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Notable South Australians/William Henville Burford

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William Henville Burford.

THIS enterprising colonist, who was born in England in 1806, arrived in South Australia by the "Pestonjee Bomenjee," October 11, 1838. He thus recounts his experiences after landing at Glenelg, and the recital is interesting when compared with the facilities which our colonists at present enjoy in transit and accommodation. He says:—" We landed in water up to our waists, and were for two days and nights on the beach guarding our luggage. Conveyed thence to Emigration-square and lodged in a rude wooden shanty, without a single article of commerce, and only 1s. 6d. in cash to begin colonial life. Wife invalided, and two children of three and five years of age to support" These were really "hard lines," but Mr. Burford evidently would not sit down repining, and with commendable energy he worked at the first thing which offered, viz., excavating a cellar. Mr. Richardson had just then built an auction-room on North-terrace, and Mr. Burford having some experience in painting and glazing applied for and got the job, and so successful was he that ere long he was able to start for himself, and employ several "hands" at from 10s. to 14s. per day. Things went on well for a time; but at length the credit of the colony was stopped at the Home Colonial Office, and great depression ensued. Much inconvenience having been experienced by the colonists from a scarcity of candles, Mr. Burford, who had in England gained practical knowledge of candle and soap-making, obtained the necessary plant and started into that business. At first he had to compete against the Tasmanian exportations with which the colony was deluged, but his perseverance was ultimately rewarded, and his endeavours were successful, as he undertook large contracts for supplying the Burra, Kapunda, Moonta, and other mines with candles. He next added the manufacture of soap, and these two important industries were introduced and maintained by him up to the present time. The firm of W. H. Burford & Sons have also manufactured stearine candles and toilet soaps, articles in great request, and for which they were prize-takers at many exhibitions. Mr. Burford has long striven for the best interests of South Australia. He was a member of the first Adelaide Corporation, which died of inanition, and was succeeded by a Commission or Board of three members. He united with his fellow-citizens in opposing the attempted encroachment upon Victoria-square for cathedral purposes. He was elected one of the first six members for Adelaide, under the present constitution of responsible government, and by his strict attention to Parliamentary duties was instrumental in saving the Real Property Act (a measure which met with ' much opposition). The late Sir R. R. Torrens acknowledged this in a letter to Mr. Burford, in which he commented on his services and action in the matter; and although his career in the House was but short, in this instance it proved a blessing of untold value to many colonists and communities. Regarding Torrens's Act Mr. Burford says: "It must be ever watched over and cared for, to prevent infringements on the part of some of the legal profession, who would much prefer their gains under the old régime." In his 79th year Mr. Burford is a hale and hearty man, his chief infirmity being deafness; he is one of a class of earnest pioneers rapidly passing away, and leaving only the recollection of their good deeds in. the hearts of their fellow-men. Did space permit, this record might be extended, for could we not relate the strenuous exertions of William Henville Burford with Mr. Joseph Allen and other advocates for the abolition of capital punishment? Time alone can determine whether capital punishment shall be abolished, and whatever may be said against its advocates, it is certain that here they are only actuated by a sense of justice and right.