professional historians australia (south australia)
Home > On this day > January > 4 January 1837 Robert Thomas

4 January 1837 Robert Thomas

 4 January 1837    Robert Thomas

On 4 January 1837 Robert Thomas, who arrived in South Australia aboard the Africaine in November 1836, was appointed the Government printer. The Thomas family, like most others, lived in a tent, but Robert had brought with him a Stanhope printing press which shared their temporary home. With the Proclamation of the colony on the 28 December 1836 Governor Hindmarsh ordered 100 copies of the document to be printed which Thomas did on the press now housed in a rush hut. The press can now be found in the Mortlock Library Reading Room.

In June 1837 the Thomas family moved to their town acre in Hindley Street but continued to live under canvas until a building, constructed of mud and boards, to contain both the family and the printing press, was finished in September. 

The first South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register was printed in Fleet Street, London, on 26 June 1836 and the second was done in Adelaide, on 3 June 1837. Thomas' partner was George Stevenson who was also editor. The paper became a weekly by 1838 and was later called the South Australian Register, after Thomas lost the government business in 1840 for criticising some of Governor Gawler's actions. Despite a protest to the British Government about his dismissal the decision stood as he had no written proof of the appointment. In 1842 Thomas was insolvent and sold the Register to James Allen for £600. From 1845-52 he was Inspector of Weights and Measures for the Government. He died on 1 July 1860 at his home in Hindley Street.

Bede Nairn (ed), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, 
p. 264.

Tags: Register, South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Thomas Robert