: May 18, 1868 (69)
Glenelg, City of Holdfast Bay, South Australia, Australia
Place of Burial: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Immediate Family:

Husband of Mary Duff and Anne Eliza Duff
Father of John Finlay Duff, Jnr and Jessie Light Hallett

Occupation: Ship's captain and businessman in the Colony of South Australia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Captain John Finlay Duff

Captain John Finlay Duff

DEATH OF CAPTAIN DUFF.-Another old colonist has closed his career-Captain Duff, recently harbour-master at Glenelg. The event, which was preceded by several months of illness, took place on Friday last, 15th instant.

The name of Captain John Finlay Duff is associated with some of the earliest and most memorable incidents in South Australian history. His ship, the Africaine, is noticed in the first number of the South Australian Register, published in London on the 18th June, 1836, as about to sail for this colony, the probable number of passengers being sixty.

The Africaine's name and that of her commander appeared in the second number of the South Australian Register, published in Adelaide on June 3, 1837, namely, in a list of arrivals prior to June 1 in that year. Captain Duff's name next appears in the firm of Hallett and Duff among the subscribers to a fund for the erection of the original Trinity Church. In August, 1837, the Africaine sailed for Launceston, Van Diemen's Land, in command of Captain Duff. In subsequent years Captain Duff was extensively known as a merchant and shipowner. The barque Guiana brought from Singapore the first cargo landed at the present port, and the schooner Waterwitch delivered the first general cargo landed at the Maclaren Wharf. The Waterwitch, owned by Captain Duff, and commanded by D. Talbert, traded between Mauritius, Bourbon, and Port Adelaide, as also between our port and those of Western Australia, until she was unfortunately lost on her return voyage from Mauritius. On his retirement from active life, in 1860, Captain Duff accepted the appointment of harbour-master at Glenelg which he held for several years. Those only who remember him in the most active period of his mercantile career will be able to do justice to the public spirit which animated him. He has done the colony good service in his day and generation.

-South Australian Register, May l8. republished: Argus (Melbourne, VIC) - May 26 1868


  • 1835:He qualified as a master mariner and first reached Australia in July 1835, when he captained the Africaine from London to Hobart.
  • 1837:In 1837 he exported in four bales of wool to England – the first from South Australia.
  • 1837:Duff and Hallett, who were both part-owners of the Africaine with Thomas Finlay (perhaps Duff's maternal grandfather), opened a store and shipping agency on Grenfell Street in 1837, one of the first in the Colony.
  • 1859:In 1859, Captain Duff accepted the appointment of Harbourmaster and Lightkeeper at Glenelg, which he held for several years.
  • 1862:He married again, to Mary Schroder ( – ) on 24 April 1862.
  • 1868:John Finlay Duff died on May 18, 1868.

Duff purchased one of the original town acres at the corner of Currie Street and West Terrace and larger properties near the city. He allowed his farmer tenants to pay their rent in bags of wheat. He donated part of his property "Woodford", near Magill, for St. George's Anglican Church. They had other properties further out: at Port Lincoln, and "Woodford" on the Para River, where he ran sheep. In 1837 he exported in four bales of wool to England – the first from South Australia. Duff and Hallett were early and generous contributors to the establishment of Trinity Church.

Wife 1: Anna? Anne? Eliza Turner ( – 22 November 1854) on 29 June 1836.

Children due to death date mentioned of Anne

  • Jessie Light Duff (29 November 1838 – ) married William S. Miller of Parkside on 4 September 1861
  • John Finlay Duff, Jr.(4 December 1843 – October 1897) lived at Glenelg. He died at Argyle Downs Station. W.A.
  • Eliza Dixon Duff (c. 1848 – 18 August 1921) married John W. Stafford ( – ) on 13 May 1871

Wife 2: Mary Schroder ( – ) on 24 April 1862.

Children (due to death date mentioned of first wife)

  • Joseph Stilling Duff (1863 – 21 January 1920) married Adelaide Lurina Capper in 1886. He was a theatre manager and accountant, died in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Stuart Duncan Duff (1866 – 17 June 1941) married Mabel Annie Shephard on 6 April 1898, lived at Marion, then Brighton.

Ref: John Finlay Duff

view all

Captain John Finlay Duff's Timeline

April 1, 1799
Dundee, Dundee City, Scotland, United Kingdom
November 29, 1838
Age 39
Age 39
May 18, 1868
Age 69
Glenelg, City of Holdfast Bay, South Australia, Australia
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia