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Robert Davenport

Birthplace: Shirburn, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: September 03, 1896 (79)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Place of Burial: District Council of Mount Barker, South Australia, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of George Davenport and Jane Devereaux Davenport
Husband of Dorothea Davenport
Father of Dorothea Frances Davenport; Ernest Devereaux Davenport; Mary Fulford Davenport; Robert Noel Davenport; Amy Louise Davenport and 3 others
Brother of Maria Davenport; Henry Devereux Davenport; Sir Samuel Davenport, K.G. and George Francis Davenport

Occupation: member of South Australian Parliament, water color artist, studied Law
Managed by: Private User
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About Robert Davenport

Robert Davenport Family Photo Collection, click HERE to view some of his water color paintings.

Robert Davenport was born in Shirburn, Oxfordshire and trained for the law. He and his brother (George) Francis Davenport arrived in South Australia in 1839 and settled at "Battunga" on the "Davenport survey". His more famous brother Samuel lived nearby.

The "Davenport survey" was an area defined by "special survey" east of "The Three Brothers survey" (which may have been originally selected for the Davenport brothers, then relinquished), and spreading south of Mount Barker to the source of the Angas, and incorporated the town of Macclesfield, named in honor of the Earl of Macclesfield (presumably the 6th Earl 1850–1896 ). Lower down the Angas was the "Angas survey", which incorporated the town of Strathalbyn.

Davenport lived on his original holding at "Battunga" for more than half a century, where he was burried. He was a capable watercolorist, and produced many studies of South Australian landscapes, some of which are held by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Most of the information about the Mount Barker district in Francis Dutton's book South Australia and Its Mines (1848) was provided to its author by Robert Davenport.. read more...

MR. ROBERT DAVENPORT - A VERITABLE PIONEER. THE BIRTH OF SOUTHERN SETTLEMENT. The-death of Mr. Robert Davenport, of Battunga, which occurred at the South terrace Hospital early on Thursday morning, and which was reported in The Advertiser of the same day, deserves more than passing notice. Mr. Davenport bore a name which will always be honored in South Australian history, and his arrival in the colony was co-incident with the beginning of settlement in the southern district, the cradle of the agricultural and industrial wealth of the province. He lived on his original holding at "Battnnga" for more than half a century, and his remains will to-day be buried within a rife-shot of the spot which his elder brother, Mr G. F. Davenport, selected for his home, when the South Australian world was all before him where to choose in 1839. ~--Mr. Robert Davenport brought to this new land great intelligence, considerable energy, and acute powers of observation, and it is largely due to the judicious advertisements which were given by him to the capabilities of the south that so many eligible settlers were attracted to that part of the province in the earlier days. Sir Samuel Davenport who lived near his brother, entered the original Legislative Council as locum tcnens for the late Hon. Jacob Hagen on May 5, 1846, and continued a member of that body until July 5, 1847, while he afterwards acted temporarily as the successor of Mr. R. F. Newland, Mr Robert Davenport was in 1851 elected as member for Hindmarsh in the second Legislative Council,-of which the only survivor is the Hon.G. M. Waterhouse, who has had the unique distinction ot attaining to the Premier shio of both South Australia and New Zealand, and who now resides in the latter province. Among Mr. Davenport's colleagues during the first session and in 1852, when a special session was held to pass the Bullion Act,were Captain Sturt, Sir Richard Hanson, Mr. B. T. Finniss, Sir R. R. Torrens, Mr. F. S Dutton, Mr. J, B Neales, Mr, A. L. Elder, Mr. John Baker, Mr. C. F. Angas, Mr J. Hart, Mr. C. H. Bagot, Mr. W. Younghusband, Sir George Kingston, and Captain Dashwood, all of whom are now dead and gone, although each has in deliby stamped his memory on the history of the colony.

Mr Davenport resigned his seat on June 29, 1854, his brother ,Sir Samuel entering the Council again a few months later remaining a member even after the institution of constitutional governmemt until August 30, 1866. Mr. Robert Davenport, however, did not enter politics again but retired to his estate near Macclesfield where he lived the useful of a country gentleman for more than half a century, and in which district his name long ago became a household word.

In this connection it will be interesting to republish portions of an account of the earlier settlement of the southern, district, which was contributed by Mr Davenport to the standard work, of Mr.Francis Dutton, entitled "South Australia and its' Mines, with an Historical Sketch of the Colony under its' Several-Administrations to the Period of Captain Grey's Departure, and published by T. & W.Boone, New Bond street; London, in 1846. Noone was better able than Mr. Davenport to dilate upon the manner in which the country beyond the Mount Lofty Ranges first came into occupation, and to those who,delight in reminiscences of bygone times there will be a peculiar attraction in what follows:

"The best portions of land in the hills, as some of the most eligible parts of the plains," wrote Mr. Dayenport- and it must be borne in mind that the date of his article is 1845, and that, it was printed in the following year- "were taken up in the earlier history of the colony by purchasers of "special surveys " who in selecting such were privileged to choose not less than 4,000 out of extent surveyed for them by the Government, not exceeding 15,000. The amount then constiituted a special survey. Such a system of selection was soon abolished.

The oginal proprietors of these survey are in a few cases resident as part occupiers, and most of the occupied land being in the hands of smalI farmers- men many of them, risen from the laboring class by earnings gotten in the colony, who have taken 40, 80, or more acres for a term of 7, 10 or 14 years at an improving rent generally commencing with 3s., 4s., or 5s., per acre, and ordinarily with aright of preemption at a sum agreed upon. The Mount Barker special survey is thus largely appropriated by numerous, and respectable parties some of whom are gentlemen engaged formerly in professional pursuit in this country, on whom the attractions of rural life and independence, with .the hopes,it may be of planting, rising families in a new and expansive world, had operated to place them in their new sphere. Visitors to the colony from India and elsewhere, who commonly resort to Mount Barker to be refreshed by its verdant scenery and cooler climate find large hospitality and English comforts at the abodes which welcome them. Wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and maize, are extensively grown, dairy cows and flocks of sheep are kept, bacon is much cured, and the quantity of land substantially fenced for all rural purposes is very considerable. Attached to this survey and commanding a majestic view is the site for the township. It is the "county town" for the district, and contains a courthouse, where a bench of magistrates assembles once a week, a police-station, a post-office, a school house, a steam flourmill, an inn, and some private dwelling places. The population increases, and the stone buildings assume a respectable appearance. Mr. Duncan McFarlane is the principal resident here. His substantial and handsome barn is the most conspicuous erection. It is hoped that his success will lead to the rearing of a corresponding dignified dwelling place. Mr. McFarlane has grown great quantities 0f grain, used Ridleys reaping machine, and employed numbers o Germans. The village of Hahndorf, populated by 300 to 400 Germans is located on a distant part of this estate. In commom with other of their countrymen in the colony they are pleased with their adopted country,where they are prosperous and free. The same kind of progress is making on the surveys north and west of Mount Barker of which Nairne is the township. Here likewise are signs of'considerable advance in trade and importance. Several substantial stone built dwellings are erected, a "chapel, a windmill, inn, and shops, and various trades are conducted. Mr. Smillie, father of the Advocate General, as a large owner and occupier of this survey.

The scenery around his dwelling is very imposing. The style of his house, its flagstone simplicity, reminded me of the old Gothic erections of home, and the hospitality is quite in keeping. Bearing west and south. to Mount Barker, extending some ten miles distant, is "The Three Brothers' special survey." It contains enterprising settlers, some of whom possess beautiful farms, luxuriant gardens and orchards. Some gentlemen are imitating their forefather by laying out grounds in broad old English style. "Echunga Springs" the property of Hon. Jacob Hagen, member of Council, has a most valuable garden and orchard of more than seven acres in extent, producing in abundance all British fruits and vegetables, and the spot is enriched with the best fruits of the south of Europe and the choicest forest trees and garden flowers. The estate is tenanted and ably superintended by Mr. Duffield, who has successfully cultivated the hop and manufactured the wine known as Echunga hock, in favor resembling' Moselle. A substantial windmilll has lately been erected close to the farm premises. East of "The Three Brothers," and spreading south of Mount Barker to the source of the Angas, lies the "Davenport survey".- - -

A pretty country, lightly timbered and presenting with its open and undulating scenery a park-like resemblance, in a few of its richest valleys,where water is more accessible, a like system of location obtains. A man constructs his cottage, opens a spring of water, forms a garden, encloses a field or a paddock, keeps a few head of cattle, grows his own grain and frequently kills his own meat. Many English, Scotch, and Irish are thus scattered about some are possessed of drays and bullocks, and the few farm implements which are needed, and thus rendered more independent. Those who have them not accommodation, generally by a species of barter with a neighbor of labor or produce, but little money is had or circulated in the country. The township of this survey has been named Macclesfield in honor of the late earl not judiciously, I think, as the association to strangers would revert to the large town of that name in England, whereas the spot has the character only of a pretty rural village. The native name is "Kangowirranilla," meaning, it is said, a place for kangaroo and water. The site is planned on the sources of the Angas, whose bubbling stream winds through the village with a copious and unceasing supply of the purest water, sufficient, and the fall may be available to turn an overshot wheel of great power. A few trades men such as carpenter, wheelwrights, tailors, shoemakers, and blacksmiths are settled here and have always occupation.

There is need of more such a medical practitioner (Dr Cotter) resides here. Mr Samuel Davenport has a stone built substantial cottage, and is extensively cultivating with his broader occupations the grape and other fruits on the slopes verging the stream. Here also is a place of worship, and theRev. J. B. Austin, who has a pretty estate in the neighborhood, on which he resides with a large family, has "most literally tended his services as a pastor. He regularly supplies the pulput desk for which a cultivated mind previous habits, and religion devotionhave eminently qualified him. A congregation continued on Page 6 Scroll to previous page numerous, and respectable assembles on the Sabbath in the morning and alternate afternoons either at Mount Barker or Strathalbyn, which places Mr. Austin, then visits to conduct public worship. The Governor has appropriated and reserved for common use around this township an extent of country in itself least available for agriculture, denominated parkland. The villagers, who together have a considerable herd of cattle, use it as acommon pasture a land. As the day sinks to repose in the soft lustre of retiring eve the children return with their village charge, whose approach may be known by the tinkling of the ball or the bellow of tho cattle, you are reminded of some of these most peaceful and serene home associations, where "The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lee.

A resident in a new country where society is emerging from its most infant condition is led easily to account for the origin and establishment of some of the fundamental common law rights of the mother land. Lower down the stream about 7 miles is the township of Strathalbyn, belonging to the 'Angas survey' This was taken by Dr Rankine and other Scotch proprietors. It bears evident signs of Scotch enterprise and success. Dr Rankine's place is quite picturesque. His house stands on a rocky eminence overlooking the bed of the Angas and the high craggy rocks which skirt some portion of its channel. He has diverted the stream of the river to irrigate at pleasure his fertile garden and potato lands. The occupiers on this survey numerous; some quite wealthy in amount of sheep and cattle.

The township enlarges, has a good sized inn and storehouse, commodious for travellers to and from Wellington and Lake Victoria. The 'Meadows survey' lies to the south and east of the Three Brothers. This contains excellent land, and has produced some of the heaviest wheat grown in the colony. Generally, I think, it is more sheltered from the north by the hills in the background, and the subsoil frequently being clay, which I consider best for wheat lands in a warm climate, accounts partly for the farmers success. Last year wheat was grown here by Messrs. Stamford of the weight of 66 lb. 2 oz. to the imperial busheL The farm I purchased soon after I arrived in the colony, and which I occupied whilst there, is a portion of this survey; 300 acres, are now apportioned off and enclosed by three and four post andrail fence. I found it exceedingly productive of European grains and fruits of almost every description. I have orchards and plantations of the apple, peach, almond, &c.,and some hundreds of trees. The olive thrives and the best varieties of grape. Though beautiful in growth, I doubt if the orange will ripen its fruit on the hills. My best trees I got from Mr. McArthur's garden in New South Wales. I have encouraged a few mechanics and laborers to settle around me whose employ I could at any time command, and who by reason of their productive little homesteads placing them in so independent a position I have never found to be any incum brance. I have named the place Battunga after the native appellation, which the natives interpret to mean the place of large trees. The native names are not only significant but generally melodious, and I think there is some interest in adopting them wherever practicable in place of any foreign names. They appear to have a designation which is expressive of some peculiarity for everyspot or location. Messrs. Stamford have a large farm and dairy here. I have seen tons of cheese on their premises. They were farmers formerly in Kent.Lieutenant Dashwood has large and complete farm premises also. His place, enclosed by hills, is very pretty as well as productive. He has a valuable breed of Shorthorn cattle about him. The 'Greenhills survey, south and east of the Meadows, has a considerable breadth or rich land, some of the best agricultural slopes in the colony, and its grazing qualities seem to be superior. The scenery generally is hilly, sometimes very steep, but expands to a flat of great extent, making the view truly noble at some points where it embraces the magnificent and soft verdure of the park.

The eye surveys a scene worthy even its wild luxuriance to rank with the princely domains of this country. With a graceful outline of hills exposed more or less in bold prominence bright verdure or rocky frontage is contrasted the gloom of the surrounding ravines down which streams fall to the Finniss, whose plains, opening below, afford you in the distance a view of Lake Alexandrina, Point Malcclm on the opposite shore, and the white sandbanks of the Coorong. This survey belongs to several proprietors, most of whom,l believe, are resident in this colony " Mr Davenports' remains will be removed from his late residence, Battunga, on Friday for interment in the Battunga Cemetery A conveyance will meet the 10. 20 tram from Adelaide at Aldgate, returnmg to catch the 5.15 p.m. train to the city. MR. ROBERT DAVENPORT. (1896, September 4). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 5. Retrieved October 17, 2016

ROBERT DAVENPORT was born near Oxford, England, in 1816, and was educated at Mill Hill School, Middlesex he was trained to the legal profession and admitted to practice at' the courts at Westminster as a solicitor. His father, approving of the principles on which the province of South Australia was founded, took up " Land Orders " to select land in that colony. This caused Mr. Davenport to visit the colony in 1843 ; he returned to England in 1845 when he married a Miss Talford, of Devonshire ; he made his home at Battanga, twenty-three miles east of Adelaide, where he has resided for a number of years on a compact estate of over 1,500 acres. Mr. Davenport laid out an orchard of several acres in 1843, getting a quantity of trees, mostly apple, from Mr. McArthur's garden, Camden, New South Wales; these trees are still bearing well. He held a seat in the Legislative Council for three years ; took a prominent part in doing away with State aid to the churches ; always a staunch advocate for introducing sound principles as a basis for Legislation, believing that where principles are sound, details and policy will beneficially shape themselves ; thus he always opposed any violation of Freetrade principles. Mrs. Davenport died in 1865, leaving a family of seven children

Aldine History of South Australia

  • DAVENPORT Robert arrived in SA 1843-02-14 aboard Adelaide (2) from Hobart
  • DAVENPORT Robert (prev arr 1843 Adelaide), Dorothea FULFORD arrived in SA 1846-12-19 aboard Duke of Richmond from London via Plymouth

view all 13

Robert Davenport's Timeline

December 11, 1816
Shirburn, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
February 11, 1817
Shirburn, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
August 26, 1848
Mount Barker, South Australia, Australia
August 12, 1850
South Australia, Australia
August 12, 1850
South Australia, Australia
November 26, 1852
South Australia, Australia
September 30, 1854
South Australia, Australia
March 18, 1859
September 29, 1861
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia