Robert Richard Torrens

Robert Torrens (1814–1884) is best known for the the Land Title first introduced in South Australia in 1858 and since spread to many countries. The land Title system is a process whereby the ownership of land is determined by a single deed called a title rather than a collection of documents.torrens
Originally a Land Grant was the only document of ownership, and remained in possession of the owner of the land. Details of successive owners were not recorded. Title to land was transferred by deed, which was handed over to the new owner, together with the title. Since the title itself was not noted, every deed formed part of the chain of documentation proving ownership back to the original Land Grant. If any of these deeds became lost, ownership could no longer be established with any certainty.
In 1857 Torrens introduced his Bill to the South Australian Parliament which was to become the Real Property Act. The system embodied in the Act has been picked up in other jurisdictions within and beyond Australia. The Torrens System creates interests in land by the official act of registration of the instrument in the Register, and the interest of the owner is guaranteed by the Crown subject to certain limited exceptions. This system of land registration provided for each certificate as a title to be in duplicate, with the original being part of the Register and open to search by the public. The single register for each land holding records all details and interests affecting that land such as easements, covenants, mortgages, resumptions, caveats, and subsequent changes in ownership.
Torrens also briefly served as a Premier for South Australia before returning to England in 1863 where he subsequently gained a knighthood in 1872 for serving as a parliamentarian. His works in SA are often the subject of strong debate but while he may not have been the architect of the title system (Dr Ulrich Hübbe, a German settler who had gained a doctorate in law at the University of Kiel based the new system on the one in operation in Hanseatic cities), he certainly steered it through the SA parliament and worked hard to encourage other Australian colonies to adopt the system which was far superior to the previous arrangements and was good enough to remain accepted practice to the present day.
Torrens led a rather colourful life in the colony of SA and at times clearly behaved illegally but also managed to survive any purge! He was initially appointed collector of customs in 1841 and used that office to his own benefit! He pursued an extravagant lifestyle from his home, St Clair, which he had built on 70 acres of land at Woodville and despite his relatively humble post, by the end of 1850 his bank balance was £18,000. Soon afterwards he built Torrens Park on 134 acres at Mitcham. This property was considered to be the grandest and most imposing mansion ever erected in South Australia. While some suggest he had been defrauding the revenue, others claim that it was his use of inside knowledge to speculate successfully in land.
While Robert Torrens may have served the colony of South Australia, he did not give his name to the river that flows through Adelaide. That distinction belongs to his father, Robert Torrens snr (1780–1864), a member of the British Parliament at the time of settlement and the Chairman of the South Australian Colonisation Commission.

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