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Pastoral pioneers - 2

'Paddy' Gleeson of Clare

"A true specimen of the fine old Irish gentleman was Edward Burton Gleeson, known familiarly as Paddy Gleeson, the King of Clare, who followed pastoral and agricultural pursuits with great perseverance until the time of his death, in 1870."


Esward Burton Gleeson B-76590.jpeg

Above: 1865, overpainted photograph of Edward Burton Gleeson



South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) Sat 2 Aug 1884 P 6

E.B. Gleeson in South Australia

"Edward Burton Gleeson was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1803.


  • Gleeson had taken up a British (East India) government post in India where he seems to have prospered.

  • With his wife Harriet and family he arrived in South Australia from India in on 27 July 1838 on the "Emerald Isle".


In 1840, in a list of stockowners published by the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Societyhe , Mr Gleeson is shown,

  • second to the South Australian Company,

  • he was the largest stock owner in "Adelaide and neighbourhood."

  • He then possessed 7,300 sheep, 550 cattle and 24 horses.


He initially had land in what is now Beaumont, a suburb of Adelaide, a property he named Gleeville.

  • He reported very favourably on the climate of Adelaide to friends back in India, praising the purity of the air.

Gleeson was adversely affected during the colony's financial crisis in the late 1830s, and indeed was charged by the Insolvency Court in 1845, causing him to be detained until he found bail on April 29 1845. (Ashton's Hotel p. 317)


If it had not been for his Clare property, Gleeson would have been a broken man during the financial crisis which nearly wrecked the colony on the dishonoring of Governor Gawler's


  • As it was he lost the Burnside property.

  • He was sold up, and the proceeds of the auction were dismally disappointing.

Gleeson remained in South Australia and prospered in the Mid-North, where he established his property Inchiquin and laid out the town of Clare, named after his birthplace.

  • He also held land in the Mid-North, from the Hummocks to Blyth,

  • and in the far north, west of Mount Eyre

  • but concentrated upon his property at Clare.


He became the first mayor of Clare when it was proclaimed a corporation in 1868.

  • When he died two years later the shops and hotels on the main street closed in his honour.

  • He was a friend of John Horrocks, a fellow pastoralist in the Clare region and an explorer.


Read More:

Gleeson's Pastoral Leases

The official return of the pastoral leases taken out between 1851 and 1864 shows that he held

  • 41 square miles of country east of the Hummocks, (see map below: leases 116, 315 and 395)

  • and 117 square miles west of Mount Eyre.

  • by the 1850s he had acquired leaseholds on a massive 150,000 acres and turned his family into something approaching local aristocracy.

Sketch map of Northern Pastoral District
E.B. Gleeson in South Australia
Gleeson's Pastoral Leases
Gleeson Occupation Licence 1847.jpg
Satellite map of Gleeson's runs near Sno
Mid North Runs map.jpg

The Act of 1867 gave a fourteen years' right of renewal in class A,

and twenty-one years' in classes B and C.

  • This latter provision explains the falling in of such a large amount of pastoral country in 1888.

  • The Act also provided certain compensation for improvements in the event of resumption, or rather it continued the operation of previous Acts to that effect, and

  • it further guaranteed payment to the squatter at the end of his lease of a fair valuation in respect of all wells or tanks that in creased the carrying capacity of the runs

Map Gleeson Hill Snowtown.jpg

Letter to the Editor...

"I knew Tom Davies on E. B. & J. W. Gleeson's Black Point Run at Hummocks when he was a small boy. Dogs were very bad in the scrub and Hummock Ranges in those days"...

 Adelaide Observer (SA) Sat 12 Mar 1898  Page 4

News: The impact of wild dogs on the pastoral regions

Black Point Run

{Northern district} comprises lease 395;

The leases in early days were, before proper surveys, measured from obvious landmarks;
in this case, from Black Point Hill north to Lake View and Hope Gap, then East towards Magpie Creek and the Hawker Run, Bungaree.

Look for Lease 395 on the map above.

The lease runs north from Black Point Hill to Lake View and is limited by Lake View Road across to Magpie Creek.


The pointed LHS corner extends down from Black Point Lagoon and Homestead to Black Point Hill.
It terminates just where Snowtown is now established.


The stock route #4 beneath lease 139 runs from:

  1. Black Point Lagoon and Shepherd's Hut and from

  2. Black Point homestead,
    (just west of where the stock route #4 angles below lease 139) across to Magpie Creek and Bungaree.

Gleeson's Eastern Runs  (East and South of Black Point)

Comprise Leases 116 and 315

This run lies to the East of the Hummocks, the next post town being Port Augusta (to the North).

Above: both leases noted as in name of E B Gleeson, (1856)

total area, 954 square miles.


Hon. Henry Ayers took these leases over in the early 1860s when drought was bad and prices were cheap.

  • total rental and assessment, £510 1 2s.

  • Possible route from Clare to Kadina via Gleeson's Black Point Run (1862), mentioned 1879,

On the map above, 

  • lease 395 runs on the flats from Black Point Hilll (East of future Snowtown) through (future Burnsfield) to (future Lake View) and then by Lake View Road around to Magpie Creek, around the Condowie Plains (lease 139).

  • Lease 116 

Gleeson's Middle Run— About 25 miles north-east of Port Wakefield, and about 90 from Adelaide.— One of several leases known as Gleeson's. The area charged for should have been 57 miles.
- covers the low hills below Snowtown from Gleeson's Hill along hills to the low ground by lake Bumbunga from the present Bumbunga location and old township, and then across to the future Everard Central location.

  • Lease 315

Gleeson's Eastern Run—runs along the flat area East of Everard Central across to Bowillia at Boundary Road and then North across the Blyth Road to the Hawker run. It was said to be West of Armagh and East of the Hummocks.

  • A stock route runs from (future Bowmans) up from the South, through to (future Snowtown) and then across the Condowie Plains to the Hawker lease 131 at Magpie Creek.

Paddy had trouble with these leases.

A couple he sent west to look after the lease, had trouble with Natives at Black Point Hill and returned to Clare.

Gleeson was losing money on his 800 acre sheep run near Clare. In April 1858 he had to borrow money from magnate John Graham, the major shareholder of the Burra Monster Mine, which cost him interest of 12 1/2%. (5)


In the 1860's there were 4 years of drought, and Hon. Henry Ayres took over Gleeson's leases (and others too).

Because of the drought of the 1860s William Beare acquired Oraparinna with his partner J W Gleeson. The lease was then again auctioned in the 1880s due to further drought.

A journalist for the Observer, noted in 1926 that Oraparinna Station, north west of Wilpena in the South Flinders Ranges, with a view to (Salt) Lake Torrens was (latterly) held by Messrs. Gleeson & Beare (both of Clare), and they lost everything.

​Oweandina Station (near Blinman, 25 miles south of  Umberatana and now an out station of Yankaninna) was also sold to Messrs. Gleeson & Beare, and through drought, they also lost everything in it.

Left: Early sketch of Oraparinna Station, Flinders Ranges

Black Point Run
Isaacson Pit Rd Bumbunga SA.jpg
southern Plains.jpg
Early sketch of Oraparinna Station, Flin
Old Homestead, Oraparinna.jpeg
Trade Development in South Australia


Millennia of fire-stick management to assist indigenous hunter-gathering had created inland grasslands that were ideally suited to the production of fine wool.

  • By the 1830s, wool had overtaken whale oil as the colonies' most important export, and by 1850 Australia had displaced Germany as the main overseas supplier to British industry.

  • South Australia was the pre-eminent agricultural exporter in Australia, of copper, wool and wheat, with the most land under cultivation.

    • 1843 - exports £80,858 of which minerals were £127

    • 1844 - exports £95,272 of which wool was £42,769 and minerals £6,436

    • 1845 - exports £148,459 of which £72,235 was wool and minerals £19,020

    • 1846 - exports £312,838 of which wool £106,510 and minerals £143,231.

    • 1847 - exports £350,348 of which wool £56,130 and minerals £174,017.

    • 1848 - exports £504,068 of which wool £98,582 and minerals £320,624.

    • 1849 - exports £402,853 including wool £108,539 and minerals £219,775.

    • 1850 - exports £570,817 including wool £131,731, minerals £365,464 and breadstuffs £38,312.

    • 1851 - exports £602,087 including wool £148,036, minerals £310,916 and breadstuffs £73,359 (Source)


Resumption of Leases

"Killing a Squatter," was a favorite device with impecunious Treasurers in those days.

  • Money was wanted, so a sheep or cattle run leased from the Government was declared a "Hundred,"

  • — the lessor having the right to resume the land for agricultural purposes,

  • — surveyed, and offered for sale by auction,

  • when of course the squatter secured all he could afford to purchase ; land-sharks grabbed the rest,

  • and the farmers, who would have gladly given more than the average price obtained for the land, could not compete with the moneyed men.

In this way, some of the large estates of 40,000, 50,000, and 60,000 acres, in this colony, have been acquired.

South Australia : its history, productions, and natural resources"


Trade Development in South Australia
Resumption of Leases
sheep grazing in SA
Hill River Station, Clare.jpg

Pastoralists above Clare were not prepared to be displaced by the wheat farmers.

  • The naturally open grasslands from Clare to Burra had fallen into the hands of pastoralists, and they outbid wheat farmers to buy freehold the lands they had leased before the local Hundreds were created.

  • A cordon of pastoral companies locked up settlement expansion in the North.

For Example:

Owing to the determination of the Parliament of the day to sell land nearest to Adelaide,

Exports from 1862 to 1868

The population had grown from 135,229 in 1862. to 176,298 in 1868;

  • the revenue from £548,709 to £716,004;

  • and the land under cultivation from 494.511 acres to 898,234 acres.

  • The cattle decreased from 258,342 to 123,213;

  • but the sheep increased from 3,431,000 to 4,987,024.

  • The exports of staple produce advanced from £1,920,487 to £2,603,826.

  • Owing to a bad harvest the export of breadstuffs had suffered a decrease;

  • but the wool shipped had risen from £635,270 to £1,305,280.

  1. Ashton's Hotel, Rhondda Harris, Wakefield Press Adelaide, 2017

  2. THE PASTORAL DISTRICTS OF THE FAR NORTH.—No. II - South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) Sat 2 Aug 1884  Page 6

  3.  SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S GROWTH: Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) Sat 29 Dec 1906 Page 44 

  4. Arminta Wallace, Edward ‘Paddy’ Gleeson, king of Clare and master of Australian wine The Irish Times, Sat, May 13, 2017, 05:00

  5. Henry Ayers Biography, The Man who became a Rock,  page 89.(Visit to Clare)

Exports from 1862-1868

Next Pioneer: John Hope

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