The Bednalls in Australia

At Home in South Australia

The First Two Generations
1853 – 1915

Last updated: 02/08/2008


After 3 months at sea on the barque the Ann Holtzberg, the family arrived at Port Adelaide on the 15th of August 1853.  Etheldreda was 40 years old, William was almost 15, Thomas was 12, and Alice was 7.

Etheldreda later married James Theodore Weeden, and died on 29 June 1882 aged 69, at Kent Town, South Australia.


  William Tompson Bednall early 1900sWilliam Tompson Bednall

William was just two days short of his 15th birthday when he arrived in Adelaide, and three months later had obtained a position with the local newspaper, The Register.

He married Maria Jane Mason on 13th February, 1865, at St Michaels, Mitcham, SA, and they had six Children.  The first four were Ellen born in March 1866 (who died in infancy), Emily born in January 1868, William born in April 1870, and Edward, born in December 1872.

Both William Tompson and William Kendall were known by their initials, WT and WK.

 In 1872 the South Australian Directory records William living at Magill.

In the 1870’s (1874 – 1876), WT went to Darwin and became the Editor of the newly established Newspaper the Northern Territory Times.  He also pursued his keen interest in shells.  It was while he was in Darwin that WT discovered a Murex and a Voluta, which were previously unknown.  Both shells were named after him, and later appeared on his bookplate.

While in Darwin, WT also compiled what is considered to be the earliest known translation of the Larrakia language, consisting of an attestation of 57 words[1].  In January 1875, soon after WT left for Darwin, a fifth child, Ethel, was born, but died in infancy.   William and Maria’s sixth child, Gerard, was born in February 1877, after WT’s return to Adelaide.

In addition to his professional success as a printer and editor of newspapers in both South Australia and the Northern Territory, WT was well known for his great interest and scholarly pursuits in the fields of conchology and heraldry.  He was a member of the Royal society of South Australia, and honorary curator at the South Australian Museum.

WT spent his latter years actively pursuing his various interests.  Widowed and retired, he lived with his daughter Emily and her husband the Rev John Warren at Third Street, Knightsbridge (now Leabrook) SA.  He died on the 25th of July 1915 aged 76.  (A transcript of his obituary notices appear at annexure ???)

WT’s significant legacy included his beloved shell collection which he bequeathed to the South Australian Museum[2], and his extensive collection of book plates which in 1985 was left to the State Library of South Australia[3] through a bequest from his grandson, Maurice Bednall. 


Thomas Blore Bednall

Thomas was 12 when he arrived in Adelaide.  Births deaths and marriages records show that he had two children, both of whom died in infancy. 

His first child was Thomas Bednall, who was born on the 27th of July 1868 in Port Lincoln.  The infant’s mother was Emma Bessell, and the child died in North Adelaide on 29 April 1869, aged nine months.

In 1872 Thomas was recorded in the South Australian Directory as a store keeper at Bordertown. 

His second child was Jessie Lavinia Haines Bednall, and she was born on 21st Oct 1873.  Her mother was Clementina Haines, and the child died on the 12th June 1875, aged 20 months.

Thomas died aged 43 at Adelaide, South Australia, on 28th April 1885, having never married and leaving no surviving children.


Etheldreda Alice Kendall Harper (nee Bednall)

Alice, who had been just 7 years old when she arrived in Adelaide in 1853, married Samuel Charles Harper two days before her twentieth birthday, on 2nd October 1865 at St Mary’s Church, South Road, near Adelaide

Samuel Harper was a printer, and he and Alice had three children.  The first was Etheldreda Mary Henshaw Harper, who was born in August 1866 at North Adelaide.  The second child was a son, Samuel Charles Harper, who was born in June 1869 at Kent town, and died aged 6 in September 1874.  The third child was Florence Irene Harper who was born in January 1881 at College Town

Alice died aged 66, on the 18th of June 1912.  She is buried with her husband in Payneham Cemetery (SA).

[1] "The Rate of Lexical Change in Australia: Evidence from Larrakia” by Paul Black, Northern Territory University – refers to Taplin (1879, pp. 142-52).

[2] The shell collection was for many years on permanent display in the Adelaide Museum, but has in recent years been dismantled and dispersed

[3] The state library has undertaken conservation work on the book plate collection, and it is now housed in their special collection under the call number 090 B724 c


© R. Bednall,  2004