from Shapinsay, Orkney - Scotland

William Rusland (1725 - 1795)

1. Laird was a Scot's Lord. A landholder ranked below a Baron.

Reference: The String Disaster - Article by Peter Groundwater Russell in
The Scots Magazine ? pages 169 - 176 (from a photocopy)

Henry Rusland (1763 - 1832), second son of William Rusland and brother to John Rusland (see above)

No mention is made of Henry Rusland, brother to John, as one of those mentioned above or whether he was implicated in the matters of the "insult". Neither are we clear as to whether he was an elder, but he was almost certainly a member of the "Free Kirk".
However his son was given "Runabout" after the Shearers left? Henry was tenanting Lairodale (Odinstone) and we don't know if William moved out before or after Henry's death.

William Russell (1798 - ?), son of Henry Rusland and Margaret Hutchinson was born 30.12.1798 on the farm of Lairodale, now known as Odinstone on the island of Shapinsay. Coincidentally he followed the Shearers into the farm of Runabout before later emigrating to SA. It might be interesting to check out the land that comprised "Runabout" as this seemed to be a springboard that may have "encouraged" emigration?

He married Elizabeth Bews in 1822. They had seven children; Henry, Katherine, Margaret, Elizabeth, James, Janet and William.

Odinstone in 2003 Left: Odinstone, old farmhouse, now used as a Jam factory. Below: Odinstone Farm, old building renovated and used as a jam factory to the right. - photos: 2003 Odinstone Farm

At this time David Balfour had been re-organizing his property and aggregating farms into larger blocks as can be seen by the present day straight roads running across Shapinsay. As a result of these "enclosures" across Scotland many tenants were let go and much unemployment and misery resulted. However Balfour was more enlightened than many of the "Lairds" and paid out his tenants, encouraging them to emigrate (to Canada?). William Russell took the younger members of his family south to embark on a ship from Southhampton to South Australia (1853) as government sponsored migrants. Was it a conincidence that they followed the Shearers to the same colony?

William Russell was listed as a tenant farmer on ship's records when he migrated to SA, on the ship - "William Hammond" 683 tons, Captain Horatio Edwards, arriving in Port Adelaide on 19th January, 1854 after a voyage of 89 days.
He was 42 years old at the time and his wife was 41. The arrival of the ship is noted in the South Australian Register, Friday 20 January 1854 as follows...
This beautiful ship, on her first voyage, arrived yesterday, as elsewhere announced, with 267 Government emigrants under the careful medical superintendence of Dr. Chambers, late of Kooringa. The William Hammond has been only 89 days out from Southampton, and the emigrants, in general, have arrived in a most healthy state, the only exceptions being a few cases of hooping-cough among the young children, of whom four have died during the voyage.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) Fri 20 Jan 1854, page 3.

For the Passenger List go to TheShipsList

William Russell (1842 - 1924) youngest son of William Russell and Elizabeth Bews was born at Odinstone on the island of Shapinsay. He was 11 years old when he arrived in SA with his father, mother, elder brother, James, and two sisters, Elizabeth and Janet. The eldest brother and the two elder sisters, Henry, Katherine and Margaret, did not emigrate. It was said the older brother went to America? A collection of American stamps were found in a small notebook that belonged to William Henry, William's son. They date around the 1890s. Did these come from letters sent from family in the USA?

Click here for the family tree (pdf file).

A member of the Pelican Rowing Club in the early 1860s, he was a keen oarsman. He competed in many club regattas. Silver trophies presented in 1864 and 1867 are in the possession of members of the family.

Jane MacGregor Marriage to Jane McGregor (pictured left) was celebrated on 13th July, 1865 at Chalmers Presbyterian Church (now Scots Church), North Terrace, Adelaide.

The Business

After serving his apprentice as a sailmaker, with the late Captain French, he was employed by Clarke & McKenzie as a foreman. In 1867 he entered into partnership with H.W. Thompson as sailmakers, ships chandlers and riggers and operated from premises at the corner of Divett and Todd Streets, Port Adelaide. Three years later this partnership was dissolved.

First Shop
(First premises. Photo sourced from Neil W. Cormack, Sagas of Steam and Sail, June 2002, p3)

In 1870 he started business on his own account at Commercial Road, next door to the Exchange Hotel as William Russell Pty Ltd. offering an even wider range of goods and services.
William Russell shed

business sign After his death the business moved to larger premises in Lipson Street which still displays the business sign board today (photo left) even though the business is long gone..
A history of William Russell Pty Ltd may be found here . . .
James Hunter, History SA, "William Russell Pty. Ltd.", SA History Hub, History Trust of South Australia.
(some of the information above needs checking as it conflicts with the account by James Hunter)

William Russell is listed as part owning the following vessels:
all 2 masted ketches except Crest of the wave listed as a 2 masted centreboard schooner.
TypeName & Tonnage Owner/s
Ketch 32128 "Crest of the Wave"
55 tons
1885 with T H Heritage until about 1914.
Ketch 57532 "Capella"
73 tons
1893 W. Russell & Partners, 1914 with Capt. C W Berck until about 1920? Sold in 1921 to pay accumulated wharfage! Capt. Berck had evidently enlisted in the AIF in 1915. Not certain whether W. Russell still had an interest at this stage?
Ketch 64228 "Elizabeth Annie"
61 tons
1894-1900 with D Dineen and C E Hislop.
Ketch 64212 "Gambier Lass"
46 tons
1892 with D Dineen who was principal owner. Broken up in 1904.
Ketch 57540 "Spindrift"
71 tons
1891 with G L Jenkins 1893 with D Dineen until 1900.
Ketch 79335 "Young E.B."
23 tons
1883 wrecked Marino rocks July 30, 1888 (total loss).
Source: Captain James Gillespie Traders Under Sail; The Cutters, Ketches and Schooners of South Australia published by the author June 1994. Additional information from Ronald Parsons, Ketches of South Australia (pub by the author) 3rd Ed. (rev) 1983.

He was joint owner of a 52 foot cutter yacht, "Magic", bought from a Sydney owner in 1894. From the available records of the Royal SA Yacht Squadron he appears to be the skipper of the yacht's most notable recorded voyages. In earlier years he raced and owned smaller yachts.
He was one of seven gentlemen, including his brother-in-law John Playfair, who founded the Squadron in 1869, starting as the South Australian Yacht Club. "He maintained an active interest in the Squadron until his decease...."
Royal S.A. Yacht Squadron: The first 100 years - published 1969
George Russell recalled, as a child, hurting himself by falling down the steps into the cabin. "Magic" was later sold and used as a fishing cutter - wrecked K.I. April 1958.

He lived on Lefevre Peninsula, District of Glanville later moving to Union Street, Semaphore.
There appears to be a conflict of locations as others say, Union Street, Largs Bay? The street appears to be the boundary of these two suburbs. The house number is uncertain? Research required here.

He was:
* a mathematician & amateur astronomer,
* a Member SA Astronomical Society
* a Foundation Member of SA Yacht Squadron 5.11.1869
* He contributed a meteorological column to The Register in its earlier years.

Served on Port Adelaide Council for a short term as councillor for Centre Ward from 1898 to 1900.

President of the Port Adelaide Institute
Hon. Curator of the Port Adelaide Institute Museum & Art Gallery
Representative of the Institutes Assoc. on the Public Libaries Board
Vice President of the Institutes Assoc.
The Institute commenced Evening classes in 1883. He is noted among other teachers and courses: Elementary and Applied Mechanics- Mr. W. Russell, Thursdays, at 8 p.m.. Text book: Hamblin Smith's "Elementary Statics," Ball's "Applied Mechanics." The fee was 12/6 a quarter.[1]

He was the first student to enrol at Adelaide University on 21 March 1876.
enrolment book entry photo large

I can confirm that William Russell was the first person to enrol at the University of Adelaide. He signed the first page of the University Roll Book (Series 425) on 21 March 1876. The following information is contained on this page

        "District of Glanville
        Lefernes(?- Difficult to read) Peninsula
        (Sailmaker) Port Adelaide."

        "Mr Russells parents are dead. He is of the full age of 21 years."

        Does Student intend to graduate: "No"

Helen Bruce
Reference Archivist
Corporate Information
Room 636, Sixth Floor
Wills Building
The University of Adelaide, AUSTRALIA 5005
Archives Web-site http://www.adelaide.edu.au/records/archives/

The age does not match if this is correct. Old handwriting could be hard to read?
Lefernes? would be Lefevre Peninsula.
I needed to see the original entry myself to check this. Fortunately I was granted access to view and photograph the original records. The relevant pages are reproduced below.

enrolment book entry photo large
See Large size
On the 18th March 1876 William would have been aged 34 years. (b. 14-03-1842)

alphabetic listing in enrolment book

The list indicates he studied for 3 years (1876-1878) most likely mathematics as his interest was in Astronomy and Meterology as well as the sea. Horace Lamb was the first Elder Professor of Mathematics at the new Adelaide University and William may well have been one of his students. In the first years of the University the number of students was less than 12.[2] Mathematics was part of the Arts Course which was the only degree offered at first. William indicated on his enrolment form he was not intending to complete a degree, and his interests were most probably practical. Lamb was working on the motion of fluids and this may have interested William as well?


The following story was passed on to me by my mother who was told by grandfather, William Henry - the subject of the story, who used to visit regularly and sit in the kitchen at Beulah Road, Norwood, with me on his knee, while mum busied about cooking.

William Russell lived in Union Street, Largs Bay. In those days there were a number of Aborigines living in the sandhills nearby. They were friendly and would call at the house occasionally and were given some flour, tea and sugar.
The story is told that son, William Henry, went with tribal members when about 12 yrs of age on a walkabout to the Murray Bridge area and returned with them later. No concern was voiced about the incident. He was evidently deemed to be in safe hands.

In his back garden, in Union Street,he erected an observatory building to house his large telescope. The telescope is now owned by the Astronomical Society of South Australia and used at their observatory site at Sedan.

Peter Groundwater Russell "Never was there a more honourable gentleman" in the The Scots Magazine ? pages 28-31 (from a photocopy)
Various correspondence between my Uncle Bill Russell & Peter G Russell.
Stories told by family members.

William Henry Russell 1873 - 1948
William Henry Russell was the son of William Russell.
He married Kate Elizabeth Atkins, 12th November 1902.
They had two girls and three boys, in age order, Vivian, William, George, Keith and Brier.

Occupation: Engineer
1891-1896 Apprentice in machine and fitting shop, G E Fulton & Co.* Kilkenny
      (Engineers, Iron Founders and machinery importers)
1st Feb - September 1896 - journeyman at G E Fulton

Maritime Career
1896-1900 engaged as engineer in various coastal and overseas ships.

Date Ship Destination Position
25/9/96 - 6/12/96 Wollowra coastal 4th Engineer
7/12/96 - 7/1/97 Wollowra
12/2/97 - 3/4/97 Culgoa
31/5/97 ? Yarrawonga London return act 5th Engineer
6/11/97 - 29/11/97 Marloo coastal 4th Engineer
25/5/99 - 12/6/99 Kalgoolie coastal 4th Engineer
3/1/00 - 20/2/00 Helen Nicollcoastal 2nd Engineer
Click here for additional information on these vessels and whether William Henry was a "Cape Horner".

Commenced life on the Land
3 months to 30/5/01Advertiser Office Fitter linotype machines
1902 - 1907 Adelaide Electric Supply Co. Port Adelaide
Jan 1907   Grenfell Street
1937 retired   Osborne

William Henry Russell with a model Galleon William Henry with a model Galleon
One time member RSA Yacht Squadron
Address: 10 Flinders Street, Kent Town.
William Henry was a model maker in later years. His home housed numerous ship models and other nautical items. He also constructed small brass anchors and cannon. He is remembered by the author sitting in his leanto workshop in the backyard straightening out bent nails with a hammer and storing them in screwtop glass jars.


George MacGregor Russell (1906 - 1985), second son of William Henry Russell. Known throughout his life as "Mac".

National Service 1926 Light Horse - unit unknown?
Member East Torrens Football Association, played for Kensington.
Member Premiership Team 1927, age 21yrs.



Farm Labourer in the SE during the depression years - promised wages were never paid.
Personal Chauffeur - Mrs Scarfe
Machinist/Toolmaker, South Australian Railways Workshops, Islington 1941-1971
Attended night school at the Institute of Technology in the early years; 1941 - ?.

National Service - Seacliff Camp 1926
George Russell is 2nd from the left in the middle row.     [click to enlarge]

East Torrens Football Assoc - Kensington Premiers 1927
For the original photo including player's names....    [click here to enlarge]

Later Years:

Married Olivia Ruth Henschke on February 18, 1942. They had two children, a boy, Peter MacGregor and a girl, Heather Ann.

Lived in Norwood and was a keen follower of the Norwood Football Club. Had to "keep quiet" when attending Port - Norwood games with his father as the latter was a Port Adelaide man!

He grew up in Kent Town. They lived in a rented property at 10 Flinders Street. He later went to work in the South East on a farm, but the depression years hit and he was promised money but never paid. He later went to work for Mrs Scarfe as a personal Chauffer. She travelled widely around Australia and he drove her everywhere, including Tasmania. He supervised the loading of the car onto and off ships in Melbourne and Launceston. He met and later married Olivia Henscke while working at Mrs Scarfe's property.

When the war began he tried to enlist but was rejected on medical grounds. He then obtained work with the South Australian Railways as an apprentice machinist and was sent to the School of Mines on North Terrace. At this point he became part of a 'protected workforce' so could not be called up when conscription began in mid-1942.

Islington Railway Workshops was the centre of much heavy industry in South Australia. In WW2 it produced munitions such 25pdr shells, an armoured car (L4), Bren Gun Carrier and wings for the Beaufort bomber. He attained the peak of his occupation becoming a Toolmaker. He was often given projects that came to Islington because private industry firms approached initially were unable or did not have the skills to undertake them. One example was a gold rolling machine belonging to 'Wendts jewellers' in Adelaide. Repairs by other firms proved unsatisfactory so Islington was approached and he was given the job. He machined new parts and reassembled the machine. The report from Wendts was that it had never worked better even when new.

The Toolroom at Islington Railway Workshops, Kilburn
The Toolroom at Islington Railway Workshops was situated on the intersection of Regency and Churchill Roads. A part of this impressive brick building was air conditioned to allow for precision machining. This was where George worked. It was demolished to make way for a Bunnings store.
See map and views of Islington Railway Workshops here . . .

During these years Olivia, Heather and Peter enjoyed Railway picnics and trips to the Adelaide Station to see the trains and ride on them. We went to Belair and National Park and other times to the Railway Oval for these events.

The depression years experience made a lasting impression and those years were never mentioned. However he took pride in always paying his bills and with cash. He never borrowed any money in his life and the pennies were carefully guarded, but neither was he stingy. He was an exceptional handyman, had a workshop full of tools, which were carefully preserved and maintained and turned his hand to every aspect of building and automotive maintenance. He always had workshop manuals for firstly his motorbikes (Excelsior and BSA) and later cars, commencing with a second hand Morris 8, a car with leather seats, large spoked wheels and for the time light truck tyres! It had a radiator cap that doubled as a temperature gauge.

Before the first motor bike arrived he rode a pushbike from 109 Beulah Road, Norwood to work at Islington. On the weekends it was equipped with a small home made wooden seat on the crossbar and some foot rests on the bar below so Peter could accompany his father to tennis on Saturday afternoons at a lawn court adjacent to Hazelwood Park.

"Mac" as he was known to family and friends never told his workmates his real name.

He was always tinkering in his workshop, first at Beulah Road and later when the family moved to 34 Balfour Street, Nailsworth.

At work, Islington.

Updated: 23 Jul 2022

If you are interested in this family please write to:                               Download the family tree (pdf file).

Peter M Russell
21/7 Liberman Close
SA 5000

1. ^ F. E. Meleng, Fifty Years of the Port Adelaide Institute Incorporated, Vardon and Pritchard, Adelaide, 1902. p54.
2. ^ See Sir Horace Lamb: Career en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Lamb