Thomas Turner (c1826-c1863)

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Thomas Turner
Copy of 436 425 Thomas Turner Elizabeth Rowe

Thomas Turner and wife Elizabeth.

Sex: Male
Birth: c 1826
Death: c 1860 - 1863, Darling River, NSW?
Spouse/Partner: Elizabeth Rowe
Marriage: 5/12/1850 Adelaide, South Australia

Thomas Turner is currently a man of mystery. This profile has been collated from sources relating to his wife and children.

Thomas was born in approximately 1826. We do not know if he is of Australian birth or from overseas. We do not know the names of his parents, or if he had any brothers and sisters. All we have is a date.

There are several Turner families existing in South Australia around Thomas’s time who appear to keep ‘bumping into’ Thomas's family - living nearby or crossing paths through interconnected relatives. The family of John Fifield Turner is one of particular note. Whether there is a distant, obvious, or no connection between the families remains to be seen.

The west coast of South Australia and Western Australia are two areas held in high esteem by descendants of Thomas, in particular his two surviving sons. Where their dreams and desires to go to the west is unknown, but is it possible that this idealism came from their father? The reason the suggestion is made is that the most likely candidates for our Thomas Turner appear to have come from a Westerly direction. A ‘Mr. Turner” arrived in Adelaide on the PETREL, a cutter from Pt. Lincoln on 3rd March 1848. Another ‘Mr. Turner’ arrived on the JANE & EMMA, a cutter from Pt. Lincoln on 31st January 1849, this time described in both the South Australian and Register newspapers. There are approximately two other potential ‘Thomas Turners’ that could be our Thomas. Wherever he may have come from, we know Thomas was in South Australia by May 1850.


Thomas’s trade was a sawyer, so a new colony with a lot of land to clear must have appealed to him. It was his trade when he married on 5th December 1850, at Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide. This is our first official record of his existence. He was aged 24 and his bride, Elizabeth Rowe, was aged 21.

Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of John and Julihanna Rowe. The Rowe family had come from the Ruan Lanihorne & Gwennap area of Cornwall in 1840 on board the Java, when Elizabeth was only 10 years old. Her father was a miner, and after several years trying a variety of work around Adelaide and suburbs, John settled as a farmer at Little Para, part of Golden Grove. It was here that Elizabeth spent her youth.

Turner rowe marriage cert

Marriage certificate of Thomas and Elizabeth

Witnesses to Thomas and Elizabeth’s marriage were Julihannah Rowe (either Elizabeth’s sister or mother, signing with an X) and an unknown Thomas Brown. It is assumed that Thomas Brown was a good friend of the groom, and it should be noted that a ‘Mr. Brown’ was on board the PETREL with a ‘Mr. Turner’ when it arrived from Pt. Lincoln. Elizabeth was 6 to 7 months pregnant at the time of the marriage, and their first child (born in 1851) was named after the unknown witness at the marriage.

Little ParaEdit

At the time of his son’s birth, Thomas was a farmer at Little Para, possibly working on land given by or belonging to his father-in-law. Little Para is located on a fertile strip of foothills watered by natural springs and the Little Para River. Golden Grove farmers were engaged in harvesting grain and hay, running sheep and dairy herds and working extensive orchards and vineyards. As primary producers they were vitally involved in the supply of food to city dwellers, since their lands were located only 18kms north east of Adelaide, and their produce was sold through the Adelaide East End Markets or the Gepps Cross Abattoirs. Thomas and Elizabeth had their farm at the time the local township was just being established.


William turner birth cert

Birth certificate of William Turner

A year and a half later, Thomas and Elizabeth had their second child, a daughter named Elizabeth Ann. Elizabeth Ann lived only 6 months however, and at the time of her death in January 1853, the family was living at Port Adelaide in an area known as Queenstown. Thomas had returned to his original occupation of sawyer and must have found steady work as the family were still in the Queenstown area in April 1854 when their third child, William, was baptised.


Jane turner birth certificate

Birth certificate of Jane Turner

The two years between April 1854 and May 1856 are unknown. The next record we have of the family is on the 24th May 1856, when their fourth child, Jane, was born in Canowie, north east of Burra and little more than a merino stud at the time. The birth was in fact not registered until two months later, when the informant Henry Price made his way to the nearest registry office. All we can assume is that with Thomas’s occupation as sawyer, the family moved north to areas where work was readily available to him, and new areas required to be cleared. It would seem that the family moved around quite often at this time, as when their fourth child died two years later, the family was located at Redruth in Burra, and it was here that their daughter was buried.

Jane turner death cert

Death certificate of Jane Turner

Upper WakefieldEdit

The next official record we have of Thomas Turner’s existence is the birth of his 5th child, James, on 16th November, 1858. By this time, the family was living in Upper Wakefield, which was a name for the broader area around Auburn in the lower north, near slate quarries and vineyards. At the time of his son’s birth, Thomas was still employed in his trade as sawyer.

James turner birth cert

Birth certificate of James Turner


From this point onwards, the history of Thomas Turner becomes even more complicated. Elizabeth’s sister Catherine Rowe married Peter Francis Miller on 30th September 1859 at the ‘residence of Thomas Turner, Oladdie’. Oladdie was an out-station of Pekina Station, in the Carrieton District Council area, further north than Canowie. The Oladdie homestead was built on the bank of Oladdie Creek and Fred Frost was the manager of the out-station at the time. With the trade of a sawyer, we can only assume that Thomas was employed by the station in some capacity.

Adelaide Observer 07.03.1863

Article from the Adelaide Observer, 7/3/1863.


It appears that Thomas and family may have moved back to the Salisbury area by 1860. Several newspaper articles from the Adelaide Observer in February and March 1863 indicate that Thomas left the family in Salisbury in August 1860 to go to the Snowy River diggings. He may have been in contact with wife Elizabeth up until he reached the Darling River, because the article states that he was "Last heard of at the Darling River". He was never seen or heard of again after that, and the articles were placed continually in the Adelaide Observer through the month of March, requesting that anyone contact Elizabeth in Salisbury to advise her of his whereabouts.

Register notice teague turner marriage

Notice in the Register newspaper about Elizabeth's second marriage

Wife's Second MarriageEdit

The reason for the placement of the newspaper articles in the early months of 1863 become clear with the next official record we have of the family - Elizabeth’s second marriage. On the 11th August, 1864 (some 5 years after the marriage of Elizabeth’s sister at Oladdie and 4 years after the disappearance of her husband) Elizabeth Turner (nee Rowe) married for a second time to Thomas Teague, a farmer of the Salisbury area. Elizabeth was probably required to ascertain with some certainty that her husband had disappeared before marrying again, hence the delay in the missing person's notices not being placed until 1863. It appears that Thomas had disappeared without a trace on his way to the diggings.

Elizabeth and Thomas Teague were married in the Bible Christian Mission House at Gawler River and required a special licence to get married. During this period in history, special licences were only usually required if the bride was under-age. This was definitely not the case with Elizabeth, so we can assume that no official record of Thomas Turner's death, and Elizabeth without official status as a widow, a special license was required. We are left to wonder if Thomas’s disappearance was deliberate, or a pure accident of fate. When Elizabeth and Thomas Teague married, their current marital status was not quoted on the certificate.

Further research will be required to determine the fate of Thomas Turner on his way to the Snowy River diggings.


Name Birth Death
Children of Thomas and Elizabeth Turner

Thomas Brown 11/2/1851
Little Para, South Australia
Fullarton, South Australia

Elizabeth Ann 27/6/1852
Little Para, South Australia
Queenstown, South Australia

William 6/12/1853
Port Adelaide, South Australia
Crystal Brook, South Australia

Jane 24/5/1856
Canowie, South Australia
Redruth, South Australia

James 16/11/1858
Upper Wakefield, South Australia
Streaky Bay, South Australia


  • Birth, Death and Marriage certificates for South Australia
  • Baptisms at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide
  • Register Personal Notices
  • Carrieton in the Gum Creek Country, compiled by the Carrieton Centenary Book Committee, 1978

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