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23 September 1866 Osmond Gilles

 23 September 1866 Osmond Gilles

Osmond Gilles who died on 23 September 1866 was one of the early officials of the colony. He arrived on the Buffalo in 1836 to take up his position as Colonial Treasurer. A colourful and volatile man, he was wealthy in his own right and generous in many ways, giving land for churches, hospitals and other public use, and using his own funds when the colony’s own ran short. He brought with him from England an iron safe, actually his own property, in which to keep the new colony’s funds and an armed marine stood guard at the entrance to the tent (the first home of the treasurer). One night Gilles found the man drunk and incapable, but listening to the man’s pleas for mercy, did not have him court-martialled. He later revealed that the total assets of the colony locked away in the safe amounted to 1s 6d. Ironically, in 1847 Gilles himself was charged with being drunk and disorderly, but the case was dismissed. By that time Gilles was no longer Colonial Treasurer having been relieved of his position for incompetence.

In 1838 he had bought property at Glen Osmond which he called Woodley, built his house there in 1844 and planted vines. He also had property to the north of the city where he bred sheep – now called Gilles Plains – and with Edward John Eyre purchased a special survey at Moorundie on the River Murray.

Eric Gunton, Gracious Homes of Colonial Adelaide, Adelaide, 1983, pp.145-46.

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