Edward Stirling (politician)

Edward Stirling (1804 – 2 February 1873) was an early settler of South Australia, a member of the Legislative Council, and played an instrumental role in the drafting of South Australia's first written constitution. Edward was the father of scientist Edward Charles Stirling (1848–1919).


Edward emigrated to South Australia around 1840 with his cousin Charles Stirling.[1] He came to South Australia after receiving £1000 from his father, Archibald, who had been a slaveholder on four estates in Jamaica.[2] Edward Stirling was the illegitimate son of Archibald and a Creole woman possibly named Jeanne.[3]

He married Harriett Taylor in 1847; they settled at Strathalbyn, South Australia, and at their home "The Lodge", their eldest son Edward Charles Stirling was born.[4]

He and Grote tried sheep farming in the South-East, with little success, and brought the remaining flock to Lake Alexandrina.[1]

He was, with Thomas Elder, a partner in Elder Stirling and Company before that firm became Elder Smith and Company, which proved profitable.[1]

He speculated, with some success, in the Moonta and Wallaroo mines. He was Director of the South Australian Banking Company from April 1859 to the end of 1864. In 1860 he took over land near Whyalla (SA) now known as Point Lowly from James Chambers and "while he was in occupation he liberated a few pairs of rabbits to breed for sporting purposes. They increased very rapidly, and when he transferred the run to A. D. Tassie [Alexander Drysdale Tassie (1832 -1873), the first British settler of Port Augusta] in 1864 there were great numbers of them there."[5] Like Thomas Austin's release at Barwon Park at about the same time, this comprises a significant early successful rabbit release in Australia. In 1865 he and Harriett, with their two sons John and Archibald and three daughters, returned to England, where Edward joined the London Court of Directors, of which he was chairman at the time of his death.[1]


In September 1855 he contested the seat of Hindmarsh, without success, but was almost immediately appointed as nominated member to the 1855 Legislative Council, and was an elected member of the 1857 Legislative Council. While parliament was in session the family lived at Urrbrae, which he rented from Alexander MacGeorge.

Other interestsEdit

He was a patron of the Strathalbyn Presbyterian Church, and around 1860, before leaving the Colony for England presented that church with a bell-tower.[1]

He and his brother-in-law John Taylor were friends of Catherine Helen Spence.[6]


He married Harriett Taylor on 4 August 1847.[7] Among their children were:


  • The Adelaide Hills township of Stirling was in 1854 named by its developer, Peter Dowding Prankerd (c. 1819 – January 1903), for his friend Edward Stirling.[9]
  • The Mid-North town of Stirling North was at the time of its survey in 1859 named for him.


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Late Mr. Edward Stirling". South Australian Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 5 February 1873. p. 5. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  2. ^ Coventry, C.J. (2019). "Links in the Chain: British slavery, Victoria and South Australia". Before/Now. 1 (1): 35–36. doi:10.17613/d8ht-p058.
  3. ^ "Archibald Stirling the younger - Profile & Legacies Summary". Legacies of British Slave-ownership. University College London. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b Hans Mincham, 'Stirling, Edward (1804–1873)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 200–201.
  5. ^ Richardson, N. A. (1925). The Pioneers of the North-West of South Australia, 1856 to 1914. W. K. Thomas and Co.: Adelaide, p. 2-4.
  6. ^ "The Late Catherine Helen Spence". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 9 May 1910. p. 14. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Family Notices". The South Australian. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 6 August 1847. p. 2. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Family Notices". The Evening Journal. VII (1831). South Australia. 9 January 1875. p. 2. Retrieved 30 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ http://www.stirlingadelaidehills.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33&Itemid=53