George Taplin

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Rev. George Taplin (24 August 1831 – 24 June 1879) was a Congregationalist minister who worked in Aboriginal missions in South Australia, and gained a reputation as an anthropologist, writing on Ngarrindjeri lore and customs.


George was at Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, and educated at a private school in Andover, Hampshire, where he lived with his maternal grandmother. He was trained for the legal profession but had ambitions to serve as a missionary.

He left for Australia in 1849, and arrived at Adelaide in the Anna Maria on 12 October 1849. He worked for a time as a lawyer's clerk, and made the acquaintance of Rev. T. Q. Stow, with whom he boarded while studying for the ministry. While living there he married Stow's servant girl Martha Burnell, who also felt destined for missionary work. In October 1853 they left to help at a mission school in Currency Creek then in February 1854 opened a school at Port Elliot.

The school was taken over by the Education Department, but he stayed on as a teacher until 1859, when the Aborigines' Friends' Association appointed him to teach at Point McLeay, now Raukkan, on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, in Narrinyeri (or Ngarrindjeri) country. The mission prospered and did much good work, despite opposition from local landholder John Baker. Taplin had a keen interest in Ngarrindjeri culture, learned their language, and published Biblical writings in the local dialect. He also wrote on Ngarrindjeri lore and culture, which have great anthropological value. He believed that the best chance for the people to advance was to gain acceptance in European society, and that literacy, adoption of Christian values, and learning trades were essential steps in that process.[1]

In 1868 Taplin was ordained by the Congregational Church and the following year a chapel was completed. He died at Point McLeay (now known by the Aboriginal name Raukkan) in 1879 and was buried in the village graveyard. His position as head of the Mission was taken by his son Frederick William Taplin.[2] His wife, who had endeared herself to the community, died in 1901.[3]


  • Taplin, George, The Narrinyeri Adelaide, 1874
Second, enlarged edition (E. S. Wigg & Son, Adelaide 1878)
  • Woods, J. D. (editor) Native Tribes of South Australia
  • Taplin, George (editor), The Folklore, Manners, Customs, and Languages of the South Australian Aborigines (1879)
This work had just been completed when Taplin died.[2]


Taplin married Martha Burnell (died 1901) on 28 February 1853. They had six children.



  1. ^ "News of the Week". South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail. Adelaide. 28 June 1879. p. 8. Retrieved 16 October 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b "The Point Macleay (sic) Mission". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 30 June 1879. p. 5. Retrieved 16 October 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "The Late Mrs. George Taplin". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 30 May 1901. p. 5. Retrieved 16 October 2014 – via National Library of Australia.