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Walter Duffield (1816–1882)

Mr. Walter Duffield, J.P., for many years an influential colonist and member of our legislature, died at his residence, Para Para, near Gawler, on Saturday, Nov. 4. The deceased gentleman arrived in the colony more than forty years ago, and during the long period that has elapsed since then has retained the respect of great numbers of people who knew him, and few people were better known than he, intimately associated as he was with the staple industries, the commerce, and the politics of the country. Not long after his arrival Mr. Duffield took charge of Mr. Jacob Hagen's estate at Echunga, and was one of the first manufacturers of wine from the produce of the South Australian vineyards; and in those early days of the industry now coming into importance he sent a sample home to the Queen, but what Her Majesty thought of it we are unable now to say. It was not long before Mr. Duffield embarked in more profitable enterprises. With that foresight and sagacity that distinguished him he perceived that the principal trade and most of the sericulture of the colony lay to the north of Adelaide, and he removed to Gawler, where he commenced business as a miller and laid the foundation of his fortune. There he has resided for more than thirty years, and besides being a business man of inexhaustible energy devoted a great amount of his time to public affairs. He entered into squatting speculations which were as successful as his other ventures. At one time he owned considerable property in Gawler, which he sold at a large profit, when that town felt the impetus given to almost all parts of' the colony by the flood of prosperity succeeding the discovery of the Victorian diggings. The deceased gentleman was a keen politician, and took a prominent part in the determined contests in Yatala in 1851 which resulted in the return first of the late Chief Justice (then Mr. Hanson, leader of the bar), and subsequently the late Mr. William Giles, both in opposition to State aid to religion. This last election settled the question of church grants for ever, and when it is recollected that elections then were by open voting, and that the successful candidate only won by a majority of three votes, the excitement that prevailed may be imagined. Such contests did not hinge exclusively upon the question of State aid to religion, but paved the way for our present constitution, under which the first Parliament was held in 1857. On March 9 of that year Mr. Duffield was elected as one of the members for Barossa, and he continued to represent that district in the Assembly for eleven years, when he retired from parliamentary life for a time. In April, 1870, he was again chosen by that constituency, and served in the Lower House through one Parliament. In 1873 he was elected a member of the Legislative Council, and held his seat till, several years ago, ill health rendered it necessary that he should retire altogether from public life. As a politician he was independent and fearless, and never shrank from taking what for the time was the unpopular side of a question. During his long career Mr. Duffield filled many public positions with credit. He has been a member of the Central Road Board, member of a district council, a bank director, and his shrewdness and business knowledge rendered him a useful magistrate. He was also a leading member for many years of the South Australian Agricultural and Horticultural Society, and for years his great knowledge of farming and live stock led to his services being frequently called into requisition as judge at agricultural shows in Adelaide and various parts of tbe colony. He was a valuable supporter of the Gawler Institute, and was known for his liberality in the support of religious movements and institutions, particularly in connection with his own denomination, the Congregational. For a long time Mr. Duffield has been altogether incapacitated for business of any kind, and his condition has been such that his decease could cause no surprise to his friends. He leaves one son (a member of the firm of Duffield & Co.) and several daughters, one of whom is the wife of Dr. Thomas, of this city.

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'Duffield, Walter (1816–1882)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Walter Duffield, c1870

Walter Duffield, c1870

State Library of South Australia, B 10776

Life Summary [details]


Great Baddow, Essex, England


5 November, 1882 (aged ~ 66)
Gawler, South Australia, Australia

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