Boyle Travers Finniss
BT Finniss' contribution to early South Australia cannot
be under estimated. He held many government posts in the
colony including that as the first Premier, albeit for
a very brief period.
Finniss first arrived in South Australia in 1836 on the
Cygnet as William Light's assistant. He surveyed
Rapid Bay and assisted in laying out Adelaide. When Light
resigned in 1838, he joined Light in a private surveying
Finniss & Co. As a private company they were engaged
to layout the towns of Gawler and Glenelg and areas around
Port Adelaide. Finniss had a number of other business interests.
In 1840 Finniss bought a water-mill on the First Creek
at Burnside, near his property, Traversbrook,
and adapted it
to grind flour and saw timber. This venture was a financial
failure and on 28 November 1843 Finniss returned to the
public service as the second Commissioner
of Police to April 1847. On 28 April 1847, he was appointed
as Colonial Treasurer and Registrar-General.
Finniss was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1851
and the following year became Colonial Secretary. He headed
the government from late 1854 to mid 1855 while the position
Premier of South Australia on 24 October
as he was
establishment of responsible government. His
position was confirmed by the first elections held in 9
March 1857. but he resigned the office in 21 August 1857
although he remained
in politics until 1862. From 1864, he was the first Government
Resident of North Australia based at Palmerston. This position
proved to be a low point in Finniss' public work.
He wrote The Constitutional History of South Australia that
in Adelaide in 1886.
Finniss was born on 18 August 1807 off the Cape of Good
Hope on the Warbey en route to India. He was the
eldest son of Captain John Finniss, a paymaster for the
Susanna, née Major. Finniss lived in Madras until
he was sent to a school back in England at Greenwich and
the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. After service in the
88th and 56th Regiments, he was posted to Ireland with the
82nd where he married Anne Frances Rogerson from Mullingar
WES in Dublin on 13 August 1835. At Rapid Bay on 1 January
1837, his daughter, Fanny Lipson, was the first non-indigenous
girl born in the colony.
Finniss died at Kensington Park on 24 December
1893, and was buried in West Terrace cemetery.
His first wife had died at Traversbrook on 3
January 1858. He was survived by his second wife, Sophia
Maud née Lynch whom he had married in St Matthew's
Church Kensington SA on 3 May 1878.
BT Finniss is remembered in two rivers named for him, one
in South Australia and the other in the Northern Territory,
District covering the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island,
a Hundred, an Adelaide street and several SA localities:
Finniss (formerly Queens Own Town), Finniss Flat, Finniss
Point, Finniss Vale, Lower Finniss and Finniss Springs. Second
Valley south of Adelaide was originally named Finniss Valley
For some reason, Finniss is not acknowledged in the SA Sesquicentennial
footpath plaques located along North Terrace in Adelaide.