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Reynell, Walter (1846–1919)

from Register (Adelaide)

Walter Reynell at his house, 1906

Walter Reynell at his house, 1906

State Library of South Australia, B 58424

One of the most widely known and most greatly esteemed names in South Australia is that of Reynell, and Mr. Walter Reynell who died on Tuesday morning, was a worthy upholder of the traditions of the family. The Reynells came originally from the West of England, and trace their descent, in an unbroken line, from Sir Richard Reynell, who flourished in the reign of Henry II, and who, in 1191, was Sheriff of Devonshire. There have been Reynells who have been archbishops and bishops, sailors and soldiers, and lawyers since then, and among these who fought for their country none was more famous than Lieut-Gen. Sir Thomas Reynell, one of Wellington's men, who distinguished himself during the Peninsular War, and commanded the 71st Regiment (Highland Light Infantry) at Waterloo, for which he received the C.B, the Russian Order of St. George, and was made a Knight of the Order of Maria Theresa, of Austria. That the fighting spirit still remains in the family is attested by the fact that Col. Carew Reynell, while in command of the Australian 9th Light Horse Regiment, was killed at Gallipoli on August 28, 1915, and his brother, Dr. W. R. Reynell, saw considerable service in the early days of the war with the British forces on the western front, until appointed to take charge of a large military hospital in England.

Two years after the proclamation of the colony the late Mr. John Reynell left his home in England, and came to South Australia. He selected a spot a few miles south of Adelaide whereon to make his home, and there founded, in 1838, the pretty little township known to-day by the name of Reynella. Prior to coming to Australia he had spent a considerable portion of his life in Italy and the south of France, and being impressed with the possibilities likely to result from vine, olive, and fig culture in this province, put himself in communication with the late Sit William Macarthur, of New South Wales, and obtained from him a supply of Grenache and Shiraz vine cuttings, with which he planted the first vineyard in South Australia. As soon as the vines came into bearing Mr. Reynell began the manufacture of wine. The first cellars which he excavated are still in use, and are utilized exclusively for the storage of claret. He did not devote his energies entirely to vinegrowing, but reared sheep and cattle on what was known at the time as Reynella Station, and he also went in for farming. He may be regarded as the father of the export wine trade to New Zealand, for he used to make regular shipments of Claret and Burgundy to the Dominion during his lifetime.

Upon the death of Mr. John Reynell, his son Walter took charge of the estate. He was born in South Australia on March 27, 1846, and received his education at St. Peter's College. On leaving school he remained with his father until he was 21, when, as his tastes lay in the direction of squatting, he entered the service of the late Sir Thomas Elder, and was found employment on one of that gentleman's runs at Mount Deception— which name was afterwards changed to Beltana. Mr. Reynell remained there for two years, during which period he acquired an excellent insight into the breeding and rearing of stock, and subsequently became part owner of Tolarno, one of the best-known stations on the Darling. For 17 years he conducted a land agency business in Adelaide, and the knowledge thus acquired, added to his intimate acquaintance with farming, grazing, and viticulture, stood him in good stead when, in 1883, he became manager of Elder, Smith, & Co., Limited, and had to supervise the stock business of that huge concern. In the course of his duties he found it necessary to travel throughout the State, as well as to make periodical visits to the pastoral and agricultural districts of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, and in this connection his remarkable knowledge of stock proved invaluable to his firm. He was a member of the Pastoralists’ Association of South Australia and the West Darling, and was one of the most popular stockmen in the Commonwealth.

About 1910 Mr. Walter Reynell decided to retire from the management of Elder, Smith, & Co., and settle down at his old home at Reynella. His eldest son, Carew, who, like his father, was educated at St. Peter's College, had devoted his energies to the study of viticulture, and had taken charge of the Reynella vineyards. His father therefore determined to devote the remaining years of his life to the extension of the Reynella wine trade, and the result was, that with Mr. Carew Reynell’s energy and his father's exceptional business experience, it rapidly increased. Then came the war, and Carew promptly answered the call of his country and eventually fell a victim to a Turkish bullet. His death was a blow from which his father never recovered. For the greater portion of his life Mr. Reynell took the greatest interest in all manly sports, and was a prominent member of the Polo and Hunt Clubs. He was a director of the South Australian Brewing Company, Limited, and a leading member of the South Australian Vinegrowers' Association. An English gentleman in the true sense of the word, he was esteemed by all who enjoyed his friendship, and his death is a great loss to the State, and especially to the wine trade, whose interests he had so much at heart. He was married at Adelaide in 1877 to a daughter of the late Mr. William Bakewell, and his wife died some years ago. Mr. Reynell has left one son (Dr. Walter Rupert Reynell) and three daughters, one of whom, a clever artist, resides in England.

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'Reynell, Walter (1846–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/reynell-walter-1659/text1772, accessed 22 October 2019.

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