William John Peterswald

Is your surname Peterswald?

Research the Peterswald family

William John Peterswald'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!

William John Peterswald

Birthplace: Jamaica
Death: August 30, 1896 (84)
North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Place of Burial: Nailsworth, City of Prospect, South Australia, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of Colonel William von Peterswald and Jean von Peterswald
Husband of Emily Mary de Ste Croix
Father of William Charles Peterswald; William Ernest Peterswald; Emily Jane Mathilde Wilkinson; Grace Margaret Peterswald; Arthur Charles Turner Peterswald and 3 others

Occupation: William John Peterswald was Commissioner of Police of the Colony of South Australia 1882–1896.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William John Peterswald


William John Peterswald was born on November 28, 1829 in Jamaica and was baptized on February 19, 1829 in St. Mary Parish, Jamaica. He was a William John Peterswald was Commissioner of Police of the Colony of South Australia 1882–1896..

Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880

  • Christening: Feb 19 1829 - St Mary, Jamaica
  • Parents: William Peterswald, Jane Peterswald

William married Emily Mary de Ste Croix on March 11, 1852 in Saint Helier, St Helier, Jersey. Together they had the following children:

He died on August 30, 1896 in North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia and was buried after August 30, 1896 in North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, City of Prospect, South Australia, Australia.



Widespread regret, will be felt at the death of Mr. William .John Peterswald, the Commissioner of Police, which occurred on Sunday afternoon, there are few names better known in South Australia than his. hiring the many years he presided over the Police Department he served the State faithfully and well, and became one of the most popular officials in the Civil Service, respected alike for his uniform courtesy in the fairness and impartiality which characterised all his dealings with the large body of men tinder his control. Mr. Peterswald possessed a remarkable memory; which served him in good stead in connection with the apprehension or prosecution of criminals, and it is said "he could remember the sir detail of a case heard years ago. He took a special interest in the Criminal Investigation Department, and was very proud of the members of that branch, he was truly the father of the force, and any member'of it who had a grievance knew that when making his statement to the Commissioner ho would be treated with courtesy and justly dealt with.

It was only last Friday that was published the annual departmental report, and no one but his family and a few of his more immediate friends were aware at this time of the serious character of the author's illness. For years Mr. Peterswald had been "suffering from diabetes, for which he had boon treated by Dr. Giles. He always looked the picture of health, but he was frequently in a weak state, and ultimately the insidious disease hastened his death. At the opening of the Grand National meeting of the Adelaide Racing Club on last Saturday fortnight he complained to Dr. Giles that ho was troubled with a carbuncle on the back of his neck.

This was an old complaint, and with medical aid it was removed, but two or three days The Late Mr. Peterswald subsequent to this Mr. Peterswald took to his bed, and gradually succumbed to diabetes. His wife and seven children survive him. His sons are—Mr. Ernest Peterswald, who was formerly connected with the Land Office. Mr. Arthur Peterswald, of the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank; Mr. Frank Peterswald, of the Forest Department; and Mr. John Peterswald, who is in the New South Wales police force. One of the late Commissioner's daughter's is married to Mr. W. B. Wilkinson, of the firm of Messrs. Wilkinson Harrison. & Porter.

Mr. Peterswald was born in Jamaica, November 23, 1811, and was thus in his sixty eighth year at the time of his demise. His father was a West Indian planter, where he owned a large plantation, he came of an old Silesian family, being a direct descendant of the Countess von Eickstedt Peterswald, who was one of the progenitors of the present Bismarck family, which the great Iron Chancellor made so famous. The late Mr. PetersWald's grandfather fled to England from Germany (where he held a high position) for political reasons, and settled in Bath. There he married an English lady. He had two sons, John and William, both of whom went to the West Indies, and one of whom (William) was the father of our late Commissioner of Police. When seven years of age young Peterswald was sent to the" Edinburgh Academy to be educated,; and a few years subsequently his parents also went home to Scotland, the emancipation of slaves and other causes conspiring to make such a step advisable.

Young Peterswaid's education was continued at the Military Academy, Edinburgh, and afterwards at St. Peter's College, Guernsey. The family, after living for some time in Scotland, removed to Liverpool, where Mr. William Peterswald died. After his father's death Mr. Peterswald went on the Continent and resided in Paris till 1818. He got mixed up with some political troubles in that city and went over to Jersey, where he remained for some time, and ultimately married Miss de St. Crois, daughter of the greflier or chief magistrate of that beautiful island. In 1852, attracted by the fame of the gold discoveries, he and his wife left Jersey for Australia, arriving in Adelaide in May, 1853, by the ship Charlotte Jane. For the first seven years he was engaged in farming, and losing money, in the Munno Para East district. Whilst in that part of the colony he enrolled, drilled, and commanded a volunteer company of 100 men selected from the district settlers, and the records of the time show that this company was one of the smartest colonial troops of the period. While residing in Jersey Mr. Peterswald had commanded the first rifle company attached to the Channel Islands Militia, and his military tastes were at all times pronounced. For dairy fanning, however, he had not the required experience. As he once remarked to the writer—" I had -no intention of remaining in Adelaide. My first idea was to. go on to Melbourne, but I was persuaded to remain in South Australia, and on the advice of a man who I thought was honestly _ my friend I embarked my money in dairy farming on a large scale, and leased some land on One Tree Hill, near Gawler, from my adviser, paying him a high rental the while. Knowing nothing of farming I naturally became a prey to my employees, and in seven years I was ruined." He then removed to Adelaide and was soon afterwards appointed assistant-clerk to . the House of Assembly. In 1562 Mr. Pettinger, Inspector of Metropolitan Police, was murdered at a sale at Government House by a discharged constable, and Mr. Peterswald applied for and obtained the vacant post under Major Warburton. After four years'service he was obliged to resign that appointment owing to pecuniary difficulties arising out of his dairy farming operations. Two years later he was appointed warden of goldfields, having during the interval been variously employed in temporary situations under the Government.

In 1873, in consequence of the disorganised state of the police force, he was advised to apply for his old position which' Mr. Bee, his successor, had just vacated. He applied and was reappointed. Mr. George Hamilton was then Commissioner. In 1875 he was made superintendent, in 1831 acting-Commissioner, in May, 1882, Commissioner. Since that time his career has been public property, and few public men have been so deservedly popular at once with the general public and bis own immediate subordinates. a He was fully justified in proudly saying that his untiring efforts to advance the police force of South Australia to the foremost rank among the colonial forces were successful, and that he leaves to his successor a body . of . men wild for smartness and efficiency cannot be excelled —such "tall fellows' as George Augustus Sala and _ Samuel Clemens have written or spoken of in highly complimentary terms. For many years he was a very prominent mason, having helped to raise the first Royal Arch Chapter in the colony, but at the time of his death lie was only a private member of the United Service Lodge. The funeral takes place on Wednesday from his late residence in Jeffcott-street, North Adelaide.

The late Commissioner Peterswald had a very large number of acquaintances at Glenelg, and among them were at least two of his most intimate friends. There were many anxious inquiries at the local police-station, and when the news came through with inststuctions that the two particular friends should be made acquainted with the death of the Commisioner, the effect was one of sadness. An Advertiser reporter had a short chat on .Sunday afternoon with a gentleman recognised as the particular associate of the Commissioner's and an ex-Minister of the Crown. The news of the death of the Commissioner though not quite unexpected had affected him (Imply, "by the oath of Commissioner Peterswald," he said, "one of the Jinks of my life has been broken. I remember him o'J years ago when we. were young men in Liverpool together, i le was unmarried then, and we met in social life very frequently. 1 cannot now recollect all that occurred, tint .it the houses of various friends we met and raw a good deal of w h other. His father owned a deal of properly in the West Indies, and I fancy poor Peterswald was burn there, though I am nob certain. As the friend of my life 1 looked upon him as one of the kindest-hearted men that over lived. Any reminiscences .(. could give would only bo of a private nature, but they would tend to show the sterling qualities of a man who has served South Australia well and honestly. In his public career f have always been much interested, not only because ho was my host personal friend, but because I, as a Minister of tho Grown, together with the late Judge Stow, who was also then in the Ministry, were responsible for his appointment as superintendent under the late Commissioner George Hamilton. lie was then captain of a corps of volunteers near Gawler, and that corps was looked upon as the best trained body of men in South Australia.

There was no question that; the late Commissioner Peterswald had a wonderful command over men, he not only had the faculty of preserving great discipline among his troops, but seemed to inspire them with confidence arid satisfaction in his leadership. As it was then, so it has been ever since, his force of police constituted a perfect organisation, and his successor, whoever he may be, will have a very difficult task to administer tho department with the same amount of success. I saw my late companion on Thursday last when he was progressing splendidly, and then tho intimation at a later date that no one would be allowed to see him only introduced the feelings of pain and regret of his that I now experience in consequence death. The late Commissioner was a trusty friend whom it was my delight to frequently welcome to my home.

The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA) - Aug 31 1896

William John Von Peterswald was born 28 November 1829 at Jamaica, West Indies and educated at the Edinburgh Academy, Scotland and Elizabeth College, Guernsey. He commanded the 1st Rifle Company attached to the Channel Islands Militia and arrived in South Australia on the Charlotte Jane in May 1853 He then commenced farming at Munno Para, with limited success.

In 1862 he joined the South Australia Police as Inspector of Metropolitan Police and resigned in 1866 to become Warden of the Goldfields. He rejoined the police in 1874 and rose to the rank of Superintendent. He was appointed Acting Commissioner of Police in 1881 and then Commissioner of Police in 1882, succeeding George Hamilton, in which position he served until his death in August 1896.

For years Peterswald suffered from diabetes, which was the principal cause of his death in 1896. [6] He was accorded with a state funeral, the procession being watched by large crowds of onlookers. In later years Peterswald lived at "St. Heliers", on the corner of Ward and Jeffcott streets, North Adelaide. His wife, Emily Mary Peterswald, who was a daughter of Charles de Ste. Croix, Greffier of the Island of Jersey, died 19 April 1916 at her residence on Buxton Street, North Adelaide, also named "St Heliers".


PETERSWALD, WILLIAM JOHN, Esq. of St. Heliers, Adelaide, South Australia, chief commissioner of Police for the colony of South Australia, b. at Jamaica, West Indies, 28th November, 1829; educated at the Edenborough Academy, and afterwards at Elizabeth College, Guernsey ; resided for a time in Jersey, where he was a captain of Militia, and afterwards left for South Australia. He ra. at St. Heliers, Jersey, 11th March, 1852, Emily Mary, daughter of Charles de Ste Croix, "Grifher" of the Island of Jersey, by Jane, his wife, and has had issue,

  • William Charles, b. at Lea, 26th March, 1853, d. at Adelaide same year.
  • William Ernest, of Adelaide, South Australia, major in the South Australian Militia Force, b. 30th January, 1854; m. 19th April, 1885, Ellen, fourth daughter of Edward Spicer, Esq. of 133, Cannon street, London, and of Adelaide, South Australia, merchant, but has no issue.
  • Arthur Charles Turner, b. at Adelaide, 11th February, 1861, unm.
  • John, b. at Adelaide, 23rd April, 1863, unm.
  • Francis Dumaresq, b. at Adelaide, 14th January, 1868.
  • Emily Jane Mathilde, m. William Birkenshaw Wilkinson, Esq., financial agent, Adelaide.
  • Grace Margaret.
  • Florence Maude.

The Peterswalds were originally a noble family of Silesia, where they resided at the castle of Peterswaldau, in the district of Reichenbach, governed by Arnold von Peters- wald in 1322. The family, which was very wealthy in the first half of the seventeenth century, had come into Franken, Southern Germany, and had been admitted in the knights canton of Rhon Werra. Branches of the family went subsequently to Sweden, Hanover, &c. Carl Friedrich von Peters- wald, royal master of the horse of Great Britain and Brunswick Luneburg, &c, in 1752, son of Maximilian von Peterswald, by his wife, Elizabeth von Kussow on the Hardt, in his will, dated 1752, made his heir the eldest son of his sister, Helene Juliane von Peterswald (who was b. 1680, and m. 1700), by her husband, Friedrich Wilhelm, II von Kickstedt, on condition that he took the additional surname and arms of von Peters- wald. Wilhelm von Peterswald left Germany for political reasons about the year 1770, and settled in Exeter, co. Devon, where he and had two sons, William and John, who emigrated to Jamaica, West Indies, where they possessed an estate named Petersfield, St. Mary, and were successful as planters. The latter, John, d. s.p. 20th November, 1814, at Jamaica, aged 38 years, and the former, William Peterswald, Esq., sometime colonel of the St. Mary's 1st Regiment (West Indies), m. at Kingston, Jamaica, 23rd June, 1823, Jean, daughter of Captain Walter Gray, of the Sutherland Fenciblrs, by Eliza, his wife, daughter of Sir Arthur Nicolson, of Lochend, Shetland, Bart., and d. at Liverpool, 25th August, 1818, aged 72, leaving by her (who was b. 6th November, 1790, and d. at Adelaide, 1868, aged 78) an only child, the present William John Peterswald, Esq.

Arms—Or. on a fesse sa. a boar's head fessewise erased pointing towards the sinister. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet two elephants' trunks erect.

Residence: Residence —St. Ileliers, Adelaide, South Australia.


view all 13

William John Peterswald's Timeline

November 23, 1811
February 19, 1829
Age 17
St. Mary Parish, Jamaica
March 26, 1853
North Adelaide, Adelaide City Council, South Australia, Australia
January 30, 1854
One Tree Hill, City of Playford, South Australia, Australia
January 26, 1856
Yatalla, South Australia, Australia
May 17, 1858
One Tree Hill, City of Playford, South Australia, Australia
February 11, 1861
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
April 22, 1863
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
January 13, 1868
North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia