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Edward Gibbon Wakefield
Title : Edward Gibbon Wakefield Edward Gibbon Wakefield
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Source : B 63785
Date of creation : ca. 1840
Format : Artwork
Contributor : South Australiana Database
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Description :
Edward Gibbon Wakefield never came to South Australia but his 'system of colonization' greatly influenced the South Australian Colonisation Commissioners and inspired the 'Act to empower His Majesty to erect South Australia into a British Province', which was drafted by his brother Daniel in 1834.
South Australia was born out of the ideas of a prisoner, Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862), serving three years in Newgate Gaol. He was convicted on a charge relating to the abduction and unlawful marriage at Gretna Green in 1826 of 15 year old heiress Ellen Turner.

As the son of Quakers, Wakefield was part of a long history of working for prison reform. His family was related to Elizabeth Fry, the famous prison reformer, who visited him in Newgate. Wakefield's experience of the English penal system caused him to consider the social problems of over population and the remedy of emigration to the colonies. In 1829, while in Newgate Wakefield wrote A letter from Sydney in which he outlined his 'System of Colonization'. Wakefield addressed the problem of balancing the supply of land with the demand for labour in new colonies. He proposed an 'Emigration Fund' raised through a rent tax payable by the landlord that would see labourers conveyed to the new colony free of cost. "The supply of Labourers be as nearly as possible proportioned to the demand for Labour at each settlement; so that Capitalists shall never suffer from an urgent want of Labourers, and that Labourers shall never want well-paid employment." [Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, Outline of a system of colonization, in Letter from Sydney, Appendix, London 1829, pp. viii - ix.]

Wakefield migrated to New Zealand in 1853, becoming a member of the first New Zealand General Assembly in 1854. He died in Wellington in 1862.

Related names :

Wakefield, Daniel

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, 1796-1862

South Australian Colonization Commission

Coverage year : ca.1840
Period : 1836-1851
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Harrop, Angus J. The amazing career of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1928; Dunedin: A.H. Reed, 1928

Mills, R.C. The colonization of Australia (1829-42); the Wakefield experiment in empire building, London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1968

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon. A letter from Sydney, the principal town of Australasia, London: Joseph Cross, 1829

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon. Plan of a company to be established for the purpose of founding a colony in Southern Australia : purchasing land therein, and preparing the land so purchased for the reception of immigrants, London: Ridgway and Sons, 1831

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, The new British province of South Australia, or, A description of the country, illustrated by charts and views : with an account of the principles, objects, plan, and prospects of the colony, London: Printed for C. Knight, 1834

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