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 firm, Light, 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 of governor was vacant. He became the first Premier of South Australia on 24 October 1856 as he was the Colonial Secretary on the 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 was published 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 36th and 56th Regiments and 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 Florence 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, an Electoral 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 by Light.
For some reason, Finniss is not acknowledged in the SA Sesquicentennial footpath plaques located along North Terrace in Adelaide.

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