John Morphett, c. 1834
4 May 1809|
|Died||7 November 1892
Cummins House, Adelaide
Sir John Morphett (4 May 1809 – 7 November 1892) was a South Australian pioneer, landowner and politician.
Morphett was born in London, the second son of Nathaniel Morphett, a solicitor, and his wife Mary, née Gliddon, of Cummins, Ide, Devon, and was educated at Plymouth and Highgate Grammar Schools. At 16 he was an office boy in the employ of a ship broker, Henry Blanshard. He then obtained a position in the counting house of Wilson & Blanshard. At 21 he left for Egypt and worked in the counting-house of Harris & Co in Alexandria. It was here that he met Colonel William Light. He returned to London in 1834, became interested in the South Australian colonisation schemes, and was an early investor in the South Australian Company; he was one of the first who paid £81 for a preliminary land order of 134 acres. With his younger brother George, he set up an agency business and published a pamphlet declaing his intention of migrating to South Australia and his readiness to act for purchasers of land. He also advertised in similar terms in the Globe and Traveller, 30 July 1835. In September 1834 he joined the South Australian Literary Association, and around the end of 1835 he attended the dinner given to honour Captain Hindmarsh's appointment as governor of South Australia.
Arrival in South Australia
On 20 March 1836, Morphett sailed for South Australia in the Cygnet, which arrived at Kangaroo Island on 11 September 1836. On 5 November 1836, the Cygnet arrived at Holdfast Bay. Next day, with Lieutenant Field and George Strickland Kingston, he "discovered" the River Torrens. With others on the Cygnet, he also identified the mouth of the Port River, identified the suitability of Port Adelaide, and visited Port Lincoln with Light. At the crucial meeting on 10 February 1837, he played a decisive role in confirming the choice of Adelaide for a settlement.
On 15 August 1838 he married Elizabeth Hurtle Fisher, the eldest daughter of James Hurtle Fisher (later Sir James), whom he had first met at the meetings of the South Australian Literary Association in London. They were married at Trinity Church, South Australia's first Anglican Church.
As a land agent for the South Australian Company, he secured valuable land for his family and clients; he was energetic, enthusiastic sensible and lucky, and profited greatly from a multitude of land transactions. A Secondary Towns Association was formed in England in 1838, and Morphett became the local Colonial Representative for that Association. In this capacity he often engaged the services of John Hill in exploring for survey sites, while also exploring himself. In May 1839 he paid £4,000 for a Special Survey of 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of land along the Hutt River, and in November 1939 he bought 8,000 acres on the River Murray which became the Wood's Point Estate. During November 1841, as one of the trustees for Lt. Col. George Gawler, Morphett selected land in sections 1553 and 1554 to the south of the Barossa South Survey.
In December 1839, Morphett was elected Director of the South Australian Railway Company. In 1842, he became one of four members appointed by the Crown to assist the Governor, and was also elected Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. Morphett was one of the originators of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society, presiding over the introductory meeting on 24 April 1844. In April 1846, he became a member of the Committee of management of the English Railway Company which proposed to lay a railway along Port Road. He was a director of the Adelaide Mining Company, and also a director of the South Australian Mining Association which owned the Burra mine. When the Adelaide Cricket Club was formed in 1853, Morphett became its Vice-President and his father-in-law, J.H. Fisher, its President.
Morphett was appointed treasurer to the town corporation on 5 December 1840, and on 15 June 1843 was nominated as one of four non-official members of the expanded South Australian Legislative Council. In January 1845 he chaired the meeting called to protest the British government's proposal to send Parkhurst prison boys to South Australia. In September 1846, as a protest against the mining royalty bill being passed by the casting vote of Governor Robe, Morphett and the three other non-official council members left the chamber - in consequence the council was left without a quorum. In August 1851 Morphett became Speaker of the enlarged Legislative Council, and on 9 March 1857 he was elected a member of the legislative council at the first election under responsible government. He was chief secretary in the Thomas Reynolds ministry from February to October 1861, and on 31 March 1865 was elected president of the Legislative Council, a position he held until his retirement. He was knighted on 16 February 1870 for his services to South Australia. In February 1873 he retired from politics and public life. His sons Hurtle and John Cummins took over the running of his properties along the Murray.
Freemasonry filled a great part of Morphett's personal life. He was elected as a member and initiated into the Craft on 27 November 1834 in London when The Lodge of Friendship, a Lodge especially founded to become South Australia's first Lodge, held its very first meeting. Later he rose in position within the Lodge, (which is still in operation), ultimately to become its Master.
He returned to England twice: alone in 1846, leaving Mrs. Morphett at home with four daughters and a son; then in December 1855 with his wife, ten children and two servants.
Morphett died at his home, Cummins House, Novar Gardens, on 7 November 1892. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth, six daughters and four of his five sons.
Morphett had faith in the colony from the beginning: although he realized that for a period South Australia would be regarded as a pastoral colony, depending chiefly on its export of wool, as early as 1838 he had hopes of raising wine, olive oil, figs, maize, flax, silk, rice, indigo and tobacco. Morphett supported Fisher and Gouger in their quarrels with Hindmarsh, later becoming a force in the Legislative Council, and he worked hard for responsible government. He took an active part in the formation of the Literary Association and the Mechanics Institute, and was an early supporter of St Peter's College. He was one of the earliest men to take an interest in horse racing in South Australia, and Morphettville Racecourse was named after him. Also named after him were the suburbs of Morphettville and Morphett Vale, Morphett Street in the Adelaide city centre, and the state electoral district of Morphett.
On 15 May 1838, John Morphett used his preliminary land order to buy 134 acres of land bounded by Pine Avenue, Anzac Highway and Morphett Road, near the present Morphettville race course. On 13 January 1840, he was granted title to the land which he named "Cummins Estate" after his mother's Devonshire farm. He kept sheep and cows, planted fruit trees, vines and olive groves, and cultivated a variety of local and imported trees. A horse lover, he also kept a stud and was involved in racing. (He was one of the original directors of the Morphettville Racing Club, founded in 1847).
Morphett's home, Cummins House, was designed by architect George Kingston. It was sited on the Sturt River and begun in 1842 as a five roomed red brick cottage. It was extended considerably in 1854, and there were further extensions in 1906, 1945, 1977 and 1983. Five generations of the Morphett family lived in Cummins House until 1977, when it was acquired by the South Australian Government. The house's website contains picture galleries of the rooms inside the house, the gardens, and of the house itself.
In 1919, the first sub-division occurred when land south of the Glenelg-North Terrace Railway Line was sold for a new subdivision for returned servicemen's homes. In 1921, the area, which also included that part of Cummins Estate where Cummins House is located, was renamed to Novar Gardens to honour Viscount Novar, (who as Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson was the sixth Governor-General of Australia from 1914 to 1920). Hence, Cummins House is located at 23 Sheoak Avenue, Novar Gardens, South Australia.
A large section of the property was purchased by Immanuel College in 1949. The remaining 32 acres were held until 1963, when ~30 acres, often referred to as "Cummins Park", were sold for housing, leaving 1.68 acres containing the home and the outbuildings.
The fourth generation owner, Hurtle Morphett, offered this residence and land for sale but a satisfactory purchaser was not forthcoming. To ensure that the home would be saved, the SA Government purchased the house on the remaining 1.68 acres in 1977.
In 1982, Immanuel College leased Cummins from the State Government, with the aim of restoring the property for use as a pioneer museum, and as an exhibition and performance centre. The lease was for 5 years. With the assistance of the Cummins Society, the West Torrens Historical Society, and the National Trust, the school spent about $30,000 a year on the restoration of the house from an empty shell. At the end of the lease period, the State government offered the lease to the West Torrens Council, who agreed to take charge of the property "under certain conditions".
Timeline of Cummins House
|1836||John Morphett arrived in South Australia|
|1838||(15 May) John Morphett bought 132 acres of land by the Sturt Creek which he named "Cummins Estate"|
|1838||(15 August) John married Elizabeth Fisher|
|1842||1870||The 5 roomed "Cummins House" was completed and occupied by Mr & Mrs John Morphett and family|
|1854||Extensive additions to house completed|
|1870||1892||(John Morphett knighted.) House occupied by Sir John & Lady Elizabeth Morphett and family|
|1880||North Terrace to Glenelg Railway bisects area between Sturt Creek and Anzac Highway|
|1892||1905||(Sir John died.) House occupied by Lady Elizabeth Morphett and family|
|1905||1936||(Lady Elizabeth died.) House occupied by Mr & Mrs John Cummins Morphett and family|
|1919||First subdivision. Land between Railway line and Anzac Highway sold for a new subdivision for returned servicemen's homes.|
|1921||Part of Morphettville renamed Novar Gardens|
|1936||John Cummins Morphett died|
|?||1963||House occupied by Mr & Mrs George Cummins Morphett and family|
|1949||A large portion of Cummins Estate sold to Immanuel College, leaving 32 acres (of the original 132 acres)|
|1963||(George Cummins Morphett died.) ~30 acres sold for Housing, leaving 1.68 acres|
|?||1977||House occupied by Mr & Mrs Hurtle Cummins Morphett and family|
|1977||1982||Property purchased by South Australian State Government|
|1982||1987||Property leased by Immanuel College. Restoration commences|
|1987||now||State Government offered the lease to the West Torrens Council, who agreed to take charge of the property "under certain conditions"|
John was born on 4 May 1809 in London, England, the second son of Nathaniel and Mary, née Gliddon.
His siblings included:
- George Morphett (1811–1893).
- Married Ann Hitchcock.[who?][where?] in 1835
- Three children born England.
- George arrived in Holdfast Bay, South Australia, on 12 December 1840, aboard the Brightman. 
- He returned to South Australia from England in 1846 on the Enmore, this time with Mrs. Morphett, and their three children. Her daughter Adelaide Sturt Morphett, later Henderson, (7 January 1846 – 18 December 1940) was born during the voyage.
- Fifth child Eustace Morphett born 21 December 1847 in Adelaide.
- Member of the House of Assembly for West Torrens 1860–1861.
- Left the colony for London on the Orient 31 October 1860 and never returned. His resignation from parliament was received in April 1861.
- Director Underground Railways London and Metropolitan Railway Company.
- Died Kensington, London, 19 Oct 1893.
- Nathaniel Morphett (1807–1828)
- Mary Morphett (1813–1830)
|2.||Amy Gawler||Charles William May JP (1831–1873)
Buried with her husband in St. Judes Cemetery, Brighton
|3.||Ada Fisher||Henry (Harry) Lockett Ayers (1844–1905)
|1843–1939|| Harry was the second son of Sir Henry Ayers|
|4.||John Cummins||Mary Frances
|1844–1936|| - 2nd owner of "Cummins"
Mary was youngest daughter of William Sanders
|5.||Adelaide Sturt||George Henderson (1841–1886)
married 1864 St Peter's Church Glenelg SA
|1846–1940|| Lived (and died) in New Zealand|
|6.||George Cooper||unmarried||1849–1868||Died aged 19|
|7.||Violet||1) Reginald Cobb
2) Robert Alfred Stock
|11.||Marian Fisher Georgina||1) Edward Mammatt Colley
2) Frederick Goldsmid Levi
|George Cummins||1876–1963||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||Adelaide||3rd owner of "Cummins"|
|Arthur Hurtle||1877–1916||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||Adelaide|||
|Annie Elizabeth||1879||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||Adelaide|
|Bessey||1880||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||New Glenelg|
|Mary Eleanor||1882||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||Glenelg|
|Lucy||1883||John Cummins||Mary Frances SANDERS||Glenelg|
|Amy Mabel MAY||Charles William May||Amy Gawler||Married George Walpole Leake (1825–1895) in 1893.|
- Hurtle Cummins Morphett, 4th owner of Cummins who sold the property to the State Government for ~$200,000 in 1977. Hurtle is the son of George Cummins Morphett and Violet Alice Morphett (née Anderson), married 1901.
|Audrey Cummins||27 May 1902||George Cummins||Violet Alice ANDERSON||Mount Gambier|
- John Cummins Morphett (1943-), last generation to live in Cummins, is the son of Hurtle Cummins Morphett
- Reece Jennings, John and George Morphett, West Torrens Historical Society
- John Morphett, www.southaustralianhistory.com.au
- 'Morphett, Sir John (1809–1892)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, MUP, 1967, pp 261–262. Retrieved 2009-10-17
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Morphett, John". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Information about "Cummins" and its first owner, West Torrens Historical Society, wtcc.sa.gov.au
- Perry, Dulcie. Sir John Morphett : a South Australian colonist of distinction Cummins Society, Nover Gardens South Australia, 1992. ISBN 0646123262
- J. Stephens, The Land of Promise, p. 49
- About Morphett, Cummins House, West Torrens City Council
- About Cummins, Cummins House, West Torrens City Council
- Floor plan, Cummins House, West Torrens City Council
- Picture Gallery, Cummins House, West Torrens City Council
- Grounds, Cummins House, West Torrens City Council
- Novar Gardens, West Torrens City Council
- Ashley Walsh, John Morphett's Home, 24 May 2009, www.abc.net.au
- Cummins House, maps.google.com
- History, Immanuel College, immanuel.sa.edu.au
- Fiona Baker,Cummins House restored to life, West Side, Messenger Press, August 1985. (Archived by West Torrens Historical Society at http://webcat.wtcc.sa.gov.au/hipres/images/lhimages/317-5.jpg
- Cummins: new lease, Westside Messenger, 1987, Archived by West Torrens Historical Society.
- "Morphett family PRG 239" (PDF). State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- "Late Arrivals". Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 18 December 1840. p. 2. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- "Arrivals". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 21 January 1846. p. 3. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- "Family Notices.". Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904) (SA: National Library of Australia). 24 January 1846. p. 4. Retrieved 9 April 2015. Adelaide Sturt Morphett is later consistently referred to as one of John Morphett's daughters, presumably adopted.
- Statistical Record of the Legislature, 1836 to 2007, Parliament of South Australia, pg.50
- George Morphet (1848–1868), kindredkonnections.com
- http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/25971803 - needs password to access
- Appointments, South Australian Register, 1 February 1868
"Thomas Burgoyne. Esq., of Port Augusta; Charles William May, Esq., of Adelaide; and Pierce Rogers Warren, Esq., of Port Augusta, to be three of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Province."
- Death Notices, The South Australian Advertiser, 18 February 1873
MAY.—On the 17th February, Charles William May, second Master of St. Peter's College, aged 42.
- Marriage Notices, South Australian Register, 25 June 1861
MAY-MORPHETT.-On the 24th June, at St. Peter's, Glenelg, by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Adelaide, assisted by the Rev. J. Stuart Jackson, Charles William May, Esq., of St. Peter's Collegiate School, Adelaide, to Amy Gawler, second daughter of the Hon. John Morpnett, of Cummins, Chief Secretary of the Province of South Australia, and grand-daughter of the Hon. Sir J. H. Fisher, President of the Legislative Council.
- Amy Gawler Morphett, Dictionary of Australian Artists Online
- Birth notices, South Australian Register, 8 April 1873
MAY.— On the 7th April, at Cummins, the widow of the late Charles William May, of a daughter.
- Marriage Notices, The West Australian (Perth, WA), 9 January 1893
LEAKE-MAY.-On Saturday the 7th inst., at St. George's Cathedral, by the Right Reverend the Bishop of Perth, the Honourable George Walpole Leake, Q.C.. M.L.C., to Amy Mabel, second daughter of the late Charles William May, of St. Peters College, Adelaide, S.A.
- List of headstones, St. Judes Cemetery, Brighton, australiancemeteries.com
- Henry Lockett Ayers, familysearch.org
- Ada Fisher Morphett, familysearch.org
- Arthur Hurtle Morphett, Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- George HENDERSON, familysearch.org
- Adelaide Sturt MORPHETT, familysearch.org
- Adelaide Sturt Morphett, familysearch.org This reference gives her birthdate as 23 May 1856. Elsewhere "Adelaide Sturt Morphett" is given as the name of George Morphett's daughter born on the Enmore 7 January 1846.
- James Morphett, kindredkonnections.com
- Death of Notable Pastoralist, The (Adelaide) Advertiser, 19 October 1938
- Charles Alexander Harris (1894). "Morphett, John". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 39. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- George Cummins Morphett (1936) The life and letters of Sir John Morphett, Adelaide : Hassell Press, Limited edition of 100 numbered copies.
- Dulcie Perry (1987) Historic Cummins, Sheoak Avenue, Novar Gardens, Novar Gardens, SA : Cummins Society.
- Cummins Society (1987) Historic Cummins House, Sheoak Avenue, Novar Gardens 5040 : a walk among the heritage trees, Novar Gardens, SA : Cummins Society.
- Dulcie Perry (1992) Sir John Morphett : a South Australian colonist of distinction, Novar Gardens, SA : Cummins Society, with the assistance of West Torrens Council.
- Dulcie Perry (1994) Handbook for guides at Cummins, Novar Gardens, SA : Cummins Society.
- George Cummins Morphett (1876–1963) was one of Sir John's grandchildren, and was the third owner of Cummins.
- Miss Dulcie May Perry (1919–1999), who retired as deputy principal of Brighton High School in 1978, was very active in the various historical societies in the City of West Torrens. She was also the councillor for the Morphett ward (1982–1989).