South Australia was proclaimed as a British Colony in December 1836. Thereafter British and colonists from other countries arrived who gradually displaced the native population.

My first emigrant ancestor to arrive was William Remnant Townsend (1805-1878), who arrived with his wife and children on the Hooghly, at Adelaide on 17 June 1839. He was a boot maker and he settled at Mitcham, which is now an Adelaide suburb. More about him and his family can be found in the family history I wrote, The Family History of William Remnant Townsend, (Adelaide, 1971).  I am descended from his youngest son, George Seymour Townsend (1842-1886), who was a blacksmith at Penola, in the southeast of South Australia.

George Townsend married Euphemia Law Wilson (1848-1940).  Euphemia was born in Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland, and emigrated with her parents William Wilson (1816-1891) and Agnes Barclay (1812-1888) on the ship, Argincourt, in 1850. The Wilsonís settled at Penola. The story of William Wilson can be read in the Fifeshire Family History Society Journal (Vol. 16 No.  3 September 2003.)  and in Volume VI of Penola Historical Selections (Penola, 2003). 

The first Peake of my family to arrive in Australia, were Robert Peake (1815-1889), his wife Mary nee Hunt (1820-1882) and their family who arrived in Melbourne, Victoria on the Surrey on 11 July 1862. Although Robert had been variously a coachbuilder and trimmer and tobacconist in England, shortly after arriving in Australia he became a school teacher. He settled at Naracoorte, in the southeast of South Australia. More about this family can be found in, The Peake Family in South Australia (Adelaide, 1972). On the ship with them was their son, Leonard William Peake (1849-1915), my great-grandfather.  He married Ann Guthrie Peters (1853-1929).  She had emigrated as a child with her parents, William Forbes Peters (1827-1893) and Maria formerly Young nee McGregor (1832-1880) on the ship Black Eagle, which arrived at Melbourne, Victoria on 6 June 1857.

The last emigrant to arrive was my mother, Joan Hannah Ellen Peake nee Botting (1911- ) who arrived, this time on a steam rather than sailing ship, the Stratheden at Adelaide on 16 May, 1948, to join her husband, my father, Leonard William Peake (1914-1990).  More about her can be found in an essay I prepared, copies of which are in the Imperial War Museum, London, titled, Nursing in Peace and War Joan Bottingís Story (unpublished, Adelaide, 1994).  Material from this essay was used in the publication, Sky Wards, mentioned above.

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As is obvious from the potted biography above, I have been interested in family history for many years.  In 1973 I was instrumental in founding the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc,  an organisation which now has its own freehold headquarters and a membership of over 3000 members.  I have also lectured at many Australasian Congresses and at the most recent Congress in Melbourne in 2003 I was presented with the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisationís Meritous Service Award for Family History.

My initial foray into writing and publishing was the preparation of The Family History of William Remnant Townsend  in 1971 and in the next year, The Peake Family in South Australia.

I have extensively researched my main families:


In addition I have for many years conducted a one-name study on the PEAK/PEAKE family.  As a result I have collected information on many thousands of Peak/eís from Britain (largely England, Wales and Ireland), Australia and New Zealand and to a limited extent, Canada.  The extension of my research was partly as the result of my collaboration with Cyrus Henderson Peake, a Californian researcher, who in the 1970s started publishing a multi volume, The Peak-Peake Family History.  A number of separate Peake family histories were published before he died.  My research has been up-loaded into the WorldConnect Web Site, where it is accessible to everybody.  The same site has my research into my other families of interest.



For many years I have conducted professional historical research, specialising in family history. 

My publication, Sources for South Australian History, (Second Edition, Adelaide, 1998) is the handbook for family, local and biographical research in South Australia.

I am a member of the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AAGRA).  

My principal focus is using South Australian record repositories, such as State Records (for South Australian government records), the Mortlock Library of South Australiana (for non-government, private and institutional records) and the South Australian branch of the National Archives of Australia .  I have access to material held by the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society , the Catholic Church Archives and other religious organizationsí archives, plus many other

Please email me if you would like more information on my charges and to discuss your South Australian research requirements.

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