John Ainsworth Horrocks

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John Ainsworth Horrocks (22 March 1818 – 23 September 1846) was one of the first settlers in the Clare Valley in 1839. He established the town of Penwortham in South Australia.

John Horrocks monument at Penwortham, South Australia
Horrocks first interview (1868) by S. T. Gill

Horrocks was born on Easter Sunday, 22 March 1818, at Penwortham Lodge, near Preston, Lancashire.

In 1846 he mounted an exploratory expedition into the far north of South Australia, aiming for distant hills near Lake Torrens, hoping to find good agricultural land. Among his party was artist Samuel Thomas Gill.

Near Lake Dutton, still short of his objective, Horrocks was accidentally shot in a hunting accident, and so is unfortunately known more for his death than for anything else. His gun fired after the camel he was using lurched, knocking him and causing the weapon to discharge. His injuries were very substantial and included some teeth being knocked out by the bullet. The expedition was abandoned and the party returned to Horrocks' home at Penwortham, where he died of gangrene a month later. He is buried at St. Mark's Anglican Church, which is also located in the town; the camel, who had previously attacked other humans (and a goat), was 'executed' at Horrocks' express wish.

Although Horrocks' expedition thus failed to reach its objective, in 1851 this was achieved by Horrocks' close associate John Jackson Oakden.

Horrocks gave his name to several geographical features in the vicinity of Mount Remarkable and the Clare Valley, such as Horrocks Pass near Mount Remarkable and Mount Horrocks near Clare.[1]

A short biography published in 1906 was derived from Horrocks' diary plus notes written by his sister.[2] There is also an on-line biography.


  1. ^ "PlaceNames Online". 
  2. ^ J. A. Horrocks, or Sixty Years Ago, the Children’s Hour, vol. 18, no. 201, Classes 4 & 5, S.A. Education Dept., 1906, pp 131-137.

See also[edit]