Celebrating South Australia


2 February 1849 Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society

 2 February 1849   Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society

On the 2 February 1849 a public meeting was convened for the purpose of forming a society to provide help for the needy of Adelaide, especially newly arrived immigrants. The result of the discussion of the 14 men present was the formation of the Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society which still operates today.

The aim of the Society was to aid those people who were not considered to be wholly the responsibility of the government welfare agency, the Destitute Board. These included the families of widows, deserted wives, the sick, unemployed, and the old and infirm. In 19th century fashion they felt it was necessary to differentiate between the 'deserving' and the 'undeserving' poor, and then encourage them to overcome their difficulties by inculcating in them a spirit of independence and the ideals of self-help, thrift and sobriety.

The Society received generous gifts from benefactors including a large bequest from Sir Thomas Elder. Their hall in Morialta Street, built in 1898, was named in his honour. The funds allowed the Society to build, buy or lease properties to provide needy people with cheap housing. This group was only one of a number of charitable organisations which were formed in Adelaide in the latter part of the 19th century, many of which are still in existence.

K. R. Theakstone, The Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society 1849-1914, 1983.

Susan Marsden, Paul Stark, Patricia Sumerling (eds), Heritage of the City of Adelaide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, 1990, p. 173