Robert Torrens

Person: Robert Richard Torrens & Col. Robert Torrens Robert Richard Torrens and Col. Robert Torrens, 1860. Image courtesy of SLSA: B7557

Robert Torrens (1780-1864) was active in the South Australian Association and later made Chairman of the South Australian Colonization Commission. A former marine officer, he retired from the service in 1834 to concentrate on his interest in economic and political policy. He was briefly a Member of Parliament, representing Ashburton in 1831 and Bolton in the reformed parliament of 1832-5. He took an interest in various colonizing ventures, including New South Wales, the Swan River Colony, New Zealand and then South Australia. At one point he hoped to be appointed Governor of South Australia.

Torrens worked hard as Colonization Commissioner, but oversaw a muddled administration that mismanaged the land survey process and encouraged speculation, ultimately bringing the province to the edge of bankruptcy. In 1842 South Australia became a Crown colony and Torrens was dismissed, but continued to have interests in South Australia, helping to found companies to mine copper and build railways. He died in London in 1864. His son Robert Richard Torrens (1814-1884) is remembered for his system of registering land titles.



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