The Gilding Family in Australia


History of the Gildings in South Australia

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The Gildings arrive in South Australia

Maria Gilding (Nee Bensley

Maria Gilding (Nee Bensley)

Richard Gilding was an agricultural labourer from Norfolk England. He came to South Australia in 1852 at the age of 44 with his wife Maria (pronounced “Mariah” – nee Bensley) aged 33 and their four children Daniel(10), Sarah Ann (7), Emily (4) and Benjamin (2). According to Elsie Gilding (grand-daughter of Richard), Benjamin was nicknamed Joe by the ship’s crew because he was a lively lad. It certainly must have been a challenge to entertain children for over three months on a small ship; the Chatham left England on 18 March and arrived in South Australia on 1st July1852.

The family settled in Marden, initially leased and then bought land in Section 283 of Marden West. Richard built the house which still exists at 58 Battams Road. We believe that at least part of the reason Richard would have come to Australia is that the family farm could not support the three sons and so Richard as the youngest would have come to Australia with financial assistance from his family. Indeed the title shows Richard’s brother Edward, who did not leave England, as a joint owner.

Richard and Maria had three further children after their arrival: George Frederick (b.1856), William Henry (b.1859) and Eliza Jane (b.1863).

Daniel died aged 23, presumably without children. William died at the age of 9 from dropsy.

The Gildings appear to have been reasonably well off, acquiring land soon after their arrival and building substantial houses which remain to this day. The land in the Payneham appreciated substantially as it was converted from market gardens to residential areas although with so many descendents probably no-one got very rich.

Market Gardening

Whitworth’s South Australian Gazetteer of 1866 describes Payneham as a small agricultural village lying about three and an half miles north-east of Adelaide amidst small farmers growing wheat and hay, principally the latter. The most pervasive sound at Marden and Felixstowe was the whirring and clanking of windmills which drew up water for market gardens kept by hardworking men and women on the rich alluvial soil by the River Torrens and Third Creek
from Payneham – Garden Village to City by James W. Warburton, City of Payneham 1983.

The Gildings were market gardeners and orchardists. In 1920 Emily Wright (nee Gilding) bought some land from the South Australian Company which her family had leased and had been growing grapes, stone-fruit, figs and oranges (Warburton p.88)

Steam Boiler 1900

Steam Boiler 1900

Caption on back of photo: “B Gilding, Bill Cramond, Jim Woolbridge, George Gilding, E J Paternoster, 3 Engineers unknown. Steam Boiler 1900″

The two Benjamin Gildings

Richard’s son Benjamin built the house “Ningana” at 51 Battams Road which also still exists. This house was further up the street and above the flood level.

Benjamin Gilding married Louisa Martha Hawkins and they had three children. Harold Ellis died at 15 years and Maria May died at 10 years.

Their oldest son, Benjamin Edgar married Ada Trembath on 25 Oct 1906 and they had 5 children of whom there are many existing descendents. In 1918 Benjamin Edgar bought “The Orangery” of 9 acres from Bayfield Moulden (Warburton p.81).

Benjamin Edgar lived in the area all his life. Like his father he was active in municipal affairs, serving as both a Councillor and Chairman of the Payneham District Council. He sold the remaining family farming land to the SA Housing Trust in 1952 and died in the family home in1968 after only a short illness.

George Frederick Gilding’s family

George Frederick Gilding (Richard and Maria’s 5th child) married Emily Grivell and they had ten children.

George Fredrick Gilding

George Frederick Gilding

Emily Griven

Emily Grivell

Roy Gifford died at 20 months old, all the other children married. There were 7 girls and 2 boys who survived.

The Gilding girls – daughters of George and Emily
left to right: Alma, Ethel, Emily, Maud, Lilian, Elsie, Linda (we think)

George Frederick moved from Battams Road to 10th Avenue in 1892 (Warburton p.89) on land they leased and later bought from The South Australian Company. The family moved to 80 Cross Rd, Myrtlebank in about 1920 where they also had a large fruit and vegetable garden. This house also still exists.

Flood of 1889

The flood of 1889 was a major event for the Gildings as it was for all the residents of Marden.

Never before in its history have we had such a wet April and the floods that that have resulted are quite without precedent… Market gardeners in particular have been severe sufferers. In many cases the whole of their gardens set in the valleys and hills have been ruined. The gardeners of Marden had a very unhappy experience, as shortly before midnight the creek overflowed and inundated about a quarter of a mile of land on each side. Just about this time the Felixstowe bridge was swept away.” (quoted in Warburton, p.12)

Elsie, daughter of George Frederick, was born during the height of the flood. Each day young Jasper had to go out to measure the flood level with a stick so they could tell if the doctor would be able to get to the house or whether his mother would have to leave the house to have the baby. Unlike many of their neighbours, the Gildings did not have to leave their homes and move to the higher ground of Payneham and Elsie was born at home.

The photo below shows Benjamin Gilding on a “rescue trip for Mother-in-law Mrs Hawkins.”



The missing branch

Four years before Richard Gilding and Family arrived on the Chatham, three other Gildings arrived on the Sibella in 1848. They are listed in the ships register as Edmund (market gardener), Eliz (no occupation listed) Emma and Chas Edmund (children). We are not so far able to connect these with any of the Norfolk Gildings, despite records going back a further 100 years. The only other records we have of this family is from a single gravestone in Payneham Cemetery where Edmund is buried along with Emma and a son Henry Young Gilding. Edmund died on 28 April 1896 aged 76 and therefore would have been born around 1820 and been around 28 when he came to South Australia. Emma is listed on the gravestone as having died on 28 August 1921 aged 72 years and therefore must have been less than a year old when the boat landed. Henry died on 27th July aged 38 years and would therefore have been born in Australia around 1855. We do not know of any descendents of this family.

Edmund Gilding’s gravestone in Payneham Cemetery

Tracing the Gilding women

It is of course easier to trace the male descendents of Richard Gilding because the surname remains the same. However we know that Richard’s three daughters Sarah, Emily, and Eliza all married and had 18 children between them. We would appreciate any clues on tracking their descendents in time for the proposed reunion. If you have any information or would like to volunteer to help with genealogical research please contact:  Jack Gilding <>

The known details are:


Sarah Ann b.1845 Norfolk – d.1918 buried St Jude’s Cemetery, Brighton
married Thomas Gilbertson 1/9/1869

1. Hannah Walker Topliss b.12/7/1870 Peachy Belt
married Thomas Knight Moore

1. Thomas Knight Reader b.7/2/1891 Maylands
2. Rosslyn Angus b.13/11/1894 Morphett Vale

2. Emily Jane b.25/3/1872 Reeves Plains
3. Adelaide b.15/5/1874 Virginia
4. Thomas Richard b.10/1/1877 Reeves Plains
5. Sarah Jane b.24/7/1879 Lewiston
6. Arthur George b.11/8/1881 Lewiston
7. Albert Benjamin b.30/8/1883 Lewiston


Emily b.1847 Norfolk – d.20/11/1938 buried Payneham Cemetery
married Henry Wright 8/2/1875

1. Lillian Ella Florence b.26/7/1876 Marden
2. Henry Albert b.6/2/1878 Marden
3. Percival Bensley b.14/3/1881 Unley
4. Emily Ada Bensley b.17/11/1882 Unley
5. Emily Mabel Beatrice b.3/3/1885 Unley


Eliza Jane b.28/1/1863 Campbelltown – d 10/10/1951 buried Payneham Cemetery
married Charles Nelson Goldsworthy

1. Frank Nelson b.5/8/1887 West Marden
2. Spencer Charles b.3/11/889 Maylands
3. Norman Burt b.17/11/1891 Walkerville
4. Myrtle Ivey b.12/12/1893 West Marden
5. Reginald Eric b.22/1/1899 Walkerville
6. Gordon Alexander b.16/9/1902 Hackney