William Beavis Randell: The Man Who Created a Town

William Beavis Randell is the man who MADE Gumeracha a town.

In 1837 while living in Kenton, Devon, England he and his wife together with their 7 children packed up their belongings and boarded the ‘Hartley‘. William was initially going to work in partnership with George Fife Angas, however this didn’t work out, and instead William Beavis Randell was offered a position of overseeing the agricultural pursuits of the South Australian Company, of which Angas was a founder and chairman. He was one of a number of men who travelled on the same voyage who had been employed by the South Australian Company.

The voyage commenced on 11 May 1837 when the ‘Hartley’ barque left Gravesend, London. And after five long months at sea, they disembarked at Holdfast Bay (now Glenelg) on 20 October 1837.

William Beavis Randell (I always use his middle name as there’s so many William Randell’s it helps to distinguish who I’m on about) chose the land in the Adelaide Hills which was to become Gumeracha, as his land. But on arrival in South Australian the Randell family initially lived in a tent, before moving to ‘Park Cottage’ at Hackney. And by 1844 their new home ‘Kenton Park’ at Gumeracha was complete so they moved there.

William Beavis Randell

William Beavis Randell

William Beavis Randell's 1st wife Mary Ann Randell (nee Bear)

W.B. Randell’s 1st wife Mary Ann Randell (nee Bear)

'Kenton Park' house at Gumeracha

‘Kenton Park’ house at Gumeracha

Once there, he set about making a house for his family, as well as establishing a church, a primary school, and in 1852 he subdivided some of his estate and laid out the town of Gumeracha on sloping ground which ‘would be above any possible flood level of Kenton Creek’. He named the primary streets he names Victoria, Albert, David and McLaren.

Note: You’ll note that the Randell family came from Kenton in Devon. Obviously William Beavis Randell had fond memories of this place since he named his estate Kenton Park, the local creek Kenton Creek, the nearby area Kenton Valley, and the big hill near his house Kenton Hill, as well as one of the local bridges Kenton bridge. So┬ádefinitely a connection there.

town plan map of Gumeracha, 1860

town plan map of Gumeracha, 1860

Having been the first person (excluding the native Aborigines) to live in the town, William Beavis Randell was involved in everything, including the local government.

After W.B. Randell’s first wife, Mary Ann died in 1874, he then married Phebe Robbins in 1876, and they had one child.

William Beavis Randell and his ten children, not to mention his grandchildren as well, certainly made their mark not just on Gumeracha, but spread themselves far and wide. There were millers, riverboat captains, storekeepers, politicians, ministers, farmers, a movie star, a world record holder and more. And a number of the Randell’s served their country by signing up for service.

So to help keep track of who-is-who in the family, I decided to create a simple two generation list showing William Beavis Randell, his wives, and their children together with their spouse/s.

William Beavis RANDELL b. 1799 Berry Pomeroy, Devon, ENG d. 1876
m1. 1823 Mary Ann Elliott BEAR b. 1799 Kenton, Devon, ENG d. 1874

1. William Richard RANDELL b. 1824 Sidbury, Devon, ENG d. 1911
m. Elizabeth Ann NICKELS

2. Thomas George RANDELL b. 1826 Sidbury, Devon, ENG d. 1880
m1. Mary SMITH
m2. Isabella Phillips MURRAY

3. Hannah Elliott RANDELL b. 1827 Sidbury, Devon, ENG d. 1930
m. Alfred SWAINE

4. John Beavis RANDELL b. 1829 Sidbury, Devon, ENG d.1876
m. Annie CAVE

5. Elliott Charles RANDELL b. 1832 Kenton, Devon, ENG d. 1908
m. Eliza SMITH

6. Samuel RANDELL b. c.1833 Kenton, Devon, ENG d. 1901
m. Elizabeth LITTLEJOHN

7. Francis Henry RANDELL b. 1835 Kenton, Devon, ENG d. 1899
m. Sarah Ann NICKELS

8. Ebenezer Hartley RANDELL b. 1838 tent in Adelaide, South Australia, AUS d. 1890
m. Ada Caroline FARMER

9. Elizabeth Beavis RANDELL b. 1840 ”Park Cottage”, Hackney, South Australia, AUS d. 1855 died at sea

m2. 1876 Phebe ROBBINS b. 1838 Kettering, Northamptonshire, ENG d. 1922

10. John Beavis “J.B.” RANDELL b. 1877 Gumeracha, South Australia, AUS d. 1953
m. Ella Alice SINKINSON

Mary Ann Elliott Randell's gravestone at Salem Baptist Church, Gumeracha

Mary Ann Elliott Randell’s gravestone at Salem Baptist Church, Gumeracha

Phebe Randell's headstone at Salem Baptist Church, Gumeracha

Phebe Randell’s headstone at Salem Baptist Church, Gumeracha





2 Responses to “William Beavis Randell: The Man Who Created a Town”

  1. Darrel Harding says:

    Hi, my name is Denise Pfeiffer and I am the daughter of Darrel Harding. We wondering if you have any more photos of “The Park”.
    Your mother will know of Darrel and Roma. Roma passed away in 2012.
    I am trying to teach dad the ipad and he has been looking up the history of the Randells. Dad is now 89 years old and is doing well.

    • Brian Randell says:

      Hi Denise I am Brian Randell Hartleys son. I live at Kapunda and would like to see you and your father if possible as dad often spoke of your father and the times they had together growing up. I hope your father is still with us as he is getting on in years now. My mother Melva was really pleased to hear of the photo of Daryl and Hartley in the boat with JB as we hadn’t seen it before. Mum lives in Bundaberg now where two of my brothers Don and Des live. If you are interested in catching up my phone is 0427752433 Cheers Brian Randell

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