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WILLIAM STRAWBRIDGE, 7TH SURVEYOR-GENERAL of SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Two partial fronts only were found for the same Surveyor-General for South Australia. The first front was addressed to The Surveyor General, Adelaide and it was postmarked with a fine squared circle of MALLALA/ 1/ JY 22/ 03/ S.A (Figure 1).

The second front was identically addressed and the pink ‘ONE PENNY’ stamp of South Australia was postmarked with a squared circle postmark of PETERSBURG/ 2/ OC 10/ 04/ S.A (Figure 2).

William Strawbridge was born in Bristol, England in March 1843 and came to South Australia with his parents in a merchant vessel, the Lord George Bentinck, which arrived in April 1852. He was educated at private schools; Wick’s, North Adelaide, Wylie’s, and the Rev.W.H. Mudie’s at Magill, and completed his education at St. Mary’s College, Geelong, Victoria. He entered the Survey Department as a cadet on June 1, 1862, and after acquiring experiences in all branches of the profession, was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General in December 1886, and then Surveyor-General on July 1, 1894 on retirement of George Woodroffe Goyder. Strawbridge was appointed Chairman of the first Land Board, which was created in 1889, and for several years was Chairman of the south-east, northern, western and central Land Boards.

In these capacities he was compelled to inspect personally nearly every leased section in the State, and the experience thus gained enabled him to deal with 50,ooo applications for reductions or surrenders for perpetual lease during the last 6 years, as required by the various reduction Acts. He also was the Chairman of the Pastoral Board since 1893 as well as Chairman of the Board of the Examiners for Licenced Surveyors, and a member of the Board of Examiners for Cadetships in the Civil Service. In addition he served on or chaired Advances to Settlers’ Board, Public Service Provident Fund, and the Council of the Public Service Association. During the great drought 12 or 13 years ago, Parliament gave him uncontrolled judgment in fixing the rents for land. The strain involved in adjusting the rent for 27,000 lessees was enormous.

His health broke down in 1907 and he left on a recuperative trip to Europe and America, and at his own wish he was appointed a special Commissioner to make enquiries for the Government regarding the Campbell system of dry farming in America and reclamation work in Holland, in view of what was being done in connection with the River Murray swamp lands. On his return he resumed full duties of his office, when illness compelled him to remain absent, and Edwin Mitchell Smith as his deputy, and subsequently became his successor. His administration as Surveyor-General rated highly compared to this department as administered in the other States.

His death was reported in The Register (Adelaide) on 26 June 1911, and this account was taken from his obituary. After a lingering illness, the death occurred at his residence, Greenhill Road, Burnside. He left a widow, three sons and two daughters. It was noted that he "took more than a passing interest in art. He was of a thoughtful, not to say a mystical, turn of mind, and he was one of the pillars of the New Swedanborgian Church. His death at the age of 68 years will be regretted throughout the service and by all who were privileged to know him."

A picture of William Strawbridge is seen in Figure 3.

I acknowledge the assistance of Rose Wilson (State Library of South Australia) in providing a copy of William Strawbridge's photo and text of his obituaey.

 

 
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