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Cornish Settlement in South Australia

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Cornish settlement in South Australia

Cornish are sometimes described as one of the six Celtic Nations. They form part of the worldwide Cornish diaspora, which also includes large numbers of people in the US, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and many Latin American countries. Australians originating from Cornwall are thought to make up around 4.3 per cent of the Australian population and are thus one of the largest ethnic groups in Australia.

Cornish people first arrived in Australia with Captain Cook, most notably Zachary Hickes, and there were some Cornish convicts on the First Fleet, James Ruse, Mary Bryant, along with several of the early governors. South Australia, with its emphasis on being free of convicts and religious discrimination, was championed by many Cornish religious dissenting groups and Cornish people comprised a sizeable proportion of settlers helped establish that colony. Large scale Cornish emigration to Australia did not begin until the 1840s, coinciding with the Cornish potato famine and slumps in the Cornish mining industry. The gold rushes and copper booms were major draws on Cornish people, not just from Cornwall itself, but also from other countries where they had previously settled.

What Profiles To Add?

Profiles where the family originated from Cornwall, England, including "via" other countries and settled in South Australia. You may include their immediate offspring, as a complete family, but it is not necessary. Couples should both be included, as they have different ancestors.

Notable Cornish South Australians

  • George Waterhouse – 6th Premier of South Australia, 1861–1863. 7th Premier of New Zealand, 1872–1873. Born in Penzance in 1824.
  • James Penn Boucaut – 11th Premier of South Australia. A judge and politician, Boucaut was Premier of South Australia three times: 1866–1867, 1875–1876 and 1877–1878. Born in Mylor in 1831, he emigrated to South Australia with his parents in 1846.
  • John Verran – 26th Premier of South Australia, 1910–1912. The 1910 election saw the South Australian division of the Australian Labor Party form a majority government, the first time a party had done so in South Australia. Verran was born at Gwennap in 1856 and when only three months old was taken by his parents to Australia. The family lived at Kapunda, South Australia, until he was eight, and then moved to Moonta where copper had been discovered in 1861.
  • Robert Richards – 32nd Premier of South Australia, 1933. Born in Moonta in 1885, the youngest of twelve children to Cornish miner Richard Richards.
  • Don Dunstan – 35th Premier of South Australia, 1967–1968 and again 1970–79. Born on 21 September 1926 in Suva, Fiji to Australian parents of Cornish descent. He played a crucial role in Labor's abandonment of the White Australia Policy, securing of Aboriginal rights and encouraging a more multi-cultural Australia. His socially progressive administration saw Aboriginal land rights recognised, homosexuality decriminalised, the first female judge appointed, the first non-British governor, Sir Mark Oliphant, and later, the first indigenous governor Douglas Nicholls.
  • David Tonkin – 38th Premier of South Australia, 1979–1982. Born in Adelaide in 1929.

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