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George Uphill

Born 1821, West Lydford, Somerset, England

Died 6 November 1875 Allendale East, South Australia

[With thanks to Allan Sharman, Julie Stokes, Joy & Deb Hosking & all at the Uphill Family Reunion, October 1999]


NOTE:  April of 2010  marked the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of the town of Port MacDonnell, South Australia.  The Council of Grant  funded the publication of a book out-lining the history of the pioneer families of the area.  For more information visit:



The Colony of South Australia was undertaken with free settlers, the first of whom arrived in 1836.  A Land Fund, the Wakefield Plan, was established to finance the settlement.  The theory was based on selling the land in South Australia to finance the fares to bring out labourers and servants to work the land and service the community. The incentive was the promise of opportunities for all workers to improve their status and establish themselves in the colony.

George UPHILL arrived in South Australia aboard the "Prince Regent" in 1839. His place of residence on his application for passage is stated as Bath.  He brought with him on the voyage a Bible bearing the following inscription:

"For George Uphill. The Gift of his affectionate friend Wm. Barrett who wishes him all the happiness this blessed Book is calculated to bestow - Bath May 24th 1839"

According to Ronald Parson's 1988 edition of "Migrant Ships for South Australia 1836-1860", the Prince Regent sailed from London on the 6th of June 1839, with Captain William Evans at the helm, and arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia on the 25th of September 1839. The vessel is described as weighing 528 ton in old measurement with 3 masts, of wooden construction and measured 117ft. 1in. by 32ft 4in. by 5ft. 11in. She was built in 1811 at Jarrow, registered in Plymouth, owned by Pope Bros., and used as a convict Transport in 1820, 1824, 1827 and 1830.

After his arrival in South Australia, the next official record of his movements lists George as one of the first police officers stationed at Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills. The first was Sergeant Swaffer, who had arrived in the colony aboard the "Buffalo". There was no police station in Mount Barker at the time. Trooper George Uphill is said to have slept in a hollowed out gum tree. The old tree served many purposes over the years - as George's bedroom, as a carpenter's shop, and as a family home for the Watts family while their new home was being built. The tree was 37 feet around and 35 feet high. Unfortunately, it has long since been cut down. Sergeant Searcy was the first officer to be stationed at the police station, which was built in 1842, near to where the old police station stands in Gawler Street today.

By 1851, according to South Australian Land Titles Office records, George had land holdings in and near Mount Barker.  In May of 1853 he entered into a five-year lease of the Crown Hotel, then owned by John Gloag, in Hutchison Street Mount Barker at an annual rental of £208, payable in quarterly instalments. Today the hotel is an antique store.

In April of 1854 George sold Lot 43 in the Town of North Armagh (Mount Barker) to Alfred Morse Holland for the sum of £3 2/- and mortgaged a large number of lots in the same area to William Morris Hutchinson for the sum of £100. In January of the same year, at the age of thirty, he married Sarah Emma Harmer,  at Margaret Street North Adelaide, according to the rites of the Church of Scotland.  His occupation at the time was stated as Innkeeper. The officiating Minister was Rev. Robert Haining. The witnesses were R. Hawkins and Charles Masters.

In May of 1855, George purchased Lots 181 and 182 in the township of Mount Barker from Charles Masters for the sum of £600. In December of that year, when he leased an eighty-acre property near Mount Barker from Richard Bullock Andrews at an annual rental of £60, his occupation is stated as Victualler.

In May 1858, he mortgaged Lots 181 and 182 and Mount Barker Lots 179, 180, 203 and 203, which he had acquired in the meantime, for the sum of £550 to James Ballantyne Manford.  In July 1859 he entered into a lease of the property which became the Globe Hotel, then owned by C. Tompkins, for a period of seven years. George had large brick stables built onto this building in 1860 to house coach horses that were changed there. The building later ceased to be a hotel and became a residence, being known variously as "The Acacias" and "Milton House".

On 28 February 1865, George purchased Lot 326, in the MacDonnell County of Grey (Allendale East) comprised of 60 acres, the property which he called "Hawthorndene", from Joab Beagley for the sum of £125. He gave a two-year mortgage of £90 to Peter Dowding Prankerd to assist with the purchase. The mortgage was discharged in 1869, the debt having been repaid.

The date on which George arrived permanently at Allendale East appears to be about 1865, although there is evidence that he was still involved with the Crown Hotel in Mount Barker in 1870. George and Sarah's son William James Barrett Uphill was born at Allendale East in 1866 and two younger children, Frank and Emily, were also born there in 1869 and 1872.  It is quite probable that George sub-let the Crown Hotel after moving to Allendale which his lease allowed.

Sarah's father, James Harmer, moved with them to the farm at Allendale. Sarah's mother, Mary, is believed to have been killed in horse dray accident in the Adelaide Hills near Mount Barker in 1855. One of Sarah's brothers was a butcher at Port MacDonnell.

After only nine years in Allendale, George died on the 10th of December 1875 at the age of 55. His youngest child Emily was not quite three years old. 

The "Border Watch" of Wednesday November 10, 1875 reported:

"Port MacDonnell - Our Correspondent informs us that the remains of Mr. Geo. Uphill were interred at Port MacDonnell yesterday (the 8th). There was a large attendance. The Rev. Mr . Goldsmith officiated at the grave. Mr Uphill in the earlier days of the colony lived at Mount Barker and for the last eight years he has lived near Allendale. He was much respected and a great many who knew him in times gone by were present at his funeral. The deceased during the past year has failed very much, and has had several fits. It was in one of these fits that he expired suddenly last Saturday afternoon."

Letters of Administration of George's estate, issued on 10 December 1875 in Adelaide, were granted to his widow, Sarah Emma Uphill of Allendale.

George and Sarah had seven children.  Of those who survived infancy many of their descendants still live in the Mount Gambier, Allendale and Port MacDonnell areas:

  • Their eldest son Robert George Uphill, born 1858 Mount Barker, married Annie Livingston in 1885 and had seven children. The family moved to Western Australia in about 1888.

  • Their daughter Elizabeth Uphill, born 1863, married John James (Jack) Butler.  Elizabeth died in 1890 age 27 and is buried with her father at Port MacDonnell Cemetery.  Elizabeth and Jack Butler had three children.

  • William James Barrett Uphill, born 1866 Allendale, married Margaret Livingston (the sister of Annie who married his older brother Robert) in 1887 in Allendale – they had seven children. 

  • Frank Richard Uphill, born 1869 Allendale, married Ellen Lydia Embury in 1891 in Mount Gambier. Frank and Ellen had seven children.  Frank died during Active Service in Syria in October 1918.

  • Emily Mary Uphill, born 1872 Allendale, married Isaac Wallace in Mount Gambier in 1900.  Emily and Isaac had five children.  Their son, Charles Norman Wallace, received the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1998 for Services to the community of Port MacDonnell and District through the RSL of Australia.

George Uphill is buried at Port MacDonnell Cemetery.  His widow Sarah, nee Harmer, remarried three times after the death of George.  She died in 1928, age 94, and is buried at Port MacDonnell Cemetery as Sarah ROSSELL.


George & Sarah Uphill circa 1866 


  • Julie K. Stokes, 'Mount Barker South Australia' (Off Site)
  • South Australian Land Titles Office - Memorials
  • Letters of Administration of the Estate of George Uphill
  • The Biographical Dictionary of South Australians
  • Ronald Parsons, 'Migrant Ships for South Australia 1836-1860', (1988 ed.)
  • E.A.. Opie, 'South Australian Records Prior to 1841', Page 67
  • SA Genealogical Society, Source 25, 'Manifests of Vessels Arriving from Overseas 1838 to 1840', Vol. 2
  • Bob Schmidt, 'Mountain on the Plain'


Depending upon which passenger list is consulted, George either travelled to Australia alone, at the age of 20 or in the company of a Sarah Uphill. A passenger list obtained from the South Australian Maritime Museum shows George's occupation as "Police Trooper" which would indicate that he either joined the Police Force prior to his departure from England or emigrated to South Australia with the intention of doing so. A Sarah Uphill is also shown as a passenger on the Maritime Museum's list.

At the South Australian Genealogy Society Library, however, in Source 25, Manifests of Vessels Arriving from Overseas 1838 to 1840, Volume 2, the passengers aboard the Prince Regent are listed and, while George appears, there is no sign of a Sarah Uphill in the ship's manifest. The list obtained from the Maritime Museum may therefore contain an error. (A Sarah DAVIS is listed immediately beneath George's name).

The Register of Emigrant Labourers Applying for Free Passage to South Australia (CO 386/151) contains the following references:

No. 3870 Date: 24 Jan 1839. Geo. UPPILL, Farmer. Residence: Sherborne. Married. Age 26. Spouse Age 21. 2 children, both girls, aged 2 and 10 months. Embarkation 2376.

No. 4976 Date: 21 May 1839. Sarah S. UPHILL, Dairy Maid. Residence: Walworth. Single. Age 24. Embarkation 2821.

No. 5029 Date: 25 May 1839. George UPHILL, Labourer. Residence: Bath. Single. Age 20. Embarkation 2822.

No. 9256 Date: 4 Aug 1839. Charles UPPILL, Carpenter. Residence: Sherborne, Dorset. Age 21. Married. Spouse Age 22. 1 child, a girl, age 11 months.

The register states that there was no charge for children under 2, those 15 and over, who were registered as adults, also travelled free of charge. For children between the ages of 2 and 15, their passage had to be paid by their parents, friends or the Parish.

Early Uniform (South Australian Police)

The winter uniform consisted of navy blue trousers with broad double white stripes down the sides. There was an elastic strap fastening to be fitted under the elastic-sided black boots to the heels of which military spurs were attached.  Silver shoulder knots on a navy blue tunic with silver buttons, patent leather cross-belt with pouch, and double peaked shako - type cap completed the dress. Swords were worn at all times. Later they were discarded except for ceremonial drill.

[From "History of South Australian Police"]