Place Names of South Australia - A
Ayers, Hundred of
NomenclatureIn the County of Stanley, proclaimed on 17 December 1863. Sir Henry Ayers, MLC (1857-1893). Born in Hampshire, England in 1821 he arrived in the Fairfield in 1840. He became manager of the Burra mine in 1845.
In September 1848 there was a strike at Burra and the ring-leaders were dismissed and their names blacklisted with other mining companies. The mine labourers' wages were reduced and, from Adelaide, Henry Ayers addressed the Burra managers:
- What fools you must be to pay ore dressers 30 shillings a week; if you cannot procure men at 21 shillings I will send you as many as you require, for there are hundreds of men starving in Adelaide.
George F. Loyau, in his two works which tend to glorify his subjects, said of Ayers: 'Throughout his career [he] endeavoured to do much for the public good', but mentions no specific instance of his benevolence.
- He was five times Premier of South Australia from 1863 to 1873, later moving to the Upper House. In an address to the 'Old Colonists Association' he spoke of South Australia as a country 'flowing of [sic] milk and honey' to which the Labor movement responded:
General NotesThe editor of the Register makes the following comments on 5 October 1868, page 2f:
It was said, among other unpleasant things, that the Ayer's ministry had been "hardly more successful as critics than as constructors". Their Treasurer has given us posthumous evidence that the remark was far more than true than we could have ventured to suspect.
In the Council he is far too much like the head-boy at school who is far beyond the reach of competition, and who, because he has no equals, thinks himself a cleverer fellow than he really is...
After watching [his] career for many years I have come to the conclusion that as he has always been a waiter upon other people's enterprises, having as far as is publicly known never done anything to assist in developing the resources of SA. So also in politics, he is a waiter upon other people's ideas... like most men of detail, he is deficient in any work requiring originality of thought or boldness of conception... As to land reform; anyone who has studied our Parliamentary proceedings must know that Sir Henry Ayers held out against liberalising our system until resistance was no longer possible if he would win or retain office, and then life-long convictions gave way to love of power...
(Also see Register, 30 December 1875, page 6b.)
I laid my hand on Hansard and began to read the speeches of Sir Henry Ayers to satisfy myself of his consistency and in less than 20 minutes was comfortably asleep. I slept fully six hours, so powerful had been the dose; result - sciatica all but gone and I am now quite free from the plague. It has been spitefully said that Sir Henry Ayers is not a consistent man, but this is a libel. Hansard proves the very reverse of this. It is therein shown that during the whole of his career he has ably and consistently opposed every move forward, every progressive tendency, until the exigencies of office have compelled him to respect public opinion... He has told us that public opinion must be totally disregarded when the question affects the propertied class...
Had the Legislative Council not been blinded by their overweening conceit they would have seen, when the Bill was before them, how necessary were the [land] transmission clauses to prevent a possible or even probable injustice being done... Yet the Council, led on by Sir Henry Ayers, pooh-poohed the whole thing... Without their opposition the law would have been altered to meet the case in point...
(Advertiser, 25 February 1876, page 2f.)
Does he think the people of South Australia are like the Irishman's pig, and that in order to get them to go forwards it is necessary for him to urge them with all his might in the opposite direction.
(Observer, 1 July 1876, page 3b.)
If they read the speech of... (Sir H. Ayers) they will rise from the process with an unsatisfied feeling. He has stated very little that they can understand, that is worth understanding, and, as a matter of fact, very little which will help them... He has told them much indeed that they did not know before, and much more than they will care to receive at his hands when they understand the full force of his benevolent intentions on their behalf. His speech was evasive in all its moods and tenses... what the country has got is a baby of Sir Henry Ayers's, which can neither walk nor talk, nor be brought into any useful condition by its nurse... his only wish is to make the Bill workable. If it ever becomes so his share in it will be very small indeed. With all his ingenuity... he has only succeeded in spoiling it... the ill-considered mash... owes its present state to Sir Henry Ayers himself...
(Advertiser, 21 September 1876, page 4d.)
He has deliberstely unsaid all that he had been saying in opposition, until it became difficult to listen to him without a sense of degradation...
(Observer, 25 November 1876, page 3b.)
... everything must be sacrificed to Sir Henry Ayers, He is, however, fast playing himself out. Having exhausted the forbearance of his fellow councillors, he relied upon the obedience that he imagined would be rendered by his colleagues in the Assembly. [There has been] a wretched wate of time and the clumsy and undignified struggling and dodging to which Sir Henry has resorted.
(Express, 20 July 1877.)
We deemed it most pernicious that one man should have such an all-powerful sway over either branch of the legislature as Sir Henry has acquired, and in proportion to the strength of his position and the extent to which it was abused, was necessarily the vigor with which an independent Press exposed and discussed such a disastrous condition of things. As a private member, Sir Henry Ayers, if he chooses, can be of some service to the country and may to some extent make atonement for his past errors.
(Advertiser, 26 July 1877, page 4e.)
The sooner the present government gets out of office the better for the working class and the country at large... Sir Henry Ayers ought to lose [his seat]... lets have some better men in... not men who profess one thing and do another; we have had enough of them...
Seeing how lamentably how Mr Colton and Sir Henry Ayers have failed as prophets we should be foolish indeed if we did not take warning by their example.
Then Sir Henry clasped his office chair
In hopes he saved might be,
And sent off notes to Hawker and Mann
Approving their policy.
His past words were eaten by him once more,
His vamped-up Bills laid by,
And they saw he was ready to join the team,
Whoever to drive might try.
Unless different tactics are speedily adapted he will find his co-members in such open revolt that he will be utterly unable to carry on the business of government... and will be forced into an ignominious retirement from the leadership of the Council - a position for which he has of late shown so little aptitude.
[He] is capable of descending to a lower deep of political juggling than the lowest deep which it was thought he had reached.
26 June 1877, page 4d for further editorial comment and
1, 8, 22 and 25 August 1877, pages 4e, 5e, 5e and 7a.
"The Upper House and Sir Henry Ayers" is in the Express,
25, 26 and 31 July 1877, pages 2a, 3b and 2b,
29 August 1877, page 2f,
28 September 1877, page 3c,
8 September 1877, page 13b.
A concerned voter informed the Register on 25 August 1877 at page 7b that in his opinion Sir Henry Ayers had:
Not been true to any principle he started with, except that the labouring classes shall pay the taxes and property go free.
28 July 1877, page 6a,
4 August 1877, page 6a-b,
29 September 1877, page 5a.
The Editor of the Register again expresses concern at Sir Henry's apparent self-interest and lack of political aptitude - see 22 September 1877, page 4d:
We are constrained to come to the conclusion that he is only glorying in his shame when he in effect boasts that he has been for the last twenty-one years what he is today... We are afraid Sir Henry Ayers will require only a very small piece of paper upon which to inscribe all the work originated and carried out by himself for the good of the country.
11 November 1880, page 6b; also see
9 June 1891, page 6e.
His approaching retirement is reported in the Observer,
25 November 1893, page 24e,
20 December 1893, page 5f.
Biographical information is in the Advertiser,
20 December 1893, page 5g and
"Presentation to Sir Henry Ayers - An Address from the Burra" on
27 September 1894, page 5g.
Particulars of his will are in the Chronicle,
28 August 1897, page 16d.
A bust of Sir Henry is discussed in the Observer,
19 May 1894, page 30d.
An obituary of his son, H.L. Ayers, is in the Register, 29 April 1905, page 7a,
of Frank R. Ayers on 24 April 1906, page 5b.
"From Lawyer's Clerk to Premier" is in The News,
9 January 1933, page 4e; also see
26 September 1936, page 4.