John Finnis (captain)

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S. T. Gill Captain John Finnis

John Finnis (3 December 1802 – 13 August 1872), generally known as "Captain Finnis", was a seaman who is remembered for his association with Charles Sturt in the early days of South Australia.

History[edit]

Finnis was born in Dover, a son of Gilbert Finnis and his wife Elizabeth Finnis (née Nash). He qualified as a mariner, and after a few years as a working captain, in 1831 with Joseph Montefiore purchased the barque Elizabeth, in which he spent five successful years whaling in the southern seas.

In September 1838, he, with Captain Charles Sturt, Giles Strangways and George McLeod (a Norfolk Island friend of Sturt) brought 400 cattle overland from the Hume River.[1][2] In 1839 Finnis, with William Hampden Dutton and Duncan McFarlane, purchased 4000 acres (the Mount Barker Special Survey, the first such), to the chagrin of John Barton Hack, who was squatting there and had no intimation of the Special Survey. The land was used to fatten their cattle for sale, and settle 39 German families.[3] brought to Australia by George Fife Angas on the Zebra (Captain Hahn) and Catharina (Captain Schecht). The following year he drove 10,000 sheep from New South Wales to Adelaide with Nelson and John Tooth,[4] then supervised several later musters.

In 1843 he returned to the sea, chartering the Joseph Albino to bring goods from New Zealand and by the return journey export wheat and other commodities.[5] He then purchased the ship and made other voyages, but the Joseph Albino was impounded in America with no redress.[6]

He died at his home in Franklin Street, Adelaide.

Family[edit]

In Sydney, on 23 March 1832, he married Luduvina Rosa Da Silva, the widow of Colonel Charles Cameron (1779-1827),.[7] She died in Adelaide on 21 August 1856.[8]

On 3 September 1856, at his home in Franklin Street, Adelaide, Finnis married Mary Ann Russell, a daughter of his sister. The Rev. James Pollitt was charged under Canon Law, on the information of G. S. Kingston, of officiating at a clandestine marriage within the Anglican Church's prohibited bounds of consanguity, and had his licence suspended for a year.[9] They had two sons, one of whom John Mercer Finnis ( – 2 April 1909) survived to adulthood, and whose son, Harold Finnis, was a longtime secretary of the R.A.& H.S[10]

Legacy[edit]

The State Library of South Australia has a portrait of Finnis by S. T. Gill[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Capt. John Finnis pt.1". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 17 April 1925. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Capt. John Finnis pt.2". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 24 April 1925. p. 10. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "South Australia.". The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 18 February 1839. p. 3 Edition: Morning. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Advance Australia". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 4 July 1839. p. 2. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Local News". Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 29 August 1843. p. 2. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  6. ^ H. J. Finnis, 'Finnis, John (1802–1872)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/finnis-john-2043/text2527, accessed 14 February 2013.
  7. ^ Daughters of Rosa and Charles were to marry William Hampden Dutton, George Strickland Kingston and Dr. George W. Bennett of Sydney.
  8. ^ "Charles Cameron Kingston". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 4 December 1922. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Synod of the Diocese of Adelaide". Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 5 December 1856. p. 5. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Personal and Anecdotal". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 18 August 1928. p. 2. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Charles Cameron Kingston". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 4 December 1922. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2013.